Here are today’s dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.
1. The End of the World. From The Wrap: In its final edition, the News of the World offered a “sad but proud” farewell to its readers, after 168 years in print. Several of the most prominent stories made the case that the paper “is a force for good,” as one article insisted, pointing to good-works projects for charity, soldiers and children.
There was no mea culpa in the final edition, and no reference to the alleged crimes that got the paper shut down.
There is no question that this scandal will continue. Nor is there much doubt that more shocking details remain concealed. Whether they are revealed, how that comes about and, most importantly, what they consist of, is still anyone’s guess.
2. The Sky is falling for Rupert Murdoch. From Hollywood Reporter: Just days after British Prime Minister David Cameron said Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take full control of BSkyB would face a delay or even total derailment, the U.K.’s Independent is reporting that the deal “appeared to be dead in the water” on Sunday night. Sources told the paper that attorneys for the government are “drawing up a strategy to halt the £9 billion deal, which looked a certainty only a week ago.”
Comment: A major question is can Murdoch keep the scandal fallout contained to Britain?
3. Once upon a time a prince and princess visited Skid Row. From Hollywood Reporter: Just hours after meeting with some of the most powerful people in Hollywood at a black-tie affair, Prince William and Kate Middleton made a visit to Los Angeles’ Skid Row on Sunday. The couple — now officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — visited the Inner City Arts academy, where they were greeted by six elementary students holding a welcome sign.
4. Enter: Iron Lady. Not a feminist sequel to Iron Man, the film (due out next January) is Hollywood’s take on former British prime minister (and Ronald Reagan ally) Margaret Thatcher. Meryl Streep stars. Will the conservative woman get a fair shake from Tinseltown — in a U.S. election year no less? What do you think?
5. Hollywood favors tax breaks — for Hollywood. From NewsBusters: Amid all of the spurious talk about “tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires” (defined incongruously by the left as anyone with income of over $200,000), the Obama administration and its media lackeys are trying to raise support for an increase in taxes on corporate jets.
It’s well-known that the amount of money that potentially would be raised by closing this loophole is miniscule, it’d take 5,000 years for it to equal the new debt added just last year, but since we’re talking about tax cuts for the wealthy, it’s worth noting that the Hollywood Left actually has managed to get a significant number of tax deductions to promote television and movie production. Magically, however, we aren’t seeing much discussion about closing these tax loopholes from the elite media.
Comment: Hollywood’s rich and famous often seem to enjoy wagging their righteous fingers of indignation at greedy corporations. Oh, the irony. IMHO: What we really need is a moral tax code that is less prone to political corruption by chucking corporate tax deductions while lowering overall rates. The government would likely get more more money into the Treasury — though political campaigns would collect less from corporate lobbyists (whether from Hollywood or the oil industry) seeking favoritism through intricate tax laws.
6. Schwimming against the tide. From The Christian Post: “Friends” actor David Schwimmer recently expressed his disapproval over the negative influence pop stars have on youths because “everything they do is about sex.” …The 44-year-old actor, who rose to fame thanks to his role as Ross Geller in the 90s TV series “Friends,” just finished working on this second directorial project “Trust,” about a 14-year-old girl who falls prey to an internet pedophile posing as a teenager. The girl ends up being raped when they meet.
Comment: Schwimmer’s observations are as true as they are refreshing to hear spoken. I have no doubt that the actor is sincere in his concerns and deserves credit for stating them. However, MRC’s Brent Bozell has a point when he writes “The problem comes when the actress playing the rape victim (in Trust) is 14, just like the character,” adding that “Some adult scenes should cause a director to look for an adult with a childlike quality instead of an actual child.
7. Jennifer Aniston’s “F” bomb. Schwimmer’s Friends co-star is generating some controversy of her own. In her new movie Horrible Bosses (which debuted at #2 at the Weekend Office), her nasty character lets loose with the offending word. BTW, we’re talking about a word that is specifically insulting to gays. In Hollywood, nobody bats an eye at the use of that other “F” word these days.
In any event, Ramin Setoodeh, writing for The Daily Beast, apparently thinks use of the word in a movie (even by a loathsome character) is over the line. I’m against any sort of censorship (preferring the exercise of actual artistic taste instead) but I actually agree with him. Then again, I think I would find much of what is in this movie over the line. I know. I’m such a prude. But I’m tired of movies and TV shows that present crude nastiness (whether directed at gays, Christians or Sarah Palin) as hip and funny. Our culture would benefit by reassembling the long-ago shredded envelope of good taste.
BTW, Jonathan Goldstein, one of the writers of Horrible Bosses, defends the use of the “F” word in the script, saying “It’s indefensible. I think part of the challenge is to, in a fairly short amount of time, get these guys to a place where an audience can empathize….To shorthand that, we tried to think: what are the most offensive things they can say? Using a word like that I think is one of them. It says this woman is irredeemable.” Well, as a Christian, I don’t believe anyone is irredeemable — and would actually like to see more films (comedies or dramas) about personal redemption. But that’s just me and, I honestly believe, most people.
8. Catholic Church leaders praying for guidance regarding possible Crystal Cathedral purchase. From Patch.com: At Masses throughout Orange County this weekend, the diocese asked parishioners to pray for wisdom and guidance for a committee studying the possibility of bidding for the edifice.
The Crystal Cathedral, founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, filed for bankruptcy protection last fall, saying it owed more than $50 million to creditors.
The famous glass church has already drawn bids of $46 million from Chapman University and a Newport Beach investment firm…
…One potential roadblock to the deal is that it would leave Crystal Cathedral church-goers homeless. In contrast, the Chapman and Newport bids would allow Schuller’s church to continue using the cathedral and even buy back a portion of the property down the road.
Comment: If the Catholic Church does buy it, I think the Christian thing to do would be to work out a deal in which current Crystal Cathedral members could continue to worship there.
9. Hallmark gets warm greeting from ABC. From The New York Times: The Hallmark Hall of Fame movie franchise has a new home on network television: ABC. A multiyear agreement, announced last week by Hallmark, came two months after CBS decided not to renew its deal to show the feel-good movies at greeting-card-buying times of the year…The first movie on ABC, “Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith,” will be shown in December.
BTW: Some network (perhaps ABC) would be wise to give Albom a series development deal. Here he is reading from his book on which the upcoming Hallmark film is based. This kind of stuff is more my speed than Horrible Bosses. I know, I’m a prude — but a happy prude.
10. On a wing and a prayer: The surprising history of praying in space. From CNN: It may be the first prayer ever uttered by a space traveler: “Dear Lord, please don’t let me f- up.”
Dubbed “Shepard’s Prayer,” this brief, irreverent plea is often attributed to the first American in space – the late Alan Shepard – although he reportedly said he was misquoted.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
NOTE: This blog has officially move to Faith, Media & Culture.