Everyone’s Gone to the Bollywood Movies

NOTE: I wanted to update some of my Bollywood materials and examples, so here is a fresh post with some old and some new material.

I generally show the following clip from Bollywood musical Mohabbatein in class as a way to get across the idea of what the masala or “spice” movies are like. (Though you don’t really need them, you can turn on English subtitles if you like.)

The masala movies feature several musical numbers, a strong male hero, a coy heroine, and an obvious villain. The movies have as many as ten separate storylines—in contrast to American movies, which typically tell one or two stories.

One reason for the musical numbers in Indian films is that they help break through language barriers. India alone has more than twenty-five languages. Anupam Sharma, who works in the Indian movie industry, says that Bollywood movies touch people throughout the world: “Because of the distances and different dialects in India, music is the universal language.”

When it comes to romance and sex, Bollywood films tend to be far more conservative than American films. “India is still clinging on to its social values, which explains Bollywood’s success everywhere but in America,” said Priya Joshi, an Indian cinema scholar. “Bollywood films don’t have any kissing in them or tend not to. Warner Bros. used to make movies like this in the past. . . . If it’s ready to return to its roots, then it’s ready for Bollywood.”

Bollywood films have had a big influence on American films (and Western films in general).  You can see this through a wide range of examples – I’ll give you just a few:

Scott Pilgrim v. the World – The battle with the first evil ex.

Moulin Rouge – Silly Love Songs

(Moulin Rouge is essentially a Bollywood movie made in the West with Western stars)

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

(MI:GP features Bollywood star Anil Kapoor)

Slumdog Millionaire

And then there is Slumdog Millionaire, which is British director Danny Boyle’s tribute to Bollywood that closes with a  large scale dance number.

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The Original Cat Video … from 1894!

You all no doubt think you are of the “cat video” generation. You think your generation invented the short video of cute cats doing cute things. But you are wrong!

Thomas Edison’s studios shot the first cat video back in 1894! I present to you… Boxing Cats!


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Of News, News Sites, and Chicken Sandwiches

Daily Wire Headline

Updated 2/24/16, 9:05 a.m.

There’s been a bit of a hullabaloo on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus for the last week or so over what restaurants students would like to see come to the student union.  There was a student poll that included  Chick-fil-A in the list of choices.  After the survey found that lots of students like the company’s chicken sandwiches, the university was reminded that Chick-fil-A’s ownership has not always been particularly friendly to the LGBT community. (Not the restaurants themselves – just ownership.) So a second survey was done, this time with the chicken-choice being the newer chain Raising Cane’s. Not surprisingly, this choice was also popular. Contrary to claims that have been made in stories from a variety of web sites, the university has yet to make a decision about which restaurant to invite to come to campus.

So that brings us the topic at hand.

Stories that claim to be about UNK “banning” Chick-Fil-A from campus have been posted to several web sites. These stories then get shared all over social media.  And so the story has gone national, a university PR person has been mocked as a “spokes-dude,” and lots of people from around the country who have never been to Kearney have weighed in on the “scandal.”

The story first broke on The Daily Wire, a conservative news site operated by Ben Shapiro, who is a writer/editor for conservative news site Breitbart.com.  Under a headline of “Chick-Fil-A Banned From The University of Nebraska Because CEO Supports Traditional Marriage”, the story then spread across Facebook and Twitter.  The Daily Wire’s stated goal is to “unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases.

A second story appeared a day or two later on FoxNews.com as an opinion piece by commentator Todd Starnes. In the middle of the story is a promo calling readers to “Click Here to join Todd’s American Dispatch – a must-read for Conservative Patriots!”  This is the story that refers to UNK’s PR professional as a “spokes-dude.”

Todd Starne’s article links to another one at Campus Reform that carries the headline “UNK refuses to bring Chick-fil-A to campus over CEO’s marriage views.” Campus Reform gives as its mission: “As a watchdog to the nation’s higher education system, Campus Reform exposes bias and abuse on the nation’s college campuses.

Campus Reform is a web site run by The Leadership Institute, which has as its mission: “The Leadership Institute’s mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists and leaders in the public policy process.”

So where are we seeing this story play out? Of course there are stories in the local paper, The Kearney Hub. Stories that are accurate and give a fair look at what’s actually happening. There’s a mocking opinion piece on FoxNews.com that is more concerned with making a point about conservative chicken sandwiches than giving an understanding of the facts.  And there are stories about the controversy on activist web sites that have the goal of advancing a conservative agenda.

In closing, here are a few tweets from local reporter Josh Moody who has done a good job of accurately reporting the conflict:





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Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

And finally…

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The Good News and Bad News on Student News Consumption

Student news sources

I asked my media literacy students this morning where they go for news.  And the results look pretty good to me.  Lots of local TV news and local newspapers. A number of them watch the Today Show (who knew the kids were watching legacy media?).   And a predictable number get there news through Facebook – but their Facebook feeds generally include a number of respected news providers.

