Culture

Round Three: USA and Ghana at the World Cup

By on 6.16.14 | 5:01PM

The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team makes its 2014 FIFA World Cup debut today at 6 p.m. ET. The Yanks face the Ghana Black Stars, which is sweet of lady luck—or FIFA, if match-fixing allegations are true—giving America the chance to find out if the third time really is the charm and get revenge for our knockout by Ghana in the last two World Cups. "Why can’t we beat them?" the Wall Street Journal asks with a tone of existential ennui.

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Game of Thrones: Privy Patricide on Father’s Day

By on 6.16.14 | 4:42PM

[Spoilers]

Game of Thrones recaps often read like fantastical obituaries. The season finale on Father’s Day marked the start of the Lannister downfall with Tyrion’s murder of his father Tywin. “I am your son.” Tyrion declared, before skewering Tywin on the privy with two close-range crossbow shots. So continues the dirge of Ice and Fire.

George R.R. Martin, the Grim Reaper, has created a show culture in which a character’s death scene becomes a celebratory event for the actors. For Ned Stark’s actor Sean Bean, death was just another day in the life of his volatile acting career, but for the victims of the Red Wedding, the situation was more emotional and surreal.

Actor Richard Madden, who played Robb Stark, cried on the plane ride home. After Ygritte’s last scene, the crew presented her with her character’s engraved bow.

Lord Tywin’s Charles Dance reportedly went out with applause and a personalized speech from the executive producers.

“He died like a boss,” said co-creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss in a joint statement.

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The Beer Spectator: Better for Teens to Drink Than Play It Safe

By on 6.13.14 | 5:05PM

The United States struggles with imparting its drinking culture to the young. As one of the few countries with a twenty-one-and-over drinking age, teenagers usually don’t discover the wonders of booze until college. On campus, fraternity parties and dorm drinking inevitably lead to excess. Freshmen get drunk, get sick, and learn about their tolerances with each can of Natty Light and cup of jungle juice.

To confront this, parents should start incorporating wine and beer into the family dinner during high school.

Of course, that’s if teenagers even want to drink alcohol. They may just want to smoke weed and play video games.

Unfortunately, kids today spend more time in front of a screen than any other generation, whether the device is a TV, mobile phone, or computer screen.  

Our youths mostly play it safe. Instead of drinking, smoking tobacco, and exercising, these teenagers play video games.

According to a survey of 13,000 high school students:

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Male Privilege: Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

By on 6.12.14 | 3:06PM

Yesterday, the Bastiat Institute Facebook page posted this infographic reminding us of the injustice of “male privilege." Feminist outrage expected.

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Game of Thrones: Of Ice and Fire and Sexual Frustration

By on 6.9.14 | 3:31PM

This was season four’s first episode without any nudity. But it easily made up for it with the sheer variety of violence and sexual frustration.

[Spoilers]

Episode nine, “The Watchers on the Wall,” opens on a discussion between Jon Snow and Sam Tarly about sex. Jon describes sex as giving your whole attention to someone such that you become more than yourself. This does nothing to quell Sam Tarly’s sexual frustration regarding the wildling Gilly.

This scene transitions into a wilding camp where one man is pontificating about his fabricated carnal exploits with a bear. A sexually frustrated Ygritte forcibly tells him to can it.

Game of Thrones is not a love story (there are no functional relationships) and it is not a story of good vanquishing evil. Rather it is the story of human nature. George R.R. Martin created a niche in the fantasy world by breaking the mold of good and evil. The opposing forces of ice and fire represent our conflicted allegiances and morals. 

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Miss USA Suggests Self-Defense for Women, Twitter Loses It

By on 6.9.14 | 2:13PM

When asked about sexual assaults on college campuses last night during the Miss USA Pageant, Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, now Miss USA, delivered what most would deem a fairly noncontroversial response:

I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.

Shockingly enough, the eternally outraged #YesAllWomen camp was not happy with Sanchez’s answer. Feminists took to Twitter to express their shock and outrage that a woman would suggest individual empowerment as a means of combatting rape.

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The Good Wife: Confidence and Paranoia

By 6.6.14

May marked the end of the fifth season of The Good Wife, the CBS legal procedural/political drama/soap opera. Produced by Ridley Scott, The Good Wife is the kind of show that tends to be recommended as “the best show you’re not watching,” because it is, well, good. And while somebody is certainly watching it (me; those article writers; you?), it doesn’t have the inescapable cultural presence that Mad Men or Game of Thrones seem to.

For though The Good Wife is good, it’s in a way that makes for bad proselytizing. In its first season, it could be summed as “politician’s wife discovers affair, struggles to make her way in the work force after years as a stay-at-home mom”—a premise I have yet to repeat to anybody without watching them tune me out. But over its five seasons, The Good Wife hasn’t really stuck to that initial conceit—by season five, in fact, it’s become a different show entirely.

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Maureen Dowd is Dazed and Confused

By on 6.4.14 | 3:17PM

Maureen Dowd got really, really high. The New York Times columnist ate a legal marijuana candy bar in Denver while covering the “social revolution rocking Colorado.” Though she didn’t feel anything at first, soon the writer had to crawl into bed, “curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours.” The trip was so harsh, she writes, “I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.”

An inexperienced weed user, Dowd blamed her wild ride on poorly labeled pot edibles. “With liquor, people understand what they’re getting themselves into,” she argues, before supporting packaging reforms aimed at suggesting dosages to new users and deterring kids from accidentally eating THC candy.

According to a Denver pizzeria, Dowd offered further comment, including, “tonight is taking all day,” “skin is like a sock for your whole body,” and “Whoa, can someone turn down the rain?” When asked which toppings she’d like to order, Dowd responded, “Yes.”

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Game of Thrones: HBO’s Morbid Curiosity

By on 6.2.14 | 6:09PM

“If it bleeds it leads.” The entertainment industry’s love affair with violence is nothing new, though HBO has taken the brutal baton and run away with it. Game of Thrones is macabre, perverse, and yet dangerously entertaining.

Aristotle noted that we “enjoy contemplating the most precise images of things whose sight is painful to us.” Watching or imagining death is more than a survival instinct—it’s a way to feel alive. You drive past an overturned car on the highway and think, “Thank goodness that’s not me.” You stand close to the edge of a cliff and wonder what it would be like to fall off. The resulting adrenaline rush makes your beating heart apparent. In contemplating death, we are contemplating life—two sides to the same coin.

The way Americans consume and perceive death evolved as humans became better at staving off sickness and lengthening life. Death—infant mortality, plagues, starvation—used to be a part of life. Now it is a novelty.

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The Return of Reading Rainbow

By on 5.30.14 | 4:40PM

The Internet nostalgia machine has donated over $2.5 million dollars to Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton to restart the PBS series that originally ran from 1983 until 2006. Burton’s Kickstarter campaign was looking for a $1 million dollar goal and promises such incentives as private dinner with LeVar and a chance to wear his character’s sci-fi visor from Star Trek: The Next Generation (these perks require pledges of $3,500 and $10,000, respectively).

Back in a 2012 interview with Mediabistro, Burton announced an earlier attempt to re-launch the show as an app aimed at modern tablet-addled kids. In the same interview, LeVar reveals his theory that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 caused Rainbow’s demise five years later. He also levels a vague critique at the military-industrial complex.

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