Posts tagged with: Entertainment/Culture

Blog author: ehilton
Monday, January 19, 2015
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from the film "Ida"

from the film “Ida”

The film industry quite often gets religion wrong. Either the industry completely misunderstands faith (think Noah and the recent Exodus), or the movies are so saccharine that theaters ought to offer diabetes testing for movie-goers on the way out of the theater (Left Behind and anything else Kirk Cameron has been involved with). This is really too bad, because movies are an art form that have the power to move us, to make us think, to ponder more deeply critical questions of our fallen human nature, our relationships with others and with God.

Zelda Caldwell, at Aleteia, has put together a nifty list of ten great religious films you can watch now on Netflix. Each of these has their own merit, and there is a nice range of films included. I’ll note just a few here: (more…)

Michael Keaton in "Birdman"

Michael Keaton in “Birdman”

It is award season in Hollywood. Nearly every weekend for the next few months, there will be a parade on some red carpet, commentators bashing some actress on her wardrobe choice, and self-aggrandizing speeches from people who seem to know little about life outside of a West Coast mansion and an East Coast apartment.

Last night, at the Golden Globes, one speech stood out. Michael Keaton has worked steadily for years as an actor, but has never been recognized as one of the greats in his field. He’s best known for a regrettable turn as Batman, and as an obnoxious ghost in Beetlejuice. However, Keaton has garnered acclaim for his role in Birdman, playing a washed-actor who attempts a career comeback on Broadway. Last night, Keaton won best actor in a motion picture, comedy or musical at the Golden Globes. (more…)

Friedrich Hayek once called intellectuals “professional secondhand dealers in ideas.” And the Preacher proclaimed, “There is nothing new under the sun.” So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising when ideas, memes, and other cultural phenomena pop up again and again.

There is, however, a notable correspondence between an Acton Commentary that I wrote earlier this month, “The Worst Christmas Song Ever,” and a piece that appeared weeks earlier at The Federalist. In “‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ Is The Worst Christmas Song Ever,” Leslie Loftis takes down this miserable tune in devastating fashion. Loftis points out that the song “has a little of everything to loathe. Condescension. Inane inaccuracies. Smugness. Mullets.”

Whether or not you have read my commentary, you should go check out her case against the song now.

I first noticed the song, which heretofore had been background Christmas muzak, when we screened the new documentary Poverty, Inc. earlier this year at the Acton Institute offices. That film includes a section discussing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Matthea Brandenburg helpfully points out some further commentary by Magatte Wade and others about the song over at the PovertyCure blog.

When Christmas rolled around, I had the idea to write something about the song, and connected it with William Easterly’s analysis of the differing perspectives on development offered by Gunnar Myrdal and Hayek. But I now think that even though I hadn’t read Loftis’ piece, I had seen the title before I wrote my piece. In fact, I checked Ben Domenech’s excellent email newsletter The Transom, to which you should subscribe, and there on December 3 is the following: ‘“Do They Know It’s Christmas” is the worst Christmas song ever. http://vlt.tc/1qf7

No doubt I saw the link, and got the idea for calling it the “worst ever” into my head. Then some days later I connected it to the Poverty, Inc. clip and wrote my piece. So the idea for calling this the worst Christmas song ever must be credited to Loftis and The Federalist. I’m sorry that I didn’t realize that Loftis’ piece had already appeared, or I would have pointed to it earlier, and given credit for the idea straight away. So in the interests of disclosure, I certainly haven’t been the only one to criticize this song or even to call it the “worst Christmas song ever.” I guess I’ve got egg(nog) on my face. The variety of voices that find the song problematic, however, should be a indication that there’s something rotten in “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” It is, after all, a song that includes a toast like this: “Here’s to them underneath that burning sun.”

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is like a bad earworm that won’t go away. And now I really, really hate that song!

wonderfullife600_3-480x309Frank Capra’s ‘It’s Wonderful Life’ is one of the greatest movies of all time. It’s a Christmas classic and also—as I’ve always thought—a conservative classic, a film whose themes align closely with traditional conservatism.

But not everyone agrees on the politics of Bedford Falls. Keith Miller and Chris Schaefer debate whether themes of the movie lean more liberal or more conservative. Naturally, I agree with Miller’s small government assessment:
(more…)

In this week’s commentary I argue that “Do They Even Know It’s Christmas?” is the worst Christmas song of all time.

Kanye agrees.Kanye Bono Christmas

91mfLQ4itBL._SL1500_At The Gospel Coalition, Hunter Baker reviews Abraham Kuyper’s Scholarship: Two Convocations on University Life and highlights the significance of the Acton Institute:

The Acton Institute does the kind of work that would have been almost unimaginable in a single organization two or three decades ago. Here we have a think tank that teaches economics and political theory to seminarians and other students of religion, maintains an office near the Vatican, and publishes translations of the works of Abraham Kuyper, one of the most illustrious Reformed thinkers in Christian history. If one ever needed evidence of positive rapprochement for the church in the wake of the Reformation, Acton provides a giant serving.

While Acton has published—through the Christian’s Library Press—some contemporary authors (including yours truly), the big headliner is Kuyper and his translated works. Many American Christians have read his Stone Lectures delivered at Princeton, but most of his output has remained inaccessible. Acton is changing that.

Read more . . .

Larry Schweikart

This edition of Radio Free Acton features an interview with Larry Schweikart – drummer, history professor, and producer of the documentary “Rockin’ The Wall” – on the power of music and the influence of rock and roll in undermining communism in the Soviet empire. When we think about the fall of the Berlin Wall, it’s only natural that names like Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II come to mind, but there were other elements involved in the battle against communism that also played important roles in its downfall, including cultural influences. How did western rock and pop music help to undermine Soviet Communism? Schweikart, former drummer for Rampage, explains how it happened.

A Note to Readers: The Acton Institute is presenting a special screening of the film Rockin’ the Wall on November 20 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The event features a talk by Larry Schweikart, who worked closely with the film’s producers and is featured prominently throughout the documentary. To register, click here.

Back in my college days, my friends and I debated the merits of military spending by the then-current administration. As this was the 1980s, featuring two terms of President Ronald Reagan, we took somewhat opposing views on whether the United States could outspend the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics until it – and its odious ideology – collapsed into the dustbin of history. This argument – believe it or not – was adopted by my friend Ron. My friend John – coincidentally named after the president on whose inaugural he was born, John Kennedy – argued that the revolution would come from within the Iron Curtain rather than without. Eastern Europe and the Soviet states wanted Calvin Klein jeans, jazz and rock and roll music, he asserted, and he was convinced that comrades of the Soviet states and its satellites would tear down oppressive regimes to attain artifacts of Western culture. (more…)

beatlesOne would think that the road to success for entrepreneurs would start with a business major. After all, you have to know marketing and business strategies and accounting and all that stuff, right?

Panos Panay gives some thoughtful rebuttal to that idea. He is a successful entrepreneur, having created Sonicbids, a platform where musicians and bands can book gigs, promote themselves and basically act as their own managers. He is also the founding manager of Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship. He believes he’s been a successful entrepreneur not in spite of his music background, but because of it. (more…)

On Wednesday our country will celebrate one of our most cherished civic holidays: the beginning of the 18-month moratorium on political advertising.

Although almost everyone hates such ads, every election season we are inundated with political advertising that mocks our intelligence and tests our credulity as politicians trash their opponents. But we can at least be thankful modern electioneering is, compared to the nineteenth century, downright polite. Even the rudest campaign ads of the 2014 midterm elections can’t match the nasty, negative campaigning of the election of 1800.