Tag: pop culture

Book Review: ‘Strange Rites – New Religions for a Godless World’

 

Poll after poll demonstrates declines in religious observance in the United States today, especially in the Millennial age cohort. Some faiths and denominations are declining more quickly than others, with a few holding steady. Are people ceasing to believe any higher powers, or is something else at work? Tara Isabella Burton examines this issue in her new book, Strange Rites – New Religions for a Godless World, just out within the last week. Ms. Burton makes the argument that while adherence to traditionally recognized faiths (particularly Christianity) has declined precipitously, human beings still have a need to believe that the world is “enchanted” and human beings still need the community that shared rituals can offer. So even as adherence to particular faiths is declining, new religions are emerging to fill spiritual longings. Ms. Burton terms this the “Fourth Great Awakening.”

However, these new spiritual practices are at once radically different from anything that gone before, and yet radically American in their forms and ethos. They are also radically self-centered. Her basic thesis is this: the internet provides access to information on practically anything imaginable, and quickly connects like-minded people over any niche interest, allowing us to pick and choose our friends beyond the limited physical circles we have been limited to in the past, but this also allows us to concentrate ourselves, our interests, and our desires, creating a world of information and practice uniquely tuned to ourselves. In short, we can each pick and choose our own practices, rituals, and relationships, creating “remixed” faiths, and it is the “Remixed” whose worlds Ms. Burton illuminates.

This book is, in large part, about charlatans. It’s about capitalism and corporations and the new cutthroat Silicon Valley of spirituality. It’s about people who want to sell us meaning, brand our purpose, custom-product community, tailor-make rituals, and commodify our very humanity. It’s about how the Internet and consumer capitalism alike have produced experientially satiating substitutes – many, though not all of them, poor – for well-developed ethical, moral, and metaphysical systems. It’s about the denatured selfishness of self-care, and the way in which “call-out-culture,” at its worst, serves as the psychic methadone, providing us with a brief and illusory hit of moral belonging…

Buy Physical Media

 

A generous helping of shutdown-induced free time has allowed me to catch up on my ridiculous backlog of movies on disc.

Note “movies on disc.” I think it’s safe to say that I don’t personally know anyone who owns as many movies as I do in a physical form. I also own a healthy number of television shows on disc, as well as myriad sports-related selections. In all, I would estimate that I have something like 2,000 discs worth of content, all of which I keep in simple albums for the sake of efficient storage, allowing all of this material to occupy only two small shelves on a bookcase in my den.

Why do I own so many discs in an era in which streaming is now the preferred format?

The Subtle Patriotism of Hidden Figures

 

Hidden Figures is an all right movie about black women working for NASA in Virginia during segregation. The movie hits the usual beats about racism being bad and woman being empowered in the usually overly sentimental and unrealistic ways that Hollywood has become so fond of.

But that’s not the most interesting and (to my knowledge) unremarked part of the movie. The movie seems to stand apart from the more woke message of the current progressive left that says that America is irredeemably racist. A quote by Martin Luther King played on a black-and-white TV seems to speak to the message of this movie. “We think we’re rendering a great service to our nation. For this is not a struggle for ourselves alone. It is a struggle to save the soul of America.” America is very much worth saving in this movie.

ACF Critic Series #9: Paul Cantor

 

We’re adding a new critic to the ACF podcast: America’s eminent Shakespearian, Paul Cantor! He’s a writer I admire and from whom I have learned much on Shakespeare–much to my surprise and delight, he’s getting into film criticism in a big way and he’s in the mood to talk about it. We have a long interview to offer you, the first in a series of discussions about pop culture in America. We go from Godfather to Breaking Bad, we get to super-hero movies and ancient mythic heroes–to tragedy in Greece and in Shakespeare’s England–and lots of other things about TV and movies in-between. Also, we do more than a little talking about Mark Twain. Listen and share friends, join the conversation in the comments, and read more Cantor!

