Tag Archives: pop culture

Submit Your Questions for a Chance to be on Help Desk with Rob Bell in LA!

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PARTICIPATE IN AN “OWN” TELEVISION SERIES

IN LOS ANGELES WITH ROB BELL!

READ APPLICATION PROCESS BELOW AND APPLY ASAP TO: robbellhelpdesk@gmail.com

WHAT:            The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), is seeking participants for the “Help Desk” series featuring Rob Bell!

WHEN:             April 8, 2014

WHERE:           Los Angeles (specific location TBA)

WHO:   Named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2011, Rob Bell is the author of a number of books including Velvet Elvis, Drops Like Stars, and the New York Times Bestsellers Love Wins and What We Talk About When We Talk About God. The founding pastor of Mars Hill, an innovative church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his Nooma short film series has been viewed by over thirty million people. Rob’s speaking tours have taken him around the world and in 2013 he launched CraftLab, a leadership event helping executives, writers, artists and activists develop and create compelling new content. He and his wife Kristen live with their three children in Southern California.

Description: Help Desk is a television show on OWN that features renowned teachers, authors, and experts making themselves available in public spaces to provide advice to anyone who needs it. Help Desk is a deeply substantive series that grounds some of the great wisdom provided by today’s top experts and helps people live better and more fulfilling lives. Although the event is public, we are looking to secure a select group of participants who will be given priority to sit down with Rob.

What we are looking for:

We need people who are seeking advice to help them with a specific life issue or circumstance. Below are a few examples but we are open to hearing about any particular issues you would like to discuss:

-Dissatisfaction with career/feeling trapped

-Questioning faith or belief in higher power

-Overcoming addiction

-Difficulties with weight loss

-Overcoming specific anxieties or fears

-Divorce or breakup

-Coping with job-loss

-Issues revolving around sexual identity

-Financial hardship

-Sex and relationship issues

-Loss of a family member or friend

Requirements:

1. We need applicants to be available during the day on April 8th in the Los Angeles area.  Specific time and location TBA.

2. Provide a simple description of yourself (age, profession, relationships status)

and contact information (email and phone number).

3.  Photo of yourself.

4.  Specific question(s) you would like to ask Rob.

5.  Single paragraph description of the specific life circumstance that led to your question(s).

6. Please tell us how you heard about this opportunity (specific website, social media, word of mouth, etc.).

7. If selected, applicants will need to sign an Appearance Release.

Send email with answers to the above questions to: robbellhelpdesk@gmail.com

VOD: Children Re-Enact Best Picture Nominees in time for Oscars

With the Olympics wrapping up it is time to look forward to the next worldwide television event – the 86th Academy Awards. The Oscars will be airing March 2. Don’t worry, that’s obviously ages away and we have plenty of time to catch up on all the nominated films before the ceremony airs…Wait. February is a short month. The Oscars are next Sunday! Crap! I haven’t seen anything in theaters since Her! (Which is a phenomenal movie, by the way. Joaquin Phoenix kills it and it brings all the feelings.)

There is obviously not enough time to get to the theater to see everything. Honestly, it’s a little unfair to nominate nine films for best picture and expect people to get to all of them anyway. But don’t worry. The fine folks at Cinefix have found the best way for you to be in the know for the ceremony in under five minutes – and cute kids are involved! They’ve compiled a medley of scenes from the nominated films and had them acted out by adorable primary schoolers. It is pretty ambitious considering one of the films, The Wolf of Wall Street has the Guiness World Record for most f-bombs in a movie – 506 times, averaging 2.81 times a minute. They also pick the only scene in 12 Years a Slave the producers felt comfortable re-enacting with kids (the very end spoiler alert).

It’s actually unfortunate that none of them had seen Philomena. The joke was great but it would have been even better to see one of those kids try to pull of a Dame Judy Dench. Oh well, we should be able to make it through one movie before next Sunday, right? If not we’ll just let there be a little bit of mystery to the proceedings.

