Culture Clips: The Black Hole

black hole

Last week, Culture Clips noted that Epic Games was being sued because its wildly popular online game, Fortnite, was allegedly as addictive as cocaine. You’d think that Epic might have a vested interest in saying, “Nah, you’re overreacting.” Instead, the game maker seemed to set out to prove just how right that little ol’ lawsuit is.

The cataclysm came about this weekend, when Fortnite was set to close down Season 10 and launch, gamers suspected, Season 11. But no. Instead of Fortnite players being able to, y’know, play Fortnite, they simply watched a livestream video of a black hole. For 40 hours.

Fans, especially young ones, responded how a cynic might expect: with sobs, screams, profanity and occasional violence. Some more introspective gamers spent their Fortnight-less time trying to interpret the barely visible digits that would occasionally flash onscreen. (One intrepid sleuth believed it was the location of a real-life “crab cave.”) Others simply fell asleep at their computer terminals, waiting for the game to come back online.


Which, eventually, the game did. And there was much rejoicing. The black hole wasn’t a literal black hole, of course, but rather a cagey marketing stunt for the beginning of Fortnite’s second chapter. But culture is full of many other metaphorical black holes that aren’t as easy to escape.

Many are discussing Elton John’s new autobiography Me, in which the Rocket Man unpacks his most outrageous excesses (such as buying a full-scale model of a T-Rex), pathos-filled moments (including his attempt to commit suicide by sticking his head in an oven and turning the gas on, but leaving all the windows open) and a combination of both. He discusses how, for instance, he trashed a hotel room and slugged his manager/lover John Reid in the aftermath of his video to “I’m Still Standing.” The next morning, he didn’t remember a thing, and he said, “No one dared say anything, because of who I was.”

John describes his early decades of celebrity as a near black hole of wanton, meaningless excess with no one to stop or even slow his worst impulses. “Sudden fame is a hollow, shallow and dangerous thing, its dark, seductive powers no substitute for true love or real friendship,” he writes.

In completely and utterly unrelated news, Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke described her own life of sudden fame on Instagram recently: Wearing nothing but a jacket and some glitter (according to Fox News), she told her followers that being a movie star is “very glamorous and sexy and everybody wants to sleep with you and kiss you all the time and people give you lots of free food and free clothes and free alcohol, and basically I never have to pay for a thing myself.” She ends the video by announcing, “I’m drunk right now.”

Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus is turning on those who’ve criticized her for her rapid exchange of romantic partners. (Her seven-month marriage to Liam Hemsworth ended as she was cozying up to Kaitlynn Carter; that couple broke up a month later as Cyrus transitioned to Cody Simpson, whom she may have split from by the time you finish reading this paragraph.) She insists there’s a double standard in the celebrity dating world. On Twitter, she wrote:

Men (especially successful ones) are RARELY slut shamed. They move on from one beautiful young woman to the next MOST times without consequence. They are usually referred to as ‘legends,’ ‘heart throbs,’ ‘G,’ ‘Ladies Man,’ etc…. where women are called sluts/w—-s!

Libra, Facebook’s much ballyhooed digital currency, suffered from a raft of “It’s not me, it’s you” breakups recently, too. Seven high-profile partners (including Visa, Mastercard and PayPal) have now backed away from their involvement, leaving Libra teetering above a black hole of obsolescence.

Smoking seems to be a black hole of health issues, according to some. (Which technically means that it’s completely empty of health issues, but work with me here.) Even light smokers—those who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day—do as much damage to their lungs as those who consume a whole pack, according to new research. Vaping’s hardly better, experts say, with almost 1,300 people in the U.S. suffering from serious illness connected to the habit. (The New York Times offers a harrowing profile of one such user.) Other researchers are diving through dumpsters to investigate what teens are actually using. E-cigs are wildly popular, according to teens’ literal trash, with 99% of e-cig caps being a flavor other than tobacco. Meanwhile, a new PSA suggests that tackle football is just as dangerous as lighting up for youngsters.

Who’s not in a black hole? Lauren Daigle, that’s who. Still topping the Christian charts with “You Say,” Daigle followed that up with a boatload of the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards—including artist, song and pop/contemporary album of the year honors. Oh, and she introduced more of the secular world to her God-given pipes on Late Night with Seth Meyers, too.

Finally, I regret to inform you that robots are now capable of solving Rubik’s Cube. Can robots capable of writing Christian movie reviews be far behind?

If you’ll excuse me, I’ll just hide in a hole now. A black one.

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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