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TV, Film, Media, and Culture

Snap! Love! Hate! How celebrities change our culture, and us!

“Don’t ever regret being honest. Period.” This is what Taylor Swift said in an interview a few years back, where she shared her thoughts on honesty, writing, and life. Swift is one of the most influential pop culture figures of our time, with millions of fans who admire her for her music, style, and personality. But how does she influence our values and aspirations? And what can we learn from her and other pop culture and celebrities who shape our views and expectations of what it means to be honest, trustworthy, and authentic?

Modeling the way to success (and how we define success)

One way that pop culture and celebrities influence our values and aspirations related to success is by providing us with role models and examples of what success looks like. For example, we can look at the achievements and accomplishments of pop culture and celebrities in their fields of work, such as music, entertainment, sports, business, politics, etc. We admire their talent, skill, creativity, innovation, hard work, dedication, passion, and impact. We learn from their stories, struggles, challenges, failures, and lessons. And we see how they overcome obstacles, cope with setbacks, deal with criticism, handle pressure, balance work and life, and achieve their goals. Our vantage point as celebrity watchers let’s us observe how they celebrate their success, enjoy their rewards, share their wealth, give back to society, and inspire others.

Some of our favorite role models that provide examples of success are:

  • Beyoncé, who is one of the most successful and influential singers of all time. She has won 28 Grammy Awards (so far), the most by any female artist in history. She has also sold over 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists ever. She is a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, activist, and fashion icon. She launched her own clothing line, fragrance line, management company, streaming service, and record label. She has also supported various causes and charities, such as Black Lives Matter, education for girls, disaster relief, and health care. She is widely regarded as a symbol of empowerment, excellence, and diversity.
  • Elon Musk, who is one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs of our time. Also one of the most controversial. He is the founder, CEO, and chief engineer of SpaceX, a company that aims to revolutionize space exploration and colonization. He is also the co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, a company that produces electric vehicles, batteries, solar panels, and other clean energy solutions. Believe it or not, he was also one of the founders of OpenAI, the organization behind ChatGPT, although he had a falling out with them along the way and is no longer involved. These days he is maybe most known for buying Twitter and changing it’s name to X. And there are many other companies and projects he is also involved with, including Neuralink, which develops brain-computer interfaces; The Boring Company, which builds underground tunnels; and Hyperloop, which promises high-speed transportation. He is widely regarded as a visionary, innovator, and leader.
  • Oprah Winfrey, who is one of the most successful and influential media personalities of all time. She is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which ran for 25 years and was watched by millions of people around the world. Oprah is a successful producer, actress, author, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. She launched her own television network (OWN), magazine (O), book club (Oprah’s Book Club), podcast (Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations), and wellness platform (Oprah’s Vision: Your Life in Focus). She has also supported various causes and charities, such as education for girls, women’s rights, health care, animal welfare, and environmentalism. She is widely regarded as a symbol of inspiration, wisdom, and generosity.

These are just a few examples of pop culture and celebrities who influence our values and aspirations related to success. They show us different ways of achieving success in different domains of life. They also can show us the benefits and challenges of being successful, and motivate us to pursue our own goals and dreams. And maybe teach us a few lessons along the way on characteristics to avoid.

What about love?

One way that pop culture and celebrities influence our values and aspirations related to love is by providing us with stories and examples of what love looks like. Whether it’s through their songs, movies, books, shows, or podcasts, pop culture and celebrities tell us stories of love that capture our imagination and emotions. They show us different types of love, such as romantic love, familial love, platonic love, self-love, etc. They show us different stages of love, such as attraction, dating, commitment, marriage, parenthood, divorce, etc. And they show us different challenges of love, such as infidelity, betrayal, jealousy, insecurity, abuse, loss, etc. They also show us different expressions of love, such as words, gestures, gifts, actions, etc.

Some examples of pop culture and celebrities who provide us with stories and examples of love are:

