By Walt Hickey
Burn It Down
The winner of the best paper award in Political Psychology at the meeting of the American Political Science Association was one that identified a key segment of the American population, namely people who would like to burn it down. Six surveys — of 5,157 Americans and 1,336 Danes — found unexpectedly high numbers of people who agreed with statements related to basically just letting the social order collapse to begin anew. And while I’ve tweeted more than enough moody Mountain Goats lyrics in my time to understand the fundamental appeal of youthful nihilism, some of this goes a bit far. Fully 40 percent of respondents agreed “We cannot fix the problems in our social institutions, we need to tear them down and start over,” another 40 percent agreed with the statement “When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them all burn.’,” and 24 percent agreed “I think society should be burned to the ground,” which, come on Aerys, this was a survey, not a junior high school notebook mid-MCR phase. The figures are high, but entirely unsurprising for anyone who went to a Halloween part in 2008 following the release of The Dark Knight.
Kellogg was in the veggie burger game ages before Impossible Burgers and Beyond Meat even conceived of a disconcertingly bloody slab of plant protein, and they’re eyeing to hold the throne of the frozen food aisle. Kellogg owns Morningstar Farms, a staple of the veggie burger biz, which will begin selling their own version of a meat imitator — the “Incogmeato” burger, which is just excellent work on the part of the folks in marketing — early next year. The market for meat substitutes is projected to hit $140 billion in 10 years, but Morningstar’s seen their market share slip from 33.3 percent of veggie burger sales in 2013 to just 16.9 percent last year.
Women On Screen
The 12th edition of the annual report on the top 100 films’ portrayal of women has been revealed, and the results are bad. In 2018, 33.1 percent of the speaking characters in film were women, which has effectively been flat since 10 years ago, when 32.8 percent of speaking characters in top-grossing films were women. Sure, this is technically the best-ever year for women in Hollywood by this metric, but 2-to-1 is still an extremely depressing statistic. Women have made gains in some genres — women accounted for 29 percent of speaking characters in action or adventure films last year, up from 20 percent in 2007 — but behind the camera things are quite bad. Women were just 21.2 percent of producers, 14.4 percent of writers and 4.5 percent of directors.
I regret to interrupt what is, legally speaking, still summertime with this information, but only with proper advanced preparation can we hope to endure the onslaught to come. The Hallmark Channel has announced their list, and by all indications they have indeed checked it twice, revealing their 40 new original Christmas films that will be unleashed on the American public this coming holiday season. I remind you last year their scientists prepared 37, topping 2017’s 33 films, making this year a record. Over the past 10 years, the Hallmark Channel and sibling network Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have unleashed fully 176 original Christmas movies, a figure that makes Marvel Studios look lazy.
The 2019 Overwatch League, an esports group, doles out some $5 million in a prize pool to franchised teams affiliated with specific cities from Chengdu to Paris. They’re also, based on Nielsen data traditionally used by leagues to gauge fan attention, getting the kind of numbers growth that gets advertisers paying up. Based on the 526 hours of league content produced in the 2019 season, the league averaged 313,000 viewers per minute globally, which is 18 percent higher than during last year’s inaugural season. As OWL contests its playoffs through September, those numbers are poised to pop: in the final week of stage three of their regular season, viewership averaged 466,000 global viewers per minute, which is up 86 percent year over year.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
China has the second largest pharmaceutical market on the planet, worth $280 billion. About 40 percent of that is from the traditional Chinese medicinal system, which includes herbal medicine and acupuncture. Half of what’s covered by China’s public health insurance is from the traditional canon, and it’s gotten results such as the 2015 Nobel prize for an anti-malarial derived from wormwood. Still, their drug business isn’t growing strongly because the traditional practices can’t be pressed into a pill and slapped with a specific set of treatment outcomes: lots of the concoctions haven’t been measured for medical efficacy by Western standards, and the traditional approach takes time and emphasizes prevention.
The time-honored position of editorial cartoonist has been largely eliminated with attrition, the general maladies of the news business, and targeted campaigns for elimination taking a serious toll on the number of full-time staff cartooning positions. A century ago, there were over 2,000 staff cartoonists at work. By the 1980s, that figure fell to 180. Contemporary estimates are pretty bad, as in 2011 — still before the onset of so much consolidation in the newspaper business — there were estimated to be fewer than 40 staff cartooning jobs in existence in the U.S. The medium’s power endures if retweets and likes are any judge, but I am yet to meet a landlord who accepts those as forms of payment. Cartoonists are turning to Patreon, Kickstarter and the few resilient stalwarts devoted to the form, such as The Nib, to keep at it.
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