Listening Closely to Wolf of Wall Street: Music as a Moral Clue in the Films of Martin Scorsese

As far as film directors do, Martin Scorsese is the king of being misunderstood. Ever since Mean Streets in 1973, Scorsese has drawn heat for his seemingly sympathetic portrayals of awful people and glorification of depravity. Forty years later The Wolf of Wall Street is drumming up the same criticisms.Not much more needs to be said in defense of Scorsese’s intent and morality. Tons of great reviews and commentaries have come from both inside and outside of Christendom in the last few weeks, … [Read more...]

Boycotting For Sport: Why The Olympics Must Go On

Throughout the history of the modern Olympic Games, both democracies and dictatorships have hosted the Games. National leaders spanning the ideological spectrum -- everyone from Adolph Hitler to Ronald Reagan -- have hosted the Games, and that isn’t about to change anytime soon. Case in point: Russia’s Vladimir Putin.It doesn’t take much research to know that Putin is not beloved internationally. He’s been called a dictator, a tsar, and a bully. I usually don’t concern myself with politics wh … [Read more...]

A Decade of Wardrobe Malfunctions: Social Media and Pseudo-Adulthood

by Justin PhillipsOn February 1, 2004, Justin Timberlake made good on his promise – well partially – to have Janet Jackson “naked by the end of this song.” Timberlake’s mea culpa for his Super Bowl performance included the enigmatic phrase “wardrobe malfunction,” which proved to be an achievement of linguistic genius. The phrase offered a way to acknowledge the existence, and even the telos, of zippers, buttons and Velcro, while never claiming any ownership of their proper operation (even if … [Read more...]

The Big Chop: A Theology of Natural Hair

On Jan. 13, Tamera Mowry-Housely, co-host of The Real (and formerly one half of ABC's Sister, Sister and E!'s Tia & Tamera), took to social media to rave about her new haircut. Posting an Instagram photo with an accompanying tweet reading, "Love my big my curl doctor @shaiamiel You did it again." Mowry was quickly hailed a role model for young women of color. She even received a congratulatory tweet from Dark and Lovely, a giant in the multibillion-dollar African-American hair i … [Read more...]

Hip Hop Out of Nothing: A Disenfranchised Community’s Word-Wrought Empowerment

It's not uncommon to see web, tabloid, and newspaper images of  Jay Z sitting courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game. He's a mogul, a purveyor of "cool," and a world-famous musician; he belongs there, he fits the bill. But the scene is really peculiar within the scope of American history: a black male flaunting his wealth and enjoying the heights of cultural prestige. This image would be unthinkable half a century ago.Why is this would-be peculiarity now the norm for Jay Z, and many other famous b … [Read more...]

Virtual Choices, Real Effects: The Impact of Our Hyperlink Trail

“...we always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.” —Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag ArchipelagoRobert Frost’s most recognizable poem is probably his most misunderstood. Despite popular opinion, “The Road Not Taken” is not an anthem to the individual or a smug reflection on the speaker’s decision-making acumen. Rather, it’s a meditation on time, mortality, and finitude. It’s about human limitations. Two roads diverge but only one can be taken. At the crucial decision point, Frost may … [Read more...]

Kyrie Irving as Uncle Drew, Grant Hill as Uncle Tom: The Problematic Myth of the “Authentic” Black Experience

by Shane Huey The latest string of Pepsi Max commercials has every high-school hooper in America wishing they were a 60-year old man. And not just any 60-year old man, but one of the particular style and flare of Uncle Drew, a presumably debilitated “old head” who wreaks havoc on street ball courts across the country. With his sweatpants tucked securely in his socks, Uncle Drew proceeds to show all the young bloods what real ball players do--“Get buckets.”Uncle Drew’s mission is to remind us … [Read more...]

How “Happy Days” Made Me (Horrible)

We went for a hike, alone. I felt pretty good about it--very cool and in control. I was about a year older than her, about 15, and even though I wasn't particularly attracted to her, I was committed to seeing this little excursion through and making out by the end of the hike. I honestly felt I would be doing her a favor. She wasn't going to do much better than me. And it really didn't mean anything--it was just something fun you could do together. So we walked out into the desert behind her h … [Read more...]

Spectacularly Trivialized: Teen Mom 2 and Abortion as Entertainment

About thirty years ago in his signature work Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman warned that the encroaching entertainment industry threatened to undermine society’s ability to deal with fundamental issues. American culture, Postman argued, had become so dominated by triviality and hyper-emotionalism, spread through television, that even the weightiest of issues and the most sacred of topics are trapped in absurdity, divorced from reason. Such is certainly the case with season 5 of MTV’s Tee … [Read more...]

My Son’s Martin Luther King Day Question: “Daddy, Can We Teach the Bad Guys Goodness?”

  My five-year-old recently reminded me, quite emphatically, that he didn't have school on Monday because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. He was, of course, simply excited to have a day off from kindergarten. But this seemed to be a perfect “teachable moment,” so I sat my kids down to tell them a little bit about the holiday’s namesake. But where do you start with someone like King?I suppose starting with the evils he fought against is as good a place as any. And so I told them that there we … [Read more...]