Jane Kagon
Executive Editor
Marion Brown
Managing Editor  
Mike Campbell
Social Media Editor 
Maureen Feldman
Social Enterprise Editor 
Karina Saravia
Science Editor 
Nadia Walker
Entertainment Editor 
Ariel Lapidus
Communication Design Editor 
Bob Lasiewicz
Education Editor 
Kris Slava
Entertainment Editor 
Marty Perlmutter
Journalism Editor
Richard Kroon
Education Editor 
Lisa Mattson
Science Editor 
Corine Ganem
Journalism Editor


In partnership with



The JUST Entertainment section examines the multitude of ways in which entertainment media track, catalyze and incite social change – we comb through diverse forms of Entertainment to illuminate existing social attitudes and identifying opportunities to drive positive change.

Kris SlavaJack Stern



Rex Murphy: Forget Wall Street, Occupy Hollywood

Rex Murphy
National Post, November 5, 2011

You hear it in every little encampment in every city that has a franchise in the current “Occupy” protests: The righteous tent-and-yurt people are against “greed.”

They see greed as the demonic dynamo of a rapacious capitalism (and its maidservant, “income inequality”). And what represents greed better than mega-payoffs, dazzling bonuses and stock options, for very little actual work, and sometimes even when performance is far below par? Read more...


At Least Occupy Our TV Please

Richard Lawson
The Atlantic Wire, November 3, 2011

America's deep and sadly abiding fascination with the spending of money will obviously never die completely -- we're too wish-based a society for that. But as long as we're wishing, might there be hope that something like Occupy Wall Street could, in some moderately significant way, at least change current tastes in pop culture? We're certainly rooting for that! Read more...


Film as Catalyst

Kris Slava
October, 2011

The path to change leads from knowledge to action. 

This month in the Entertainment Section of JUST we will shift focus.  Previously we have examined the social significance of various trends in entertainment and media.  This month we will start looking at how filmmakers use an entertainment medium – film – to bring important political and social issues to light.   Although they use an entertainment medium, these filmmakers are not entertainers.  They are activists using the tools of image and narrative to expose stories of injustice, oppression, cruelty and neglect. Like subjects of their films, these filmmakers take huge personal risks.  They have spent time and money and even jeopardized their personal safety because they believe that injustice can and must be exposed and eliminated. 

When watching these films, the question inevitably arises – how can we bridge the gap between knowledge and action in our own lives?  Entertainment contributor Jack Stern has identified a film, Granito, which begins to answer that questions. Granito takes its title from a Mayan concept of change.  "Granito" means each individual contributing a tiny grain of change.  Individually, each grain appears insignificant, but as the individual grains accumulate, change happens. 

Granito is one of several posts this month that remind us that the size of our individual contribution to change is not so important.  What is important is that we contribute something.  The world can change, and an “entertainment” medium can be a powerful agent toward motivating that change.


Granito – How To Nail a Dictator



The Reality of Reality

Kris Slava
September 2011

The rise of Reality TV is one of the most notable developments in entertainment media of the early 21st century.  Like so many major cultural developments, it seemed to sneak up on us.  An American Family premiered in 1973.  Cops premiered in 1988.  But the current era of Reality can be dated to 2000 with the success of Big Brother and Survivor. 

Like any major trend in television, the rise of Reality has been much puzzled over by pundits and media observers as they try to discern what these programs signify about our society and the directions we are headed.   At its worst, Reality TV is taken with celebrity culture and the explosion of Social networking sites to signify the rise of a culture of narcissism and schadenfreude, where individuals relentlessly seek self-aggrandizement at the expense of others. 

It’s interesting that Reality TV, like other entertainment trends that proceeded it, is so seldom seen as neutral, as simply another form of an innate human desire to observe, assess, and create narratives out of the lives surrounding us. 

Another way to see it is that in contemporary Reality TV, as in other trends and eras, the good is mixed in with the bad, the high with the low, the noble with the base.  In this view, we are simultaneously more removed and closer to one another than ever before.  Fueled by neutral forces as random and diverse as technological advance, proliferation of media outlets and Hollywood writer’s strikes, Reality has risen as simply one more way for us to satisfy appetites that are at the complex core of what makes us human.   


Budrus - A Story That Confronts a Threat with Nonviolence



Reality Television-The Pros and The Cons


Reality television has become very popular over the past decade. Shows such as “Survivor”, “Big Brother” and “The Apprentice” get big audiences and make a lot of money for broadcasters. But reality TV is also often a hot topic, with some people believing it is worthless and bad for our society. There have been calls to cut the number of hours given over to reality programmes, or even to ban them completely.  Read more...


