If you’ve ever wondered whether you check your phone more, less or about the same amount as “normal” people, well, here’s your baseline: 52 times a day. That’s how often a new survey from Deloitte Consulting says the average American adult looks at his or her phone every 24 hours.
Deloitte managing director Mic Locker told CBS News, “This year’s survey confirms that while smartphones are becoming the nerve center of our homes, our businesses, our families and our lives—consumers are craving more speed and responsiveness as their usage patterns mature.”
And if you’ve gotten news updates on your phone this week, you’ve likely been invited to take a look at the myriad of articles sifting the significant cultural influence of Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 95. Indeed, you’ll be hard pressed to find a news outlet that didn’t ponder Lee’s culture-molding imagination over the last five decades, including us (courtesy our very own Paul Asay’s blog on the subject yesterday).
One thread of commonality in several of these retrospectives notes that for Stan Lee, the biggest villain of all wasn’t some über-imbued megalomaniacal monster, but rather … racism. The Daily Beast quotes Lee as saying in a 2017 video, “Marvel has always been and always will be a reflection of the world right outside our window. … [Marvel] stories have room for everyone, regardless of their race, gender or color of their skin. The only things we don’t have room for are hatred, intolerance and bigotry.”
Those thoughts echo something that Lee wrote back in 1968 in a Marvel comic reader mail response: “Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater—one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately.”
Regarding Lee’s broader cultural influence, Salon’s Matthew Rozsa writes, “Comics pioneer Stan Lee has died. His legacy is already immortal. The magnitude of Stan Lee’s achievements in pop culture can’t be overestimated.” Lee will make one last, posthumous appearance on the big screen in the fourth Avengers film next May.
Meanwhile, if you’re feeling your age this week, why not just identify as being, say, 20 years younger? That’s what 69-year-old Dutch entrepreneur Emile Ratelband is doing, according to Time. He’s seeking to legally change his birthdate from March 11, 1949 to March 11, 1969, because he doesn’t feel that old. “We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender. Why can’t I decide my own age?” he said. He’s also said, “My feeling about my body and about my mind is that I’m about 40 or 45.”
Ah, feelings. The currency of American culture. If it feels good, it must be good. How could it be bad if my heart says it’s right? That’s exactly the worldview Walt Mueller, the head of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, critiques in his latest blog, “The Deadly Path of Following Your Heart.” He writes, “It’s the mantra for life in today’s world. It accurately reflects the spirit of the times. It’s a recipe for disaster, destruction, and death. It’s the advice we give, get, and follow so often in today’s world: ‘Follow your heart.’ …. And perhaps nothing is functionally guiding children, teens, and even adults in today’s world more than this conviction.”
I’m sure Disney wouldn’t like Mueller’s message, since following your heart is pretty foundational to most of the Mouse House’s iconic stories. Speaking of which, they’ll all soon be available via Disney’s newly announced streaming platform, Disney+. Sleep with one eye open, Netflix: Mickey’s coming for you, and he’s bringing some heavyweight franchises along for the ride, including Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and National Geographic.
And speaking of Netflix, the streaming service’s most popular program isn’t something it’s launched recently. According to Parrot Analytics (as reported by IndieWire), its most popular original content TV show is something that hasn’t aired a new season in more than a year: Stranger Things. Though streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu typically refuse to publish viewership data, Parrot Analytics has created its own proprietary tool for measuring that data. Over the last 90 days, Stranger Things came out on top, followed by Orange Is the New Black, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (a show that, oddly, sparked a lawsuit by the Satanic Temple this week), Daredevil and The Haunting of Hill House.
To wrap things up this week, The Atlantic ponders the question, “Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex?” Relevant wonders,”Is ‘Monopoly for Millennials’ in Satan’s Game Closet?” In the same publication, Mark Wahlberg talks about being a Christian in Hollywood.
Finally, the video game sequel Red Dead Redemption 2 (published by Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive) is perhaps putting a small dent in the ongoing Fortnite phenomenon, with reported sales of 17 million in its first eight days, and a staggering $725 million in just its first three days of availability.
Until next week, excelsior.