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Author’s note: I sincerely hope that what I’ve written below is not a new thought. Because if it is, we are in much worse trouble than I already believe us to be. Yes, I could do a simple internet search to find out what else has been written on this concept, but I like to […]

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From PC Gamer:  According to SuperData, there’s now a bigger audience for gaming video than the combined audiences of HBO, Netflix, ESPN, and Hulu. For reference, Netflix’s subscriber count is somewhere near 100 million, while Hulu maintains about 12 million. For better or for worse, PewDiePie alone has over 54 million YouTube subscribers. [….] Preview […]

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The Apocalypse.  The word is so evocative, even exciting, with just the right amount of menace.  The word apocalypse first meant to reveal or uncover.  Hence the Christian Bible ends in Revelations.  I always thought how strange it was, a word meaning to “reveal” becomes a word associated with mass destruction and the end of […]

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In a recent episode of Arrow titled Specter of the Gun the writers of Arrow take on the issue of gun control.  The episode starts with a man loading a duffle bag full of guns and ammo in preparation for an attack of some kind.   The bag is marked Forefathers Repair, get it?  See what […]

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I just saw this fun article about one of the most iconic (and perhaps polarizing) characters of 50s Television. I certainly enjoyed watching Leave it to Beaver in syndication as a young lad in the 70s and 80s and identified more with The Beaver than Wally or Eddie, but knew my fair share of Eddie […]

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I am a big horror fan, and greatly enjoy the Walking Dead, warts and all. Supposedly there are accurate spoilers out there about who dies tonight, but for the most part I think they’ve done a good job keeping it a secret these past 6 months. And yes, someone will die – there’s no head […]

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‘House Hunters’ is a fake reality TV show on HGTV where couples pretend to shop for houses, awkwardly act out scenes where they pretend to choose a house, and then at the end of the episode stand on a balcony drinking wine/have guests over for a staged dinner party. It’s like the ‘CSI’ of HGTV, […]

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Since the current state of politics makes me cry I thought I’d share some posts about one of my favorite topics, comic books. There are lots of strange comics out there, some well known and some not so much. Everyone who either was a kid or has had kids in the last thirty years is […]

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The Uncertain Future of Stephen Colbert, the “Superman” Who Bleeds

 

Things are not going well.Drudge teased this headline all day as “developing” then finally gave us a link to the New York Times: “CBS rebooting ‘LATE SHOW’ with Colbert…

It’s a show that certainly needs a “reboot,” since “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” has been a ratings failure — unwatchable to at least half the country. Why? Because Colbert is just another in long line of preachy lefty “political entertainers” who sacrifice humor for message.

Here’s something the lefty Hollywood elite just doesn’t get: Right-leaning people do enjoy your content — even though you insult the non-lefty half most of the time. If people on the right didn’t consume your product, you would not have the millions of dollars you’ve earned to pay for the several homes you inhabit. People on the right have the ability to just let it go … but we do have limits.

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I wasn’t a huge Prince fan, mainly because he came along in a period after I had left the music business and was occupied with other things. Also, I watched “Under the Cherry Moon” which is 2 hours I’ll never get back. But whenever I heard his music unannounced, my first thought was always “that […]

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In Baltimore, some progressive hipsters want to erect a statue to a drag queen who became famous for eating dog feces. The proposed “Divine shrine” would be about 8 feet tall and 3 feet wide, featuring of an arch perched atop two classically Baltimore marble steps. A photo of Divine in full drag-queen makeup would […]

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This might be satire, but satire looks an awful lot like stuff Progressives actually believe, these days. Apparently, the Eighties-Era John Hughes movie “Sixteen Candles” is racist and promotes date rape. Thus, it must be censored and banned.   The racism and sexism in Hughes’ movie is so over-the-top I have to hope any teens watching it […]

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The Newbury Park Sound

 
The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood.

It’s been said that most of us stop listening to new music — especially by new bands — when we turn 25.  And by the time we’re 40 we are hopelessly behind the Zeitgeist when it comes to the Latest Thing. So, how about a quick tutorial to make you cool with your kids on one of the hottest new sounds on the pop charts —  courtesy of my son, Tad?

No Pop in the Culture

 

antennaWhen I got into the television business in 1983 I pulled into the station parking lot every morning just as the sun began to cast long shadows of our tower across the black asphalt.

I was a broadcaster. Appealing to the largest possible audience was bred into me. Broadcasting with the emphasis on the broad.

Those were still heady days. Three commercial networks and a thriving independent base of stations. There were rumors that Rupert Murdoch was considering a fourth network. Was he out of his mind?