I suppose I know a few people who had a great 2010 – marriages, kids, jobs, success, blah blah whatever – but for most of us, 2010 was the suckiest suck that ever sucked. This was the year that seemed to heap loss and disease on us, that brought us ever closer to national doom, that made it clear that not only don’t we know what the fuck we’re doing, but the universe is clearly out to destroy us while we cover ourselves in oil and elect idiots. So good freakin’ riddance, 2010. Go away, and take your boring-ass movie with you.
But hey – the year may have been dark, but it’s full of diamonds, or at least nasty little bits of glass we can pretend are diamonds until they cut off our fingers. So, in the spirit of pure optimism, here are ten terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad things from 2010 that I found a way to enjoy. Happy New Year.
God help me, I love Christine O’Donnell. I love everything about her. Well, okay, I don’t think I love her politics, but then again I have no idea what they actually are (which is fine, because she doesn’t either). No, I love her because although I’ve never met her, I GET her. She tries to be a “celebrity,” she tries to be a “politician,” she tries to lay down threats and such, but she cannot hide her true identity: she is a mess. She’s a smart woman with no sense of reality or responsibility. People like that are all kinds of fun to hang with. They say great things, even though it can be tiresome taking their 2 AM phone calls or reading their rambling, semi-existential Facebook posts. They stay with you at the bar after everyone’s gone home. They have grandiose plans about their own future, even while their present suggests they’re just one lateness away from being fired by Starbucks. And there’s the rub: O’Donnell is a mess who accidentally found success. I resent that the “Tea Party” hung their hopes on her perky but always a little terrified face, just as I resent that her wacky statements made her an international punching bag. “Leave her alone,” I wanted to shout at the late-night hosts who picked on her – “she’s OUR problem!” (I’m from Delaware.) I tell you, even her lies are endearing – her first date was to a Satanic Altar! She’s privy to information about the Chinese! God talks to her! She knows mice with human brains! I even liked that she pulled the “I condemn the until now nonexistent rumors that Mike Castle is gay” card – hell, I thought that old trick was dead in the water, but not for Christine, who probably has no idea just how shameless she is. As of this writing, she’s being investigated for campaign fraud (those surprised that their campaign donations to O’Donnell paid her rent or subsidized a bowling party clearly had no idea who they were dealing with), and she’s handling that exactly as I hoped: by blaming everyone she can, spewing easily-disputed lies and slander at her former staffers, at the watchdog group who accused her, even at Joe Biden, who she thinks is seeking revenge on her (for losing!?). And that’s her saying this stuff, not some random spokesperson – she’s basically taking what should be a late-night IM discussion to the public. You gotta love it! Me, I hope she beats all the charges and finally answers my invitation to see a show at the Wilmington Drama League. She would’ve liked Chicago.
HOWEVER: She’s writing a book. That’s bad. An embittered O’Donnell won’t be NEARLY as endearing. I do worry that she’ll lose her Cathy Guisewite charm and go full Palin – if so, we’ll have lost her forever. Hang in there, darling. You can put off that water bill for one more month.
SIDING WITH JAY
Team Coco can suck it. Not that I don’t like O’Brien – I do. The hipster doofus is cooler, funnier, younger, and pretty much superior to Leno in every way. I like his goofy, ‘pataphysical take on comedy, even when he overdoses on irony. But then came the Late Night Wars, and I stood nearly alone against all my friends in support of Leno. Why? Because I knew that Leno was blameless, was just doing his job, and had nothing at all to do with O’Brien’s poor ratings. But oh, how Team Coco cried foul. Leno ruined O’Brien by providing him with a crappy lead-in. Leno needed to step down and give O’Brien a chance. Leno needed to stop taking “cheap shots” at O’Brien in his show. Never mind that O’Brien’s lead-in was actually the local news…his show was failing for months before Leno’s (admittedly shitty) 10:00 show started. Never mind that Leno had already stepped down and given O’Brien a chance – he could have turned down the 10:00 spot that he was never comfortable with anyway. Never mind that Leno is widely known as a nice, generous fellow in the biz and allowed – even invited – Coco supporters onto his show. And never mind that if O’Brien had a better contract, he would probably still have the Tonight Show spot today – until he was canned for poor ratings again. Truth is, both he and his show were better geared for a 12:30 spot, but Team Coco (god, what an annoying name) decided that because their boy was funnier, he must be in the right – and, therefore, a victim of Leno’s draconian tactics. Bullshit, boys. Leno deserved to “win,” and not just because his contract was better – because, like it or not, his brand of comedy has more appeal. Leno’s ratings are currently not only higher than O’Brien’s ever were, but he’s beating Letterman – even in the 18 to 49 age range everyone seems to love. For more info, check out this excellent Cracked.com article that gives it a nice summary.
