CULTURE DIGEST: Cleaner Super Bowl expected; Rolling Stone reverses Bible decision; Hollywood Video may stock porn
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--After the Federal Communications Commission received a record 540,000 complaints of indecency in response to last year's Super Bowl entertainment, the National Football League has taken steps to ensure next week's event will be free of such controversy.
MTV is out as the halftime producer, and Don Mischer Productions, which was responsible for the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, is now at the helm. Instead of a sexually charged act like Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, former Beatle Paul McCartney has been tapped to headline this year's halftime show Feb. 6 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Even the Super Bowl commercials are expected to be tamer than the slew of offensive ads from years past, according to a Jan. 19 news release from Concerned Women for America.
"It's a credit to the vast majority of Americans who stood up last year and said, 'Enough is enough,' and to the many who took the time to voice their complaints about broadcast indecency to the FCC," Robert Knight, director of CWA's Culture and Family Institute, said.
The NFL was in discussions with Fox to implement a five- to 10-second tape delay for the Super Bowl broadcast, but the network opted against the change.
"We're very comfortable with Fox's decision not to delay based on our discussions with Fox and the performers," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told USA Today. "We have the proper procedures in place to ensure that the entertainment portions of the Super Bowl will be appropriate for a mass audience."
McCarthy added that unlike last year, the NFL is working directly with the performers and will have final approval of everything, including song selection and choreography.
Alicia Keys will open with "America the Beautiful," a tribute to the late Ray Charles, a native of Jacksonville. She'll be joined by 150 students from the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, where Charles once attended.
"We're not walking away from entertainment. We're walking away from gratuitousness," Phil Guarascio, the NFL's new marketing chief, told USA Today.
ROLLING STONE REVERSES BIBLE DECISION -- Two weeks after it rejected an advertisement for a new translation of the Bible, Rolling Stone has agreed to run the ad after all.
"We have addressed the internal miscommunications that led to the previous misstatement of company policy and apologize for any confusion it may have caused," Lisa Dallos, a spokeswoman for Rolling Stone's parent company, said in a brief statement to USA Today Jan. 24.
Previously, the magazine had said an ad for the TNIV -- Today's New International Version of the Bible -- conflicted with an unwritten policy against accepting ads containing religious messages. The ad, which will now run in mid-February as scheduled, shows a serious young man pondering the problems of modern life, USA Today said. The text says the TNIV is a source for "real truth" in a world of "endless media noise and political spin."
The TNIV ad will be carried in other publications such as The Onion -- a weekly satirical magazine -- and Modern Bride. Ads also are scheduled for such websites as VH1 and MTV, USA Today reported.
"We're frankly thrilled that Rolling Stone has decided to accept our ad," Paul Caminiti, Zondervan's president of Bible publishing, which is responsible for the TNIV, said. "We believe that the Bible is relevant for Rolling Stone readers. We've always believed they were a cornerstone in our campaign to squarely market to spiritually intrigued 18- to 34-year-old young people, many of whom live outside the embrace of the church."
While Rolling Stone's reversal is a victory for making the Bible visible to a wider audience, the TNIV -- billed as "gender-accurate" -- has been the source of some controversy since the release of its New Testament version in 2002. More than 100 evangelicals voiced their opposition to the TNIV, saying its attempt at "gender accuracy" has led to mistranslation of some texts. The complete TNIV is scheduled to arrive in stores in February, though James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources, has said LifeWay stores will not carry the translation.
HOLLYWOOD VIDEO CONSIDERS PORN MERGER -- Hundreds of towns may soon see an increase in the availability of hardcore pornography in video form if a merger between rental giants Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery is finalized.
Movie Gallery, the nation's largest video rental chain that rents and sells pornography in many of its outlets, has offered to buy Hollywood Video's 2,000 stores nationwide.
Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the American Family Association, has warned that Movie Gallery's XXX rooms will infiltrate hundreds of small town Hollywood Video stores with pornography if the merger happens.
"We have reason to believe that chairman Joe Malugen plans to add his infamous 'Mature Gallery' in hundreds of Hollywood stores," Sharp said in a news release. "A corporate headquarters employee tells us attorneys have OK'd plans to add XXX rooms to 800 of the acquired stores."
And while Movie Gallery places its most explicit pornography videos in those adult-only rooms, the rental store mixes what it considers softer porn, like Playboy and Penthouse videos, in with general releases, according to Family News in Focus, a website of Focus on the Family.
'MISSIONARY GENERATION' DRAWS ATTENTION -- Add to Generation X and Generation Y a new one: Generation M, or the missionary generation, a fast-growing group of young adults emerging from religious colleges who are engaging the culture with values and perspectives counter to the typical secular student.
In her new book, "God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America," author Naomi Schaefer Riley explains what she learned from visiting 20 religious colleges in 2001 and 2002. Riley, who has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other major publications, discovered some significant ways these students are set apart.
"They reject the spiritually empty education of secular schools," she said in an interview with National Review Online Jan. 11. "They refuse to accept the sophisticated ennui of their contemporaries. They snub the 'spiritual but not religious' attitude. They rebuff the intellectual relativism of professors and the moral relativism of their peers."
Riley noted that enrollment at 100-plus institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities jumped 60 percent between 1990 and 2002 while it barely fluctuated at public and private secular schools. She put the number of students in religious colleges today at 1.3 million, according to National Review.
Other differences Riley noticed in her interaction with religious college students is that while some engage in alcohol, drugs and sexual activity, most of them avoid such destructive behavior.
"Some of this stuff goes on, but the standards are set high and when people violate the rules, they're careful not to flaunt it," she said. "It creates a whole different environment."
Students at religious schools also tend to take their studies more seriously, such as those at Brigham Young University who told her, "The glory of God is intelligence."
But when National Review asked Riley what this meant for the larger population in general, she said it could change the way secular educators view religious students.
"I think religion will eventually regain a place of respect in the classroom," she said. "People will be more willing to study the interaction between religion and literature, religion and philosophy and even between religion and science. I think there will ultimately have to be an acknowledgement among even the faculty of the elite secular universities that religious people are not just stupid or crazy."
Riley added that the missionary generation doesn't necessarily push their faith on others -- they see explicit proselytizing as a last resort. Their approach is more subtle, with their faith being made evident in lifestyles of community service and of penetrating the marketplace with their values. They don't see their primary role as working in churches, she said, but are willing to leave their comfort zones and engage the culture as lawyers, doctors, politicians and businessmen.
"The missionary generation is coming to a neighborhood, an office, a city council, a soup kitchen or a school near you," Riley told National Review.