Culture Clips: “Mom, Where’s My Bulletproof Backpack?”

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backpack

It’s back-to-school time. That means school supplies. Pencils? Check. Erasers? Yup. Trapper Keepers? (Oh wait, it’s not the ’80s anymore. Oh wait again, they have new ones now? And vintage ones sell for big bucks? Who knew?)

Bulletproof backpack? Check.  

Now, that sounds like something your teen might find while scavenging for useful gear in Fortnite. But it’s not. For the low, low price of $99, parents can now by a bulletproof panel to slide into their kids’ existing backpacks. The company that manufactures it, BulletSafe, says sales are up 40% since 2017. Or, as USA Today reports, just get a backpack already engineered for the same purpose. (The same company that makes those, Guard Dog Security, also makes bulletproof calendars for teachers.)

That concern, of course, is driven by the frequency of school shootings in the United States. A new study of mass shootings by the FBI and Texas State University found that of the 160 active shooter attacks between 2000 and 2013, about 25% occurred in schools (elementary, secondary, universities).

Trends like that one can leave parents feeling anxious and longing to do something that confers a sense of safety and control. But they still may not be as anxious and stressed out as teens themselves are these days. And naturally, it’s not just such obvious dangers that are making them fret. Utah’s Deseret News recently published an in-depth synthesis of the many factors contributing to teen anxiety these days. It examines how teens are struggling to balance technology, social media, relationships, and preparation for college and career—and the “fear of missing out,” or FOMO, that can come with having more options and information than ever before.

Speaking of acronyms, keeping up with evolving teen terminology and text-speak could probably be a full-job. “Lit,” for example, no longer means being intoxicated, but something that’s cool. And that’s just one of the word choices and acronym explanations you’ll find in Jennifer Jolly’s helpful USA Today article “‘It’s Lit’: The Ultimate Guide to Decoding Your Teen’s Text and Speak.” (Unfortunately, it’ll probably be outdated by the time you finish reading this blog.)

Elsewhere in teen news this week, many will no doubt be finishing up summer jobs as they head back to school. But perhaps fewer than we’ve seen in previous decades. National Public Radio reports that adolescents are increasingly eschewing those traditional summer jobs as lifeguards or pizza makers, joining the workforce later than ever. In 2000, 52% of teens had jobs. Today, that percentage has fallen to 35%.

Once school’s in session again, many kids will be relying on screens—both in the classroom and doing their homework on their own. But just how does digital engagement affect learning? In her extensive article “Do Students Lose Depth in Digital Reading,” Salon contributor Naomi Baron examines what science has to say about that question. Among other findings, researchers believe that screen-based reading encourages skimming and introduces the possibility of digital multitasking, both of which could potentially have a negative impact on memory, comprehension and critical thinking.

We never have to look too far to find news these days about what’s happening on screens, large and small. And this week is no exception. The media conglomerate Viacom reports that TV continues to retain its position at the top of the screen hierarchy, saying, “People use smaller screens only when they have to.” Then again, Viacom—the corporate owner of such “larger screen” entertainment properties such as MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Paramount—might have a vested interest in that assertion.

The Hollywood Reporter says, in contrast, that teen television consumption has been cut in half the last five years. Natalie Jarvey writes, “Generation Z is embracing digital entertainment at an unprecedented rate, representing a seismic generational shift in consumption habits that is radically transforming the media landscape.”

As reported last week, teens (and others) still tuning in to CW’s superhero shows this winter will meet a new LGBT hero, Batwoman, played by openly gay actress Ruby Rose (The Meg, Orange Is the New Black). Rose told late-night host Jimmy Fallon that the casting has been an emotional one for her: “I feel like the reason I kept getting so emotional is because growing up watching TV, I never saw somebody on TV that I could identify with, let alone a superhero.”

Still, the news hasn’t come without controversy. Surprisingly, however, criticism has come mostly from the far left, specifically some on social media who’ve said Rose isn’t “gay enough.” That criticism prompted the actress to leave Twitter.

If you’ve ever wondered when the Oscars were going to start rewarding popular films instead of dark indie movies no one’s ever seen, well, your wait is over. (We’ll be talking about this news in more depth in our Plugged In Vodcast later this week.)

And if you’ve ever wondered why the game show Family Feud is so full of sexual innuendo, well, you’re not alone. Former NCIS star Pauley Perrette ripped into the show on Twitter this week, tweeting, “Dear @FamilyFeudABC  I love @SteveHarveyFM and I love game shows. WHY DO YOU MAKE YOU PROGRAM SO FILTHY? Even with child players? No reason.” She also wrote, “I’m a sociologist, love @FamilyFeudABC but WHY WHY are all the questions  now filthy and sex questions? There’s so much more to humans. Cmon.”