  • The Notebook, which is a 2004 romantic drama film based on the 1996 novel by Nicholas Sparks. It tells the story of Noah and Allie, two young lovers who are separated by their social class and family pressure in the 1940s. They reunite years later when Allie is engaged to another man. The film alternates between their past and present, as Noah reads their story from a notebook to Allie who suffers from dementia in a nursing home. The film is one of the most popular and beloved romantic movies of all time. It shows us the power of true love that transcends time, distance, and memory.
  • BTS, which is a seven-member South Korean boy band that debuted in 2013. They are one of the most successful and influential music groups in the world. They have won numerous awards and accolades, such as Grammy nominations, Billboard Music Awards, American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, etc. They have also sold over 20 million albums worldwide, making them one of the best-selling music artists ever. They are also known for their social messages and philanthropy. They have supported various causes and charities, such as UNICEF’s Love Myself campaign against violence and bullying; the Live Goes On project to support people affected by COVID-19; and the Connect BTS project to promote global art and culture. They are widely regarded as a symbol of love, unity, and diversity.
  • Michelle Obama, who is the former First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She is also a lawyer, author, activist, and podcast host. She is best known for her initiatives and advocacy on issues such as education for girls, healthy living, military families, racial justice, and women’s empowerment. She is also known for her personal style and charisma. She is also known for her marriage to Barack Obama, the former President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. They are one of the most admired and respected couples in the world. They have been married for over 28 years and have two daughters: Malia and Sasha. They have shared their love story in their books (Becoming by Michelle Obama; A Promised Land by Barack Obama) and their podcast (The Michelle Obama Podcast). They show us the beauty of a loving partnership that is based on mutual respect, support, friendship, and fun.
Michelle Obama influences culture

These are just some of the examples of pop culture and celebrities who influence our values and aspirations related to love. They show us different ways of experiencing love in different contexts of life. They show us the joys and sorrows of love. And they inspire us to seek love in ourselves and others.

Happiness, Fulfillment, and Meaning

One way that pop culture and celebrities influence our values and aspirations related to happiness is by providing us with images and examples of what happiness looks like. Whether it’s through their photos, videos, interviews, or social media posts, pop culture and celebrities show us glimpses of their lives that seem to be full of happiness. They show us smiles, laughter, fun, excitement, adventure, romance, family, friends, fame, and fortune. These are all things we can aspire to. They show us their achievements, awards, accolades, recognition, appreciation, and sometimes their gratitude. And sometimes we get a window into their hobbies, passions, interests, talents, skills, and what passions really drive them.

Some examples of pop culture and celebrities who provide us with images and examples of happiness are:

  • Ellen DeGeneres, who is one of the most successful and popular comedians and talk show hosts of all time. She is best known for her show The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which has been running since 2003 and has won numerous Emmy Awards. She is also known for her stand-up comedy specials, movies, books, podcasts, and games. She is also known for her philanthropy and activism. She has supported various causes and charities, such as animal rights, LGBTQ+ rights, anti-bullying, disaster relief, and health care. She is widely regarded as a symbol of happiness, kindness, and generosity.
  • Dwayne Johnson, who is one of the most successful and popular actors and producers of all time. He is best known for his roles in movies such as The Fast and the Furious franchise, Jumanji franchise, Moana, etc. He is also a former professional wrestler who was known as The Rock. He is also a successful entrepreneur who has launched his own tequila brand (Teremana), energy drink brand (ZOA), clothing line (Project Rock), etc. He is also known for his fitness and wellness. He has a massive fan following on social media where he posts motivational and inspirational messages and videos. He is widely regarded as a symbol of happiness, strength, and charisma.
  • Taylor Swift, who is one of the most successful and influential singers of all time. She has won 11 Grammy Awards, including three Album of the Year awards. She has also sold over 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists ever. She is also a successful songwriter who has written songs for herself and other artists. She is also known for her personal style and personality. She has a loyal fan base who call themselves Swifties. She has also supported various causes and charities, such as education for girls, women’s rights, health care, animal welfare, and environmentalism. She is widely regarded as a symbol of happiness, creativity, and authenticity.

These are just some of the examples of pop culture and celebrities who influence our values and aspirations related to happiness. They show us different ways of finding happiness in different aspects of life. We see, through them, the challenges and risks of happiness. They inspire us to seek happiness in ourselves and others.

Social Justice made real by our celebrities

One way that pop culture and celebrities influence our values and aspirations related to social justice is by providing us with voices and examples of what social justice looks like. Whether it’s through their songs, movies, books, shows, or podcasts, pop culture and celebrities speak out on various social issues that affect our society, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, poverty, violence, etc. They also show us different ways of taking action and making a difference, such as protesting, donating, volunteering, educating, organizing, etc. They also show us different outcomes and impacts of social justice, such as awareness, change, empowerment, solidarity, etc.

