Culture Clips: Goodbye Hello

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culture clips hello goodbye

Goodbyes are hard.

We’ve had to say a bunch of them lately, from Boyz in the Hood director John Singleton, who died late last month, to 7-foot-3 Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in most of Star Wars films and died last Thursday. Christians mourned the passing of Rachel Held Evans, an influential evangelical author whose views on some spiritual issues at times made her controversial. Others said farewell to Jean Vanier, founder of a series of communities that revolutionized how the mentally disabled could be cared for. (Those communities were the focus of Summer in the Forest, one of my favorite documentaries last year.)

Many of us mourn others, too—people who might never see their names in headlines. Experts say that in around 50 years or so, the dead will outnumber the living on Facebook.

Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye, even when to characters in works of fiction.

Just ask fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones, in which some residents of Westeros said their gruesome farewells over the last two episodes as the show itself readies itself to end. (‘Course, lots of fans would rather talk about that stray Starbucks cup that found its way into the latest episode.)

Or there’s Avengers: Endgame, which closed the book on a good chunk of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with its release. The New Yorker acknowledged this end-of-an-era film, discussing the MCU’s 22-film “narrative experiment,” while The New York Times’ critics talked about its overwhelming influence. NBC says that Endgame is the culmination of a decade-long transition in Hollywood itself. And as we’ve already noted, plenty of folks are ponying up their hard-earned cash to say goodbye in person. Some believe the film might well pass Avatar as the most lucrative movie ever. When Chris Pratt posted a behind-the-scenes video to Instagram featuring some of the movie’s stars, it was favorited more than 5.3 million times.

“Nobody was allowed to film anything on their phones,” wrote Pratt. “I said screw it. No rule was going to stop me from seizing this once in a lifetime opportunity to capture this collection of stars, a group that likely will never be in the same room again. We are so blessed.”

But, of course, every goodbye is also an opportunity for a bunch more hellos, and Endgame is no different. Several old Avengers are getting new television shows, and a new trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home is so spoilery that star Tom Holland warns fans not to watch it if they’ve not seen Endgame yet. Oh, and because of Endgame, Robert Downey Jr. apparently said hello to about $75 million George Washingtons … and counting.

Speaking of hellos, the World Video Game Hall of Fame welcomed four new entrants through its vaunted doors: Colossal Cave Adventure, Super Mario Kart, Microsoft Window’s ever-present Solitaire game and the controversial pixelated bloodbath that was, and is, Mortal Kombat. Plugged In wasn’t reviewing video games back in 1992 when the latter was first released, but I’m pretty sure we’d have had some harsh words for it. Plenty of others did. “Instead of enriching a child’s mind, these games teach a child to enjoy inflicting torture,” Sen. Joseph Lieberman said in 1993. Lieberman obviously wasn’t too successful in squashing the franchise, though: Mortal Kombat 11 just came out last week.

The gaming industry has clearly found success in sameness—churning out slightly tweaked versions of the same game year after year. In the music world, though, sameness is stale. Taylor Swift’s new song “ME!landed predictably at No. 1 and featured the superstar’s latest reinvention of her own image. Writing for NBC, Maura Johnston says that Swift and others “are following the path that Madonna laid down in the ’80s, when each album release doubled as the announcement of a new pop epoch.” (So maybe it is sameness after all, I guess.)

And pop’s provocative grand old lady hasn’t stopped reinventing herself yet, either. Her latest persona (rolled out in advance of her 14th studio album) is someone she calls, according to MTV, “Madame X: a professor, a cabaret singer, a cha-cha instructor, and a spy in the house of love.” MTV’s Erica Russell unpacked Madonna’s continuing influence.

She set a revolutionary precedent that nearly every pop artist who has emerged since has acknowledged, whether overtly or subtly within their own art. Even in 2019, nearly 40 years after her debut, contemporary pop’s biggest players are still taking notes.

