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.
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