Bits and Pieces: In the News

Pardon me for my lapse in frequency. Jury duty, work, and now VACATION, have kept me from posting as frequently as I should, and guilt has overtaken me as I see so many items in the news worthy of my brand of pop culture commentary.  Here is a round-up of some of the recent news items that caught my eye.

1. Jake Lloyd becomes another example of child actors gone wrong.
Remember that cute kid who played little Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace? How could such a nice little boy ever grow up to become the evil Darth Vader? The young actor who portrayed him in the first Star Wars prequel may apparently have become seduced by the Dark Side of the Force in real life, because he's faced some run-ins with the law as so many child stars seem to do as they travel along life's way. He was busted for reckless driving and evading police. In past interviews, he expressed frustration about being typecast and being taunted by his peers in school. While some child stars grow up to be successful (Ron Howard comes quickly to mind), many other famous kids have faced difficulties and tragedy, leading to a stereotype of "the curse of early fame." Hopefully Jake can put all this behind him and take control of his destiny for the better, as a few others who encountered the child-star-crisis but came through shining did, such as Drew Barrymore.

2.  Tom Holland has been cast as the new Spider-man.
It will interesting to see how Marvel Entertainment introduces the Spider-man character in the next Captain America movie and future Avengers films now that they've reached agreement with Sony Pictures to use the beloved friendly neighborhood webslinger in the blockbuster shared cinematic universe.  As I mentioned in my post about diversity in comic books, many fans have embraced the character of Miles Morales as the new Spidey. After five movies with Peter Parker, played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, many had hoped that maybe Miles would be given a chance on the big screen this time.  Instead, it was announced that Tom Holland (whose credits include Wolf Hall and some films) would play the role. My fingers are crossed that at least we won't have to endure another origin story in this latest reboot.

3.  Donald Trump enters the Presidential race and his big mouth instantly causes trouble.
I don't know if Donald Trump's candidacy for the Republican nomination to be President of the United States is legitimate or just a publicity stunt, but if the business mogul TV personality wanted tabloid headlines, he succeeded.  The Daily News immediately labeled him a clown and his controversial statements about Mexican immigrants led to Univision dropping his Miss Universe pageant, NBC cancelling his Apprentice reality competition program, and Macy's ending the partnership with Trump's clothing line. I can't imagine that this kind of backlash is what Trump was expecting, but he surely knew that his unfiltered style of talking would cause some umbrage. We'll see what happens with his threats to sue and how long he lasts in the political race once it enters high gear in 2016.  One lesson I hope Trump has learned (and others too) from all this is the importance of diplomatic discourse as a skill for anyone seeking the highest office in the land.

4.  Twitter Fails
Someone should teach famous people how to properly use social media, or just keep them away from it altogether for their own protection. A string of recent examples have shown that if you're not properly prepared, hashtag question-and-answer sessions can turn into embarrassing public relations disasters. This was the case for #AskELJames (author of the 50 Shades of Grey series) and #AskBobby (Governor Jindal of Louisiana, who is running for President). Instead of softball questions (were they really expecting them?), the public unleashed harsh criticisms and biting jokes, and the "celebrities" (or their handlers) couldn't salvage the mess they had created.  If you want to play in the online sandbox, you better know how to use a bucket and shovel.

5.  P. Diddy allegedly attacked a university football coach with a kettlebell weight.  
I have a lot of respect for Sean Combs, but this incident was just stupid and he should know better. The assault charges were dropped, so whatever actually happened is moot, because people will remember the negative part of the story. People in the spotlight should endeavor to stay in the spotlight for the right reasons. They have the privilege of money and connections, so is it truly that hard to avoid scenarios like picking up a kettlebell in an altercation with your son's coach? Let the bodyguards and lawyers protect you. Don't put yourself in harm's way.

6.  Audience member tries to charge a smartphone on the set of Broadway's Hand of God.
Finally, a story so dumb I honestly suspect it might just be a publicity stunt.  I know iPhone batteries are crap, but would someone be so desperate to charge an electronic device that he or she would hop on stage before a live production on Broadway to use a power outlet? The designer is now receiving a ton of publicity for the realistic set that fooled the poor soul, and the show itself is generating buzz because of this incident. If you have a cellphone that's low on juice, turn it off at a live performance.

That's all for now.