Culture Clips: How Dirty Is Your Phone? Dirty. REALLY Dirty.

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So much to cover this week. So let’s dive in with some nasty news about the device many of you are probably using to read these words right now: your phone.

If you’ve ever wondered how dirty it is—as in, how much bacteria calls your precious smartphone home—the answer is really dirty. In fact, experts say that your friendly online portal is teeming with seven times more bacteria than a toilet.

Why so filthy, you ask? Well, many employees’ phones spend about 40 hours a week on desks at work, spaces that have “hundreds of times more bacteria per square inch than an office toilet seat,” according to researchers at the University of Arizona. Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology there, told USA Today, “We touch more surfaces than any generation in history, from ATM machines to self-checkout counters.” The result? “You’re picking up germs all the time on your hands and fingers, putting them on your cellphone and bringing them close to your nose, mouth or eyes.”

I’ll give you a second to go clean your phone before we proceed.

As ewww-inducing as that germy factoid is, some of the content flowing through those phones can be unexpectedly troubling as well—even in online spaces supposedly “safe” for kids. Florida pediatrician Dr. Free N. Hess is calling out YouTube for a video on YouTube Kids that has instructions on how to commit suicide spliced into a cartoony video. Hess said she first learned of the video seven months ago, and that it was taken down after she let YouTube know about it. But it’s now resurfaced. On her blog pedimom.com, she writes,

In the last several days there has been a lot of talk about videos on YouTube and YouTube Kids that are inappropriate for our children. One of those videos, the cartoon with the suicide clip, was brought to light right here on PediMom.com. I wish I could say that they are isolated incidents but unfortunately I cannot. My research has led me into a horrifying world where people create cartoons glorifying dangerous topics and scenarios such self-harm, suicide, sexual exploitation, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and gun violence which includes a simulated school shooting. All of these videos were found on YouTube Kids, a platform that advertises itself to be a safe place for children 8 years old and under.

Parallel to that story, The Telegraph (UK) reports that one in four teen suicides has some connection to the internet, including teens looking for information on that subject or being bullied to the point where they’ve taken their own lives. And then there’s the Momo Challenge, a viral phenomenon involving a distorted birdlike head that encourages some who encounter it via social media to self-injure or kill themselves. Forbes writer Andy Robertson addresses some of the sensational claims related to the story, as well as offering parents advice on how to help kids think critically about trends like this one.

Pew Research Center recently asked teens what they see as their biggest concerns. Perhaps surprisingly, 70% said that depression and anxiety were the most significant issues facing them and their peers, topping concerns about bullying (55%), drug addiction (51%) and alcohol use (45%).

Meanwhile, tobacco use surged among middle school and high school students in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up 36% from 2017—an increase largely fueled by the growing popularity of e-cigarettes. The upswing in tobacco use followed many years of declining youth usage. And in states where marijuana is legal, teens are frequently getting behind the wheel while high, according to the University of Minnesota. 

Moving into the realm of pop culture, the Academy Awards handed out its coveted Oscars on Sunday night. My colleague Paul Asay has already talked about some of the highlights of the evening in his blog here. But since The Green Book was named best picture, many media outlets have taken the Academy to task for bestowing that movie with its highest honor. The Daily Beast called the award an “embarrassment,” while Salon noted that the award should have gone to a “smarter” film, like, say, Black Panther. Spike Lee wasn’t happy either.

Speaking of superhero movies, MTV thinks that Best Animated Feature winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has “changed what we expect from comic book movies.” MTV News’ contributor Brittany Vincent writes, “This isn’t a movie about impending disaster or how hard it is to be a hero. It’s a celebration of heroism, the Spider-Man franchise, and even more broadly, diversity.”

One more superhero story—well, sorta—before we move on. Many users have been blasting Marvel’s forthcoming flick Captain Marvel on the movie-review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes—never mind that the film won’t hit theaters for more than a week. Rotten Tomatoes has responded by suspending user ratings for films until they’re actually released.