Not everything has proven to be quite so, um, pliable. Take Samsung’s folding phone, which was supposed to be released April 26. Alas, phones sent to tech reviewers kept breaking. After initially saying the phone would be released as scheduled anyway, Samsung thought better of it and is now postponing the phone’s official debut indefinitely. Keep in mind, this was the same company that sent the Note 7 to market in 2016—a product that initially had the unfortunate glitch of occasionally exploding. Gizmodo’s Alex Cranz suggests that maybe Samsung shouldn’t be quite so eager to ship out unfinished products in its quest to be first.

On a hopefully slightly unrelated note, Samsung does hope to be the first company to release a vertical television! For Millennials, we’re told!

While we’re on the subject of public embarrassments, we might as well talk about the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer, wherein the titular character has a full mouth of human teeth. Who knew that good dental hygiene could be so disturbing to longtime fans? And then there’s the case of the lifetime achievement award that UCLA’s Student Alumni Association handed to “American Pie” singer Don McLean, an honor it almost immediately rescinded after it learned that McLean had been accused of (and initially pled guilty to) domestic violence a few years ago.

We’ve talked quite a bit about loss and goodbyes and even death in this edition of culture clips, but let’s not forget that there is always hope. That even the dearly departed can and may find new life.

Case in point: Wendy’s spicy chicken nuggets.

Wildly successful (and Christian) musician Chance the Rapper is apparently a fan of said nuggets, which vanished from Wendy’s menu sometime in the distant past. In a tweet, he expressed hope that they’d come back.

Wendy’s responded to Mr. the Rapper, saying that if Chance’s tweet was liked 2 million times, the chain would bring back spicy nuggets. Less than 48 hours later, it was a done deal.

Yes, goodbyes are hard. But in a pop-culture world where superheroes are sometimes resurrected, television shows can be rebooted and even hot processed chicken bites can come back from the dead, they need not be permanent.

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 5 months ago
Hey, thanks for your reviews PI and the way you unpack everything for us to consider in a Christ-like way.
 Just a thought, could you mention more books in your blog? I read a lot (hence my username) and I don't have a chance to watch a lot of the movies you talk about. 
-Emma Bibliophile
Cam Thompson 5 months ago
Why are we so eager to stamp any artist who mentions God as  “Christian”, regardless of the context? 

“Chance is Christian and it’s OK to listen to his other 8 songs about drugs, sex, and money because, well, at least he mentioned God in one song. Right?”

Does he truly provide an accurate, set-apart representation of being a slave to Christ?

But hey, just another judgmental, self-righteous Pharisee talking...

Anonymous 5 months ago
But, he did the Lord's work by bringing back Spicy Nuggets at Wendy's though!

(For the record, I've never eaten at Wendy's before...)

-Evan
Anonymous 5 months ago
I just about died at this post Even.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 5 months ago
GO TO WENDY'S! My advice when you go: order a Frosty.
-Emma Bibliophile
Anonymous 5 months ago
Chance I don't believe is a Christian, but I haven't payed much attention to him. But I guess the same could be said about Chris Pratt but I believe he is a Christian. Even though he does some things I do not agree with I still think he is.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Karl The Klown 5 months ago
I don't get the appeal of Chance. He is the third most overrated rapper in existence (surpassed only by Drake and Kendrick) honestly, the dude is terrible at making music   
Anonymous 5 months ago
Lol. Of course. (Drake isn't terrible, but he definately isn't the best IMO, NF is my favorite rapper.)

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Julienne Dy 6 months ago
It wasn't Sonic's teeth that got me.  It was those long, freakishly realistic human legs that don't even look like they should be his.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Honestly, it was just everything about him for me. Except during wide shots when he was running. He looked weirdly decent in those.

-Evan
Julienne Dy 6 months ago
That's because he was nothing but a blue streak with hair in his running shots. 
Anonymous 6 months ago
Good point. 

-Evan
Anonymous 6 months ago
I remember being amused when I first saw the teaser poster. There, Sonic looked like an unfortunate hybrid between Sonic the Werehog and a monster. While he actually looks better in the trailer than he did in the poster, in my opinion, I still wish they were a little more faithful to his design in the games. Although some of the movie creators claimed that they needed to make him look more "realistic", Sonic still looks pretty cartoony. 

When I first heard of the film's plot it actually reminded a bit of Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic X. However, I have no desire to see this film in theaters.
Karl The Klown 6 months ago
David Attenborough turned 93 today. Happy birthday!
Oh....and Marx turned 201 a couple days ago...woohoo....
Karl The Klown 6 months ago
Finally, Chance did something beneficial to society....
Anonymous 6 months ago
I have absolutely no desire to see Game of Thrones ever. There is so much good fantasy in this world, but GOT sounds so very bad. 
Some fantasy that MIGHT be good:
 1 Amazon might be making a series of Tolkien's Silmarillian or Second Age, which positively wowed me, as I am a HUGE Tolkien fan. 
2 The original Lord of the Rings movies which I have yet to see but I fervently hope meet my expectations.
3 Not really fantasy, but how about the man himself?!?  I can't wait to see Tolkien, , the movie!
 The Hobbit movies were so/so. 
       -Emma Bibliophile
Karl The Klown 6 months ago
HOW HAVE YOU NOT SEEN LOTR?!?! THEY ARE SOME OF THE FEW ACTUALLY GOOD FILMS IN EXISTENCE!!!
Seriously, you will not be disappointed.  
 
Anonymous 6 months ago

I haven't been allowed to see them yet because I have to watch them late at night and in order and we have only seen two hobbits, which were a bit exhausting. They did not need to stretch them that much. 
I have read the books a lot. Best book in existence.
    Emma Biblihi
E
Uhi
E
Anonymous 6 months ago
Agreed! HOW IN THE WORLD! There literaly is no excuse they've been out 10+ years!

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
You are clearly missing out on the best fantasy series out there: BIONICLE

-Evan
Anonymous 6 months ago
Never heard of it.
   -Emma Bibliophile
Anonymous 6 months ago
Lol.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I’m personally more of a Ninjago kinda guy myself.
Anonymous 6 months ago
 Lego Batman is good. I thought it had a great message, and was a fun superhero movie. I did like Ninjago too.
  -EmmaBibliophile
Anonymous 6 months ago
First off. You need to watch the LOTR. Second off. The TV series I'm a little sceptical about. Amazon is making it and they haven't been known to make clean shows sadly. I'm definately expecting blood and gore levels to be a lot higher than the LOTR and Hobbit series. I hope they don't throw cursing and tons of *ahem* bad scenes (I think you know what I'm talking about) into it like GOT did. But I would not be surprised. I am excited that they chose the second age because the Silmirillion is one of my favorite books and my favorite of Tolkien's works. There is so much they can cover and I'm glad it will be new characters that are focused on. I kind of doubt Amazon will make it clean as LOTR though. Good thing by the time it's out I'll be 18. (Guessing it will probably come out early to late 2021. Even though production has started they will want to make sure everythings perfect. The script isn't finished and they probably haven't cast all the roles yet. Probably still working on getting sets set up. So they start filming for I would guess 3 to 4 months if the episodes are going to be about 40 minutes to an hour long. Probably shooting only 10 or so episodes. Then they move into post production editing and stuff in summer of 2020 that takes quite a few months and then they have to start marketing and making sure everything is perfect. Early 2021 at the soonest.)

EDIT: Also to touch on the Tolkien movie: I wanted to see it to. But after the Rotten Tomatoes score and the poor reviews, I don't want to see it as much. Might watch it when it goes on DVD

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I don’t listen to Rotten Tomatoes. They get in the way of me forming my own opinion on a movie instead of just having the same opinion as everyone else. I prefer to use  the audience score on RT instead to be honest.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I love Silmarillian even though it's so different than LOTR, especially Beren and Luthian which Tolkien modeled on him and his wife Edith. (They had better mention that in the movie.) 
 The nice thing about language is that if they want to be accurate they wouldn't take the Lord's name in vain, because Middle-Earth has different gods. (They could swear in elvish and we wouldn't know what they were saying.) I'm not holding my breath though.
      - Emma Bibliophile 
Anonymous 6 months ago
@FCG I agree with you, but when I'm already a little skeptical of a film and then It gets a bad score, that's when I start to question seeing it. I thoroughly enjoyed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and didn't enjoy The Last Jedi. 