What did you think of the video? Are you planning to watch the big show? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

Beyoncé Releases Surprise New Album and What It Means for Art in the Age of the Internet

Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 1.51.46 PM“Beysus has risen.”

That’s what my Facebook feed reads to me last night as I’m about to go to bed. The next 15 posts are all various screams of excitement or disbelief that one of the biggest currently performing artists on the planet right now put out an album at the stroke of midnight eastern time. The singer’s fifth studio album is aptly named “Beyoncé” and features her husband Jay-Z, Drake, Frank Ocean and a verse by her toddler daughter Blue Ivy.

That’s the news clip and that is the thing you’ve been hearing all day. Who cares? It’s just another gimmick for headlines, another pop star trying to push themselves to the front (but at least she’s not twerking, right?) The fourth quarter has seen a lot of powerhouse female releases from the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Yet, somehow Beyoncé was able to create more publicity for her new album by not telling anyone that it existed than she would have been able to generate had she committed to a routine press release schedule.

The thing that makes this so extraordinary is not about the number of albums that Beyoncé will inevitably sell, it’s that she has tapped into the true power of the internet and used it to her own advantage. For the past 15 years artists have struggled against the internet to release their albums in piece-meal singles with their fingers crossed that the entire thing won’t be made available for free download before they can unveil it the way they want, the way they’ve been planning to do for months beforehand.

Last night, Beyoncé said screw that and released her entire album at once, accompanied by 17 videos for each of the songs in a complete artistic package. Just like Netflix figured out that the new generation of television watchers want their episodes in one lump sum to devour at their own pace,  Beyoncé released her album the same way – because that’s what the internet can do! Rather than try to fight the current and hand out the new creation in tiny pieces with several drawn out release dates – she gave it to everyone at once.

The beauty of the internet is that it allows for people to portray their art in full context. In the statements she’s made about the album release Bey has compared it to a movie, that she wanted to bypass the circus of press and deliver the album straight to her fans. Yes. Digital marketing and delivery is the level playing field. It’s why Radiohead created the same level of stir when they released In Rainbows on a donation basis. Internet downloading has become a cultural norm not because the current generation enjoys ripping off their favorite artists, but because the internet allows us to consume media directly without mainstream filters or interruptions. And it allows our favorite artists to speak directly to us, for us to see their vision as they intended – it provides a streamline connection between us and them the way that art is supposed to work.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about whether Beyoncé should be heralded as a personal role model (with some seriously intense debate on either side) but professionally she created a new norm last night. This is the formation of a new wave business model. As a professional black female in the entertainment business that’s a big freakin’ deal. Oh, and did we mention she was in the middle of a headlining world tour while she put all of this together? Talk about balance.

So no matter what your opinion is of Beyoncé, this there is a lesson for every creative person reading this. Don’t fight the current. As we’re trying to figure out the next wave of things to come for Intent Blog and Intent.com we’re definitely going to try and take a page out of Beyoncé’s book – use the creative force of the internet to create meaningful projects in full context and create direct connections between us as content creators and you, who we create everything for. If anything Beyoncé proved last night that meaningful impact happens when you create that connection rather than filtering yourself through the highest bidding brands.

Way to be a boss, Bey.

3 Things to Restore Your Faith in Humanity After the “Breaking Bad” Finale

You Deserve All Good Things... it's true!Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock you know that last night was the series finale of AMC’s mega-Emmy-winning meth lab hit “Breaking Bad.” Most likely you fit into one of two groups – the millions who have waited with baited breath in hopes that Walter White (Bryan Cranston) would redeem himself or the fewer of us who had to scroll past all the moaning in our Facebook and Twitter feeds that he never did.

Either way, the finale has been rough on all of us. But just because Walter never saw the light doesn’t mean that we should give up hope. Check out these awesome do-gooders and humanitarians that will help you remember there’s still people out there fighting the good fight, and why we should join them.

