We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Kansas City Chiefs, Super Bowl LIV Champs!
On Sunday, the majority of the country was glued to their television screens as the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs battled for the national football championship at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Making a comeback that included three touchdowns in the final quarter, bringing them back from a 10-point deficit, the Chiefs ended up winning 31-20. This was their first championship in fifty years.
The broadcast also included a celebration of the NFL’s 100th season, as well as the usual silly and heartfelt commercials for billion-dollar brands—this year‘s picks featuring a variety of A-list entertainers from Jason Momoa to John Krasinki to Bill Murray. The cost of a 30-second commercial during the broadcast is reportedly a cool $5.6 million, a number that truly puts into perspective the depth of professional football’s cultural relevance.
The 49ers, understandably deeply disappointed by their loss, say it will nonetheless “fuel” them “to come back better.” As their quarterback told news reporters following the game. “you've got to be a man, you have to own up to those things. Some things I'd rather have back. But this whole year, it's been incredible." —Mariel Lindsay
The World Reacts to the Halftime Show
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira shared the stage for this year’s Super Bowl Halftime show on Sunday. Shakira began the performance with high-energy dancing numbers and transitions showcasing her skills in electric guitar and belly dancing. J-Lo followed her set with hits like “Waiting for Tonight,” which included pole-dancing, a nod to her role as a stripper in the 2019 film Hustlers. Next, Lopez’s daughter joined the stage with other kids, singing “Let’s Get Loud,” recast as an anthem for Hispanic Americans.
The show generated much talk in the days that followed. Many celebrated the occasion as the first time since Gloria Estefan that Latina women headlined the stage, while others shared shocked reactions that the performance was too racy for public television. As someone who loves Latin dance, I think all salsa music is going to be sizzling to some extent, and I found Shakira’s portion to be very entertaining (with the exception of some under-skirt camera angles). Shakira's performance captured a joie de vivre with her upbeat tunes and group dance numbers. As for J-Lo’s portion, it was a rigorous routine, but during her pole dance with a nearly nude costume, surrounded by a writhing pile of humans in bondage-inspired outfits, I could see her goal was to achieve sex appeal in an age when porn is considered the gold standard. In those moments, Lopez’s performance not only served to normalize porn-like images for family audiences across the nation, it was tone-deaf to the roles that porn and stripping play in the demand for prostitution, which fuels the sex-trafficking crisis our nation experiences around the Super Bowl and beyond. All I could think after watching was: can we please go back to Shakira? —Mary Rose Somarriba
Utah Legislator Wants Warning Label For Pornography
Speaking of kids and porn exposure, this week Republican Utah representative Brady Brammer introduced a bill in his state’s legislature this week that would require all pornography circulated in the state to carry a message warning of dangers to minors.
Digital material would have to display the message for 15 seconds before images could be shown or videos played. Any printed item would show the warning on its cover, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The proposed warning would say that viewing porn can affect a child’s “brain development, emotional development, and the ability to maintain intimate relationships,” and caution about “harmful and addictive sexual behavior, low self-esteem, and the improper objectification of and sexual violence towards others.”
Although research is difficult to do because of ethical concerns, experts universally say that pornography is not appropriate for the developing brains of children. The American Psychological Association reports one study found children who had been exposed to pornography as young as five years old. More than sixty percent of men in the study indicated their exposure was accidental or forced, with the rest seeking it out. Brammer told the Tribune that the 15-second delay would at least help prevent kids from stumbling onto porn while clicking around the web. Pornographers who violated the statute could be fined up to $2,500 per violation. —Margaret Brady
HIV Vaccine Fails Clinical Trial: “Deep Disappointment”
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced on Monday that a study of a promising HIV vaccine has been halted after data showed it didn’t work.
The trial of the drug, called HVTN 702, observed more than 5,000 volunteers in South Africa, where infection rates continue to be high. All of the participants were HIV negative at the beginning of the trial in 2016. The medication being tested did not contain any of the virus, meaning there was no risk that volunteers would contract HIV from the vaccine.
NIAID said 129 infections occurred in those who got the vaccine. Only 123 occurred among those who received a placebo. CNN reported that the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, a group of stakeholders formed to expedite the search for a vaccine, expressed “deep disappointment” in a news release.