Elsewhere this week, the forthcoming movie Unplanned, which tells the story of how former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson become a pro-life advocate, was given an R rating by the MPAA. In a written statement to Fox News, Johnson said of the rating, “We are pushing the boundaries of what has never been [seen] before on such a wide scale by showing America exactly what abortion is—and abortion is disturbing. It’s violent.”

She also added, “In my opinion, one of the most impactful films of our time is The Passion of the Christ. It was rated R. So I feel like Unplanned is in good company. An R rating from the MPAA isn’t going to slow this movie down. I believe people are ready for the truth.” Finally this week, Christian actress Lisa Welchel—best known for playing the character Blair on The Facts of Life from 1979 to 1988—talked with Closer Weekly about her refusal to participate in a storyline in which her character lost her virginity. “So, when I heard that that was going to be one of the storylines for that year, I did come to the producers and say, you know, I don’t think I can be a part of that.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 6 months ago
The Passion of the Christ is a beautiful telling of Christ's death and resurrection. It's so artfully directed that you almost forget about all the blood that's being spilled, though the final scene makes it sure you never forget he did it all for us and still has the scars to prove it.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I guess my comment got deleted below, so I’ll just say here that I hope that Captain Marvel is nothing but a great film, and that all of the concerns I have for the film are proven wrong.
Lostariel Bronwethiel 7 months ago
To be honest, I'm not excited for Captain Marvel. The only reason I'll be watching it is because I know how important she's going to be in Endgame, which comes out about a month and half after Captain Marvel.

I don't care half as much about Captain Marvel as I do/did for Wonder Woman. I think part of it is Brie Larson - she's a good actress, but she's not a superhero. Her characterization of Carol Danvers irritates me to death even in the trailers (especially the way she says "I'm not here to fight your war, I'm here to end it). I hope that she won't be as annoying in the movie, but I'm not counting on it. 

The special effects look pretty good, though. 

Anonymous 7 months ago
I'm excited for the movie. But I'm not excited for Brie Larson's Captain Marvel. I hope I'm wrong, but she doesn't seem all that great. I am excited for the Skrulls, Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, the Kree, and Ronin! 

I'm really hoping the movie throws in a lot of comic book references. Especially from the Kree/Skrull War (the old one). As a big Comic Book fan, it looks pretty good. Still, wish Captain Marvel was portrayed by someone else.
 
Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I agree. Brie Larson looks bored in the trailers, as if she’d rather be anywhere else.

Personally, I would have gotten someone like Yvonne Strahovski, Natalie Dormer, or even Jennifer Lawrence for the role.

Heck, even Jack Black could make for a better Captain Marvel.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Personally, if Natalie Portman wasn't already in the MCU I would have hoped she would be a better Captain Marvel than Brie Larson. I really think Sophie Turner would have been perfect for the role. I'm excited to see her in Dark Phoenix though!!

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
I have no personal Bias. Brie Larson just doesn't look that great as Captain Marvel. I hope I'm proven wrong though. I do wish Sophie Turner would get into the MCU somehow. She is a great actor.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
It would also help if Larson wasn't a complete idiot when it came to marketing.I guarantee you that there are execs over at Disney that are just face-palming.
But go ahead, blame it on bias. #killsexisim 
-David the Clown
Anonymous 7 months ago
I heard that Passion of the Christ is a hard movie to watch, but I really want to see it.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Julienne Dy 7 months ago
I saw it twice.  The second time was with a couple of guy friends, and nobody could say a word once the credits started rolling.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I know it's very hard to watch, but I still would like to see how Mel Gibson portrayed Christ's death. (I know he didn't play Christ, I'm talking about his vision as the director.)

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
It's excruciating to watch, and it's one of the most graphically violent movies ever made. But it's well-directed and undeniably powerful, especially for Christians.

-- The Kenosha Kid
Anonymous 6 months ago
For me Black Hawk Down and the first Unbroken movie are the most violent movies ever made.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Rotten Tomatoes removing the ability to state that you're not interested in seeing a film is cowardly on their part. Why would they take away the ability to say you're not interested but keep a button to say you are interested?