The Relationship between Traditional Mass Media and ‘‘Social Media’’: Reality Television as a Model for Social Network Site Behavior

Michael A. Stefanone, Derek Lackaff, and Devan Rosen
Chris Madden

Social cognitive theory suggests a likely relationship between behavior modeled on increasingly popular reality television (RTV) and user behavior mod- eled on social networking sites (SNSs). This study surveyed young adults (N D 456) to determine the extent to which RTV consumption explained a range of user behavior in the context of social network sites. Read more...


Why America Loves Reality TV

By Steven Reiss and James Wiltz
Psychology Today

EVEN IF YOU DON'T WATCH reality television, it's becoming increasingly hard to avoid. The salacious Temptation Island was featured on the cover of People magazine. Big Brother aired five days a week and could be viewed on the Web 24 hours a day. And the Survivor finale dominated the front page of the New York Post after gaining ratings that rivaled those of the Super Bowl. Read more...


Reality Check

Eric Jaffe

It has been vilified as a threat to intelligence, and its viewers have been called voyeurs. But if reality television is really that bad, then why do we watch, and what could it mean for behavior? Read more...


Retro Modern Family?

Exactly how cutting edge is the depiction of contemporary social issues ABC’s “Modern Family”? 

A lot of the buzz surrounding the show has focused on the ways in which the three couples and their children -- reflect a “new” image of the American family.  Jay Pritchett is an older dad is married to an immigrant trophy wife.  His gay son and partner are raising an adopted Asian girl.  His daughter is a housewife with three children, and an ADHD husband.

We may not have seen an older/younger couple and a gay couple with a kid in the same show before.  But all the characters are vaguely stereotypical – enough so that they seem comfortably familiar. 

Indeed what is revolutionary about the show is the way that it infuses very contemporary elements with an underlying sitcom sensibility that is conservative and even traditional.  The couples are unconventional, the show deploys a trendy “docusoap” style, and shows a lifestyle infused with contemrporary technology and media. 

But underlying all this is an almost complete lack of the irony or distance that have been mainstays of so many recent comedy series.  The rock solid family values the show embodies are straight out of the 50’s.

So although “Modern Family” represents an evolution in the way family is presented on television, and is fresh and funny, it's expressly designed to NOT be cutting edge at its core. This is not Norman Lear territory.  In a real world that often feels cracked or even broken, “Modern Family” reaffirms very traditional values.  The show is so successful because it domesticates social shifts that have already taken place.


All in the Modern Family

The Genre has been declared dead many times, but a hit show is reviving the half hour TV comedy with a combination of edge, quirkiness -- and family values. Read more:

Kathryne Rosman, The Wall Street Journal


What Modern Family Says about Modern Family

Published: January 21, 2011

In his 1964 book “Understanding Media,” Marshall McLuhan helped define the modern age with his phrase, “The medium is the message.” Were he here nearly 50 years later, the critic would hardly be surprised to discover that in the most talked-about sitcom of the moment, the medium has become the punch line. Read More...


The Influence of Entertainment Media

Kris Slava
June, 2011 

In this issue of JUST, the entertainment section will explore two separate topics of ongoing interest.

Celebrities have been championing causes since at least the dawn of the electronic age.  It's a tradition that goes back to Jerry Lewis' Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon and Danny Thomas' support for the St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Maybe we're growing jaded, but today it seems almost de riqeur that each and every celebrity have a pet cause. We applaud anything that benefits people in need; and in many cases these associations seem to be rooted in genuine personal passion. But sometimes it's hard not to suspect that certain causes are chosen for fashionability, because they're celebrity brand-appropriate, or, on rare occasions, for even worse reasons. We look at many cases of what seem to be truly good works, and a few that appear to be on the bubble.

Another common suspicion today is that digital media are somehow undermining the fabric of families and/or society in general The root cause is sometimes assumed to be as simple as just sucking up time that would otherwise be spent in family interaction. Sometimes it is seen as more complex – interactions with digital media actually altering the way our brains work. Again, this is nothing new. The outcry has been going on at least since the 50's and the advent of television, which is now assumed to have been frying the brains of successive generations for over half a century.

The default assumption seems to be that our intensive interaction with media must be changing us for the worse. That is the predominant theme here, although we also give some space to alternate points of view – that the net effect of media on society is neutral, or even (dare we think it?) positive.


Internet, Cellphones May Strengthen Family Unit, Study Finds

By Donna St. George
October 20, 2008 

Parents and children might rush through their days in different directions, but the American family is as tight-knit as in the last generation -- or more so -- because of the widespread use of cellphones and the Internet, according to a new poll.

In what was described as the first detailed survey of its kind, released yesterday, researchers reported that family life has not been weakened, as many had feared, by new technology. Read more...