HIV has proved uniquely challenging for researchers because the virus mutates rapidly, making it a moving target. There are additional trials for different drugs in the works, so this is by no means the end of the road for the search for an effective vaccine. —MB
Hamilton is Coming to A Movie Theater Near You
It won’t be an animated adaptation but a “live capture” of a stage performance featuring the original Broadway cast. Variety reports that Disney snagged the rights to the film for a pricey $75 million. The movie has already been shot and the studio is aiming for an October 15, 2021 release date in North America.
Hamilton debuted in 2015 to critical acclaim, and soon became one of the hottest tickets on Broadway. The show’s honors include 11 Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. It is based on the bestselling biography Alexander Hamilton by historian Ron Chernow. Miranda read the book four years after its publication in 2004, and almost immediately recognized it would make an effective Broadway musical.
“Lin-Manuel Miranda created an unforgettable theater experience and a true cultural phenomenon, and it was for good reason that ‘Hamilton’ was hailed as an astonishing work of art… we are thrilled to have the opportunity to share this same Broadway experience with millions of people around the world,” Variety quoted Disney CEO Bob Iger. We can’t wait! —MB
Delay in Iowa Caucus Results Sparks Widespread Confusion
The Iowa Democratic Party is under fire for a disastrous caucus in their home-state in which it appears votes were either incorrectly counted or unaccounted for in the earlier stages. The Iowa caucus, in particular, is under particularly intense public scrutiny as it is the first major indicator of who will eventually be officially chosen to run for President.
When Iowa Democrats announced, after a series of apparently botched voting numbers that technical snafus rooted in “a coding issue” were the cause of the delays and confusion, some were immediately skeptical, even questioning the legitimacy of the process itself and wondering if corruption was afoot.
Pundits of all stripes criticized the fiasco. President Trump, never one to mince words, called it an “unmitigated disaster.” The New York Times, attempting to make sense of the Iowa numbers, predicted a Buttigieg win, calling a Sanders win “barely possible.” Hours later, they wildly reversed their stance, saying that not only was a Sanders win possible it was also very likely. As of this publication, Sanders and Buttigieg are neck-and-neck. —ML
State of the Union Includes Tense, Emotional Moments
On Tuesday, President Trump delivered his annual State of the Union address. Although his address placed a heavy emphasis on the economy, the address was peppered with surprising and in some cases polarizing moments.
In terms of the economy, President Trump asserted that jobs are booming. “Incomes are soaring,” he said. “Poverty is plummeting. Crime is falling. Confidence is surging and our country is thriving and highly respected again."
Over the course of the event, President Trump awarded conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also awarded a fourth grader a surprise school scholarship, recognized a 100-year-old Tuskegee airman for his service during World War II, and surprised a military wife with her husband returning from deployment, making for a rare moment of applause from both sides of the aisle.
However, in perhaps the most shocking and talked-about moment of the evening, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stood at the end of the president’s speech and tore her copy of his speech in half. In a statement given to reporters as she left the gallery, Pelosi stated, “He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech." —GP
Christina Koch Returns to Earth after Record-Breaking Space Mission
One giant leap for womankind! After 328 days on the International Space Station, astronaut Christina Koch has returned to earth. Koch’s 11-month journey marks the longest of any female astronaut and records 5,248 orbits of the earth and over 138 million miles of travel.
Koch also participated in the first all-female spacewalk, alongside fellow astronaut Jessica Meir, and she addressed the subject of women in space in a January interview with the Associated Press. “We both drew a lot of inspiration from seeing people who were reflections of ourselves as we were growing up, and developing our dreams to become astronauts.” Both women emphasize the importance of diversity and representation. Current counts show that since 1961, the ratio of men to women in space is nearly eight to one.
Upon returning to earth and feeling the wind in her face for the first time since March 12, 2019, Koch paid tribute to some of her predecessors in space, and looked forward to the opportunity to pass her knowledge on to whoever may break her record. “I hope to mentor that person just as I’ve been mentored," she said. —Maggie Sicilia Bickerstaff
Finland Grants Fathers the Same Amount of Family-Leave as Mothers
Finland’s government announced that they will give both mothers and fathers up to seven months of leave after the birth of their child. Currently, maternal leave is 4.2 months, while the paternal leave is 2.2 months, while another 6 months of leave can be shared between both parents. The new system allows each parent to have up to 164 days and allows for up to 69 days to be transferred from one parent to another if desired.