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 7 months ago
As far as the Kendrick Brothers are concerned, I enjoy Fireproof and Courageous more for their messages than for any type of artistry involved, but I'm probably one of the few people on the planet who thought War Room was more annoying than anything, and frankly Facing the Giants has always been seen as weak to me.
Rocketshipper 8 months ago
I have the suspicion that they created the popular movie Oscar so that they will have an award to give Black Panther, since I highly doubt it could have seriously been a contender for Best Picture, but there are TONS of people who believe it should be a best picture nom, and are making a huge deal about it's cultural and political impact.  If the Oscars don't acknowledge it in some way, it will be back to the #OscarsSoWhite days.    
seraph_unsung 8 months ago
To the people talking about gun violence and bulletproof backpacks: Personally I think it's a false dichotomy to say that the problem only lies in one area, being "the gun" (i.e., "but what about law-abiding carriers") or "the wielder" (i.e., "a madman with a knife likely can't kill as many people as quickly as a madman with a gun").
Anonymous 8 months ago
In my opinion, the "bulletproof backpack" thing is like giving out free tissues in case somebody catches the flu, instead of vaccinating against the flu. We need to treat the core issues that CAUSE gun violence rather than simply hoping & wishing it doesn't happen.

-Posted by Chuck
Anonymous 8 months ago
what would you consider the root cause of gun violence?
-Davidiswise The Clown
Anonymous 8 months ago
There are dozens. Where would you like me to start?
Anonymous 8 months ago
wherever you'd like. I'm curious as to what you would believe are the core issues to gun violence. 
My personal belief is that the issue lies in the individual perpetrating the violence, not in the object of the gun itself. 
-Davidiswise The Clown
Anonymous 8 months ago
-Gun culture - mostly in America, but unfortunately spreading to other places as well.

-Sort of related to the above: horrifyingly easy youth access to guns. Why does a 15, 16, 17-year-old kid need a weapon of his own that he can use at his discretion? Why are young kids being given such easy access to weapons?

-Mental illness. This is a biggie.

-Depression and emptiness among youth.

-Media that glorifies violence - movies, video games. Now, before you go all "But *I* play video games and *I'm* not a bad person!", hold your horses, I'm not saying that. But they can and do contribute.

-Previous attacks - it's hard to name an attacker that didn't glorify previous attackers. Most are copycats.

-Bullying and isolation.

-Radicalization on the internet - so many horrible niche cultures are popping up and gaining traction, and this issue is becoming widespread. See Elliott Rodger, and the others who have copied his example. 

-Poor parenting. Lack of instilled morals, values and faith. Today's culture and methods of parenting produces directionless, unprincipled kids with lazy parents, who in turn produce an even worse generation. Now, again, before you say "But *I'm* a Gen Z kid and *I'm* not like that!", I get it. But there IS a problem and it DOES contribute. 

-And many more smaller contributing issues.

The problem does not necessarily lie with the individual. In the case of mental illness, it lies with the individual more so, yes. But still, there is the problem of the lack of support and stigma against said illness that would prevent or preclude said individual from seeking help. And with all these other issues, the problem is SOCIAL. We have many, many, many SOCIAL problems, and yes, some of them do lie with guns themselves. And I'm tired of feeling a spark of fear in my heart whenever I do something as simple as sending my children off to school, and I'm sick of wondering if they feel that fear, too. It shouldn't have to be this way. 

-Posted by Chuck
Anonymous 7 months ago
Well stated, Chuck 
-Davidiswise The Clown
charitysplace 8 months ago
Yup.
Americans have always had guns.
But Americans have not always been mass-shooters.
What's changed?
Anonymous 8 months ago
It would be nice if the Oscar's finally decided to nominate some worthy Christian films for a change. It was wonderful to see Hacksaw Ridge and Silence get nominated 2 years ago, definitely 2 of the best Christian films I've ever seen, but there have been tons of other great Christian films released the past few years that haven't gotten nominated for anything, namely the God's Not Dead movies, Left Behind with Nicholas Cage, Do You Believe, and of course last year's best Christian film in my opinion The Shack. So who knows, maybe later this year we'll see God's Not Dead 3 leading the pack of nominations. I wouldn't hold my breath, but stranger things have happened.
Anonymous 8 months ago

The difference is that Hacksaw Ridge and Silence were well-made movies that happened to be built on Christian ideas, and the others were artistically slapdash Christian polemics that were targeted at a very specific audience. Their primary goal was to cater to that audience and reinforce that audience’s beliefs, not to produce a great work of art.

 

Judging from their popularity among Christians, those movies accomplished what they set out to do. But that doesn’t make them Oscar material.

 

Same thing with superhero, horror, romantic comedies and other genre movies. They’re trying to please a particular crowd, not produce the next Citizen Kane.

