Culture Clips: It’s a Crazy World … So Eat Dinner as a Family

23

You don’t have to look further than your news feed to find plenty of disheartening news. And we’ll deal with some of that shortly.

But before our weekly deep-dive into the overlapping realms of entertainment, popular culture and what’s happening with kids today, I thought we’d begin with an encouraging reminder from Homeword’s Jim Burns: Family meals matter.

Yes, yes, of course we know that eating dinner as a family is nice. (Barring kids’ arguments over silly stuff, of course.) But it’s actually more than that. Much more. Scientists have identified a surprising list of benefits of eating together as a family, from lower rates of various risky behaviors, to having a stronger sense of individual identity, to … well, you can see the rest of his list here.

Now, about some of that other news.

Stories about sexual harassment once again flooded the news media this week. At the top of that list, actor and comedian Bill Cosby was convicted of three counts of sexual assault; the 80-year-old entertainment icon could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison. NBC News correspondent Dan Arkin captured the sad essence of Cosby’s fall in his article, “Bill Cosby was once ‘America’s Dad.’ Now he’s a convicted pariah.”

But NBC News found itself at the center of new allegations this week as well. They involve three women who’ve accused former anchor Tom Brokaw of inappropriate sexual conduct. NBC quickly published a letter of support for Brokaw signed by many female employees. But some staffers allege that the network pressured them into signing the letter.

Disturbing new accusations of assault have been also aired regarding embattled Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and actress Ashley Judd has filed civil suit against him for allegedly seeking to sabotage her career.

And, unfortunately, we’re not done with this week’s #MeToo news yet. A growing chorus of voices is calling for a boycott of rapper R. Kelly, who has dodged rumors and allegations of sexually abusing underage women as far back as 1994. Elsewhere, actress Kate Blanchett recently said that the only way to deal with similarly longstanding accusations against director Woody Allen is to do so in a court of law. Finally, gymnast Sabrina Vega is filing suit against gymnastic coaching legends Bela and Martha Karolyi, saying that they should have been aware of the abuses being perpetrated upon hundreds of girls by convicted sexual predator Dr. Larry Nassar (who’s currently serving a 175-year sentence). For their part, the Karolyis have said they knew nothing of those abuses.

Another story igniting a firestorm of criticism this week is the Boy Scouts’ announcement that they will drop the word Boy from their moniker as they’re increasingly open to female Scouts as well. Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted, “There’s something deeply sad about a society that presses for the Boy Scouts to stop being the Boy Scouts.”

An odd backlash of sorts is brewing against a movie that just had the biggest weekend in cinematic history. Avengers: Infinity War raked in a record-breaking haul in its first three days in theaters, $258.2 million domestically and $640.9 million (including North America’s tally) internationally. Despite an 84% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, some commentators are suggesting that Marvel’s marketing for the movie was downright deceptive, from statements about this film being the end of an era (which it obviously isn’t for anyone who’s seen the film), to trailer footage that wasn’t in the film, among other things. And The Atlantic’s David Sims wonders, “Is the shocking conclusion of the new Avengers film less effective if audiences know it might be undone?

Meanwhile, some other big-name directors are growing weary of both superhero movies and Rotten Tomatoes. Avatar and Titanic director James Cameron told IndieWire, “I’m hoping we’ll start getting Avenger fatigue here pretty soon. Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on guys, there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!” (No word on how Cameron thinks Avatar is really much different in this regard.)

And director Martin Scorsese said of movie-rating outfits Rotten Tomatoes and CinemaScore, “The horrible idea they reinforce [is] that every picture, every image is there to be instantly judged and dismissed without giving audiences time to see it. Time to see it, maybe ruminate and maybe make a decision for themselves.”

Now for a few bits of other, other news …

New research correlates youth football with earlier symptoms of the brain disorder known as CTE.

Swedish electronic dance music pioneer Avicii allegedly committed suicide this week, even as the important subjects of youth loneliness, depression and suicide continue to make headlines.

NPR reports on research that suggests pornography damages marriages, saying, “Porn is a driver in making relationships worse, increasing the divorce risk.”

Fox’s The Simpsons, now in its mind-boggling 29th season, became the longest-running primetime series in American history on April 29. That episode, “Forgive and Regret,” was the series’ 635th—pushing it past Gunsmoke as the show with the most episodes ever.

