Basketball fans know that the Golden State Warriors—the NBA’s latest and, some say, greatest dynasty—are hanging onto their collective throne by their fingernails. They barely won Game 5 on Monday, pushing the series back to Golden State’s home court. If the Warriors lose, it means we won’t be seeing much of superstar Stephen Curry for, oh, months.
Or will it?
Turns out, the former MVP and one of Golden State’s famed “Splash Brothers” is making waves of a different sort, covering pop culture like he roams the court: He’s an executive producer for Emanuel, a new documentary about the 2015 shooting inside a predominantly African-American church in Charleston. He’s pushing a new reality show on ABC called Holey Moley (which looks like a combination of putt-putt golf and America Ninja Warrior). And most importantly, he’s talking about his faith.
In the most recent episode of his Facebook series, Stephen vs. The Game (tellingly titled “Faith”), Curry tells viewers why he always lists “believer” first in his social media profiles. “I put believer first, because that is supposed to be the roots of everything that I do as a believer, as a husband, as a father, and on down from there,” Curry says on the show. And in a cover profile for Relevant magazine, Curry discusses a theme near and dear to Plugged In’s own heart: The intersection between story and spirituality. Of his media/storytelling company, he says:
It was important for me to start Unanimous Media specifically with the goal of telling powerful faith stories, honestly, because life is hard. There are curveballs and losses that can feel overwhelming, but through those moments, there is also a God who by nature cannot abandon you, and the truth of the Gospel is life-changing and life-giving.
That echoes why Stephan Schultze, executive director of the cinematic arts department at Liberty University, believes Christians should involve themselves in modern storytelling. “[The film industry] has great potential to shape culture,” he told The Christian Post. “But it can go awry and in the wrong direction and affect culture in an inappropriate way.”
Meanwhile, the recently reunited Jonas Brothers are also talking about faith, especially an aspect of their own past story: their famed purity rings. The brothers said they were puzzled by all the attention those rings drew. “That was not who we were,” Joe Jonas said in a new doc called Chasing Happiness. “It was just something we did when we were young kids, but we wore the rings through the first bit of the band starting to explode. At that point, it was too late because it was in the media.”
Typically, of course, drawing media attention is what pop culture is all about. Could that be why Justin Bieber challenged Tom Cruise to a cage fight on the internet? Or why Miley Cyrus starred in a Black Mirror episode that simultaneously critiques obsessive fandom while keeping Cyrus herself in front of her own fans? Or why so many politicians are taking tons of selfies with would-be voters? It’s interesting, too, that drag queens—pop-culture’s ever-so-glamorous gender-benders—have apparently gone mainstream. According to Vulture’s Matthew Schneier, drag has become America’s “national pastime.” He writes:
America loves its drag queens. Moms do, kids do, your local gay bars do. Even McDonald’s does. From the cast of the blockbuster remake of A Star Is Born to the pink carpet at the Met Gala — not to mention the millions around the world who’ve tuned in to RuPaul’s Drag Race for the last decade — what was once a glittery subculture on the edge of gay culture has become one of our global pop preoccupations with its own hierarchy of stars and story lines for the fans to get behind, marketing deals and Billboard chart-toppers. It’s become a very big business with its own star-power machinery attached. It’s become almost unavoidable. Their job is to make sure of it.
MTV seconds drag’s ascendency, pointing its long, glittery fingernail toward RuPaul’s DragCon, which allows the youngest of fans to meet their favorite queens and don outrageous outfits themselves. Alas for RuPaul, the Vatican isn’t a fan. It recently issued an official paper, saying that folks can’t choose what genders they wish to be and alleging that gender fluidity stems from a “confused concept of freedom.”
But while some LGBTQ advocates continue to push for a genderless future, the future in many ways more resembles the past—right down to de-ageing movie stars themselves. Just take a look at Michael Douglas’ youthful appearance in Avengers: Endgame or Samuel L. Jackson’s visage in Captain Marvel or Arnold Schwarzenegger in the upcoming film Terminator: Dark Fate. While the plots of these films required some age regression, Steve Rose of The Guardian wonders if the technology might tempt stars to look forever young. “Might it tempt actors to stick with the ‘youthified’ version, even when it’s not in a flashback?” He asks. “How much is that happening already?”
You’d think that technology would age particularly badly, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case. Taking a cue from Nintendo’s wildly successful release of its retro NES Classic in 2016, Atari’s offering its own blast-from-the-past console—a console that looks a lot like the old 1980s Ataris some of us remember, only fully updated on the inside. (They’ll start at about $250, with old-school joysticks selling for another 50 bucks.) And Tetris, which recently celebrated its 35th birthday, is still as addictive as ever.
Meanwhile, Boston Dynamics is about to unveil its own new product to the world—its cute-slash-terrifying robot dog. “We’re just doing some final tweaks to the design,” says CEO Marc Raibert. Will it fetch your slippers? Beg for tummy rubs? Destroy life on the planet as we know it? Time will tell. Personally, I’m hoping Focus on the Family buys Plugged In its very own model. For, y’know, testing purposes.