 

-- The Kenosha Kid

Anonymous 8 months ago
Very well stated Kenosha. Completely agree 
-Davidiswise the Clown
Anonymous 8 months ago
Apparently we have to agree to disagree here, because even though Hacksaw Ridge and Silence are both incredibly artistic movies, I also think Left Behind, The Shack, and especially Do You Believe are all very artistic as well. They have great directing, wonderful acting, and tell very powerful emotional stories with the case of Do You Believe interweaving several stories together much like Crash did. One could argue the God's Not Dead movies are not that artistic to look at, but even so they still tell powerful emotional stories with number 3 even dealing with issues of violence which is very prevalent today. I'm not saying that every Christian movie made within the last 10 years or so have artistic merit in them, since certain movies like those made by the Kendrick Brothers, the Veggietales movies, or last year's Let There Be Light clearly aren't up to snuff artistically, but there are lots of other Christian films that have lots of artistic merit to them that in my opinion should have been recognized by the Academy.
Anonymous 8 months ago
You have to look at the intended audiences when you are considering something like Gods' not Dead and Silence. GND had a very specific demographic when it was made. Namely evangelicals. Which is completely fine, there is a huge market for films like that. To be honest, I have never seen any of the GND films, nor do I plan to. I have read their arguments for the existence for God, and they seem to be very weak. I think there are much better resources for apologetics, and if anyone is interested, I would highly recommend the podcast "Unbelievable", which features debates between Christians and non-Christians on things such as the existence of God, morality, dogma etc....
I have not seen The Shack either, mostly because I have strong disagreements about it's theology. I believe that Pluggedin released a article on The Shack and Logan (which was the best movie of last year imo), and it basically was showing that a completely secular, R rated film such as Logan could have a bigger spiritual impact then The Shack.(the song that Lecrae did for The Shack was pretty great though!) 
Now I actually believe that the Kendrick brothers are really good film makers. Courageous and War Room were fantastic films I believe. Possibly the best explicitly Christian films in existence.

So with all that said, I do believe that the bottom line is that Explicitly christian filmmakers undermine their message when they become so concerned about their intended audience, which is why films like Hacksaw and Silence is that there was not specific audience intended, they were just incredible stories that happened to have Christian bedrock. 
-Davidiswise the Clown   
B Evans 8 months ago
Bullet proof backpacks. Kyrie Eleison.
Julienne Dy 8 months ago
Yeah, the popular film category for the Oscars feels like a ploy to increase viewership, but at the same time, it's nice to know that movies I've actually watched might get some recognition.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I see your point, Julienne. And I would encourage you to check out some of the nominated movies from the last few years. Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Phantom Thread, Lady Bird, Spotlight, Boyhood, Brooklyn...all top-notch movies. Most of the good ones tend to come out around December, which makes it challenging to see them all, but it's fun to try.

-- The Kenosha Kid
Anonymous 8 months ago
It is true that there have been some genuinely good films that have been nominated over the last couple years. But almost all of them have had a strong left leaning worldview in some way or another. Shape of Water, Moonlight, and Lady Bird are good examples. 
Not only do these types of films cater to a leftist audience, but they also don't resonate with the majority of the public, so that they are mostly films that no one sees, but Hollywood thinks deserve it's praise. So I find this new category to be slightly condescending and arrogant.

Now don't get me wrong, I think that just last year, some pretty great films were nominated, namely Dunkirk and The Disaster Artist. But as a whole, I believe that the Oscars are very biased when they decide which films to nominate. Which I think is fine, they are a privately owned enterprise. But I am slightly annoyed that they think that they can boost viewership just by making a category for the layman
-Davidiswise The Clown    
Anonymous 8 months ago

Hi Davidiswise (cool name, by the way),

 

There are perfectly good reasons that Oscar-nominated movies are more likely to reflect a liberal worldview. The big one is that liberal ideas generally tend to produce better art. Liberals tend to value creativity, daring, newness and ambiguity, while conservatives tend to value tradition, authority, modesty and adherence to an established moral code. Great art (movies, music, painting, you name it) tends to be associated with the first set of ideas rather than the second.

 

(For the record, I consider myself a moderate who thinks both sides have some great ideas.)

 

I find the new category to be condescending too, but I sympathize with the Oscars’ effort to retain relevance in an increasingly fragmented and polarized culture and an entertainment industry that’s leaning more toward on-demand TV. Their alternatives are 1) do nothing and watch their ratings and cultural relevance dwindle; 2) democratize their internal voting system and turn the nomination process into a popularity contest; or 3) try something new to appeal to mainstream moviegoers.

 

It doesn’t surprise me that they chose Option 3, although the way they’re going about it is pretty ham-handed.

 

-- The Kenosha Kid

Anonymous 8 months ago
haha. Thanks Kenosha!

You make some really good points. And I completely agree that Liberals in general make better art. But I believe that Liberals who try tho convey their message in very blatant terms in their films often fail in the same way that Christian filmmakers fail. Namely, that they become very narrow in terms of their content and audience. And I believe this has been the case with the majority of Oscar nominated films. 
Now I do understand that the whole culture of Hollywood is very liberal to start with. I just think that a lot of people want to see more verity with in not only the nominations, but also the actual Oscar winners. So I do agree that the Oscars where pretty limited in their options to start with, I just don't think they will be able to bring up their viewership. I could be wrong though. 

Also, for the record, political science is a hobby of mine, and I would be conservative on may issues (although I wouldn't call myself a republican, if that makes sense). But I do actually enjoy hearing from worldviews that are different from mine. I think that is a great way to grow as a individual! I just personally get frustrated by what seems to be a one-sided situation.
-Davidiswise The Clown 

P.S- I honestly have no clue why Logan didn't get nominated. Seriously! That was one of the greatest films of all time! BIG OVERSIGHT in my opinion