Finally this week, say what you want about Tom Cruise, but you can’t fault the guy’s cinematic commitment. The 55-year-old movie star takes the whole “I do my own stunts” cliché to the next level. Read: the stratosphere. For his forthcoming actioner Mission Impossible—Fallout, Cruise reportedly did a HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) parachute jump a staggering 106 times over the course of a year to get all the footage needed for the film. Each of the jumps from a C-17 was done from 25,000 to 30,000 feet with oxygen, sending the actor plunging earthward at speeds up to 220 miles per hour.

Director Christopher McQuarrie said of Cruise’s willingness to do almost anything to get the right shot, “For these films, it’s about what we can do that’s physically possible, but without killing Tom.”

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.

[removed] 9 months ago
This comment has been deleted
[removed] 9 months ago
This comment has been deleted
Anonymous 9 months ago
Thanks for the compliment. :)
[removed] 9 months ago
This comment has been deleted
Anonymous 9 months ago
Except I also post my opinions most of the time as well. (You just can't tell because I can't use my Facebook account for some reason...)

I namely do the song lyrics thing as a joke when I feel the tension get too high in the comment section.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I gotta be honest, Evan, but I don’t think your song lyric comments are all that funny. They were at first, but now you’re kinda pulling the rabbit out of the hat too many times.

I get what you’re trying to do, but it really isn’t working.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Yeah, I'll try to cut back on them. They do kind of wear out their welcome after a while.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I was thinking of signing my name on my posts to help stand out, come to think of it.
Natalie L 9 months ago
Are girls just as capable as boys in science/sports/math? Well, yes, obviously! Was there some things in Boy Scouts that girls wanted to do? Perhaps, and there's nothing wrong with that. But when we deny the fundamental truth that men and women different, we deny one of the most basic truths of humanity. Equal and alike are not the same thing! (To quote from A Wrinkle in Time. The book. Not the movie.)
[removed] 9 months ago
This comment has been deleted
Anonymous 9 months ago
But what if a boy doesn't like action figures and a girl wants to do something like sports or work outdoors? 

I mean, my sister played softball a lot when she was a kid and I could never get into traditionally "Manly" activities and instead preferred stuff like arts and writing. My parents were devout conservative Christians and actively encouraged us to pursue our passions. Stop boiling everything down to a black and white, but and dry case.
Julienne Dy 9 months ago
1.  I fail to see what's wrong with the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts being separate organizations.  If it's about the merit badges, maybe the organizations can start including, making, and handing out badges for more gender-neutral activities.  I don't know.  "shrug"
2.  I've heard of suffering for art, and I've also heard of method acting, but that last bit about Tom Cruise was just insane.  They did consult with experts to make the endeavor as safe as possible, right?
Anonymous 9 months ago
One of the reasons Tom Cruise is cast is because people know he does crazy stuff and go to the theater to watch the end product
Anonymous 9 months ago
If the two groups truly did the same things, then maybe it wouldn't be as much of a problem, but as we've proven before in our country's history, separate is not equal. I loved watching the pinewood car races and seeing all the other fun building and camping activities that my brother's boy scouts group got to do, but my girl scouts group at the same time only made felt puppets and painted suncatchers and such. Nothing wrong with those activities, except that they were the only option for a girl who would much rather have been working on the boy scout badges my brother was working on, which was really frustrating. I'd have been over the moon to be able to join my brother's boy scouts group instead, and I'm excited for the girls of this generation who will finally have that option!
Julienne Dy 9 months ago
So, I looked up the available badges on the Girl Scouts website, and I think I can see what the problem is.  I was able to find some STEM and outdoors-based merit badges, but most of the badges seem to be centered around either selling cookies, arts and crafts, or community service.  At the same time, if the Boy Scouts are pressing to be more gender-neutral, shouldn't the Girl Scouts be doing the same thing?  Then again, different organizations, different politics, different priorities.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Yes, I agree that the Girl Scouts should allow boys just as much as the Boys Scouts should allow girls. Boys should be able to pursue the activities offered by the Girl Scouts and girls should be able to pursue the activities offered by the Boy Scouts. None of the badges or activities that either organization offers have any reason to be gender-specific. They are different organizations and shouldn't be forced to offer the same things, but neither one should arbitrarily exclude half of the population.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Why would girls want to join the Boy Scouts when there's a thing called GIRL Scouts? It doesn't add up. (Then again, when you're a social justice warrior, it doesn't really have to.)
Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Also, I'm with Martin Scorsese on Movie sites. Watch a movie yourself, and make up your own opinion.
Anonymous 9 months ago
My sister and I were talking about this a month or two back, apparently Boy Scouts have more recognition and benefits with their merit badges or something. (I don't know, I was never in a scouting group) Also, all the Girl Scouts are known for nowadays is selling cookies. (Really Good cookies, mind you, but still just cookies nonetheless.) so I can see why more people would be more enticed to the more adventurous and venerable Boy Scouts.


