Culture Clips: New Year, New Fears

bird box culture clips

Happy New Year? Let’s be honest: Some people may be walking into 2019 with a sense of fear and trepidation. Some say that the greatest trigger for fear is uncertainty, and we’ve got 360-some days of uncertainty ahead of us. Why, when some people turn over the calendar year, they may have to stifle the urge to shut their eyes.

Just like in Bird Box. Only there, of course, closing one’s eyes to one’s fear is just good common sense.

The Netflix movie starring Sandra Bullock features monsters so terrifying that just looking at them could, and likely will, kill you. But according to Netflix, plenty of people looked, anyway—more than 45 million of ’em, in fact, and in just its first week. That’s the best showing ever for a Netflix film, the company crows. And if multiple people watched the movie from one account, that might balloon the final figures even more.

But just for kicks, if we A) assume that only one person watched per account, and B) everyone watched the movie straight through (instead of the 70% that Netflix officially counted as a “watch”), and if we C) calculate that current box-office figures reflect the 2018 per-ticket price of $9.38, Bird Box would already be No. 4 in the year’s box-office standings, just a hair ahead of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Pretty, um, eye-popping.

That, plus the “choose-your-own-adventure” episode of Black Mirror (“Bandersnatch”), plus its streaming of Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” tour, gave Netflix a pretty spectacular close to the old year. But it still might not be enough to boost the company’s stock.

Perhaps if there’s one thing we could all shut our eyes to a little bit more, it’d be our phone screens. The New York Times tells us that Americans spend around $1,380 and 1,460 hours on our phones (the equivalent of 91 waking days), and that our time could—literally—be so much better spent. (You could do the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe on a bicycle, for one thing, according to the Times.)

And here’s another advantage: Some resorts are offering perks for setting aside their smartphones. Snorkeling, anyone?

‘Course, if we all gave up our smartphones, viewership on Fortnite player Ninja’s Twitch Channel would go way down. (And, for Ninja, at least, that’d be a shame.)

Yes, technology can be a frightening thing. In Seattle, tech addiction treatment centers, complete with residential rehabs and 12-step programs, are all the rage. ABC News offers its own profiles of some young tech addicts. But technology’s grip on youth doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. A new survey finds that teens are finding new role models in social media celebs, and one Japanese man has gone so far as to marry a hologram.

The man mentioned above might describe himself as a “digisexual”—a rising sexual identity, it seems, in an era in which sexuality is growing ever more fluid. Another example: Lachlan Watson, one of the stars of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, plays a girl on the show. His/her own gender journey is more complex, first identifying as a “cisgender lesbian” at 13, then coming out as “trans” at 15, and now describes himself (his preferred pronoun, even though he admits that pronouns have little meaning for him) as “non-binary,” or what he calls “the gender void.”

Parents have lots more to worry about in the coming year. For instance, a new study found that three times as many kids and teens died of opioids in 2016 (the latest year studied) than they did 20 years ago. Kids too young to open child-proof containers? Well, they still might (or might not) have heard Grover cursing on Sesame Street. And there’s a chance they could be in cahoots with your digital assistant: A mom just caught her 6-year-old son asking Alexa for the answers to his math homework.

Yes, the new year does look discomfortingly familiar to the old one, in some ways. So lest we begin 2019 in too somber a place, let’s think about Dick Van Dyke for a moment—specifically his delightful cameo in Mary Poppins Returns.

Back in the original, Van Dyke played an old, old, old banker. He played an old banker in the newest version, too—but given that he’s now 93 years old, he likely saved the production a lot of money on makeup. The legendary actor shared many a special moment with the new cast while he was on set, and when it came time for his onscreen dance, the nonagenarian was equal to the task. Director Rob Marshall told Entertainment Weekly:

All of that is him, every bit of it. And in fact, when he jumped on the desk, we had put a stool, a chair, and then the desk, and [Lin-Manuel Miranda] was there to help him up. He didn’t use Lin’s hand. He didn’t even use the stool. He just jumped up. We were like, ‘What did he just do!?’ Because he could, and he was so excited to do that. And we did it a few times! It’s not like we just did one take!

Listen, if Dick Van Dyke can still jump on tables at 93, I think we can all face the new year with our eyes wide open.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

charitysplace More than 1 year ago
Loved Mary Poppins Returns. Such a joyful experience.

Also, I don't know how anyone could shut off "Bird Box" at 70%. I sat there with my stomach in my throat, clutching the couch, for the entire last half. (Wish it hadn't made my ears burn with so much cursing, though. Could have just as easily been a PG-13ish "A Quiet Place" style thriller. But I haven't stopped thinking about it for days.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That's how I was when I watched Hereditary lol
-David The Clown 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone should go see the new Mary Poppins Returns as soon as possible. It's a thoroughly charming film that's about as good a sequel as one could hope for to a 54 year old classic movie.