Culture Clips: Fireworks Galore


We shan’t be talking tomorrow, so let me wish you all (or, at least, you Americans) a very happy Independence Day. But I also need to let you know right off the bat that according to Gallup, pride in our home country is at an all-time low.

Why are we so glum? That’s a complicated question. Perhaps as we eat our grilled hot dogs, we’re pondering the fall of Kobayashi, the famed competitive eater who once ate 50 of ’em in one sitting. Or as we salute the flag, we realize that Nike cancelled the release of its Betsy Ross flag-themed shoes, allegedly because former quarterback/current activist Colin Kaepernick says the old-timey symbol is connected with the country’s slave-filled past. (You can actually get a pair anyway … if you’ve got $4,000 to drop.) Or maybe we’re mourning the impending departure of The Office—like the country itself, another American revision of a British original—from Netflix in, oh, the next 18 months or so.

Or maybe we’re just too stressed about what to watch on the telly at all.

According to a new report by Nielsen, the average American takes a full seven minutes to decide what to watch. The prime culprit? Streaming services like Netflix. Apparently, the wealth of choices we have is causing a certain level of boob-tube paralysis. With so many options (and given that only a third of us actually browse through menus to select something), we’re left flummoxed by the world of entertainment possibilities—so much so that 21%of viewers actually just give up, turn off the TV and read a book or something. Households without access to a streaming service have lots of choices too, of course, but Nielsen said that viewers in those households tend to default to their favorite channels if the choices get too bewildering.

This wealth of television is tough on TV reviewers, too. Jeremy Egner, the television critic for The New York Times, recently unpacked the challenge of trying to sift through 500 new scripted shows every year. (Watching everything, he admits, is now “impossible.”)

I also wonder how Egner’s heart is holding up. We’ve known for a while that sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy. But new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that sitting in front of a television is worse than sitting eight hours a day for your job. What happens when watching television is your job? (As one of Plugged In’s TV reviewers, I suppose I should ask the same question.)

Television can hurt your health in other ways, too. According to a study by the Mental Health Foundation, nearly a quarter of British teens who watch reality television fret about their body image.

And then we must consider the rise in one’s blood pressure if you don’t like what you’re watching.

Case in point: HBO’s Game of Thrones finale, which many fans are still fuming over. George R. R. Martin, the author of the fantasy novels that the show was based on blames the internet for all the vitriol. “The internet is toxic in a way that old fanzine culture and fandoms—comics fans, science fiction fans—in those days, was not,” Martin told Leonard Maltin on a podcast. “There were disagreements. There were feuds, but nothing like the madness that you see on the Internet.”

Meanwhile, HBO’s Euphoria recently triggered racing hearts of a different kind: Its animated sequence depicting former One Direction bandmates Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson engaged in oral sex was greeted warmly by fans (according to The Daily Beast). But Tomlinson was less amused. “I can categorically say that I was not contacted nor did I approve it,” he said in a tweet.

And though TV may be giving viewers too much to watch, the movie industry is giving them too little that they want to watch. Sure, Avengers: Endgame made enough money to buy a small country or two, but many other franchise sequels this summer haven’t measured up: The box office is down 7% from what it was at this time last year. Pundits suggest that television is putting a dent in the cinematic fender. And frankly, moviegoers are getting a little tired of all these retreads.

“When you put all your eggs in the sequel basket this is what happens,” Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations, told Variety. ” Most of these movies feel like they came off of an assembly line. They’re not diving any deeper into the story. They’re not upping the ante. They’re not moving the needle as far as moviegoers are concerned.”

Not that you’ll hear Will Smith complain about retreads. Even though Smith defined movie superstardom in the 1990s, his live-action remake of Aladdin just became the highest-grossing film of his career. “Just thank you, everybody, around the world, thank you, thank you,” he wrote on Instagram. “Who I miss?”

As we bring this edition of Culture Clips to a close, let’s not lose sight of the holiday we’ll be observing tomorrow and end on a truly American note: a nod to the power of fast food.

When I heard that Taco Bell was going to be launching its very own pop-up hotel (The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort), I had my doubts. I have a soft spot in my heart (and tummy) for the franchise, but for many, Taco Bell is associated with … less pleasant experiences. Shows what I know: The rooms—which started at $169 a night—sold out in two minutes.

Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 10 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Me: Maybe Spencer isn’t telling the truth in how she impersonated every troll on here.

Anonymous 8 days ago
You really think someone would do that? Just go in the PluggedIn Comment Section and tell lies?

