Faced with the task of reflecting on the cultural climate of the past year, it isn’t easy to definitively enumerate the best and worst. Sure enough, the Macgrubers can be separated from the Inceptions, but what exactly defines this year from the ghosts of various Mall cops past? Here are a few cultural enigmas that characterized 2010:
Television : Men lack aptitude, sustain network virility
What makes a show good? Is it a group of high school singing prodigies? A team of geniuses dissecting the criminal brain in one hour? Well it isn’t Charlie Sheen. Yet, he’s one of the highest paid television “actors” and “Two and a Half Men” is on it’s eighth season on CBS. Sheen, wearing cargo shorts and a bowling t-shirt, essentially plays himself, though somehow his womanizing ways are endearing, not headline worthy in the sitcom format. Remember Jonathan Cryer as Duckie in “Pretty in Pink”? Well don’t because the Duckie you love is dead. Cryer’s son in the show, the baby-faced half-man, Jake (Angus Jones), isn’t cute anymore (if he ever was) and makes the “adult-situations” of the show even more uncomfortable than before. Listen CBS, canned laughter can no longer coerce audiences to think that this show is funny.
Film : Facebook has officially taken over, more than 500 million people like this
In October, “The Social Network,” directed by David Fincher, delivered an unfamiliar side of Facebook. A movie about Facebook? Has the website inundated our generation’s psyche to such a degree that we crave to know everything about it? For better or worse, absolutely. The somewhat dark presentation of the site’s advent and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, made it an acceptable representation of what could have easily devolved into the stereotypical teen movie. Previews made the quality of the film somewhat ambiguous, as Zuckerberg is played by—the Michael Cera that wasn’t—Jesse Eisenberg, accompanied by unfamiliar faces and the flashy presence of Justin Timberlake. Yet, all contribute to what is a surprisingly powerful film.
Music: Willow Smith, you want me to do what?
Aside from my surprise that Enrique Iglesias is still alive, let alone still making music, with the release of his ninth studio album — that’s right, nine— “Euphoria” in July, nothing has dumbfounded me as much as Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair.”
To be fair, the ten year old will likely develop what are already pretty impressive pipes. However, the fact that her song has gone viral defies logic. The high-pitched, repeated battle cry of the song is mentally infectious — as in a disease that infects and doesn’t leave. It’s the herpes of pop songs.
Sure she’s young. Her daddy is also Will Smith. Many applaud the fact that the song lacks innuendo and the video is tasteful —seemingly supporting that Hollywood has yet to corrupt young Willow— but it’s annoying. And guess what, Willow? I’ve tried whipping my hair, and I’m just not feeling it.
YouTube : Proof that people still watch the news, run and tell that
Antoine Dodson’s statement on July 29 to a news crew changed what — in any other context— would’ve been treated as a serious warning: “Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide your husband, cause they rapin’ everybody up in here.” Yet, thanks to his delivery, YouTube and the proliferation of auto tune, Dodson is forever a comic figure. It’s a twisted time when an attempted rape can be made into an iTunes hit, homeboy.