Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Jon Stewart has words for radical Muslims making threats against South Park's creators

South Park has been in the news recently due to threats against its creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, from a radical Muslim website. They responded in an episode of their program and got in a dispute with their network, Comedy Central, over the network choosing to bleep several portions of the episode, including references to Islamic prophet Muhammad.

South Park's creators responded to censorship from the network with a statement, noting that in addition to bleeping Muhammad's name, the show's closing speech "about intimidation and fear" was also bleeped.

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart rallied behind his network-mates on last night's program. It seems like a daring thing to do, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it result in similar threats. Stewart used his power to do a segment like this, even after the network canceled previous plans to repeat even the censored version of the episode and isn't allowing South Park Studios to stream the unedited version on their website. (Warning: Adult language, while bleeped, is part of the segment.)


President Obama and others join 'American Idol' for 'Idol Gives Back'

"'American Idol' has always been about changing lives, on the stage and around the world." - Barack Obama

I always find it surreal to see politicians making pop culture crossovers. President Obama and the first lady appeared via video to open the "American Idol" special "Idol Gives Back" charity show, encouraging viewers to donate. The first couple even threw out references to Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell.

For me, the most touching moment of the night was the story of an AIDS orphan going from being skeletal to, with the help of AIDS drugs, looking like a healthy little girl.

Captain "Sully" Sullenberger, the famed pilot who successfully landed a plane in the Hudson River, was among those who appeared on Idol Gives Back, along with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Bill Gates. There were also plenty of Hollywood stars, such as Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock, plus musical performances from the Black Eyed Peas, Jeff Beck, Elton John closing the night with "Your Song," and more.


Michael Jackson + Cirque du Soleil = Magnet for my money

I've never seen a Cirque du Soleil show, but after the announcement that they're doing a show centered around Michael Jackson, I'm having trouble picturing anything that sounds like more fun.

While I haven't seen one of their shows (yet), I've always been impressed by their creativity in performances I've seen online or on television, and I'm excited to see how they put their spin on Michael Jackson. I'm also curious to see if they'll do any editing of some of the songs; I don't expect anything as elaborate as the Beatles "Love" show remixes, but a few twists could be fun.

(Via Best Week Ever)


AP changes 'Web site' to 'website,' copy editors' heads explode

In the latest evolution of language for journalists, the Associated Press announced last week that they're changing the official AP style from "Web site" to "website." It's been controversial with journalists and language nerds, with the more tech-friendly side largely approving while others think it's a devolution.

As a former Yale Daily News editor put it to Poynter Online, "I can't tell you how many times I've changed 'website' to 'Web site' in stories – not to mention how many times I've said to reporters, 'Trust me, it's "Web site." 'They would ask why, and I would say, 'Because the AP says so.'"

Now various publications are considering whether to go with AP style in this case or not. And since this is 2010, the AP made the announcement, where else, on Twitter.


Thoughts on some of Sunday's Coachella performers

My last batch of random thoughts on Coachella acts:

Gorillaz recently produced Plastic Beach. It doesn't sound as radio-friendly as some of their previous work, but it's still a great album with a laid back feel fitting an album with "Beach" in the title.

Spoon's new album is their most experimental, breaking traditional song structure, but it's still a tight, well-produced record. They're one of those bands that produce a show that sounds like the record, so if that's what you're looking for, it could be a blast, but if you want something a little more raw, you may want to check something else out. My personal favorite Spoon song:

De La Soul is one of those groups continuing on a more traditional hip hop sound, while also going in their own direction. If you don't hate fun, go see these guys.