Anonymous 11 days ago
Sometimes this website doesn't let me edit my own posts for some reason, so that's why I had to delete my original and post again.
Anonymous 11 days ago
I don't believe the troll for one second. For one thing Bobed was clearly who he said he was, an uptight Christian man who loved his wife, wouldn't let his kids watch The Walking Dead, hated recent Pixar films like Inside Out and Finding Dory, and loved a lot of Christian movies like The Star and Little Boy. As well as hated most secular singers like David Bowie. Also for another thing I am not nor never have been the so called rude anonymous, and my name technically is Michael Hovey, and every single blog post I wrote is completely and utterly mine, especially the ones where I say I hate most superhero films except for Spidey 1-3 and of course Incredibles 2. Plus I am a lover of most Christian movies like the God's Not Dead trilogy, and as I've stated recently I'm also a deep lover of Shakespeare's works, even his apocryphal stuff. So whoever this Spencer person is has definitely not been impersonating me, because I most definitely am Michael Hovey, and I am no impersonator. Just a shy nearly 40 year old man prone to anxiety who still lives at home with his now handicapped mother who had a massive fall in 2016, not just broke but crushed one of her legs, and has been in a wheelchair ever since. I come from a strict conservative Baptist family who were mostly missionaries and teachers, and in fact all of my late relatives knew personally the slain missionaries and their families depicted in the movie End of the Spear. Basically I am Michael and not this Spencer person, and I will never be impersonated.
Anonymous 10 days ago
A discussion was had with the Bobed character, who turned out to be named Emma. She was on Discord and a lot of people thought she was me, but she divulged that Emma was her real name. She seemed to be telling the truth, though I don't think that anyone will trust her anymore. She said, "It's nothing personal. It was just a character."
 By the way I'm sorry about your mom, and I most definitely believe that your never were a "Rude Anonymous." Emma said she was the one who we often posted hurtful comments without saying who she was.  by the way I am going to do Henry V in school. I'm really excited about that.
-Emma Bibliophile

Anonymous 3 days ago
If you're planning on playing Katharine be sure and bone up on your French, lol. In all seriousness I'm glad your school is doing Shakespeare, and my favorite of all his history plays to boot. I just love the transformation Hal has in the story, especially compared with how he was in the Henry IV plays, and even though I don't really understand the French dialogue in the play it sure is lovely to read. Wish I could be there and see your schools production of it. Seems like something I'd really enjoy.
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Anonymous 11 days ago
I was typing so fast I forgot to say I wasn't. It was other people telling me how stupid and wrong my opinions are that were the rude ones, not me. I did edit my post though, so hopefully no one now thinks I was the so-called rude anonymous, because I most certainly am not. And also hopefully no one will believe I was this so-called troll who was saying he was Bobed and me. Basically I was just trying to let people know I'm my own person and not some stupid impersonator. Hopefully that came across in my post.
Karl The Klown 11 days ago
No need to correct. You're original post was fairly on point  
Anonymous 12 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Always good to see another Taco Bell lover Mr. Asay!

Regarding audiences tiring of sequels and reboots, I think, as I said a few weeks ago, people won’t mind them if they’re actually good and they don’t exist for the sole purpose of making money.

Good reboots do exist (like Batman Begins and Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and if Hollywood would actually hire talented people to work on the reboots/sequels (instead of just throwing out movies that carry a brand name and nothing else), people would show up.
Karl The Klown 13 days ago
So I wanted to share something with you all......

The following post was made by someone on Discord.....

spencer shay kinToday at 3:11 PM
Bobed, rude anon and every other troll are the same person, me. I’m a 20 year old Canadian girl who managed to fool everyone into thinking I was an uptight conservative Christian dad for nigh on three years. I’m pretty much every troll you’ve ever encountered on PI and I’m some of these people as well. Which ones, you’ll probably never know. I do it for fun and, yes, because I’m a sad person with no life, so don’t bother insulting me with that claim - I already know and I don’t care. And yeah, it’s been fun. I am now retiring. I trolled PI because I find the uptight conservative Christian mindset fascinating and repulsive and I wanted to see how closely I could imitate it. The answer: pretty well, I think. I don’t expect any of you to understand any of this. I’ve been on PI since you guys were in diapers (well, not literally, but you get the point) and I find it amusing to manipulate. Now though it’s over, because I’m not really getting any fun out of it anymore. Bobed is retired. All the trolls are retired. If you see trolls on those comments in the future, they’re not me. I’m glad you guys found friendship in those comments, even if I don’t necessarily agree with your worldviews, and I hope you got some amusement out of the nonsense I spewed over the last 10-ish years."

Do with this what you may. 
Happy 4th 
Anonymous 13 days ago
Top 10 groundbreaking Anime plot twists we never saw coming...

Anonymous 12 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

So wait, when will the MCU be adapting this Secret Invasion storyline?
Anonymous 12 days ago
It really is crazy. I have not been around here that long but I saw one of her posts in the impersonator day and I never would have believed it. She read as quite believable. Marvel should adapt this. It would be actually interesting.
-Emma Bibliophile
seraph_unsung 12 days ago
Hmm, Poe's Law at work (what is the difference between extremism and satire).
Anonymous 12 days ago
Yeah I read that. It was kind of crazy. Some people have way to much time on their hands.
-Emma Bibliophile
Hannah Cole 11 days ago

She sounds like she's struggling. I'll be praying for her, whoever she is.

There were some clues left along the way...Bobed mentioned once that he was Canadian and Mouse's impersonator referred to herself as a she. In the end, I hope she realized most of us were very unlike the "Christian" persona she chose to imitate.

Anonymous 10 days ago
I've found most of us have been respectful of other's opinions, and interested in other's thoughts. of course we have differing ideas, but I have found for the most part all discussion has seemed to be good-spirited.
You are right. I thought we should pray for this person. I thought we should do this when we discovered about her on Discord. Let's pray that she finds hope in Jesus.
-Emma Bibliophile
Anonymous 11 days ago
She later claimed not even to be canadian.

EDIT: They let me back!!!

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 11 days ago
Yet another reason to view everything she said with a healthy dose of skepticism. 
Hannah Cole 11 days ago
Hurrah! Welcome back, Mouse!