Culture Clips: Old Year, New Tricks

home alone culture clips

The new year is nearly upon us. Forget running from it, forget hiding. Like a tiger, it’ll soon bound from the weeds and pounce on us all.

Yes, the new year is a time for change. Take, for instance, Macaulay Culkin, who didn’t even wait for the Times Square ball to drop to announce a change to his middle name.

Culkin, still best known as the kid from Home Alone, apparently tired of his old middle name (Carson) asked his fans (via his personal website) what should be his new one—promising to use whatever name got the most votes. Vote-getters included “Shark Week,” “TheMcRibIsBack” and, fittingly, “Publicity Stunt.” But the winner by an internet mile was … “Macaulay Culkin.” So in 2019, the star’s full name will officially be “Macaulay Macaulay Culkin Culkin.”

On The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Culkin admitted that his new name has an unexpected upside: “So, if somebody comes up to me at the airport, and says, ‘Excuse me, are you Macaulay Culkin?’ I’d go, ‘Well Macaulay Culkin is my middle name,” he said.

Culkin’s name was in the news for more than these (ahem) middling reasons. For many, Home Alone is required Christmastime viewing. Alas, one family seems to have overdone it: One Indiana mom left her two young kids (7 and 4) home alone to watch Home Alone, and she now faces neglect charges. Meanwhile, celebrities everywhere are aghast that the black-and-white gangster film that Culkin’s character, Kevin, watches, Angels With Filthy Souls, wasn’t, apparently, a real movie. (I sense a Kickstarter campaign to make the film a reality might soon be in the works.)

But while Home Alone certainly bagged its share of headlines, the film only merits a third-place tie (with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) in a recent poll gauging Americans’ favorite Christmas movies. What topped the list? It’s a Wonderful Life, of course, followed by A Christmas Story. And for those who like to argue as to whether the R-rated actioner Die Hard is a Christmas movie, it made the list, too, landing in ninth place.

Movies are all well and good, but what is our favorite Christmas song? Well, according to Spotify, we love us some Mariah Carey. Her 1994 song “All I Want for Christmas is You” was streamed 10.8 million times on Christmas Eve—a record for the service. But while Spotify listeners favor contemporary ditties, a poll by the Associated Press finds that most Americans still prefer classic carols over (relatively) modern hits. About 12% of us listed “Silent Night” as our favorite holiday song, followed by the 8% of us who can’t get enough “Jingle Bells.”

As you might’ve guessed from the last couple of paragraphs, the New Year isn’t just a time to give up sweets, sign up for a gym membership and change your middle name. It’s also a time to look back and compile lists. ABC’s already thrown together a list of the year’s highest-grossing movies (never mind that some biggies are still in theaters and could be adding to their bottom lines for a while). And lots of news outlets are recalling the many notable folks who died during the fading annum. Meanwhile, USA Today catalogued the worst social media gaffs made by celebs this year.

Seems like they might’ve saved room for Kevin Spacey, who released a strange YouTube video in the guise of his (now dead) House of Cards character, Frank Underwood. Even more oddly, the video was released just minutes after it was announced that Spacey will face criminal sexual assault charges.

Spacey wasn’t the only one making questionable waves on YouTube. A referee who forced a high school wrestler to cut off his dreadlocks before a critical match has garnered lots of unwanted attention, even as he’s lost at least part of his officiating gig. (The wrestler and his family are speaking out now, too.) Meanwhile, former right-wing extremists are blaming YouTube for their radicalization—sucked in by internet propaganda when they were teens, they say. Even Queen Elizabeth II isn’t immune to online crit. After giving her annual video Christmas address while sitting in front of an antique gold piano, some critics took to social media to blast the monarch for suggesting that people treat one another respectfully while sitting in such luxurious environs. You’d think she was the Queen of England or something. Oh, wait.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s rocky 2018 seems to be ending about the same way it began. Kids today don’t like it because it’s for “old people.” Advertisers are wondering whether the social media giant is worth the trouble anymore. And yet, a new study suggests that if the average Facebook user was offered $1,000 to walk away, they’d skip the money and stick with Facebook, no matter how miserable it sometimes makes them. (That’s not an exaggeration, by the way: Another study has found that using multiple social networks is linked to depression.)

But let’s not end 2018 on a sour note. If you or someone you love received a video game for Christmas and (you think) you, or they, are spending waaaaay too much time playing it, have no fear: You, or they, just might be in line for a hefty college scholarship. In fact, about $16 million worth of Esports scholarships are available these days. Sounds like just enough to pay for a semester at Stanford. Not counting books, of course.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate never looked so lucrative, has it?

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.

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