ELSEWHERE: Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing?

In a recent New York Times opinion piece, three psychiatrists ask, "Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing?" While acknowledging the question's troubling nature, due to the potential ramifications it has for free speech, they also point out that numerous agencies and organizations do hold that media violence is, indeed, a risk factor for real violence. Obviously, this question won't be going away anytime soon, especially in light of tragedies such as this one. … [Read more...]

Four Things Miley’s Twerking Tells Us

Last night, Miley Cyrus performed with Robin Thicke at MTV's annual Video Music Awards, and everyone is abuzz over how provocative the performance was. (Earlier, Cyrus had said that she hoped to top Britney Spears and Madonna's infamous make-out session at the 2003 VMAs.) Overly sexualized performances are not a new concept and are certainly no stranger to the VMAs. Much like Spears and Madonna before her, Cyrus is now memorable because of the spectacle she caused. People will remember this p … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Doesn’t Get Religion

Netflix's prison comedy/drama Orange Is The New Black is the service's latest hit, following on the heels of House of Cards and the resurrected Arrested Development. (It currently has a score of 79 on Metacritic.) However, for all of its strengths, B. D. McClay argues that the show fails when it comes to representing religion: it presents a deeply caricatured version of religion (and religious adherents) even as it "depends heavily on the residual weight that religion’s cultural trappings can giv … [Read more...]

The Case Against “The Case Against Breaking Bad”

As AMC’s hit series Breaking Bad builds toward its conclusion, the hype builds right along with it. Fans and critics alike are lighting up the internet with all manner of adulation and, of course, goofy fandom. In fact it’s difficult to find negative reactions to Breaking Bad anywhere right now, as the show rides a wave of almost universal acclaim.In the elevated tradition of critical thought, then, Stephen Bowie over at AV Club has put together "The Case Against Breaking Bad", and it’s worth … [Read more...]

‘Top Chef: Masters’ Celebrates The Communal Nature Of Art

After Project Runway bolted to Lifetime in 2009, Top Chef became Bravo’s signature reality competition series. As such, the network has sought to capitalize on the show’s popularity by creating various spinoffs, such as the sweet-tooth confection Top Chef: Just Desserts or the recent Life After Top Chef. Arguably the noblest entry in this cavalcade of successors, however, is Top Chef: Masters, which follows a format similar to the original show but features contestants who are already well- … [Read more...]

3 Things I Love About Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award Acceptance Speech

Who knew? Ashton Kutcher is kind of amazing. At least, he is if this acceptance speech at the Teen Choice Awards is any indication:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuBSRC1zpHwAshton won the "Ultimate Choice Award," whatever that means. Judging from the speech, it's probably a kind of "lifetime acheivement award," where a "lifetime" ends after you're legally able to drink.I never really cared much for Ashton, mostly because I had some vague idea that he was kind of dumb, and also … [Read more...]

Remembering the Signs: God’s Word in a ‘Spell-Mageddon’ World

On July 24, ABC Family premiered its new competition show Spell-Mageddon. The show takes the traditional spelling bee format — popularized in recent years by films like Spellbound or Akeelah and the Bee — and adds a new wrinkle. Rather than competing in a quiet and controlled environment, contestants are subjected to absurd distractions while attempting to spell words jovially called out by host Alfonso Ribeiro (Fresh Prince’s Carlton Banks). Thus, for $10,000, participants may have to spell “vic … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: The Borgias’ Twisted Version of Brotherly Love

Ever since I finished The Tudors long ago, I’ve been trying to catch up on The Borgias. I just watched all of Season 2 in a single week (my library’s limit for in-demand DVDs), and the show’s gruesome finale left me mulling over this twisted, power-hungry clan.I realize how loose historical interpretations can get, especially on Showtime. But the interpretation of the Borgia siblings’ relationships transcends distinctions of fact and fiction, drawing on historical speculation and biblical all … [Read more...]

Breaking Bad Broken Down: “Blood Money”

For the final season of Breaking Bad, CaPC writers will look at some of the most important themes and moments from each Sunday's episode. Breaking Bad Broken Down is a dialogue about one of our favorite shows. This week, Alan Noble, Nick Olson, and Drew Dixon look at episode 9, Season 5, "Blood Money."Alan: At this point, we know the show going to be a tragedy, right? So the question for me is: Will anyone come out redeemed? Is that even possible at this point?Jesse's tremendous sense … [Read more...]

Sin in Syndication: Breaking the ‘Community’ Spirit

NBC’s comedy Community has always survived while on the cusp of cancellation, thanks in large part to a small but vocal and devoted fan base. The series' ostensible plot follows the standard grab-bag of misfits who've ended up at Greendale Community College; they are initially brought together by the conniving of slick former lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), who contrives a study group as a subterfuge to mask his intentions toward hard-left activist Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs).  Despite -- or … [Read more...]