I'll eat my words if Captain Marvel is a resounding box office smash, but I personally think that Captain Marvel is approaching a similar outcome to Solo. Brie Larson has been very vocal that she doesn't want to hear what white men have to say about their movie, and I feel like those statements have caused disinterest and alienation in many potential ticket buyers. Because the last thing people should do when selling a product is to get up on a high horse and tell potential customers not to buy your product (because we all know how well that worked for EA and Battlefield V).
Anonymous 7 months ago
It does seem a little bit like Solo did, but Star Wars was already falling when it released, because of TLJ. That made fans (like me) not go see what is actually a pretty good film in theatres. The difference between Solo and Captain Marvel is this: the MCU is doing really good right now. Both in Box Office and in storytelling. They are coming off of a record-breaking Infinity War and Oscar-winning Black Panther (Ant-Man and the Wasp did good at the Box Office but it's not worth mentioning.) I would be surprised if Captain Marvel is a flop. They have had a bunch of downs with the film (poor marketing and Brie Larson) but if it has a woman in the main role, the liberal media is going to make it sound great no matter what. It may not perform as well as Black Panther, but the MCU is on a roll right now, I'd be surprised if it flops. 

(I may eat these words as well.)

Plus, who wouldn't want to see Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury again? That's the whole reason I'm pumped for CM.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
Rotten Tomatoes was right to remove the pointless "I don't want to see this movie" button (even though the site's motives were obviously self-serving, since Warner and Comcast Universal own it). Trolls were using it to attack movies on political grounds without watching them first.

The whole trend of prejudging movies based on their marketing campaigns, actors' comments during promotion, and supposed positions on the political spectrum seems silly. Judge the content, not the package. Right?

Last night I saw the movie Cold War. It was heartfelt, stylish, sexy, smart, politically sophisticated, and beautifully shot. Why can't more movies like that attract 0.001% of the cultural comment that the umpteenth Marvel film gets? And why does everything nowadays have to be judged based on where it stands in the culture wars? Isn't art supposed to transcend politics?

Those are sincere questions. Anybody want to tackle them?

-- The Kenosha Kid
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Unfortunately, it's near impossible for movies not to get involved in the culture wars. I wish it weren't the case, but more often than not it is. I'm fine seeing an actor onscreen that has a different political view than my own (because if I didn't, I would be left with about 1% of existing movies), but Brie Larson has really disinterested me in seeing the film. Chadwick Boseman never said he didn't want white people seeing Black Panther because it wasn't made for them. Gal Gadot never said she didn't want men seeing Wonder Woman because it wasn't made for them. But Brie Larson herself said she doesn't want white men seeing the film. I love Marvel and I wish I could see this new movie, but since Brie already said she doesn't care what I have to say about her new film, I guess I'll just stay home and give her what she wants.

Rotten Tomatoes removing the disinterested button but keeping the interested button is bias. They only want to show the people who are excited. Trolls weren't attacking the film. The so called trolls were potential ticket buyers who were saying they didn't want to see the movie.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

@A-Non-Mouse
Honestly, I didn't like Solo at all. I kept checking my phone throughout the film. I mean, I liked the card games that Han and Lando had (those were great!), but everything else about the movie was just a cash grab. The movie would have been better if it was about Han, Chewie and Lando and if they had dropped everyone else (especially L3).
Anonymous 7 months ago
When did Brie Larson say she didn't want white men to watch Captain Marvel?

-- The Kenosha Kid
Anonymous 7 months ago
I agree with you @First Comment Guy about Solo. It still isn't one of my favorites but it was better than Rogue One and Star Wars Episode II (Which is the worst film IMO). 

I also agree with you that I'm fine with seeing movies that have actors that agree with my opinions and all. But if you take offense to something an actor says and boycott their movie, there are probably hundreds of films that I enjoy that I would boycott. Take James Gunn for example, if I was like "Oh he said racial stuff back when he was younger and not famous, I'm not going to watch any more of his films." Then I'd be missing out on the fantastic GOTG films. I'm not comparing Brie Larson's statements to James Gunn's (he was actually sorry.) but people are going to say what they think. And I think that if we took offense to every little thing (which is where I feel our country is headed.) we are going to be in a bad spot. So what if Brie Larson doesn't think white men should see it? That's her opinion. I'm a white man and I don't care what she thinks. I'm still going to see it. 

