Vol. 2 Issue 29 | July 22, 2016
Three Things This Week
What it is: A four-day entertainment and comic convention held annually in San Diego that highlights sci-fi films, anime, collectible card games, video games, and fantasy novels.
Why it’s important: What started as a convention for “nerds” has turned into the Super Bowl of pop culture, with attendance topping 130,000 people in recent years, with attendees actually dressing up as their favorite super-hero or comic character. And like the Super Bowl, Comic-Con has turned into a promotional bonanza for TV execs and movie producers looking to create buzz around their projects. The biggest reason fans attend is the opportunity to meet and talk with their favorite A-list celebrities on the famous Comic-Con Panels.
2. You Keep Using That Emoji
What it is: Maybe that emoji doesn’t mean what you think it means. A recent study at the University of Minnesota revealed that emoji interpretation can vary significantly, and certain emoji’s are displayed differently across varying devices and operating systems.
Why it’s important: Emoji’s are a fun and relevant way to communicate with your students, but remember, what you think you are saying may not be what they are seeing! Like any form of language, context is key. Here’s a wiki-style guide to emoji’s and their respective meanings.
3. Twitter Troll
What it is: Twitter banned famous troll Milo Yiannopoulus (Over 300,000 followers) from their site this week for apparently leading a tweeted harassment campaign against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.
Why it’s important: Although Twitter has been criticized for not cracking down on cyberbullying, their action against Yiannopoulus shows the social media magnant means it when they say “No one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuses online.” We live in a polarizing world where healthy dialogue about important issues is almost non-existent. Ask your students: When does expressing an opinion or engaging in debate turn into unhealthy conflict? Does freedom of speech really mean saying anything you want? Watch Axis’ presentation on Cyberbullying & Gossip with your students!
Taylor vs Kimye
“When people accept futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.”
—French historian Jacques Barzun
Enter the theater of the absurd and the cult of personality, starring Taylor Swift, Kanye West, and Kim Kardashian. Act 1 began as a celebrity spat between Swift and Kanye way back at the VMAs in 2009, it then continued into this year’s Grammy Awards, and finally erupted into all-out war this week. Here’s the “Cliff’s Notes” version.
In 2009, Kanye rudely interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for “Best Female Video” by coming onto the stage and claiming that Beyonce, not Swift, should have won the award. The two reportedly made up, but in February of this year, West debuted his album Life of Pablo, which includes the track “Famous” in which West raps, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that b*%$# famous.” Although the lyrics are misogynistic and tasteless, Kanye claims Swift gave him permission to be included in the song because she “thought it was funny.” However (stick with me because this is more confusing than a Shakespearean play), Swift claims she never gave him permission, appearing to be a victim once again in Kanye’s twisted drama.
However, after Sunday night’s episode of KUWTK, Kim (Kanye’s wife) released footage via Snapchat of Kanye’s conversation with Swift where she apparently gave him permission to reference her in his song. The backlash against Taylor has been swift, with the hashtags #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty and #KimExposedTaylorParty going viral with celebrities chiming in supporting either Team Taylor or Team Kim.
Though this seems like madness, there is method to it. For Kardashian and Swift, all the world’s a stage, and they are master storytellers crafting a narrative of reality to support and promote their own personal brands. Why? Because the celebrity-fan relationship is symbiotic–they need us as much as we think we need them.
And while you may not care about this little melodrama, your students do. For an increasing number of teens, their fascination with celebrities has become a substitute for real life. In their minds, celebrities are icons to be emulated, thus their own desire to utilize social media to convert their friends into followers and fans. “In fact, experts say that as long as there have been those who pull ahead of the crowd in fame or fortune, there has been a curious crowd wanting to follow.” The danger, according to C.S. Lewis, is that “All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be.” Help your students transcend the absurdity of a decadent culture by encouraging them to resist the temptation to follow these celebrity spats, and instead turn their attention to more formative experiences that shape their soul in the direction of Jesus’ service of others.