I don’t wanna be one of those guys that puts together a stupid year-end thing that just lists the most popular stuff that occurred that year, nor is this going to be full of resolutions and other crap. Instead, I’m going to look back and tell you what I think wins the most important shit of the year award that I just made up. These are the things, people, and media that, in my opinion, 2014 will actually be remembered for. Hopefully. If you are reading this in the far future from one of our Mars colonies, haha I was kidding! Who’s Nicki Minaj?
Most Important Song – Nicki Minaj – Anaconda
For some, today’s current music is utter trash and this music video is 5 minutes of ass-related proof. But the counter to that is that, well, pop music has always been bad, and there has always been trashy almost-porn. We all secretly know that’s true. I mean, here’s a record from the 70’s about how this woman likes to bang Santa Claus. You can’t unknow this exists. Merry Christmas.
They key difference is that that song was most likely not on top 40 radio and is pretty obscure (I, uh, have an extensive record collection). On top of that, the innuendo is a little more subtle. I don’t know, the horizontal twist could be a dance.
Nicki’s “song” is technically innuendo, but the mystery here is long gone.
I am convinced this is rock bottom, no pun intended. And just to be clear, I’m not even making a judgement on kids these days or today’s values. This song is probably more a response to the state of the music industry, which I talked about in a previous post: It’s all about shock value, so here are some asses. I’m saying, objectively, this is as literal and as sexual as you can get while still being allowed on the radio waves. It’s aural porn (ok that pun was intended). Even the original song, Baby Got Back, is so full of innuendo you could play it at a first grader’s birthday party. It’s probably in an episode of iCarly. My point is, eventually this song, Anaconda, is going to be like that: laughably tame. That’s why this is the most important song of the year for me. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Most Important Videogame – Destiny
The purpose of videogame demos is to make you want to buy the full game. Sometimes demos aren’t even a real part of the game and are just supposed to be representative of the final product. And even though the heyday of getting a CD full of game demos is over, some games on console still release free trials or betas. Go ahead, check. I’ll wait.
Now enter Destiny, the new shooter from the veterans who made Halo, one of my favorite multiplayer game series. The hype for this game was already off the wall, but given how much I have to stretch my game budget nowadays I decided to wait. They actually released a demo so I sat down and booted it up. I went in with an open mind. And I hated it.
Sure it looked good, and the game mechanics were solid, but it was immediately clear what they were attempting to do. The game world itself is pretty bland and repetitive: go to this planet, shoot some guys, get some loot so you can shoot some more guys…wait a minute. Doesn’t this pattern look familiar?
You see, games are insanely expensive to develop, and the $60 price point to own just isn’t cutting it anymore for publishers. The point of Destiny is to hook you into the game so that you’ll keep playing and paying, pointlessly. You unlock more stuff so you can play even more, and on and on, forever. There is no end. It’s WOW in space. And frankly, it sucks that this is the direction that gaming is going. It’s becoming a service industry, rather than a product industry, and I think that’s going to affect the quality of experiences the industry has to offer. After all, Activision, the publishing company behind Destiny, threw $500 million behind the title. If you think they are planning on recouping that without humping you to death with micro-transactions, I have a planet to sell you.
Most Important TV Show – The Colbert Report
I’ve been an avid viewer of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart for a number of years now. I definitely respect what he has been trying to do, but I found myself migrating my attention towards Stephen Colbert more and more this year. Part of it has to do with the fact that at this point in his life, Jon Stewart just seems jaded. The guy has talked about just the worst shit imaginable for years and years and at some point there’s just nothing else to say but “really?” Time and time again it seems like Jon himself has struggled to find words. Literally, in one of the recent episodes about the torture report, he was actually speechless. What do you even say? How do you make jokes about any of this?
I also found myself questioning the very structure of the show. One of Jon Stewart’s favorite guests is Bill O’Reilly. At first it makes sense: they are polar opposites on the political spectrum, so it should make for good debate. Except, when you really examine this relationship, you realize that both of these guys are playing the exact same game. Think about it: If O’Reilly comes on The Daily Show, he will probably be pampered backstage, get some book promotion or maybe a paycheck for the appearance. Meanwhile, Jon gets what? The chance to debate him on his show, to hear him say the same exact illogical answers to every question? It’s really about getting the chance to go on O’Reilly’s show, right? I mean, if Jon’s ultimate belief is that Fox News is bad for America, and rightly so, why in the hell are you giving a charlatan like Bill O’Reilly any sense of legitimacy? How many times have you promoted his stupid books on a giant LCD screen? Ford’s Theater doesn’t even carry his Killing Lincoln book in the museum bookstore, it’s that stupid. I get that it’s just business, but Jon Stewart is probably more responsible for rewarding Bill O’Reilly for being himself than Bill O’Reilly’s own mirror.
Unfortunately Jon has become a victim of his own success – a non-news news show, and I feel like that internal struggle has come out into the tapings more and more in the last few years. I’m sorry, but John Oliver’s new gig on HBO is objectively better. It’s wittier, it’s really full of in-depth reporting, and…I don’t know, I just believe John Oliver way more. Maybe it’s the accent.
Stephen Colbert, on the other hand, took the parody news idea from Stewart and ran with it into the stratosphere. Because he himself is a parody, Colbert can just say whatever the hell he wants and have any guests he wants without coming off as disingenuous. The fact that he has managed to stay in character for 9 years while pretty much staying out of the public sphere otherwise is an incredible accomplishment. His show is accessible and silly, but it knows exactly what it is. The whole time, you are laughing at Colbert, and that’s the point. He skewered conservatism every day without being smug about it.
Colbert just ended his show the other day and will, strangely, take over Letterman’s spot on late night TV as himself. To me, this seems like a step backwards. But 9 years of committing to a character has to be some kind of record. Even Daniel Day-Lewis has to give him props for that.
Long Live The Truthiness. Here’s to 2016. Or whatever.