Hardly a week goes by these days without something somewhere in popular culture offending someone, it seems. Several more such stories made the rounds on the internet the last few days. And this week’s list includes a couple of surprising new “offenders.”
Starting with VeggieTales.
Yeah, that’s right, Bob, Larry and the gang have apparently touched a nerve. One student participating in the “Whiteness Forum” at California State University San Marcos called out the popular Christian animated franchise as a cultural influence that could be construed as racist. She said that the villains tended to have ethnic accents while the heroes sounded white. “When kids see the good white character triumph over the bad person of color character they are taught that white is right and minorities are the source of evil.” (Never mind that Bob and Larry were both vegetables of color—red and green respectively.)
Another student called out the NFL as racist since most coaches and owners are white and most players are black (as reported in the same article on The College Fix).
Meanwhile, USA Today reports that the all-male Princeton University a capella group The Princeton Tigertones has decided to stop performing the song “Kiss the Girl” from Disney’s 1989 film The Little Mermaid. Writing in The Daily Princetonian, Noa Wollstein said, “Even when gently crooned by an animated crab, the song “Kiss The Girl,” from the Disney hit The Little Mermaid, is more misogynistic and dismissive of consent than cute.”
While we’re on the subject of songs and sexual harassment, seems not everyone is onboard with banning the controversial song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which some have interpreted as subtly promoting date rape. San Francisco radio station KOIT asked listeners for feedback regarding whether the station should keep playing the song. The station’s outreach through polling, phone calls, email and social media found that 77% of its listeners opposed banning the song. KOIT Program Director Brian Figula said of the findings,
KOIT’s listeners have spoken, and the overwhelming message is they do want to hear ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ on our station, as they have throughout the years. More than seven out of every ten listeners who responded said although some lyrics of the song may reflect a different era and a different sensibility than today, still they love the tradition and history of the song, and want to hear it as part of their holiday season.
Similarly, when an online, unscientific poll by a New York CBS affiliate asked, “Should ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ be banned from radio?” 96% of respondents said, “No.”
Controversy also swirled around comedian Kevin Hart this week. For about 24 hours, Hart basked in the warm glow of friendly publicity surrounding him as the choice to host next year’s Oscar broadcast. Until, that is, tweets from 2009 to 2011 surfaced that many interpreted as being homophobic. Hart quickly withdrew from hosting.
While some in the culture, including Variety’s Owen Gleiberman, felt Hart was the wrong person to host the prestigious awards broadcast, others expressed concern about the aftermath of Hart’s decision to step down. National Review’s Ben Shapiro noted that the real issue here was less Hart’s “homophobia” than the comedian’s intent to raise his children by traditional values. He writes,
Now, there’s been a lot written about the puritanism of social media these days—the willingness to destroy people’s lives and reputations based on statements made years ago in jest, without nasty intent. But there’s a deeper problem many on the radical left have with Hart’s statements: He is imposing his own values on his child. This is a no-no. Parenting from a traditional values-based perspective is a threat to children, according to these radicals.
And Ellie Bufkin at The Federalist noted that applying a similar standard of judgment to other comedians immediately eliminates a whole bunch more who’ve said racist, sexist or homophobic things previously in their careers, including Tiffany Haddish, Donald Glover, Sarah Silverman and John Stewart, among others. Past hosts who’d now be DQed include Chris Rock, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel.
Elsewhere this week, CBS’s 60 Minutes aired a story about “groundbreaking” research on the effect of screen time on children. Psychologist and CBS News contributor Lisa Damour said of the findings,
We know it triggers the reward centers in the brain. And this is true for grownups too, not teenagers and kids. We also know that digital technology disrupts things that are important for healthy development—so sleep, one-on-one interactions that are face-to-face, learning how to focus on one’s schoolwork, physical activity. So we should already start to be drawing some lines around digital technology, just to protect normal and healthy development.
Believe it or not, there were other newsy things this week that didn’t have to do with bans, controversy or screen time.
Actresses Nicole Kidman and Amy Adams talked candidly about their concerns regarding their children watching some of the explicit movies and TV shows they’ve been a part of. And Aquaman star Jason Momoa told Fox News that protecting his children from the effects of his fame turns him “into a bit of a different animal.”
Over in the hip-hop world, Chance the Rapper has decided to take a sabbatical to study the Bible, saying via Instagram, “I’m going away to learn the Word of God which I am admittedly very unfamiliar with. I’ve been brought up by my family to know Christ but I haven’t taken it upon myself to really just take a couple days and read my bible.”
And if you were afraid that interest in the Avengers film franchise was waning, well, it isn’t. The arrival of the first trailer for the fourth and (presumably) final entry in the franchise, Avengers: Endgame, set a new record for number of views in its first 24 hours: 289 million, according to Marvel Studios (as reported by Variety).