Winners and Losers of 2007
Had the youngest Spears sister been cast as a tawdry teenage tramp on â€śDesperate Housewives,â€ť her real-world behavior would be seen as less scandalous. But Jamie Lynn Spears has been a fairly wholesome star on Nickelodeon since she joined the kiddie sketch-comedy show â€śAll Thatâ€ť at the tender age of 11. She's currently the cool title character of the show â€śZoey 101,â€ť set at a boarding school, a show watched by millions of grade-schoolers. So much for role models.
At the center of this vortex is the mother, Lynne Spears, who had her publishing contract â€śdelayed indefinitelyâ€ť for a book on parenting celebrity children, now that it's painfully apparent she doesn't know diddly about parenting celebrity children. The Spears family and their long trail of tabloid embarrassments make them some of 2007's biggest losers. Let's review some other cultural winners and losers from the year just elapsed.
Losers: Barry Bonds and every other professional baseball player caught cheating with steroids, human growth hormone, and other doping methods. Most baseball fans will forever put a huge asterisk on Bonds breaking the career home run record of Henry Aaron, and this is correct. Bonds â€śbrokeâ€ť the record in a new way. He took Aaron's record and smashed its integrity like it was a priceless stolen vase.
Winners: The wider world of Major League Baseball, for finally publicly acknowledging the doping scandal that is ruining the national pastime. Add to this â€świnnersâ€ť slot those modern superstars of baseball who never succumbed to the temptation of using artificial enhancements.
Losers: Jim Belushi and the makers of the ABC sitcom â€śAccording to Jim,â€ť for a story plot taking us literally into the toilet, with Belushi defecating out his wedding ring (complete with a clank) while his wife and other relatives hid in the bathtub behind the shower curtain. But not before his sister-in-law unloaded an "earthy" story about how â€ślast week, I was up on the roof throwing water balloons I filled with my own urine.â€ť
Winners: Congressman Bobby Rush, for organizing a congressional hearing on the socially harmful impact of gangsta rap. Add to this slot the rapper Master P, who apologized for making gangsta rap, and now says he doesn't want even his own children to listen to his work in that genre.
Losers: The shock jocks Opie and Anthony, for hosting a character named â€śHomeless Charlieâ€ť making jokes on their satellite radio show about the violent rape of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They continued to laugh as â€śCharlieâ€ť sickly imagined punching Rice in the face and raping Laura Bush â€śto death.â€ť Opie and Anthony then suggested he add Queen Elizabeth to his list of victims. The regrettable â€śhoâ€ť comment Don Imus threw at the
Winners: Walden Media, which placed more well-made family-friendly movies in the cineplexes in 2007, from â€śBridge to Terabithiaâ€ť to the brand-new, critically acclaimed â€śThe Water Horse: Legend of the Deep.â€ť
Losers: The filmmakers of â€śHounddog,â€ť for casting 12-year-old actress Dakota Fanning (â€śThe Cat in the Hatâ€ť) in a five-minute rape scene. The movie was screened at Robert Redford's Sundance film festival. While child-actor advocates vehemently protested, Miss Fanning insisted people see this spectacle and be â€śtouchedâ€ť when they â€śsee the truthâ€ť of the movie's theme of loneliness on screen. The New York Times attacked critics who protested the exploitation of Fanning: â€śShe's growing up. Get used to it.â€ť
Losers: Tasteless anti-religious entertainers. Kathy Griffin who grasped an Emmy Award for Best Reality TV Show and proclaimed â€śSuck it, Jesus!â€ť New Line Pictures spent a mint on â€śThe Golden Compass,â€ť part of an anti-Christian trilogy of children's books by atheist author Philip Pullman, but the box-office take was far lower than expectations.
Winners: Christmas cartoons that still score highly in the ratings on the major networks. Even new Christmas cartoons, like the more modern, ironic take of â€śShrek the Halls,â€ť were ratings victories for ABC. But it's especially heartening that millions of Americans never get tired of scenes from â€śA Charlie Brown Christmas,â€ť with Linus reading the nativity story and the kids singing â€śHark! The Herald Angels Sing,â€ť despite the gnashing teeth of people who hate the outpouring of any Christmas spirit.
On to 2008.