Some examples of pop culture and celebrities who provide us with voices and examples of social justice are:

  • Kendrick Lamar is one of the most successful and influential rappers of all time. He has won 17 Grammy Awards, including five for his album DAMN., which was also the first non-classical or non-jazz album to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He is also known for his social commentary and activism. He has addressed various social issues in his songs, such as police brutality, mass incarceration, racial inequality, etc. He has supported various causes and charities, such as Black Lives Matter, Hurricane Maria relief, music education for children, and much more. He is widely regarded as a symbol of social justice, artistry, and excellence.
  • Emma Watson is a phenomenally successful and popular actresses. She is best known for her role as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter. She is also a successful model, activist, and UN Women goodwill ambassador. She has become known for her advocacy on issues such as education for girls, women’s rights, and gender equality. She launched the HeForShe campaign to encourage men and boys to support feminism. She has also supported a wide range of important causes and charities, such as education for children, environmentalism, and animal welfare. She is widely regarded as a symbol of intelligence, social justice, and using her celebrity to create good in the world.
  • Malala Yousafzai, one of the most inspiring and influential activists of all time. Best known for her campaign for girls’ education in Pakistan, where she was shot by the Taliban when she was 14 years old, she survived the attack and became a global advocate for girls’ education and human rights. She has won numerous awards and honors, such as the Nobel Peace Prize (the youngest ever recipient), the Sakharov Prize (the highest human rights award in Europe), the International Children’s Peace Prize (the highest children’s rights award in the world), etc. She has also founded the Malala Fund (a non-profit organization that supports girls’ education around the world). She is widely regarded as a symbol of social justice, courage, and hope.
Malala Yousafzai

These are just some of the examples of pop culture and celebrities who influence our values and aspirations related to social justice. They show us different ways of speaking up and standing up for what we believe in. They inspire us to seek social justice in ourselves and others.

And so . . . let’s make culture

Pop culture and celebrities like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Elon Musk, and Oprah Winfrey play a significant role in shaping our values and aspirations. They not only entertain us with their talent but also inspire us with their success stories, entrepreneurial ventures, and philanthropic efforts. They model resilience in the face of challenges and generosity in the face of success. Their influence extends beyond their professional achievements, impacting our perceptions of honesty, trustworthiness, and authenticity. As we navigate our own paths to success, we can learn valuable lessons from these figures about hard work, dedication, innovation, and giving back to society. Ultimately, the impact of pop culture and celebrities on our lives serves as a reminder of the power of honesty, authenticity, and the human spirit.

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TV, Film, Media, and Culture

Rise of Skywalker – not quite the rise we hoped it would be

Image of the Star Wars Rise of Skywalker characters in a spaceship smiling at each other
Rey, Chewbacca, Finn, and Poe

Is it Fabalytic?

What’s the deal

We had such high hopes for Rise of Skywalker, the concluding chapter in the latest trilogy. And the movie almost delivers. It’s certainly fun to watch, and allows us to re-immerse ourselves in the Star Wars universe.

Normally we would identify the things that are Fab about a film, and then the things that are Not Fab. In this case we think the same four things are one and the same – Fab and Not Fab at the same time. And at the end, we will tell you if we think you should see Rise of Skywalker.

What’s Fab about Rise of Skywalker

  • Pace: This movie really moves! J.J. Abrams really knows how to pack it in, and the first half of this movie is NON STOP!
  • The characters: Now that we are a couple of movies in we have come to love Finn, Poe, and Rey. And don’t forget Maz!
  • The plot: The official Star Wars website says “A powerful enemy returns and Rey must face her destiny.” Because we don’t want to spoil the fun, we won’t say more . . .
  • How it wraps up the story: This movie pulls all the threads from the last two films together and brings them to a close

What’s not Fab about it

  • Pace: Tries to do way to much in too short a time, especially the first half . . . if you blink you will miss very important plot lines. Fortunately the plot is so odd, that may be ok
  • The characters: Even more than the last two movies, the characters are dead-on retreads from the earlier movies
  • The plot: Where to begin . . . there are so many really odd choices in the story. The main character’s lineage is one of the worst (won’t spoil the story, but this is so unnecessary!). And “BenRen” and the resurrection thing??? Emperor Palpatine also! Not clear that was the “rise” intended in the title, but it just doesn’t seem to fit what we know about the way the force is supposed to work. Just know that plot is not the reason to watch this movie

What is it with “BenRen” and the resurrection thing???

  • How it wraps up the story: This movie doesn’t really leave us satisfied. No more plot spoilers, so you will need to watch to find your own disappointment

Should you see Rise of Skywalker?

Yes. Even though it’s a bit “peds,” and doesn’t live up to the hype, just for the action packed J.J. Abrams energy, it’s going to be worth your time to spend the 2 hours and 22 minutes runtime watching Rise of Skywalker.