  • Though he plays a “hapless meth addict” on Breaking Bad, actor Aaron Paul (Jesse) used his notoriety and the show’s popularity to raise $1.8 million for his wife’s anti-bullying charity The Kind Campaign. Paul helped raise awareness for the charity by flying out two lucky winners to Los Angeles for last night’s finale, where they hung out with the entire cast and had a “cooking” session with Aaron himself. You can read more about it here and take it as proof that good can come out on top.
  • After years of trying different trades, a farmer’s son travels to Cambodia to see their rice farms and realizes his destiny in life. He finds peace in himself working his family’s farm, and that acceptance moves him to tears. Watch this touching video as he explains the transformation and how working the land is contributing to the larger circle of existence.


  • What would the world be like if we were all just a little bit kinder? That’s the question posed at the beginning of this video montage of random acts of kindness in 2012. It’s a few minutes long, but everything is there – from strangers buying other people’s groceries to people lending a hand during natural disasters. It’s sure to warm your heart over from all those devastated Walter feelings.

Even if you aren’t a fan of “Breaking Bad” we hope these videos help lift your mood today! If you have any videos or stories of people being good to each other share them in the comments below! 

Jimmy Fallon and the Cast of Sesame Street Sing Theme Song for Late Night

Over the years Jimmy Fallon has put together some legendary musical numbers – from POTUS “slowjamming” the news to history of rap with Justin Timberlake and then his amazing impression of Neil Young. This week he’s going for the younger, much younger, demographic by teaming up with the cast of Sesame Street.

Everyone was there including: Big Bird, Snuffaluffagus, Grover, Cookie Monster and The Count. Of course we can’t forget Jimmy Fallon’s house band the Roots, who threw an extra verse in the song before the whole cast looped back for another refrain. As far as duets go, this might be Fallon’s most epic one yet.
Hope this dash of adorable nostalgia gets you excited for Friday! What did you think of the video? Let us know in the comments below. 

And the Magic of Harry Potter Continues! J.K. Rowling’s Next Film Project

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If you were among the millions in the world devastated by the end of the Harry Potter book and film series, then take heart. The wizarding world of Harry Potter will be back onscreen in no time! (Just without Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of the gang.)

We know, it sounds crazy. How can you have a “Harry Potter” movie without Harry Potter and co.? If you’re a devoted fan, then maybe you already know…

J.K. Rowling is teaming up with Warner Bros. to develop a new film series based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, one of the textbooks Harry and his classmates read at Hogwarts. By the title you can probably guess what the book is about. The film series will bring the book’s supposed author, Newt Scamander, to the forefront, cataloging his adventures in the same magical world Harry and the gang call home.

As Rowling said in a press release:

It all started when Warner Bros. came to me with the suggestion of turning ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ into a film. I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ realized by another writer was difficult. Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt…

As I considered Warners’ proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros.

Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world. The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.

The Harry Potter phenomenon is so pervasive, so ingrained at this point, we wonder if the world has even conceptualized yet how much the series has changed our culture. Sure, you could say, “It’s just a kid’s book! It’s a fad!” But then you remember that this “fad” has sold more than 450 million copies worldwide, available in 73 languages, and it persists in popularity even 15 years after the first book was published. Sometimes it’s hard to know the impact a book will have in the years to come.

Whether you’re a fan of the books or not, who doesn’t love a good fantasy movie? We look forward to whatever magic Rowling and Warner Bros. come up with together – witches, monsters, broomsticks and all!

What do you think about the significance of Harry Potter in modern culture? Let us know in the comments section below!

Why Everyone is Talking About Miley Cyrus Today

Miley-Cyrus-2224429Did you watch the Video Music Awards last night? If so, did anything stand out to you?

In the company of acts like Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West, none caused as much of a stir as Miley Cyrus, the Disney-star-turned-sexpot-turned…cultural commentator?

That last descriptor might be overly generous, but it refers to the somewhat misplaced commentary on race, sexuality, and liberal politics Miley apparently seems to be dishing out with her latest performance and musical offerings.

