Sunday, August 10, 2014

Darth Vader for President and other entertainment leftovers

I promised Sunday's usual entertainment-themed entry at the conclusion of More Perseids vs. Supermoon and I'm delivering.  However, I have the same level of motivation I had when I wrote Hunger Games, Leftovers, and Transformers--other bloggers' perspectives.  So instead of building a coherent entry around a single theme, as I did in last week's Science fiction speaks to our current anxieties, I'm going to heat up and serve some leftovers I've been saving for the past month.

First, FiveThirtyEight wrote about America's Favorite 'Star Wars' Movies (And Least Favorite Characters).  That led Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post to note that Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates.
Hillary Clinton currently has the highest net favorability of any 2016 White House contender. But to put her 19 percent favorable rating in context, she's tied with Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who froze Harrison Ford in carbonite.

None of the 2016 hopefuls is polling higher than Darth Vader... These numbers suggest that if "Star Wars" were real and Darth Vader decided to enter the 2016 presidential race, he'd be the immediate front-runner.
Ingraham shouldn't laugh too hard.  After all, someone posing as Darth Vader ran for President of Ukraine on the Internet Party ticket this spring before his candidacy was rejected.  Too bad about that.  His campaign would have been more fun to report on that what actually happened in Ukraine this summer.

Follow over the jump for the rest of this meal of leftovers.

Going from Lucas to Spielberg, Tina Nguyen of Mediaite gave her readers a good chuckle in Internet Users Think Steven Spielberg Killed Dinosaur, Accuse Him of Animal Cruelty from July 11th, 2014.
It started with this post of Steven Spielberg on the set of Jurassic Park, a fictional movie in which a scientist brings extinct dinosaurs back to life.

With the recent explosion in stories about people accused of animal cruelty by posing with dead animals, internet funny person Jay Branscomb posted it on Facebook with the following joke caption: "Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man."

But put a man next to a dead animal, and you will have enough dumb commenters for a lifetime.
Continuing with the Star Wars theme, I'll just say that The Derp is strong with this one.

Next, Clemson University explained What Harry Potter can teach us.
From sorting students into houses for the house cup competition to studying the Harry Potter video games and theme park, English lecturer Megan MacAlystre intends to explore every avenue of criticism while teaching Women and Wizards: JK Rowling in Context this fall.

"I'm very excited to be able to teach this, and I hope that we can do some really meaningful work and have a good time doing it," said MacAlystre.

While the course has a general focus on how J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, functions within a tradition of women writers, MacAlystre also plans to analyze everything Harry Potter related, from the films to fan fiction. In addition to reading all 4,200 pages of the Harry Potter series, students will also read excerpts of works from other authors, such as Madeleine L'Engle and P.L. Travers, in order to put the series in context with other works written by female authors and with feminist literary criticism.

"It's a broad scope of a class to really figure out what this is telling us as a cultural moment about women's authorship, ownership and cultural ideologies," explained MacAlystre.
Finally, Georgia Tech presents some SciFi is Now in Brainwaves can predict audience reaction for television programming from July 29, 2014.
Atlanta, GA.--Media and marketing experts have long sought a reliable method of forecasting responses from the general population to future products and messages. According to a study conducted at the City College of New York (CCNY) in partnership with Georgia Tech, it appears that the brain responses of just a few individuals are a remarkably strong predictor.

By analyzing the brainwaves of 16 individuals as they watched mainstream television content, researchers were able to accurately predict the preferences of large TV audiences, up to 90 percent in the case of Super Bowl commercials. The findings appear in a paper entitled “Audience Preferences Are Predicted by Temporal Reliability of Neural Processing,” which was just published in the latest edition of Nature Communications.

“Alternative methods such as self-reports are fraught with problems as people conform their responses to their own values and expectations,” said Jacek Dmochowski, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral fellow at CCNY at the time the study was being conducted. However, brain signals measured using electroencephalography (EEG) can, in principle, alleviate this shortcoming by providing immediate physiological responses immune to such self-biasing. “Our findings show that these immediate responses are in fact closely tied to the subsequent behavior of the general population,” he added.
We do indeed live in science fiction times.

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