For some people cacophony is more relaxing than silence

The researchers discovered that neurotic people found “high-anxiety” situations to be more calming for their minds. In another experiment, Newman and Brucks ran a soothing ocean wave soundtrack followed by a tape of honking horns. Surprise: neurotics didn’t find the blare of taxi cab horns annoying. Actually, they found it rather satisfying… A highly neurotic person can still enjoy nature, but maybe their ideal version of a hike includes more boulders, a trail run, some animals.” In other words, when it comes to alleviating anxiety, it’s not the environment so much as what you do in it. [link]

Movies with more black actors make more money; most films have zero

This study argues that movies with 2 more more black actors in main roles boost film revenues by more than 60%. Unfortunately, in 85% of movies there are neither no or just one black actor in a major role, and these are the films that made less. It is unclear what other factors are controlled for (are all the movies with multiple black actors big budget superhero movies?), nor whether the authors looked at worldwide revenues or domestic. The argument made by studios is that black actors do poorly in China, which is the reason why John Boyega’s image is minimized in the Star Wars posted made for China. 

For their study, Kuppuswamy and Younkin took a look at 723 mainstream English-language movies released in major theaters between 2011 and 2015, and determined the number of black actors in lead roles in each film. In nearly two-thirds of the films, there were no black actors cast in any lead roles. In 23 percent of the films, there was one. Only in 11 percent were there two or more black principals.

The relative rarity of diverse casts might suggest that they have little money-making potential, but after parsing the data, the researchers came to the conclusion that audiences don’t reject films with diverse lead actors—they actually prefer them. According to Kuppuswamy and Younkin, adding more black actors in principal roles had a beneficial effect on box-office outcomes. The films that had only one black lead actor performed about as well as those films that had none. But films that had two or more black actors playing main roles performed even better, boosting box-office revenues by more than 60 percent compared to films that didn’t have any black lead actors. [link]

Here is the original study on SSRN:  “Blaming the Customer: The Effect of Cast Racial Diversity on the Performance of Hollywood Films


The elephant in the room

Straight talk from Gene Demby. What’s baffling to me is why so few white political commentators (which is to say most political commentators) are willing to be honest about the key analytical issues in this election, that is why they keep ignoring and omitting race:

[In] Jonathan Chait’s recent essay at New York Mag, “The Real Reason We All Underrated Trump,” … he openly wonders whether Republican voters who’ve fallen for Trump are “idiots” … It’s telling that Chait finds it easier to imagine that huge swaths of Republican primary voters are childlike and naive, rather than folks who quite rationally dig Trump’s direct appeals to their interests — their racial interests. Among Trump’s most notorious policy proposals is a moratorium on Muslims entering the country. He has called Mexican immigrants “rapists.” Maybe we should concede that these declarations are not incidental to his appeal among his supporters, but central to them. Calling them “idiots” posits that they’ve been duped, when perhaps Trump is saying precisely what they want to hear. [link]

Let them drink Lemonade: Beyonce sells images of women’s liberation, while also selling clothing produced by women’s exploitation

These quotes are taken from a very well written piece in The Fashion Law blog. I noticed I hesitated before posting this, both because Queen Bey is so well loved (an understatement) and because I am not a black woman. But at the end of the day, the people who matter most to me are not the Beyhive but the seamstresses whose products are being sold to “support and inspire women.” 

Beyoncé’s new Ivy Park collection is made in sweatshop conditions by laborers, who earn as little as $6.17 a day, according to sources, including The Telegraph. The mega-star and so-called feminist’s collection hit shelves last month and allegedly aims to “support and inspire women.” …

The workers, mostly young women from poor rural villages, can only afford to live in boarding houses, which are often provided (at a cost) by the factory owners, and work more than 60 hours a week to make ends meet…

Beyonce’s team has released a statement saying: “Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading program. We are proud of our sustained efforts in terms of factory inspections and audits, and our teams worldwide work very closely with our suppliers and their factories to ensure compliance.” [link]

Republicans are much more opposed to interracial dating than democrats

Nearly one in five Republicans opposes interracial dating, compared to just one in 20 Democrats. For the record, I think that disapproval of black-white interracial dating is actually higher than what people are willing to admit when polled. We can see this in their behavior on dating sites. Republicans are largely white, and we have good data on how whites respond to black profiles and messages.

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This is part of a broader difference in racial attitudes

A poll conducted by the Associated Press before the 2012 election found that 79 percent of Republicans agreed with negative statements about racial minorities, such as “If blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites.” Among Democrats, the figure was just 32 percent. [WaPo Wonkblog]

Best NYT correction ever

From today’s NYT:

Because of an editing error, an article on Monday about a theological battle being fought by Muslim imams and scholars in the West against the Islamic State misstated the Snapchat handle used by Suhaib Webb, one of Muslim leaders speaking out. It is imamsuhaibwebb, not Pimpin4Paradise786. [link]