Before we address her VMA performance, it’s first necessary to go back several months to the release of her music video for “We Can’t Stop.” A dance/party anthem reminiscent of her earlier “Party in the USA,” this video strips Miley of any semblance of sweetness or innocence and dresses her instead in a costume of unrestrained, “deviant” sexuality and, what many are calling, caricatured “cultural appropriation.”

As Dodai Stewart writes for Jezebel:

It’s important to understand that Miley is very privileged to be able to play dress up and adorn herself with the trappings of an oppressed/minority culture. She can play at blackness without being burdened by the reality of it.

Click here if you’d like to watch the music video and judge for yourself.

If the grills, the fake nails, and the gold chains aren’t enough to make you cringe at their blatant cultural essentializing of what Miley seems to view as “hip hop culture” and urban couture, then her VMA performance will probably do the trick. Miley struts across the stage in a leotard, with dancers all around her carrying gigantic stuff bears, and she proceeds to hump the air, stick a foam finger between her legs, and “twerk” up close and personal for Robin Thicke.

It’s hard to know exactly what the 20-year-old’s politics and values really are. If her “We Can’t Stop” video and VMA performance are trying to inspire some discourse on race and sexuality, then she seems to be going about it in a roundabout fashion. Does caricaturing minority culture actually encourage enfranchisement, or does it just perpetuate racism? Does trying on and playing with sexuality actually show respect to the LGBT community, or does it just over-sexualize homosexuality – lesbian relationships, in particular?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

 

Photo credit: Reuters

Thursday Morning Melody: The Cigarette Duet

How many of you have had the cigarette conversation with a friend or loved one? Or perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end of such an intervention? Either way, it might have gone something like this:

Friend: You really need to quit smoking.

Smoker: Yeah…

Friend: It can kill you.

Smoker: I know…

Touching on this important phenomenon with a bit of playful wit, New Zealand singer/songwriter Princess Chelsea lays it down in her song “The Cigarette Duet.” Off her debut solo album, “Lil’ Golden Book,” the song features Jonathan Bree of The Brunettes, who also shot the accompanying music video (which, by the way cost them nothing to make and immediately went viral.)

The song and video together are a comical look at the tension cigarettes can create in a relationship. The thick scent of smoke, cigarette breath, and money spent on endless packs are some factors that might cause discord, not to mention, of course, the ticking time bomb of lung cancer, mouth cancer, and heart disease. However irreverent, hopefully this song will inspire some real reflection on the bad habits we cling to, and the people we may hurt along the way.

It’s just a cigarette & it cannot be that bad
Honey don’t you love me and you know it makes me sad?
It’s just a cigarette like you always used to do
I was different then, I don’t need them to be cool

It’s just a cigarette and it harms your pretty lungs
Well it’s only twice a week so there’s not much of a chance
It’s just a cigarette it’ll soon be only ten
Honey can’t you trust me when I want to stop I can

It’s just a cigarette and it’s just a Marlboro Light
Maybe but is it worth it if we fight?
It’s just a cigarette that I got from Jamie-Lee
She’s gonna get a smack and I’m gonna give you three

It’s just a cigarette and I only did it once
it’s only twice a week so there’s not much of a chance
It’s just a cigarette and I’m sorry that I did it
Honey can’t you trust me when I want to stop I can

* * *

This post is part of  our Thursday Morning Melody series. Every Thursday we feature the music video and lyrics to a song that touches us deeply. If there’s a melody you wish to share with the Intent community, please share it with us in the comments below! Click here to listen to past Thursday Morning Melodies.

I’m Not Your B****, Yo. (And Neither is Beyonce. Or Any Woman Ever)

beyonce-breastplate-nipple-costume-1This article references a previous blog I wrote, entitled: An Open Letter to Michelle Obama: Beyonce is Not a Role Model

Two months, an estimated 300,000+ readers, and over 30,000 actual Facebook likes after I wrote the Beyonce piece, I’ve gotten a piece – a piece of everyone and the world’s mind.