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
@Kenosha Kid 
I have no idea. I honestly hadn't even heard she said that until @First Comment Guy said so.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

She said so a couple weeks back that she didn't care what a 40 year old white man had to say about her film. She also said she wanted her press tour to be more inclusive.

I get that Brie Larson wants more representation in Hollywood, but that should only happen if people are up to the job. We shouldn't be giving jobs to people just because they have a particular skin color or gender. For example, I'd be okay if a non white actor wanted to play Superman (not Michael Jordan though. He's a GREAT actor, but not for Superman). Not so I could be more inclusive, but because I would give it to the person who deserves it the most. If I were in charge of casting Superman, I would rather have an actor who gives a great performance as Superman than getting a white guy who's a terrible actor to play Superman. 

Personally, I'd love it if DC got Oscar Isaac to play Superman.
Anonymous 7 months ago
First Comment Guy,

Actually she said she didn't want to hear a 40-year-old white man talk about what was wrong with A Wrinkle in Time, since she said it wasn't made for them. She never said she didn't want white men to watch Captain Marvel.

I agree with you about meritocracy in casting. But shouldn't that meritocracy extend to how we judge the movies themselves? If casting decisions shouldn't be based on political correctness, why should our decisions about whether to watch a movie be based on political correctness?

-- The Kenosha Kid
Anonymous 7 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Nobody liked A Wrinkle In Time. Ask anyone. A person of color would have said the same thing that a 40 year old person would have said about the movie (being that it was bad).

We should judge movies based off of their quality, not just about whether or not the movie has diversity or not. Wonder Woman was my favorite movie of 2017, not because it starred a woman, but because the movie was well made (and the fact that one of the most iconic superheroes finally got her own movie). The same can be said for Black Panther.

The interesting thing people are overlooking is that the whole Captain Marvel Rotten Tomatoes controversy never happened with Wonder Woman or Black Panther. That's because neither Gal Gadot nor Chadwick Boseman never said they don't care about the opinion of men or white people. They didn't alienate a good chunk of the audience who were initially excited for their movies. Brie Larson insists on pushing her political opinion in with this movie, and I'm not interested in a film that bashes me on the head with politics.

(When it comes to politics and movies, I personally think that, regardless if the politics of a movie are conservative or liberal, is that it's okay for a movie to get political, so long as it's politics don't stick out like a sore thumb.)
Anonymous 7 months ago
First Comment Guy,

My point wasn't that A Wrinkle in Time was any good. It was that Brie Larson never said she didn't care what white men think about Captain Marvel. It's misinformation like that that seeps into the cultural ecosystem and poisons our political discourse.

You say you're not interested in a film that bashes you on the head with politics. But is there any evidence that Captain Marvel is going to do that? Brie Larson is getting political in her interviews, but how can you prejudge a movie based on its star's personal opinions?

-- The Kenosha Kid
Anonymous 7 months ago
@First Comment Guy
OH. MY. WORD. I hadn't though Oscar Issac for Superman but he's perfect for the role.

I agree with you about Michael B. Jordan too. 

I also agree with The Kenosha Kid. There isn't any evidence that Captain Marvel will be stuffed with Politics. Just because a film's star is going to push her politics out doesn't mean the film will

Also, Wrinkle in Time was the biggest waste of time from last year. Would not recommend to anyone. Pure trash.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Anonymous 7 months ago
@First Comment Guy
I think Marvel is trying to promote this film as their first female lead film so as guys, we want it to be promoted as a superhero film, not the first female lead film for Marvel (though, the Black Widow movie should have been their first female lead film IMO). And the line that she says in the trailer. She's probably just trying to be funny. As @anonymous said in the comment below, the film is tracking for a $150 million opening weekend. Probably won't be a flop.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
[removed] 7 months ago
This comment has been deleted
Anonymous 7 months ago
I agree that not many people know about her comments. I stay pretty well informed about all things MCU and I hadn't heard about that until @First Comment Guy mentioned it.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse