Category Archives: Reviews

Courageous 60 Minutes Exposes Big Tech’s Role in Promoting Anorexic Behavior to Vulnerable Teens. (But Wait. . . )

A Response to: Season 55, Episode 35
by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

When I found the episode on the 60 Minutes webpage to watch this story again, the very first thing I saw when I began was an ad that said the episode was brought to us by Pfizer. That’s right. It is as if the Big Pharma guys were saying, “Trust us; we are on this same moral crusade.” I thought such sponsorship seemed out of place-a mismatch. Maybe I am surprised the WHO didn’t sponsor it. But that is a topic for another time.

What the episode featured was a report that parents have begun filing lawsuits against big tech companies like Instagram for targeting young teen girls worried about their health and body image. Allegedly, Instagram algorithms wouldn’t generate stories of healthy diets or affirmations of body shapes of all kinds. Instead, apparently, it bombarded those young searchers with toxic promotions of dangerous anorexic behaviors.

It would seem that while Instagram’s parent company, Meta (aka Facebook), was shielding us from false information about COVID, they have been feeding provocative images and sketchy website links to kids who were not mentally or emotionally healthy enough to recognize the dangers of the content. Further, the parents claimed that Instagram use had significantly contributed to their child’s depression. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Good for you, 60 Minutes. Pat yourself on the back for your advocacy. 

But wait. Something is missing.

I propose my readers try this experiment: Listen to the episode and imagine something else-I know it may be hard. After all, this is the legacy media were are talking about- but try to imagine that every time anyone says “anorexia” or “skinny,” you insert “gender dysphoria” or “gender transition surgery.

When I do, the story still makes sense to me. Parents are enraged. Lawsuits are coming. Quoting the Surgeon General, the reporter asserted that Big Tech and social media are “posing a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of America’s youth” and calls for tougher standards. The bottom line in either story is that these ideologies harm our children, and certain institutions should be shamed and punished for promoting that harm.

Of course, transgender ideology was not the focus of this 60 Minutes story-eating disorders were the issue. Still, my question for CBS News is this: When will that become your issue?

When will the legacy media report that the mental health of those seeking harmful gender transition drugs and surgery is as big, or is a more significant crisis among America’s youth? When will CBS News, along with their big-tech collaborators, point fingers at themselves and admit that not unlike Instagram, they have promoted and even celebrated the false ideology that a person can change their biological sex? No doubt, CBS, PBS, NBC, and others have generally shown great hostility to anyone who would push back against any form of LGBTQIA+ ideology. As a result, they have stopped far short of honestly reporting on the harms presented by the popular new kid on the block-transgenderism.

So how long will I have to wait for 60 Minutes to air their report documenting how harmful this intentional and predatory sexual grooming of our youth is and will always be? When will they interview the unfortunate humans who have mutilated themselves permanently-now eternally dependent on medicine and therapy to get by?

Will they likewise include the grieving parents who tell us how hopeless they felt in their battle to save their children from it? Will they air the tearful sound bites from the young girl who now regrets her mistaken belief that this was the answer to her depressed feelings of shame and rejection? Will the editor include the comments where the victims retell the moment when they came to the horrible realization that, unlike the many teens suffering from anorexia have done, they can never reverse the damage?

When will the enranged and steely-eyed 60 Minutes reporter attack some child-mutilating surgeon or progressive hospital administrator on camera for perpetrating this harm? (*Crickets*)

I’m waiting. If they do, I bet this is one episode Pfizer will decline to sponsor.

Short Tragedies

A Review of Independent Shorts (SXSW 2018)

by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

As a whole, those who selected the narrative short films for the 2018 SXSW festival are apparently obsessed with themes of gender identity. I have selected a number of these shorts to analyze for the deeper questions they raise—along with the obvious conflicts and concerns more conventionally found in the story. It is often the less noticeable films that make for the richest philosophical discussion.

Continue reading Short Tragedies

Where’s Coach?

Review of Write When You Get Work (SXSW 2018)

by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

Viewers might consider this film as another in the genre of anti-hero comedy. When it is difficult to place the actions in some framework of reality, the plot becomes absurd, and absurdity can only be placed in the comic genre. Often, the absurdity comes from a juxtaposition of ideas that seem incompatible—in this case, the good-hearted criminal.

Continue reading Where’s Coach?

The Return of Religion

Review of Jinn (SXSW 2018)

by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

It is refreshing to see well-developed African-American characters in a narrative, and this story is one of the best in avoiding stereotypes. Not surprisingly, Jinn is written and produced by a group of emerging Black filmmakers in the U.S. What adds to the quality of this film is that the narrative provides a refreshing take on the troubled encounters the whole world seems to have with religion these days.

Continue reading The Return of Religion

Alien Incarnation

Review of First Light (SXSW 2018)

by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

Cast members from film sitting on a porch.Another in the science fiction genre where an alien race brings a blessing to a troubled earth, First Light has some interesting company. The film Arrival is one good example. In many of these tales, only certain characters have the sensitivity to hear or understand the message brought by these alien angels of mercy.

First Light is set in a town situated somewhere out West. Two teenagers are brought together after a strange set of events one night at a party outside of town. Few people in the town seem to be aware of, much less concerned about, the patterns of strange lights that appeared in the sky,
Continue reading Alien Incarnation

Non-typical Bucks

A review of Legacy of the White Tail Deer Hunter (SXSW 2018)

by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

Buck (Josh Brolin) is a legendary hunter staring in his own video series. His loyal cameraman Don (Danny McBride) accompanies Buck on a special hunting trip—the first for his son Jaden (Montana Jordan). The hunter’s situation in life is reflected in an old buck deer they site early on the trip—the animal has a huge rack and a sad, grey-looking face. Buck categorizes him as a non-typical specimen, and certainly, this describes Buck well. This film stays within the pattern of films at SXSW 2018 dealing with broken families and the difficult rites of passages for the kids in such a situation.

Continue reading Non-typical Bucks

Where the Wind Bloweth

A Review of Galveston (SXSW 2018)

by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

Photo of two people on beachSet against the backdrop of a city known for its hurricanes, Galveston is the place of refuge for an unlikely couple on the run from the mob. Working as a hitman, Roy is set up by his corrupt boss in New Orleans. In escaping the sting, he also rescues a prostitute by the name of Rocky. Reluctantly bringing her along, Roy chooses Galveston as their destination—a place where they can lay low. Along the escape route, they rescue her little sister Tiffany from the girl’s abusive step-dad.

Continue reading Where the Wind Bloweth

Ripped Pages

Review of Damsel (SXSW 2018)

by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

It is quite fascinating to watch the trajectory of the Zellner Brothers, David and Nathan, as they have continued to fine-tune their unique style in filmmaking. One may wonder if they got into directing and producing because they wanted to act, or they act because it makes producing and directing that much more efficient. Like the Coen brothers, it is unclear whose creativity is the driving force or if they share all the creative decisions that go into a film. In any case, the sibling team has risen to be among the kings of independent cinema, and it is appropriate to mention them in the same breath as the Duplass brothers (in my eyes, a huge compliment).

Continue reading Ripped Pages

The Deepening Spiral


Review of Age Out

by Philip J. Hohle, Ph.D.

At the world premiere of Age Out (originally titled Friday’s Child )at SXSW 2018, I became somewhat annoyed with the question and answer session that followed the screening. As typical at these festivals, fans often stick with safe questions about technique rather than dive into deeper issues raised by the story. Instead of exploring the meanings behind the film, those asking questions that night seemed more interested in talking about aspect ratios and camera lenses. For this viewer, the film triggered some dark memories, and as such, the movie was unusually visceral.

Continue reading The Deepening Spiral