(As  precursor here I should say that in this article I am not singling out any one person who sent me messages in ‘conversation’ no matter how strong their position because I don’t think that’s fair. But, for those writers who published reply articles (that I know about) and who actually wanted readers, I am citing those here with links attached for people to visit and read.)

Through that lovely vehicle of social media, the #Beyhive came out, appropriately in droves: warm, fuzzy and stinging. They told me I should ‘watch my back’, that my ‘very life was in danger’, that I was ‘a ho’, that I had a ‘double chin’, and rather directly that I needed ‘more dick’ in my life. Aah. I see – #girlsruntheworld.

Others were less clever, if more labored in noting their contempt: In a departure from its title, a website called The Moderate Voice wrote a reply article with the clearly immoderate title ‘The Dumbest Thing I’ve Read This Week‘. Elsewhere someone studying for an MPhil in Linguistics at Oxford penned an essay in reply on ‘The Complexity of Beyonce“. One person in total commented on this essay, saying that they ‘think Beyonce and Jay-Z are poor role models based on their sick infatuation with wearing the murdered bodies of innocent animals as coats, garish shoes and other gruesome garments’. When I read this, I couldn’t help thinking that often times for many of us, it’s just not a very complex world at all.

Some people thought Beyonce’s costume was a celebration of the primal goddesses of ancient cultures. It was an emancipated return of the divine feminine rising, they wrote to me: ‘Can’t you see? You with your spirituality blog. Ha!’ I asked myself how could I have been blind to this? Where was my awareness of the divine feminine when it showed up and shimmied in my face? Inspired, I looked into it and found out the dress designers who produced the piece said their inspiration for the costume was to create ‘one of  the most glamorous and provocative looks she’s ever worn…(to) give the illusion of being covered in crystalized honey…’

Oh. Sweet.

They also said the costume was a collaboration between Beyonce and her mom. Such a nice mom and daughter project – perhaps all the women who wrote and said they had just had baby girls and would love to see their daughter grow into a Beyonce will want to try this for a first grade Halloween. Why wait till she’s a multi-million $ earner who has no material need to ‘earn’ her money like this. Ladies, you already know that I ‘just don’t get it.’ You’ve written to tell me so. But you know what – if it works for you – go ahead, make it happen: Objectify Her Now. Perhaps if you mobilize the power of the #Beyhive in support of this, Beyonce will issue a home-costume-design-kit for this one.

I’ll still be scratching my head at the hashtag, that’s all:

#honeygirlsruntheworldbysingingsongslookingliketheyarenakedcoveredinhoney

Elsewhere, others were impassioned to write that my feminism was not theirs (I agree completely) although they mistakenly decided I have zero education in the practices, and circumstances that lead to sex trafficking (especially urban USA), and also decided I conflated voluntary sex work with trafficking. They also confused an essay about the dangers of presenting the notion of feminine success as being dependent on sexualizing the self to very young girls, with the idea that I as its author wanted grown women to suppress their sexuality because it was shameful. They wrote about the rights of women to choose sex work, they wanted to ‘call me out’ for my own lack of liberation.

I never wrote it in my piece because it was so unrelated, but for what it’s worth let me say it here: women who are adults engaged in consensual, safe, sex or erotic work that you enjoy, and find personally fulfilling and that you do by your own independent choice: more power to you. What you do as adult women is your business. Literally. The question in the original piece was never about an adult woman’s freedom to make her own choices in an adult environment. The question was about the packaging to very young girls a message that ultimate feminine success for them comes with the necessity to sexualize themselves.

Lastly, sometimes I saw some things about some people talking – shouting mostly, actually – about ‘slut shaming’. I read my piece again when I got these comments just to check if I’d lost my mind and written something irresponsible but I hadn’t: I did NOT write a piece that supported the idea that women or young girls are ever responsible for the prejudices imposed on them by society. I did write a piece that said that women who present themselves as recording artists targeting young girls as their audience, who then present themselves to those young audiences in overtly sexualized terms – are not role models for our young girls.

