News Column

The Fresno Bee, Joshua Tehee column

September 5, 2013


Sept. 05--Trending topics are something the savvy social media types use to keep up on what's being talked about online. It's the modern equivalent of standing around the water cooler talking about what's hot.

It can be a useful tool to find out what people think is interesting. Twitter actually allows you to search trending topics and Facebook is currently testing a similar system.

Here is some of what I've gleaned in the last month or so.

Casting calls

Entertainment news is always popular, so when an anticipated film, (especially one based on best-selling and particularly risque book) casts an actor in a leading role, fans take note.

When producers announced Charlie Hunnam, famous for his role as Jax Teller on "Sons of Anarchy," would play Christian Grey in the film adaptation of "50 Shades of Grey," fans freaked out.

They quickly took to Twitter, letting it be known that while Hunnam may be sexy, he's not quite sexy enough for the role.

Or not the right kind of sexy.

There was even a petition calling for recasting put forth on

The outrage prompted an official response from producers.

There was a similar backlash when it was announced Ben Affleck would play Batman in the upcoming Batman-Superman crossover film. The Bee's film critic Rick Bentley used the story as fodder to put together his list of the worst comic-book castings in history. Spoiler alert: It's David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury.

On a side note, Hasselhoff just this week says he wants another shot at the role, according to Yahoo Movies.


People have been fascinated with sharks since "Jaws" was released in 1975. My mother says she was afraid of the ocean for years after seeing the movie, though I am sure she's exaggerating.

The Discovery Channel tapped into that fascination when it started hosting Shark Week in 1987. The week-long event was originally developed to raise awareness and respect for sharks. It became a phenomenon that continues to this day.

No doubt, the Syfy network had that in mind when it started releasing a series of low-budget science-fiction shark flicks with outrageous plots and titles like "Sharktopus" (a hybrid shark-octopus), "Sharknado" (a shark-filled tornado) and "Ghost Shark."

After its debut in July, "Sharknado" was trending so much it was quickly rebroadcast and even had a limited theatrical release.

I watched "Ghost Shark" this weekend, and it's as bad as you assume.

And as good.

To recap: We've gone from a classic film like "Jaws" to a movie about a protoplasmic shark that can appear in the middle of a Slip-n-Slide. One wonders if sharks have jumped the shark?

And a foam finger

Miley Cyrus was trending weeks before her performance at MTV's video music awards last week. Her sudden interest in urban culture and newfound love for twerking was being followed by fans and critics alike.

But her performance at the Video Music Awards was so bizarre and explicit it immediately sent her into a category with shock-popsters like Madonna and Lady Gaga.

I watched the video of the performance mostly because the opening seconds seemed unreasonably weird -- there were dancing teddy bears with flashing glasses and Cyrus doing some kind of cat impression. Then she stripped down to a nude bikini and began doing what can best be described as lewd acts with a foam finger.

Within moments of the performance, the memes started to appear.

Days later, her performance was still being talked about in the press and online. Cryus finally talked to the press Wednesday.

It was engrossing to see how a single story could be tied to so many viewpoints.

Feminists used the Cyrus story to decry slut-shaming and pointed out the obvious double standard being employed. Robin Thicke's role in the performance went mostly unmentioned, save for a few Beetlejuice references. His suit did look like it came from the Tim Burton movie.

Mothers used the story as a teachable moment, hoping that Cyrus (or their own 20-something daughters) would find some positive take-away. Like how to productively express their sexuality.

Musicians (bitter and otherwise) used it to point out the deplorable state of modern music. After all, this was aired on MTV and was part of a music awards show.

Even those who chose to not engage in the spectacle of it all used the story to show just how above it they could be, posting ironic asides like: "Hannah Montana did what?"

On the up side, there were actually some good reads and analyses posted about these topics, if you had the time to spend.

This columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6479, or @Joshuatehee on Twitter. Read his blog at


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