PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Worst 10 Media Events of 2003

Terry Sawyer

From film and TV to Bush and Madonna, our very own intrepid Terry Sawyer breaks down 2003's worst media moments.

1. Dreamcatcher (Lawrence Kasdan)
Men are freaked out by pregnancy. We've seen it in just about every film about aliens. In Lawrence Kasdan's film, the particular fear has to do with gory anal birth, lots of it, as aliens inseminate human hosts and then rather rudely take explosive prolapsing exits. Oh, and there's a retarded extraterrestrial with cancer and supernatural powers who has to save the planet. Did I mention the conspiring, power-mad government operatives? If this movie even remotely resembles the plot of the story by Stephen King, then Mr. King should be dragged into the street and beaten with chains.

2. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (Bravo)
If the Christmas special hasn't killed you, by the time they're prancing with Rufus Wainwright in a Gap ad, maybe everyone will recognize the sucker-punch dealt by the Fab Five. A cloaca of high-end consumer excess, the show churns out a next generation of metrosexuals by teaching the finer points of picking out unaffordable clothing and sculpting foie gras on a cracker. Recasting gay people as lovable creatures of shiny artifice, Queer Eye does for them what the Aunt Jemima syrup bottle does for black people.

3. Gothika (Mathieu Kassovitz)
Can someone tell me why dead people who want you to solve their murders are so fucking rude about it? In this raging array of improbabilities, Halle Berry plays a psychiatrist possessed by the aforementioned bitchy dead person, who uses her body to kill Berry's husband. Good luck unfurrowing your brow from this point onward. The plot holes widen and widen, engulfing what amounts to an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with a poltergeist. While I have no problem suspending my disbelief, it's a bit harder to sever my brain stem.

4. President Bush At Press Conferences
It's just slightly worrisome that, when asked for rationales, our President fumbles clichés. "Fool me once, uh, it's in my notes here somewhere." Once the speechwriters and public relations flaks are peeled away, the ugly truth is that the leader of the free world hasn't the first clue how to verbalize an idea or principle, relying instead on frat-boy swagger and a phrase bag replete with lines that might have been cut from Lethal Weapon and The Greatest Story Ever Told. Watching these press conferences, I'm convinced that politics is just a vanity pageant for the lowest common denominator.

5. The O.C. (Fox)
Shitty but pleasurable, in that beyond-the-valley-of-the-sleazy-dumb-ass kind of way. How many estranged, slutty relatives can one Southern California family have? The O.C. is quintessentially American tripe, full of pretty, rich people whose melodrama seems endurable because of their tight, hard, often shirtless bodies. Everyone ever involved in television shows like this needs to spend 10 years doing career penance. I'm not sure what we should have to do for watching it.

6. The Matrix: Revolutions (Andy and Larry Wachowski)
Further evidence that Gnosticism doesn't make long fight scenes any less boring or Keanu Reeves sound any less like he's deciphering his lines as he speaks them. The finale to the leather-clad, crypto-Christian, slow motion judo trilogy was a wretched blowout of dead horses, beaten badly. One can only wonder whether or not the choice to have so thoroughly fumbled a good thing was already made, or freely chosen, or in some way the product of a Hollywood master architect who, at the behest of his corporate overseers insures that intelligence and entertainment almost never be allowed to mix unless one or the another is summarily destroyed.

7. Coverage of the Jessica Lynch Story
Forget that most of the original story was a skyscraper of lies crafted by the Pentagon to keep the patriotic war porn fresh on the home front. Forget that Lynch herself denied many of the most crucial details, asserting that she was neither tortured nor in captivity at the Iraqi hospital. This administration prides itself on its ability to stage-manage reality, conjuring serial war rationales, and, in the case of Private Lynch, proclaiming what the impure enemy will do to "our women". Hats off to Jessica for telling it like it was. Thumbs down to the journalists following Fox "News'" lead into the jingoistic gutter.

8. The Simple Life (Fox)
I couldn't really say it any better than Missy Elliot, who raps in "Pass the Dutch": "Bitches, I never wanna hang with bitches." Fox's reality tv hit is another all time low that also happens to be relentlessly fun to watch. Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie leave little wonder as to why people in the French Revolution chose beheading over dialogue with the decadently rich. Walking spiritual abortions, Paris and Nicole spend the series getting smacked in the face with their own condescension boomerangs or, on one occasion, fisting a cow for a fleeting shot at dead-end fame. This is complete, accidental brilliance, but still wretched.

9. Underworld (Len Wiseman)
Werewolves with guns chasing Vampires with guns; there's nothing like handing glocks to supernatural creatures. Not even Kate Beckinsale could stop this Matrix knock-off from sucking the life from viewers. Len Wiseman's movie toys with the whole good/bad guy dichotomy, feigning thematic sophistication when it's really just incoherent.

10. Madonna's VMAs Kisses with Britney and Christina
I read once that Picasso used to steal his children's clothing and toys and lock them away, hoping that their youth would rub off on him. Maybe Madonna read that same passage. I hope she got something out of staging her pop-coven lip-locks on MTV, the network that has staled along with her. The event also highlighted that the Material Girl has lost her grip on the pulse of American trash.




© 1999-2004 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com� and PopMatters� are trademarks of
PopMatters Media, Inc. and PopMatters Magazine.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.