Of hate and stereotypes: Television entertainment, 2012


Hollywood award shows are unbearable to watch. For hours on end, a parade of attractive people who make their living on camera and equally unattractive people who make their living behind cameras mawkishly preen in feigned humility. Yet, watch we do.

We want to think that these folks are like us; we invite them into our living rooms and see them jumbo-sized onscreen at the local cinemaplex. Not unlike the homecoming queen and football captain we admired from afar as teenagers, up close our matinee idols are so much smaller, dumber and usually meaner. They don’t respect us. They often hold us in contempt. Ask Julianne Moore and Jimmy Kimmel who at the Emmy’s cackled as they derided Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney and by inference the viewers who support them. [Read more…]

CULTURE BITS: How “entitled” are we? The growing gimme epidemic

Who are the “47 percent?” Is this really the number of Americans receiving government benefits or simply a fabrication by overzealous politicians?

The truth is staggering.

In his new book, A Nation of Takers, author Nicholas Eberstadt pulls 50 years of data to detail the explosive growth in entitlements. The subject couldn’t be timelier.  A demographer at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Eberstadt discloses how spending has mushroomed from one-third of government outlays to two-thirds today. He goes on to assert that having nearly half of families receiving benefits (even higher than Governor Romney’s claim) has long-term detrimental effects on our national character.

The AEI published a chart from his book clarifying reality from fiction about who receives government benefits, means testing, which political party has most aggressively expanded the size and scope of entitlements, and more.  A few of the eye-opening facts include:

  • In 2010, over 34 percent of American households received means-tested benefits—households which included nearly half of America’s children. Yet the poverty rate was only 15.1 percent.
  • In 1983, fewer than 30 percent of households received one or more government benefits. By 2011, this number had skyrocketed to 49 percent.
  • The growth in entitlement spending is a bipartisan phenomenon. In fact, for the last half-century, entitlement spending has grown faster under Republican presidents than under Democratic presidents.

His conclusion is clear: Our growing culture of dependency is impairing personal responsibility, initiative and community involvement. To read more and pre-order copies of A Nation of Takers, please visit the AEI website.

Funk in Furniture City: GQ trash talks Grand Rapids and ArtPrize

Lily Cox-Richard’s “Strike” via Chris Clark

Fact: Grand Rapids, Michigan is two-thirds white; twenty-two percent are of Dutch ancestry.

Fact two: Twenty miles to the west, Holland’s Tulip Time Festival annually honors its Dutch heritage—with food, theater and folk dancers clopping in wooden shoes.

Fact three: Long known as the “Furniture City,” Grand Rapids is headquarters to five international office furniture companies.
[Read more…]

NUMBSKULL ALERT: Randy Newman’s dreadful dreamin’

Rolling Stone calls the song “I’m Dreaming”  “swooning, lyrically wicked.” “Blistering,” crows the “Huffington Post.”  We say it’s dreadful—lyrically, melodically, vocally, and politically.

Randy Newman, the erstwhile has-been singer-songwriter whose career peaked with the 1977 song, “Short People” is looking to make a political statement via his gift. “I’m Dreaming” mocks Republicans as hate-filled Neanderthals who oppose the reelection of Barack Obama simply because he is African-American.

Just how bad is it? It includes lyrics like “He won’t be the brightest, perhaps, but he’ll be the whitest, and I’ll vote for that.”  No, he is not talking about Joe Biden.

You got to give it to Randy. It is so utterly awful you’ll feel pity rather than offended.

CULTURE BITS: The road to the Middle Class

The Brookings Institution released a study this week reporting that by midlife two in three Americans successfully achieve a middle-class lifestyle.  In addition to the stuff that fascinates policy wonks, the “Pathways to the Middle Class” report has plenty of relevant information for anyone concerned about the health of the American Dream:

~Although 61 percent of Americans reach the middle class by middle age, there are large gaps by race, gender, and children’s circumstances at birth.

~Success begets further success. Children who are successful at each life stage from early childhood to young adulthood are much more likely to achieve the American Dream. [Read more…]

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