Arts, Media, and Entertainment

Matthew Shepard, Sex and happiness, “Gosnell” movie, Brazil moves to the right


Warren Cole Smith

Revisionist History. The Episcopal Church interred the remains of Matthew Shepard in the National Cathedral during the past week, next to Helen Keller and Woodrow Wilson. Shepard was a gay man murdered in what was likely a drug deal gone bad. However, gay activists have long held him up as a victim of homophobic bigotry. The first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church, Gene Robinson, conducted the service. Robinson appeared on NPR and other media outlets and repeated his claim that when he became bishop, he received “multiple death threats a day.” However, that claim never seemed plausible to me, so I investigated it. A 2013 story I wrote for WORLD largely discredited that claim.

Sex and Happiness. If you have just one sexual partner in your lifetime, your spouse, the odds are overwhelming that you will have a happy marriage. That’s one of the findings of a study published this week by Nicholas Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah. He examined nearly 30 years of data from the General Social Survey, a survey funded by the National Science Foundation and considered the “gold standard” by sociologists. He found that those who married as virgins had the lowest divorce rate. However, he also found that only about 5 percent of new brides today are virgins. W. Bradford Wilcox, commenting on the study in The Atlantic, said, “Contrary to conventional wisdom, when it comes to sex, less experience is better, at least for the marriage.”

“Gosnell” Movie Soldiers On. The makers of the movie about abortionist Kermit Gosnell faced a lot of resistance. First, the media didn’t cover the trial itself. Then, KickStarter wouldn’t let the producers raise money, and they had to use the much smaller IndieGoGo crowdsourcing platform. And, of course, it’s difficult and expensive to make a movie even when the conditions are right. The vast majority of movies fail to produce a financial return for investors. Nonetheless, the movie “Gosnell” is hanging in. According to BoxOfficeMojo, it has pulled in about $3.2-million at the box office. It should top off at $3.5- to $4-million before it leaves theatres. That’s a respectable showing for a movie that cost less than $2-million to make. These days, theatrical is only about 50 percent of a movie’s total revenue, with streaming accounting for more than box office receipts. All to say that this might be one of the few independent movies that actually gets to break-even.

Brazil Moves to The Right. Former Brazilian Congressman Jair Bolsonaro won election to Brazil’s presidency on Sunday. Bolsonaro, who campaigned against abortion and same-sex marriage, earned the support of Brazil’s growing evangelical population. His election marks a hard-right turn for this generally progressive country. However, financial and other scandals on the Left caused many in the country to grow disillusioned with progressive politicians.

Milestones.  Theologian, statesman, educator, and journalist Abraham Kuyper was born this week (Oct. 29) in 1837…. Peter Taylor was one of my writing teachers, as well as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his masterful novel A Summons to Memphis. He died this week (Nov. 2) in 1994.


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