HOWEVER: The LNW’s got us all arguing over the fates of multi-millionaires with shows we hardly ever watched. We’re saps, we are. Still, it would have been a hell of a thing if Leno actually DID choose to retire. Sure, it would have sucked for Leno’s writers (although, seriously, screw those hacks), but eventually O’Brien would have gotten the sack and Leno would have been rehired. I could live on the delicious hipster tears that would’ve followed.
Ah, terrorism. You can’t say that Americans don’t want to be safe, even if safety means overreacting to any conceivable threat. Someone could theoretically put a bomb in a shoe? Put those shoes through an X-ray! Someone could make an explosive out of a liquid? No more than 3 ounces of any liquid on a plane! Someone could hide something in their clothes? Go naked! Well, okay, do the next best thing…look through our clothes and pat down our privates! Truth is, I don’t really know what to think about the TSA these days. While I think we’ve taken overreacting to silly new heights with the new x-rays and regulations, I also think putting up with the occasional grope is just about the least we can do to keep ourselves safe. But, especially considering our country’s weird hangup with nudity, it sure is fun to talk about. I never thought there’d be an issue the ACLU and the “Tea Party” would agree on until the TSA started giving us a whole new brand of porn. And that “don’t touch my junk” idiot? What a perfect representation of the “protect me from terrorism but don’t inconvenience me in any way” generation. Love it!
HOWEVER: I get chills every time I see a report of someone easily getting through even the latest scanners. Can we maybe stop demonstrating how easy it is to bypass security and blow up our airplanes?
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE
So some Dutch creep makes a movie about people whose faces are sewn to other peoples’ assholes, and voila! The nation has the first flick in a long time where just the idea of it is enough. Seeing it is completely unnecessary – once you know three people are forced to eat each others’ shit, what more do you want? (Well, two people, anyway – being in the front isn’t all that bad, although it must suck to get an itch.) I’ll probably never see it, until it comes on network TV in sitcom form (it’d be a fine lead-in to Two and a Half Men), but it’s still my favorite movie of the year. Way to go, creepy Dutch guy. Oh, and all credit goes to Roger Ebert for, as far as I know, being the first to abbreviate the movie as “~~~”.
HOWEVER: A sequel is already in the can, and it sounds like the same movie, only the centipede contains 12 saps instead of three. This is bound to be a letdown. Why couldn’t the mad scientist dude work on other insect hybrids instead? I’d much rather see a Human Aphid, a Human Stinkbug, or even a Human Slug. Hell, I know a few Human Slugs.
(Photo withheld. You’re welcome.)