@Emma Bibliophile I didn't enjoy Beren and Luthien as much as I loved the insane world building. There isn't a single part of land that doesn't have a backstory and story. That's why I'm excited for the show. Although, again, it's Amazon. 

To the point of the Tolkien film. It wasn't authorized by the Tolkien estate. That is making me even more skeptical. Sorry, but I will not being watching it in theatres. I hope I'm wrong and that it actually is enjoyable, but I'm not holding my breath.

EDIT: From the Plugged In review, it seems I wasn't wrong about the Tolkien movie sadly.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
I loved the amazing detail in Middle-Earth, which he spent his entire life writing (see the History of Middle-Earth by his son) and all those amazing languages he invented. Tolkien was a philologist.
  Also, they should have made a movie about him and C.S. Lewis. That is one of the most important friendships of the last century. Tolkien converted Lewis to Christianity, and Lewis was the only one who really cared about LOTR while he was writing it and gave him a lot of encouragement.
  That's my thought. It would be a good movie.
     -Emma Bibliophile
Anonymous 6 months ago
Sorry History of Middle-Earth was EDITED by his son not written. None of Tolkien's works released posthumously were written by his son. Just edited. I've read most of them. Also, there is a really good documentery that I watched a while back about C.S. Lewis that outlined the friendship a little bit. Can't remember the name of it.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
I meant that he published it with his commentary. Yes, he edited it. My mistake. I have like those books. They show a lot of Tolkien's creative process.
He had Aragorn be a hobbit at first. 
  -Emma Bibliophile
charitysplace 5 months ago
Saw "Tolkien" yesterday. What a gorgeous, moving, deep movie about love, loss, friendship, and fellowship. I laughed and I cried and I walked out feeling like I now "understand" JRR Tolkien.
Anonymous 5 months ago
@charitysplace I am glad that someone enjoyed it because I want to see it BAD and the reaction from PI was a bit tepid so I am not sure what to think.
 I am not expecting the movie to be perfect but I do want to see it, being a giant fan. Tolkien inspired me so very much, from his academic career, to his faith (I am not a catholic but his devotion was great) to his imagination and genius with languages.
 I got this inspiration from biographies and commentary by Christopher Tolkien, but I think a man like him deserves our recognition. 
 So I am definitely seeing that movie.
-Emma Bibliophile



Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Sonic's design never really bothered me to be honest. I realize that, at the end of the day, you can never make everyone happy, so it's best just to do your own thing. And sure, I would have preferred a look similar to the Dreamcast Adventure games, but overall, the only problem with his design was that he was wearing Nike sneakers. I was like, "Really? Product placement?"

At the same time, though, I'm glad the director is taking the constructive criticism to heart and will be making the fans happy by changing his look. It's refreshing to see people in the entertainment industry actually care about the fans, and not just pulling a Lucasfilm and EA on us. I'll be seeing the movie honestly just because the director actually wants to make the fans happy.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Speaking of the Adventure games and branded sneakers, Sonic did wear licensed "SOAP" brand sports shoes in Adventure 2.

-Evan
Anonymous 6 months ago
It is really sad Peter Mayhew died. Not surprising but it's still sad.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
Rest in peace, walking carpet.
Anonymous 6 months ago
So true...

Side Note: I post first comment check back later for activity there is none and then I get back on 12 hours later and you guys have blown up the section!

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 6 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Just comes to show that the most interesting conversations on here happen when it’s not just about Marvel!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Hahaha! Yep!

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Karl The Klown 6 months ago
Agreed.Enough with Marvel!
Now, who here is up for a rousing discussion on the inherent superiority of the free-market healthcare and private insurance over social welfare programs, and the inherent socialist undertones of the latter?
  
Anonymous 6 months ago
 @Karl The Klown If we did that we would break Plugged In!



Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Karl The Klown 6 months ago
Pish posh. It would only enhance PI