So that’s the good news.

The bad news?

I asked how many of them had paid attention to the news yesterday? (A standard kind of question for getting at real, rather than ideal, behavior.)

Their response?

4 out of 23 students raised their hands.

Not particularly surprising/alarming of college students approaching mid-term time, but it does raise an important issue – regardless of where you go for the news, you have to pay attention to it before the source matters.

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Go See Coen Bros. Movie “Hail, Caesar”!

Went to see Hail, Caeser! the latest movie from the Coen Brothers last night.

Here’s my take on it:

  • It is a wack job of a movie.  But I mean that in a good way.  There is almost no way to summarize what it is except for perhaps Woody Allen and Mel Brooks have a love child.
  • It references a huge number of old movies, many of which I’m sure I didn’t catch.  But here several that I noticed being referenced:
    • Singing in the Rain
    • Sunset Boulevard
    • Ben Hur
    • The Front
    • Any of a number of Esther Williams films.
    • On The Town
    • The Bad and the Beautiful
    • Iron Man 3 (Yes, this is a relatively current movie, but the house overlooking the ocean is a dead ringer for Tony Stark’s house.)
    • Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Not really, but Dead Men quotes actual footage from a large number of vintage black and white movies.)

If you love vintage movies and wacky comedies, you need to see this.  And see it in a theater. Don’t wait for the video.  Go ahead – Deadpool will wait.

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Fastnachts for Shrove Tuesday

Today is the day before Ash Wednesday, which means that if you are in New Orleans or similar parts, you will be celebrating Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras implies many things, including those we won’t talk go into detail about here. But you can get a somewhat sanitized peek here from the New Orleans Times-Picayune

But if you live up in Pennsylvania Dutch country (which is of course referring to the Pennsylvania Deutche or Germans), you will be celebrating Shrove Tuesday with fastnachts.  What are fastnachts you may ask? An uniformed person will tell you they are donuts.  A fanatic might refer to them as “little bites of heaven fried in lard.”  But mostly they are a tasty treat before things get serious with Lent.

Fastnachts from St. James Lutheran ChurchMy friend Matthew Riegel used to fry them on the steps of the Lutheran Student Center at West Virginia University, till the challenges of cold weather drove him inside to cook them in the chapel’s basement.  But now that he is a bishop, he is visiting St. James Lutheran Church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for his annual fix.

My friend novelist Holly Jacobs lives in near Lake Erie in Pennsylvania, and I really regret I’m not in her delivery area to receive a box of her triangular goodies!

Fastnachts from Holly Jacobs

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Along with all the commercials, a couple of teams played football, too.

Yesterday was the biggest day of the year for high-profile television advertisements along with a bit of football in between.  As always, the ads attracted praise, condemnation and more than a few head shakes.

For me, the strangest and most memorable was Mountain Dew Kickstart’s “Puppy, Monkey, Baby.” (Say it – puppy, monkey, baby…)

Running a close second for me was the Kia car commercial titled “Walken Closet” staring, who else, Christopher Walken.

“It’s like the world’s most exciting pair of socks. But it’s a midsize sedan.”

There were, of course, many lists of best and worst commercials, and there will be links to them in a moment, but let me take one final moment to show you Lady Gaga just absolutely nailing the national anthem.  Regardless of the rest of her image as a pop icon, that lady can sing!

And now, the rest of the story:

And finally – the halftime show with Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyonce

Personally, I liked seeing the inclusion of the marching band (shades of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”), the whole umbrella bit reminded me of an olympics opening ceremony.

Puppy,monkey, baby…


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So Huffington Post lets the world know how it really feels about Trump

Trump on HuffPoThe Huffington Post has been making no secret of its distain for Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.  But this week they’ve either hit new records for transparency or contempt (you decide).  According to a blog post from Politico, the HuffPo will print the following at the end of all future stories about Trump:

Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynistbirther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

What do you think? Is the HuffPo being:

  • honest,
  • transparent,
  • snarky,
  • biased,
  • offensive,
  • all of the above?
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“I need some muscle over here” – The rest of the story

Melissa Click, an assistant professor of communication at University of Missouri’s Department of Communication who became briefly last fall when she called for “some muscle” to help get rid of a student photographer and a videographer covering campus protests, has been charged with misdemeanor assault, according to a story from the New York Times.

According the Times report on a  a campus police warrant, Click “assaulted a videographer ‘ by grabbing at his camera with her hand and attempting to knock it from his grasp’ and ‘by calling out and asking for other people in the area at the time to forcefully remove him.'”

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