Miller is the Alaskan the “Tea Party” candidate who managed to outseat Repub incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the primaries. Murkowski, of course, then ran as a vote-in candidate and, according to almost everyone, handed Miller his hat. The only holdout is Miller himself, who is going to such astounding lengths to declare himself the winner you’d think the Tea Partiers threatened to teabag him if he lost. First, he demanded that votes with “Murkowski” spelled even a tiny bit wrong should be thrown out – will of the voter bedamned! Even if he got his wish (he didn’t), he still would’ve lost by over 2000 votes, but that didn’t stop Miller, who began throwing an EPIC hissy fit, claiming massive voter fraud, making up new laws, even insinuating that his own volunteers were too stupid to monitor the counting. He filed suit after suit, all of them thrown out. He claims it’s about “principle,” even though he clearly has none. And as of this writing he STILL hasn’t given up – and that’s why I like him. Miller, with his smug, half-assed growth dusting a face even his mother must want to punch, has gone from textbook dick into some sort of pantheon of assholeness, and you have to admire his spirit. Factor in his incredible arrogance (he once tweeted that he was “house hunting” in DC a good month before the election), his dogged attempt at thug-like tactics, and his shady past (he was once disciplined for sneaking into government computers – apparently Scooby and the gang caught him), and you’ve got yourself a candidate for Douchebag of the Gods. Anyone with that kind of ambition is a-okay in my book.
HOWEVER: GOD, would I love to punch his greasy face.
In a pop world where “I’m so fly” is pretty much the only stance anyone’s willing to take (click here if you dare), it’s kind of refreshing to find a Ke$ha. Not only does she sing about brushing her teeth with Jack and getting naked with questionable folks, but she really gets into character, smearing her face with last night’s glitter and generally looking like her skin feels and smells of Screwdriver. Is her music listenable? Well, that depends on your def of listenable, I suppose…it’s all been done, it’s bubbly and auto-tuned to death, so at least she’s literally incapable of singing a bad note. But the music’s not the point. With her “I’m not only a bad girl, I’m kind of unhealthy too” stance, she’s pretty much the only one out there evoking true punk these days. I actually kinda suspect ol’ Ke$h might evolve into an interesting artist – it’s nice to see someone actually admit to being a mess (check the lyrics to “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes” – not since Fiona Apple has an ingénue been so honest about screwing up). For now, she’s got a unique place in the biz, and you have to give her some credit, even if you don’t necessarily want to touch her. Sure, it’s all a pose, a joke, but at least it’s an entertaining one with a little imagination. I suspect Ke$ha knows what she’s singing about.
HOWEVER: Man was it a shitty year for disposable pop. Last year was fantastic…what the hell happened? And I’m not even talking about Bieber…tweens need their pinups too. No, I’m saying after the fury of “My Life Would Suck Without You,” “Single Ladies,” and “Waking Up In Vegas,” what the hell did we get this year? One decent Pink song and that “Teenage Dream” thing? It’s no coincidence that the best song of the year was called Fuck You. Come back, Gaga, all is forgiven.
EXTENDING BUSH’S TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH
It’s not about the issue itself, or my own politics. I’ll accept that some believe the super rich deserve a tax cut (even though I suspect most of them know precisely how to protect their money from the evil gumment). What I really love is how, thanks to the effective thuggery of a few key Repubs, pretty much the ENTIRE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS has to pretend that protecting Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans is the most urgent, pressing issue in our country. By “banding together” to protect the interest of (let’s face it) the ones who essentially fund their campaigns, the Republicans have cast away any doubts about what politics is really all about: an elite few who take care of each other. Somehow, I suspect even the heartiest “Tea Party” members have a hard time believing that the bottom 98% couldn’t use a taste of that tax money…but for now, they’re essentially stuck keeping their opinions to themselves. I’m reminded of the flap when Avenue Q was voted Best Musical largely by theater owners who thought, based on cryptic comments from the producers, that the show would tour – when the producers announced they were opening in Vegas, those owners publicly cried foul, exposing the dirty little secret at the heart of the Tony voting.
HOWEVER: It’s only going to take a few Repubs to cave before they all must cave. I think they’ll do it, too; there are still some elected officials who care more about governing than getting reelected. I think.