Once that was set aside, the feelings of being unwilling to engage in a conversation about ‘slut shaming’ set in and here, after some reflection, I can finally articulate why:

When I was little, the part of the world where I come from, they called me a Paki. But you know what – I don’t care how ubiquitous the term, I never was and never will be anyone’s Paki. No British Asian ever was or ever will be anyone’s Paki. We are individuals of separate and sometimes collective origins: human beings commanding the same human right to live in peace, freedom, and dignity as anyone else on earth.

Re-appropriating an offensive slur is not a route I am prepared to go down in order to claim my empowerment – or to stand for the the empowerment of anyone else. I may not stand with popular culture in saying this, but I say no.

Beyonce – just like every woman on this planet – can never be called a ‘slut’.

Just like I am never going to be anyone’s – not Jay-Z’s nor even #QueenBey’s – ‘bitch’.

Just like Jay-Z – like every other black man on earth – can never be called anyone’s ‘nigga’.

The brutality of the language we choose in addressing the other is deliberate.

If we want to address issues about the inequality suffered by some of us because of social values that judge us, then – no matter what the mood, or how strong the sway of popular culture – let’s exercise some awareness in the words we use. Let’s not start the conversation by framing those whose interests we stand for in a language that is inherently demeaning. Let’s begin the conversation instead with a language that acknowledges each person’s innate right to equality, respect, and dignity. Let’s not close off our hearts in an effort to make a point.

All points made with a closed heart are lost. Let’s keep our hearts open and meet one another, differences and all – especially differences and all – with respect, dignity, with Love.

And speaking of Love: someone tell me, where is it in the just released: ‘Turnt’ by The Dream featuring Beyonce and 2 Chainz?

Far more than the views I received above, tens of thousands of people weighed in on this subject with support for what I wrote. They’ve also messaged me, and I think in essence they’re asking the same questions I did in my piece.

For anyone still wondering why it’s time to move beyond rampant music industry misogyny that recruits female superstars as proponents of a toxic ideology, take a look at the video for this track featuring Beyonce’s vocals. Let me know if this is kind of partnership one should expect of our complex, feminist heroes of the twenty first century.

For my part, when I saw this video I stopped to think about what makes a person successful. And I came back to saying that the Buddha said:

The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.
Originally published on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality

Sex, Cosmo, and Karl Marx (5 Hilarious Mash-ups)

Kim-Kardashian-Cosmopolitan-Magazine-August-2011-IssueYou may know the magazine Cosmopolitan as a titillating and dare-we-say trashy indulgence – a women’s magazine dedicating to sex, beauty, and celebrity fashion. Because that’s all women care about, right? Regardless of how enthusiastic or critical you may feel for the publication, there are some aspects of its history that might surprise you:

1. It was first published in 1886.

2. It began as a family magazine, with articles on household concerns, childcare, and recipes.

3. After some time it transitioned into more of a literary magazine, publishing works by writers like Upton Sinclair, Kurt Vonnegut, Willa Cather, and H. G. Wells.

4. In the 1960’s, Helen Gurley Brown took over as editor and began running covers and articles that reflected the sexual liberation movement of the time.

5. Cosmopolitan is published in over 30 languages and is distributed in more than 100 countries, which (perhaps surprisingly) includes places like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mongolia, Latvia, Turkey, Serbia, Colombia, India, and more.

To feature some of Cosmo‘s diverse influences and past lives, one clever Tumblr user created the mash-up Cosmarxpolitan (in reference to the philosopher and cultural theorist, Karl Marx.) These fake magazine covers display famous philosophers’ faces superimposed on studly male bodies, with article titles like, “Sex Tips so divine, he’ll call you the opiate of his masses,” “The Asiatic mode of production and your butt,” and “How to Smash Capitalism (while you work out!)”

These intelligent, light-hearted mash-ups are meant to be humorous, but they also call into question the ways in which we consume popular culture. Is sex all that sells? Without disrespecting the sexual revolution and all that our society gained as a result, what if Cosmo reunited with its literary past and gave their audience something to think about beyond the next orgasm? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Images via Tumblr

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