“While You Were Out” is a Friday feature of short notes and commentary from the week. Whether it’s something you’d discuss at the water cooler or at happy hour, you’ll find it on our grid, together with our opinion as to if it’s praiseworthy or cringeworthy. We’re pleased to bring you the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Pretty Sure Her Fairy Godmother Would Have Left Her Waist Alone
Kenneth Branagh’s live action adaptation of Cinderella cast a spell on the box office in its opening weekend, taking in more than $70 million in the U.S. alone. Critics and fans alike have taken to the film, with almost universal praise for its lush beauty and charm, although there are some people out there who feel that the adaptation didn’t push the envelope enough in combating gender stereotypes present in the original film. Even Sarah Michelle Gellar has hopped on board with this epic rap battle video. My main hang-up, however, is the alleged digital altering of actress Lily James’ waistline, who already admitted in interviews that she went on a liquid diet to prep for the role. (Disney representatives have denied any CGI changes to her figure.)
Anyone familiar with Ms. James’ work on Downton Abbey knows that she is a beautiful, even waif-like woman, and the idea that a live-action adaptation needs to uphold the unrealistic vision of women’s figures as they appear in Disney animated features is insane. I am by no means anti-fairy tale, but the continued perception that a heroine needs a tiny waist to catch her prince is harmful. Giving little girls who don’t yet know about Photoshop or crash dieting the impression that this is an ideal form of beauty is not the way that I would like to see the classics that I grew up on updated for today’s audiences. As a fan of both Kenneth Branagh and Lily James, I wish it could have been different.
SXSW is Upon Us
This week marks the beginning of SXSW, also known as South By Southwest: 10 days of conferences, music, and film in Austin, Texas. Billboard is keeping a list of the musical highlights for you here.
Violent Man on Plane Tackled by Other Passengers
This week a plane leaving the Washington, D.C., area headed for Denver turned around and landed after a violent passenger allegedly shouted “jihad” and tried to storm the cockpit. The good news is at least two able-bodied passengers on the flight overpowered him and restored peace for the remainder of the flight. While the danger and mental health of this particular violent passenger is questionable, I have to say, when I hear stories like these, I’m always happy to see bystanders standing up and realizing their power to make a difference in crisis situations. It can’t help but remind me of this interview Verily did with a woman whose quick action and medical knowledge helped save a man’s life—also on a plane.
Emma Thompson Cast as Mrs. Potts
If the news that Emma Watson and Dan Stevens are playing the title roles in the live-action film adaptation of Beauty and the Beast isn’t enough excitement, we learned this week that Emma Thompson will play the role of Mrs. Potts, the plucky caretaker of the castle, immortalized in teapot form by Angela Lansbury in the Disney animated version of the fairy tale. As one of the most accomplished actresses of her time, and the surprise comedic hit of last year’s awards show circuit, I have no doubt that Emma Thompson will bring the necessary warmth and spark to the role. I admit that the casting notice was the first time I began to wonder how they were going to turn people into teapots and clocks and candelabras, but hey, that’s the magic of movies! Kevin Kline has also signed on as Belle’s father Maurice, and Luke Evans has been cast as Gaston. We have another two years to speculate about how this movie will turn out in the long run, and if it can capture the magic of the Academy Award-winning animated version. But with a cast like this, it is certainly getting off on the right foot.
Meghan Trainor, Guaranteed to Be in Your Head All Spring (And Summer)
Body-positive singer Meghan Trainor released her newest single this week, “Dear Future Husband.” Coming after her other conversation-starting single “All About That Bass,” this one is similarly super-catchy and will, no doubt, take over our lives.
Some critics find Trainor's message from “Dear Future Husband” unclear; others suggest the gender role themes border on offensive. Some of us, however, feel like maybe Trainor is just attempting to express the multi-faceted and sometimes contradictory existence we lead as women—especially women in love—and that that is ok, too. What do you think?
Good Luck, Kate!
Get ready for more adorable and stylish royal baby photos. Prince George will be meeting his sibling in mid-to-late April, it has been confirmed. The Duchess of Cambridge, who has been keeping her second child’s due date under close wraps for very understandable reasons, mentioned it for the first time in public in a recent visit to a Children's Centre in London. We're wishing Kate well for a safe delivery!
Cate Blanchett Adopts a Daughter
Many congratulations to Cate Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton for the addition of a baby girl to their family! The couple recently adopted Edith Vivian Patricia Upton, giving their three boys a baby sister. In an interview this week, Blanchett shared, “It’s extraordinary! You know, there’s a lot of children out there who don’t have the good fortune that our biological children do, so it’s wonderful. It’s wonderful to welcome a little girl into our fold. We’re besotted.”
Dwayne Johnson Lip-syncs Taylor Swift
It's always funny to see Jimmy Fallon run celebrity guests through lip-sync laps on The Tonight Show. Now Spike TV is doing us all a favor and making an entire show dedicated to this irresistible phenomenon.