BRISTOL ON DWTS
I didn’t watch Dancing With the Stars, but I didn’t have to – I loved the vicarious fury of the fans who could not understand how Bristol Palin survived week after week. Now, I don’t know much about Bristol, but she seems like someone harboring a lot of resentment. One day it’ll explode and we’ll get an exposé on Miss Sarah the likes of which we ain’t seen since Christina Crawford ratted out Joan (what’ll Sarah’s catchphrase be? I vote for “No…black…boyfriends!”). Anyway, there’s no question that Sarah’s fanbase was all but instructed to vote for Darling Bristol, but I gotta admit, I was happy she stayed in there for so long. Why? Because it was such a perverse capsule of all that is wrong (right?) with politics and entertainment. Here was an untalented person allowed to remain on a dancing show (with “Celebrity” in the title, no less) thanks to voters loyal to her mom…is there a better summary of our current political atmosphere? No, I say, no, not until Bobby Jindal forms the New New Monkees, featuring Snooki on the turntables and that “Rent is Too Damn High” fellow on the tambourine.
HOWEVER: Okay, I lied. I actually did watch a bit of DWTS, and while it seems mean to pick on Bristol, it’s fair to say her dancing ability perfectly matches her acting. Still, my weird little point about polintertainment holds up.
MO’NIQUE’s OSCAR SPEECH
If you believe that the Academy Awards represent the absolute worst in self-fellatio by a crew of pampered effete insiders, a way of heaping “legitimacy” on what amounts to a bunch of whiny kids in plastic, adult bodies playing pretend for a living, then you GOTTA love that an overweight black woman stepped up on stage and said “I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics.” Self-congratulatory and dismissive of the other performers? Sure. Dead-on? You bet. Mo’Nique, a so-so comedienne who apparently gave a fierce performance in Precious, refused to campaign for her prize, which was partly because she knew she was a lock, but mostly because she just didn’t give a shit. It was equal parts arrogance and cut-through-the-bullshit-we-know-it’s-all-a-game bluntness – and good for her for not feeling the need to project the cringe-worthy ersatz “humility” that most actors spend hours rehearsing in front of the mirror.
HOWEVER: a little grace would have gone a long way. Sadly, “Arrogant Black Woman” has become a stereotype now, and provides more fodder for the racism – subtle and not-so-much – that continues to permeate pop entertainment. If Mo had bothered to thank – hell, even acknowledge – the other nominees and her fellow Precious people, her speech might have actually had an impact. Instead, for many it was a dismissible, arrogant lecture. Oh well.
KEVIN SMITH’S YEAR
Kevin Smith is not a horrible thing, but between getting kicked off a Southwest airplane for being too large and getting lambasted for Cop Out, his stab at mainstream buddy cinema, he had a pretty rough year. To make matters worse, Cop Out was clearly a disillusioning experience for the man, as his one-time hero Bruce Willis apparently turned out to be an insufferable diva on the set (who knew? Besides everybody, I mean). However, the way Smith handled his year is rather wonderful – with blunt honesty, humor, and grace (take note, Mo’Nique). He tweeted, blogged, and podcasted all about the air affair (“Kevin Smith: too fat for the sky?”) with disarming and even-handed candor, giving voices to both Southwest employees and spokespeople and even other passengers who have endured similar treatment. He also demonstrated the power of Twitter as a tool not just for self-promotion and aggrandizing, but for airing genuine outrage in a positive fashion. As for Cop Out, it’s certainly ragged, but it’s a perfectly entertaining, lazy-Saturday kind of movie with some big laughs – which, I suspect, is exactly what Smith was aiming for. And I understand it made a nice little profit. Here’s hoping 2011 provides Smith with fewer humiliating airplane experiences (especially considering he had even more travel woes in December with Virgin) and that his new horror flick Red State finally earns him respect as a real director, and not a clever kid with a camera.
HOWEVER: Much as I enjoyed Cop Out, it was awfully casual – I might have felt ripped off if I paid to see it on the big screen. And the snippets of Red State I’m familiar with (he shows clips on his live podcasts and posts the audio for free) aren’t filling me with confidence. But I hope the movie works, because Smith is not only terminally likable, he still represents the kind of DIY-auterudom I’ve grown to love.
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