Culture

Mountain Men’s Conservatism

By on 6.23.14 | 11:51AM

Mountain Men is roughly a quarter of the way through its third season and continues to surprise critics with its popularity. The second season averaged between 3 and 3.5 million viewers per episode. 

What makes this remarkable is the incredibly repetitive nature of the show. The mountain men give voice-overs where they discuss the inevitable difficulties of living off the land as well as the dangers they face. The camera then moves to B-roll of beautiful landscapes. Predictably, a challenge arises and the characters must overcome it, until next week at least. There is almost no variation from this pattern, and yet the show remains quite popular. Why? 

There are two reasons for Mountain Men's success. First, it isn’t critically acclaimed shows that garner the highest ratings; even my favorite Mad Men gets crushed by formulaic (and entertaining) shows like The Big Bang Theory. These programs are popular because parents and families know what they are going to get. They can tune in and tune out because each episode is a self-contained story arc. Mountain Men is no different.

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Two-Time NL Cy Young Winner Kershaw Tosses No-Hitter

By on 6.19.14 | 12:23PM

Clayton Kershaw, who has won two of the last three NL Cy Youngs, threw a no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies, striking out fifteen batters. 

It is the second no-hitter of the 2014 season. Both of them have been thrown by Dodgers pitchers. Josh Beckett hurled a no-no against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25. 

It's amazing what can happen when you're asleep.

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Among the Intellectualoids

What ‘The Goldfinch’ and Commencement Speeches Have In Common

By 6.19.14

If you were following the great Commencement Speaker Bloodbath of 2014, you might have noticed that there were two stories happening. Here’s story number one: “hyper-sensitive college students suppress freedom of speech.” This was the story most people accepted at the time. The other story went like this: “college administrators and commencement speakers prove unable to handle freedom of speech.” This story, though less popular, fits the facts a little better.

Students, though loud and opinionated, have no real power; they can’t even suppress a mouse uprising in their dorm rooms without administrative help. As protests go, these were weak. Christine Lagarde, for instance, decided not to give an address at Smith’s commencement ceremony over a Change.org petition. When have you ever heard about a Change.org petition as anything other than the punchline to a joke?

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Flick Story

Rebellion Vs. Conformity in ‘We Are the Best!’

By 6.19.14

If We Are the Best! were The Breakfast Club, Allison would make over Claire—and the boys would just be accessories.

We Are the Best! is Lukas Moodysson’s confection about middle-school punker chicks in early ’80s Stockholm. Klara (Mira Grosin) is the cute, strident one with the cool parents. Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) is the mousy, insecure one who gets to stay over at Klara’s place so her mom can get on-again with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. They roam through their world, tiny splinters of arrogance and neediness, little idiots you’ll quickly come to love. 

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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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