Yes, it’s time to trot out the cake, light the candles and sing happy birthday to something we all know and, sometimes, love. That’s right, the World Wide Web turns 30 this month! But its father, while proud of his techno-progeny, thinks his creation has a little growing up to do.
Tim Berners-Lee, who proposed a system for organizing the still infantile internet in 1989 (which led to ever-so-many initials, including http, url and, of course, www), recently spoke at a conference in Geneva. He reminisced about the good-old days, but then turned his attention to all the gunk the World Wide Web is now saddled with: spam, spying, hate speech and companies pilfering our personal data. “Whoops! The web is not the web we wanted in every respect,” he said. Now, he’s trying to spark interest in a “Contract for the Web”—which would encourage governments to keep access available but information private, challenge companies to put the “public good” first and exhort users to be, well, nicer to each other.
Berners-Lee admits the contract leaves some prickly issues open. “Where is the balance between leaving the tech companies to do the right thing and regulating them? Where is the balance between freedom of speech and hate speech?” he said. But hey, it’s a start.
Speaking of massive entities signing contracts, the contract between entertainment behemoths Disney and Fox will be official come this time next week. Yes, that’s right: Fox and all its many intellectual properties, from the X-Men to The Simpsons, will be gobbled up by Mickey and Co., who are paying a truly astronomical $73.1 billion for the privilege. With the purchase, Disney—already the dominant force in the movie industry—will increase its share of the box office to about 40%. But not everyone is looking forward to the merger. Folks at Fox itself are getting a little nervous.
Not that Disney needed more reason to pop champagne this month, given Captain Marvel’s marvelous box-office performance in its opening weekend. We cataloged the movie’s domestic success on Mond—er, Tuesday, but turns out the opening was even bigger overseas, where it actually out-earned Black Panther at the same point in its run. Captain Marvel’s also the biggest opening ever for a movie starring a woman and directed by a woman. It’s gotten pretty good reviews, too. Even Gal Gadot—Wonder Woman herself—sent a nice shoutout to Captain Marvel’s Brie Larson on Instagram.
Still, praise was not universal. Some folks are getting a little exhausted by the feminism embodied by Marvel’s newest movie. Writes Heather Wilhelm for the Chicago Tribune, “Captain Marvel, or at least the reception to it, might be a subtle indicator of how suffocating modern feminism has become.”
So with Black Panther giving the world its first movie anchored by a black superhero, and Captain Marvel giving it the, er, second anchored by a woman, what’s next? Victoria Alonso, Marvel’s production chief, says “the world is ready” for an openly gay superhero. Rumor has it that Marvel wants to develop a movie based on the Eternals (an evolutionary offshoot of humanity, apparently), and that its lead might be recast as a gay man.
(And we should also note that the union of Fox and Disney opens the door to Avengers/X-Men/Deadpool mashups eventually. Meanwhile, the superheroes over at DC are still off-limits—and arguably DC’s biggest is getting some more big-screen exposure. Batman is celebrating its 80th anniversary this month, and as part of the festivities, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy will find its way back to IMAX theaters.)
Meanwhile, in the real world, many are marking and mourning the passing of ’80s heartthrobs Jan Michael Vincent (a troubled star best known for his 1980s show Airwolf) and Luke Perry. But while CW’s Riverdale tries to figure out how best to say goodbye to Perry (who starred in the show), his daughter is dealing with trolls criticizing how she’s grieving.
R. Kelly, the R&B singer repeatedly accused of having sex with underage girls, insisted in a recent interview that he, too, has died, or something. “I have been assassinated!” he said. But while the drumbeat for Kelly to be punished for his alleged misbehavior grows ever stronger, his fans don’t seem to care. Indeed, both his music and that of the late Michael Jackson (who we talked about extensively last week) are as popular as ever: Online purchases of their music is waxing, not waning, and Jackson’s streaming stats haven’t taken a hit, either.
But when it comes to the King of Pop, it’s not exactly business-as-usual. The Simpsons pulled an episode featuring Jackson from television and video-on-demand, and showrunner Al Jean suggests that Jackson used the popular cartoon to “groom boys.”
We could spend the balance of this space talking about the uber-buzzy college cheating scandal (which roped at least two celebs in its snare), or talk about Hailey Bieber’s wish to “represent Jesus” in the modeling industry or the ever-so-delightful story of how a hipster—priding himself on his individuality and nonconformity—mistook a picture of another hipster as himself.
But let’s instead tip our hat to Bend, Oregon—home to the world’s last surviving Blockbuster Store. As you might’ve gathered from Captain Marvel, Blockbuster was once so ubiquitous that do-gooding aliens couldn’t help but crash into them. In 2004, more than 9,000 such stores covered the country. But the company went bankrupt in the wake of Netflix’s arrival. And while some of its franchisees held on for a time, one by one they succumbed to the realities of the marketplace. Two survived into 2019: The Bend store and another in Perth, Australia. But now the one Down Under has gone under, leaving the Bend locale to stand alone.
Um, does it get a prize or something?