I Wonder Why Three Fall Movies Have the Word “Wonder” in Their Titles

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A few years ago, it was the number 9 that popped up in a bunch of movie titles.  This year, it’s the word “wonder.”  Two are based on best-selling, award-winning books for children, Wonder, by  R.J. Palacio, the story of a boy with a facial deformity who enrolls in public school for the first time, and Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick, which has two parallel stories, one in words, one in pictures.   The third is “Wonder Wheel,” from writer/director Woody Allen, starring Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake.

Oh, and the summer’s biggest box-office hit was: “Wonder Woman.”

I wonder what’s coming next!

NOTE: Thanks for the reminder!  Another upcoming film is “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women,” based on the remarkable real-life story of the man who created Wonder Woman (and invented the lie detector!).  It looks, well, wonderful.

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Commentary

Is Movie Language Finally Getting More Civilized?

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Language has been steadily deteriorating in movies since the introduction of the MPAA ratings system replaced the Hayes Code in 1968.  It used to be no f-words in a PG-13, then one was okay, and now two, as  long as they do not refer to sex.  As I have said before, you’d need a degree in semiotics to parse that one.  And movies like the “Austin Powers” series get away with using  a sound-alike, “frickin.” Studios have been known to add one or two strong words just to avoid the PG rating because they think tweens and teenagers won’t see PG films.

Now a Harris poll suggests that movies may start moving away from four-letter words.

The Hollywood Reporter writes:

Using “Jesus Christ” to swear is the biggest offense, with 33 percent of the general public saying they’d be less likely to see a movie if they knew beforehand of that particular piece of dialogue. “Goddam” was second at 32 percent and “f***” was third with 31 percent.

Some of the awards seasons biggest films have no strong language.  If they are successful at the box office, we may see this become a trend.

 

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Net Neutrality Day of Action

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Keep the Internet neutral! Because the internet was developed by the government and universities, it has become the greatest resource ever created, giving a high school journalist the same opportunity to obtain and publish an interview the Secretary of Defense as the New York Times. Do not let this administration turn it over to a few big corporations to decide what we do and do not need to see. Join with the tech sites who are fighting for equal access. Let the FCC know.

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Four Very Different Movies Out Right Now Ask the Same Question

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SPOILER ALERT! This post discusses important plot surprises in four films.

They could not be more different in genre, budget, and intended audience, but four movies now in theaters have one important central theme in common: they are all about someone at the end of life, looking back and trying to see what it all meant. They all deal with meaning and purpose.

In The Sense of an Ending, Logan, Before I Fall, and “The Last Words” characters discover that their life is not what they thought and not what they wanted when it is almost too late to make a change. That’s one film based on a literary novel with top British actors, a complicated plot that goes back and forth in time and elegant, understated dialog, one conclusion to a comic book franchise with references to classic Westerns like “Shane,” one movie based on a YA novel that’s like a sad “Groundhog Day,” and one is a heartwarming story with a beloved Hollywood Oscar winner playing an irascible woman who wants to control her own obituary. Perhaps it is just a coincidence that these all come at the same time. But they seem to be in conversation with each other in a way that makes these existential conundrums even richer.

And they pretty much agree on the answer: loving and being loved, and doing good in the world.

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Commentary Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Hollywood Still Distorting Depictions of Gender

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Though the conversation on inequality in Hollywood is getting more attention than ever, a new report reveals that little has changed on screen or behind the camera.

Authored by Professor Stacy L. Smith and the Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the study is the largest intersectional analysis of characters in motion picture content to date. The group examined the 800 top films from 2007 to 2015 (excluding 2011), analyzing 35,205 characters for gender, race/ethnicity, LGBT status and – for the first time – the presence of disability. The results reveal that Hollywood remains resistant to change.

Copyright USC Annenberg 2016
Copyright USC Annenberg 2016

Just 31.4% of all speaking characters across the 100 top films from 2015 were female, a figure that has not changed since 2007. While race/ethnicity has been a major focus of advocacy in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, characters from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups were 26.3% of all characters. LGBT-identified characters represented less than 1% of all speaking characters. The report includes data on characters with disabilities, who filled a mere 2.4% of all speaking roles.

The report also has extensive and disturbing data on the depictions of minorities, including people with disabilities, and on the sexualization of young woman.

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Commentary Disabilities and Different Abilities Gender and Diversity Understanding Media and Pop Culture
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