Finnish officials have stated that this new policy promotes gender equality and puts the well-being of the child first. "The model guarantees the child a place at the center of family benefits and promotes wellbeing and gender equality," said Aino-Kaisa Pekonen, minister of social affairs and health.
The new policy is set to take effect in the fall of 2021 and, although it may be purely coincidental, this newly announced policy comes just months after the appointment of the 34-year-old prime minister, Sanna Marin—the youngest sitting prime minister in the world to date. While Finland is not the only country to have progressive, family-first leave policies, this is certainly exciting. —Gabriella Patti
NYFW Will Feature Several Pornhub Stars on the Catwalk
Page Six recently published an exclusive report that several Pornhub stars will be walking a New York Fashion Week runway for the first time ever. Several women who appear on Pornhub will be walking for Berlin designers Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl of Namilia for a collection called “Herotica.”
The designers assert that choosing to have adult actresses walk in their show is a feminist statement. “The cosmos of sexual pleasure has been restricted to a few boring and chauvinistic narratives for the pleasure of the male gaze,” Li told Page Six, “Porn isn’t something existentially male. Most women just have been excluded from determining the narrative.” Far from being a feminist statement, it’s more like a coup for Pornhub to assert itself in the mainstream all while promoting the sexualization and commodification of women. —GP
Best-Selling Author, Mary Higgins Clark, Dies
The “Queen of Suspense,” Mary Higgins Clark passed away this week from natural causes at age 92. Known for suspense novels such as A Stranger Is Watching and Daddy's Little Girl, she didn’t become a novelist or find writing success until the second half of her life.
Before she made a name for herself, Higgins Clark worked as a switchboard operator and a flight attendant. While raising her children, she studied writing at New York University and began publishing short stories. After the death of her husband, she worked feverishly, first as a scriptwriter and later she published her first book, Aspire to the Heavens in 1969. Although her first book was somewhat of a flop, she found success with her second book, a thriller titled, Where are the Children.
Mary Higgins Clark reportedly wrote what she, herself, would want to read, and she left her mark on the literary world. In 2013, she told the Associated Press: "There are wonderful sagas you can thoroughly enjoy a section and put it down. But if you're reading my book, I want you stuck with reading the next paragraph. The greatest compliment I can receive is, 'I read your darned book 'til 4 in the morning, and now I'm tired.' I say, 'Then you get your money's worth.'" —GP
Shannon Doherty Reveals Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis
Shannon Doherty, best known for her roles on the hit shows Charmed and Beverly Hills 90210 announced on Tuesday that her breast cancer has returned as a stage 4 malignancy.
The actress revealed the news during an interview that aired on Good Morning America. She openly documented her initial diagnosis and journey through treatment in 2015 on social media. "I definitely have days where I say why me. And then I go, well, why not me? Who else? Who else besides me deserves this? None of us do," Doherty told ABC News' Amy Robach. On average, women with MBC live for three years, but some women have survived for decades. “I want to be remembered for something bigger than just me,” Doherty said. —MB
Good News of the Week
This week a news story made the rounds of nurses in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Germany who were pictured holding their tiny patients in baby carriers, snuggled up close—offering the little ones the warmth, comfort and love that they would otherwise be receiving from their parents if they were able to go home. The nurses can be seen holding the peaceful babes while going about their normal hospital task—multitasking at its best!
The sweet and simple act of love and care from these nurses often puts the infants to sleep and provides comfort to concerned parents. “So sweet!! My little peanut born at 32 weeks!!” one mother wrote. “ He’s finally home after a long two months!!! They gave my little boy a lot of love and cuddles when I couldn’t be there! Forever grateful for those nurses who took special care of him!” —GP
Watch of the Week
Singer Demi Lovato delivered a stunning performance of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl on Sunday. While the Star-Spangled Banner is considered to be notoriously difficult to sing well, after hearing Lovato’s performance, many commented that it was a song she was born to sing.
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