Also, blaming SJWs for everything fell out of favor late 2016-early 2017. Find a new name for left-leaning extremists.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Because it's over used and grossly misused.
Anonymous 9 months ago
"Social Justice Warrior" is a facile and dismissive term that reduces the person you're referring to to a stereotype and doesn't foster rational debate and mutual understanding.

It's also an example of ad hominem name-calling, which is mean and logically fallacious. Attack the argument, not the arguer. As soon as you resort to name-calling, you've lost the argument.

Plus, the term has been embraced by people on the alt-right who have some pretty odious and un-Christian beliefs.

-- The Kenosha Kid
Anonymous 9 months ago
Because the name has no relevance to the activities performed by the two groups. They have different badges and different activities available, not to mention different levels of prestige for achieving their top rankings. Ask the average person on the street if they know what a "Gold Award" is in girl scouts, and they'll have no idea - I had to go look it up and even though I was in Girl Scouts. But if you ask the same question about an "Eagle Scout", most people will recognize the amount of work that goes into that achievement and be applauded for it. Some girls are more interested in the badges offered by the Boy Scouts, some boys are more interested in the badges offered by the Girl Scouts. They should get to decide based on the content offered by each group, not by a name that was decided over 100 years ago.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Then why not let the Girls Scouts include the Eagle Scout achievement in their badge collection? Why not let the Girl Scouts do more than sell cookies? Why not make the Girl Scouts more like the Boy Scouts?

The thing about Boy Scouts is that it gives boys the chance to bond together and to learn to be men together. By letting girls join the Boy Scouts, the boys will no longer be interested in each other; they’ll just want to impress the girls that are with them. I know that last statement may sound like stereotyping, but it’s happened to me personally on multiple occasions.

In the end, there’s no need to fix what’s not broken. In fact, there’s no reason to break what’s working just fine.
Anonymous 9 months ago
It's "working just fine" for the boys who have the program that they want, but it is indeed broken for the girls who want to be involved in those same activities. The point is that the Girl Scouts *aren't* offering those opportunities, and no one can make them. But if I don't like what CVS is selling, I can start going to Walgreens instead - that's what's happening here. Girl Scout aren't providing what some girls want, so they want to be able to do Boy Scouts instead. Except that while Walgreens doesn't say only men can shop there, previous policies were that only boys can participate in the Boy Scout activities. And if boys can't learn to focus on their activities just because there are girls around them, they are going to have serious problems for the rest of their life because, guess what, women exist, and we make up half of the world - men and women have to work together and actually get stuff done. Our rights to participate shouldn't be taken away just because someone can't think of us as anything more than a potential relationship.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Instead of fixing what’s not broken (i. e. including girls in the Boy Scouts), why not fix what IS broken?

Why not let the Girl Scouts do the same activities that the Boy Scouts do and let the Girl Scouts earn the same merit badges that the Boy Scouts earn?

I’m all the same for girls getting treated the same way as guys, but letting the Girls join the Boy Scouts just isn’t the way to do it.
Anonymous 9 months ago

That's like saying "Why not let Chick-Fil-A sell burgers?" They *could* sell burgers, nothing's stopping them. But they don't, and there's no reason they should have to sell a product they don't want to, so if I want burgers, I have to go somewhere else. And if the only place in town that sold burgers refuses to sell burgers to women, then I would have nowhere to buy a burger!


Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are different organizations. They *can* offer whatever activities they want to. But the deciding factor over their membership should be who is interested in those specific activities, not whether their name is "Jane" or "John". Both of the organizations need new names and they need to let all kids join if they want to based on their INTERESTS, not their gender.

Anonymous 9 months ago

Name one "boyish" activity that a girl shouldn't be allowed to participate in that Boy Scouts offers! There aren't any. I am a woman engineer, but as someone mentioned upthread, the Girl Scouts don't offer as many STEM-related badges. Why did my gender mean that I wasn't allowed to participate in those badges?


Your argument is entirely tautological: The group was named "Boy Scouts" 100 years ago because there were only girls, so only boys can join because it's called "Boy Scouts". If the groups had been named Earth Scouts and Craft Scouts instead, but nothing else about them changed, there would be no question. Nothing that either group does has anything to do with what body parts I have.


"Traditionally", women weren't allowed to go to University, they weren't allowed to vote, they weren't allowed to own property. This is no different. If you want us to keep those "traditional" roles, then you are relegating women and girls to a lesser personhood and saying that we don't have the full right to be human.