A clip surfaced this week of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shimmying and lip-syncing Taylor Swift's “Shake It Off,” and it's basically glorious. If we weren't excited enough for the laughs that are about to ensue, let's not forget that Mr. Handsome himself, L.L. Cool J., will star as host. The show premieres Thursday, April 2, so make sure you've got a free evening and plenty of popcorn.
Dancing With the Stars’ New Low
The latest season of Dancing With the Stars premiered this week, featuring actress Suzanne Somers, singer RedFoo, and legend Patti LaBelle. Among the highlights were Iraq war veteran and double-amputee Noah Galloway expanding the limits of dance, and Rumer Willis earning all 8s from the judges for her stellar first-week performance.
The most cringeworthy moment? ABC going overboard to emphasize model Charlotte McKinney’s large chest in the package intro. Sure, it’s her claim to fame from this year’s Carl’s Jr. Super Bowl ad. It was not only gross to see the network try to pass a topless shoot as appropriate for prime time (never mind the props covering things up), but it was also especially depressing upon hearing McKinney’s own words on the subject, which are not surprising to me at all: “I want to show America that there’s more to me than just boobs.”
People Already Cringing At Justin Bieber Roast
Newly minted adult Justin Bieber signed up for a Comedy Central roast. Amid criticism that the singer didn't have the stones for such an event, he appears to have survived with his dignity intact.
On the other hand, several of the featured comedians took the opportunity of this already ugly ritual to make complete idiots of themselves by turning the unfortunate death of Paul Walker into a comedy bit—as if the fatal car crash of the Fast and Furious actor, whose connection with Bieber is almost nil, is something to laugh at. Obviously many comics feel it is their job to "push boundaries," but before you respond with some sanctimonious rebuttal about joke-tellers being the mirror holders of society or something, just know that even the cable network agrees with me. Producers of the show decided to edit out the offensive jokes before the program is broadcast to the general public. I give props to the producers who, even when putting on a show of questionable value, still recognized that those comments would be genuinely hurtful to Mr. Walker's still-grieving daughter and family.
The Latest In Breast Health
Apparently not all biopsies are created equal. This week researchers revealed that breast lump-related biopsies do not always bring the answers patients hope for, telling patients they might not be necessary to determine the right course of action. Just another reminder to push for continued research in the areas of women’s health, to do our own research thoroughly to be informed of all options, and to never be afraid to get second opinions.
Another Frat Goes Down
Penn State fraternity Kappa Delta Rho was suspended after college officials discovered members took nude and partially nude photos of unconscious women and posted them on a private Facebook page. Many of the women appeared to be sleeping or passed out, and the photos appeared to be taken without their knowledge. According to State College Police Lt. Keith Robb, an informant "yielded information on two victims whose images would rise to the level of criminal action.” I’ll say. With actions like these, frat behavior is looking more and more like the behavior of sexual predators. These unsuspecting boys may see their actions differently, but, as they’ll soon find, the law is less forgiving.
For Anyone Who Doubts that Porn Addiction Is a Thing
Talk about unprofessional: Three British judges have been dismissed and a fourth resigned after their IT department discovered that they had all watched porn on court computers. One of the judges said that he was suffering from “severe and undiagnosed depression” at the time. While it’s always shocking to discover the flaws of trusted figures of authority, there’s something very sad about it, too. An addiction has to be pretty bad for you to bring it to work with you. I can’t help thinking that if our culture at-large could start sending men the message that they have the power to overcome their supposed need for porn, they would be able to seek the help they need to get through bouts of depression in a healthier way.
Meanwhile, a Danish professor has suggested that porn should be shown in classrooms as part of standard sex-ed for 13-year-olds to try and teach them to “develop a critical approach to what they are seeing.” No mention of trying to convince young people that they have the power and the choice to avoid watching it in the first place.
Your Feel-Good News of the Week
Who’s up for a road trip? Randy Olson, a data scientist whose previous claim to fame was figuring out an algorithm for solving Where’s Waldo? books, has charted out the most time-efficient road trip through the United States. Working with Discovery Channel, Olson took into account the following criteria: 1) The trip must make at least one stop in all 48 states of the contiguous United States, 2) the trip would only make stops at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks, or National Monuments, and 3) the trip must be taken by car and never leave America.
The final trip, which would take nine days with no stops whatsoever (so about two to three months in normal-people driving time), makes stops at the Grand Canyon, Pikes Peak, Graceland, the White House, the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, and Glacier National Park, among many others. Time to go put in my vacation request at work!
Get Your Bracket Ready
We're only halfway into the first round and the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is already living up to its March Madness moniker. Thursday featured nine games decided by five or fewer points, and so far there have been six games decided by one point or less. According to ESPN, "the record for most games decided by one point in a single NCAA tournament is seven -- total." Whew. Two of those games were big upsets, with 3-seeds Baylor and Iowa State going down, along with a bunch of Big 12 fans office pool brackets, no doubt. Looks like President Obama is still doing alright though.