Worst Media Events 2004

PopMatters' Political Editor presents the most shameful moments of the year in the US media, from Star Jones' wedding to the embarassment of William Hung and the hypocrisy of Bill O'Reilly.

:: WORST MEDIA EVENTS 2004 By Terry Sawyer

1. Star Jones' Wedding
Star Jones is like the tacky aunt who runs her cart into grocery store displays in order to reduce the price of the canned goods. Jones used her coffee klatch perch on The View to scam deep discounts for her wedding, granting free product placement for all the extravagant shit she wanted for her nuptial pageant. She needs a trench dug around the raging forest fire of her ego.

2. Dennis Miller
Last January, Dennis Miller was rewarded with his own talk show for his embrace of all things Red State. I love to say I told you so: I've always thought Miller's humor was a vicious Trivial Pursuit deck afflicted with Tourette's. Some people never get over being the geek in high school, condemned to a life of jockstrap sniffing; Miller's recent conversion to the Republican Party reeks of a man whose insecurities just detonated. Liberal guests on his show get most of the shrapnel, as he becomes crueler and darker. Keep up the good work, Dennis, because even when you sell your soul, you still have to fight for shrinking market share.

3. The New Law & Order
Where did all the writers go? Since Jerry Orbach's departure (from the show and this mortal coil), L&O is less a tv series than a vehicle for soliloquies from former Republican Senator Fred Thompson and Dennis Farina, who stuff ideology into their paper-thin characters to the point where they seem like split sausage casings of right-wing bile. Expect Ann Coulter to replace Elisabeth Rohm any day now.
   :. original PopMatters review

4. National Treasure (John Turteltaub)
Nicolas Cage has lost the ability to shudder. His latest outing is like a protracted episode of Antiques Roadshow with guns or maybe Indiana Jones taking a Boston history bus tour. Its most thundering example of hackery: having forgotten to develop the wet fuse romantic subplot between Cage and Diane Kruger, the writers have him grab her in a cave and start making out as they're being held hostage by evil European treasure hunters. In a script that's the word-processed equivalent of Fred Sanford's front yard, I guess there was no room for foreplay.
   :. original PopMatters review

5. Jesus is the Reason for the Season
The unbiased cultural warriors over at Fox, ever in search of the outrage du jour, decided that Christmas was under siege by an army of secularists who wanted us to forget that this consumer orgasm is supposed to honor the homeless, dispossessed Jew who hung out with hookers and started the religion that most Americans ascribe to with the same amount of thought they give to channel surfing. Can anyone think of a more inappropriate form of celebration for the man who said the following; "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."

6. Scott Peterson Trial
Maybe it's wicked of me to wonder whether Americans would have been as riveted had Laci been black, but everything about this exploitative excess sickens me to my core. Everyone from Larry King to the religious Right used this tragedy, the latter to ram through legislation that makes it double murder to kill pregnant women, thereby muddying the legal waters about abortion.

7. Bill O'Reilly Settling Out of Court
Behind every moralizing conservative is a closet dirty birdy. Sadly, O'Reilly paid off a former employee who claims he used to be a crank yanker, so we'll never get to hear the rest of the delicious details from all his late-night one handed dialing. One can understand his desire to bolt from the front pages since he was trying to promote his children's book: The O'Reilly Factor for Kids: A Survival Guide for America's Families. My advice to him: get all future female employees to join your Sprint calling plan. Heavy breathing should be affordable.

8. William Hung
It's a shame he wasn't in a wheelchair because then the black-hearted cruelty of Hung's piñata elevation as a minor phenomena would have allowed us the backdoor degradation of more than one minority. It's bad enough that we suffer the karaoke winners of American Idol. Now they've managed so thoroughly to compromise the public's taste that we openly spend our money like it's paper contempt.
   :. original PopMatters review

9. The Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson knew that getting his blood libel into the entertainment trough would take a particularly pit-bullish PR campaign. Deftly delegating the defense of his Texas Jesus Massacre to the willing thug monkeys of the Right, the filmmaker assumed his own "metaphorical" crucifixion, turning his butchered story of Christ's death into a rite of passage for Christians, who began wearing pewter nail necklaces in honor of the new cinematic King of Kings.
   :. original PopMatters review

10. Paris Hilton
She's the sleaziest STD that we collectively picked up in reality television's debasing democratization of fame. Bouncing back from the whole "N-word" scandal and turning amateur porno into a marketing coup, Hilton is a bottomless skank hole of reinvention. Marginally attractive and fantastically stupid, she laid the groundwork for her upcoming act as a pop singer with hair feathered to the point where it looks like a platinum hang-glider. Her popularity reflects that of the President, as she's another rich cracker moron with a propensity for failing upwards.

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