The worst of 2011 Top 10 TV Shows Movies and Songs … Pop Culture

AlterNet / ByJulianne Escobedo Shepherd


10 Pop Monstrosities That Almost Destroyed Our Culture in 2011

Here are the worst TV shows, movies, and songs of 2011.
 Every year, things go down in pop culture that seem to signal the coming armageddon — like offensive and popular reality shows, for instance — and we wonder, could it possibly get worse? And every year, it does. We could list 2011 terrible things in American culture this year and not even come close to completing the list, so for brevity’s sake, here are the top 10 worst things that happened in pop culture this year. May 2012 have fewer of them.



1. Movie: Atlas Shrugged, Part 1

Even if this movie wasn’t predicated on dismal Rand-worship and probably the most tedious/annoying book of her career, it’s bad based on sheer artistry. Set in the dystopian near-future of 2016, it bumps up against every dramatic action film cliche imaginable, a Tea Party fingerpainting of corporate greed. That said, this movie is AMAZING in its hilarity, possibly the best unintentionally humorous American film since National Treasure, with all the requisite deep melodrama and overacting that is somehow also stiff. It’s terrible but a pleasure to watch, particularly when you consider that with all the rich libertarians in the world, no one could pool their money for better talent! Haha.

2. Documentary: The Undefeated

If Sarah Palin’s fawning, lionizing documentary weren’t crafted for the sole purpose of revising her career and casting her in a noble light, the tale of how it came to be might have been funny: gleaming fanboy Stephen K. Bannon piles compliments on his feckless heroine, his love blinding him to her mishaps. It almost deserves a Mel Brooks script—only it’s real, and the Palin faithful brought in around $75k the first week in only 10 theaters. The Palin hustle has quieted down a bit, but expect this to be trotted out as evidence of her wondrousness closer to the election (and as absurd GOP candidates mention her as a potential running mate). It’s just depressing that it requires actual political propaganda to get her there.

3. TV Miniseries: “The Kennedys”

What was up with propagandist revisionism this year? The intensely reviled recasting of the Camelot era was so full of historical inaccuracies that Brave New Films launched a successful effort to keep the History Channel from airing it. With Greg Kinnear as JFK and Katie Holmes as Jackie, the whole piece was criticized as wholesale character assassination, hand in hand with the strange conservative impulse to cast JFK as somehow evil. And they didn’t even use the incriminating Jackie tapes!

4. Reality Show: “Toddlers and Tiaras”

Hitfix called it “a clarion call for a Social Services intervention,” and was it ever. Eager and often deluded moms entering their mostly reluctant tiny, tiny daughters into beauty pageants and stage-momming them into internalizing the princess premium before they can really utter words with three syllables. If the ghost of JonBenet Ramsey doesn’t loom over this show for you in a disturbing way, perhaps some of the choice things moms say to their children will, such as one mom telling her eight-year-old to shake her butt around, but not too much “like a stripper.” Ugh.

5. Novel: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

It’s unfortunate that an author with the imagination of Charlaine Harris can apparently only make her work more interesting by adding an endless stream of fantastical characters, rather than making said characters do more interesting things. The creator of Sookie Stackhouse, upon which HBO’s popular “True Blood” is based, Harris is up to book 11 in the series, and it might be time to pack it in (or at least create a spin-off). Add this to tossed-off and confusing plot elements that mess around with continunity and logic (many longtime fans have accused Harris of not actually reading the books in her own series), and you have a beach read that’s more frustrating and convoluted than light and fun.

6. Song (and video!): Bruno Mars, “The Lazy Song”

Stumbling over himself to be viewed as America’s least threatening nice guy, Bruno Mars reached the point of pure banality with “The Lazy Song,” which sounds delivered straight from a can. An accomplishment, at least, in that he became the most innocuous person of the year, but even the tempo was boring with “The Lazy Song.” Add a cutesy and inexplicable band of monkeys wearing Wayfarers in the video and it’s like a pipe bomb that, upon explosion, politely delivers a full-scale affront to the senses.

7. Musical Group: Lady Antebellum

Aside from the obvious—that the group’s name fetishizes an era in which black people were enslaved—this year the Nashville trio released Own the Night, an album that was completely offensive in its non-offensiveness. Ciphoning any semblance of personality until it was an opaque wisp of music, it thrived on cliche lyrics, boring harmonies, terrible interludes and completely generic everything. The musical equivalent of being inside a shopping mall, the place that varies only slightly no matter where you are in the world, Own the Night is an attempt to whitewash its own world into empty vertigo. Horrifying.

8. Twilight Movie: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

Going into the movie adaptations of Stephenie Meyer’s ridiculously popular vampire love stories, we knew they were highly Christian, but Breaking Dawn is too much: an entire (pretty long!) treatise that basically says sex is 1) only for married people; and 2) for the sole purpose of procreation and abortion is never, ever an option, even if it means the mother is going to die. Pro-life to the point of squeamishness, and even the gorgeous visage of Rob Pattinson couldn’t take away the sting.

9. Non-Reality Television Show: “Last Man Standing” (ABC)

There was a lot of competition for this category in 2011: The short-lived, regressive Playboy Club; the incredibly racist and blogger-cutesy 2 Broke Girls; the ridiculous bro-show Man Up, which reached the infantilized nadir of the Peter Pan syndrome comedy wrought by Judd Apatow and his ilk. But nothing was more offensive, less funny, and more harmful to every gender and sexual orientation than Last Man Standing, the Tim Allen vehicle based on the premise that traditional masculinity is being bled out by independent women and femme-y men, whose proliferation is ripping apart the fabric of tradition and ruining a world where manly (white) men rule.

When he’s not trying to decipher the arcane and impenetrable language of women, he’s ascribing his masculinity to things that are frankly unisex (such as sports) and mocking as somehow emasculated men who prefer, for instance, Mel Gibson’s romantic movies over his violent ones. Aside from the feeling that the misogynists writing this show are of the he-man, woman-haters club variety, they also seem not funny at all.

10. Dramatic Moment of Outrage from Right-Wingers: Parents Television Council on Janet Jackson Nipplegate

The Parents Television Council is a source of endless, paranoid hilarity of handwringing over relatively minor infractions on TV, but one point was the funniest this year: when it responded in outrage over the accidental exposure of Janet Jackson’s breast on the 2004 Superbowl halftime. In November, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a fine was not necessary for the incident, which as anyone who’s seen it knows, was clearly an accident (unless Jackson and Justin Timberlake are such exceptional actors they can register pure horror before an entire stadium midway through a strenuous performance). But of course, the PTC called it a “striptease” (which is repulsive, sexualized and racialized) and called for an appeal to the appeal.

 Let’s hope 2012 brings less of this stuff.


HIV+ man sprayed with Lysol at work … Michael Whitney,
Great Expressions Dental Centers must apologize for harassing and firing HIV+ employee                       
Sign the Petition

James White‘s lawyers in Michigan call his case “the worst case of HIV discrimination they’ve ever seen.” It’s hard to believe how much James had to endure:

  • When James disclosed his HIV status to his boss at a Great Expressions Dental Center — where James worked as an office assistant — James’ boss told everyone in the office that James had HIV.
  • For months, James’ coworkers followed him around with cans of Lysol. They sprayed James, refused to let him touch doorknobs, and wiped down furniture after he touched it.
  • James was finally admitted to the hospital to deal with the toll of months of stress from the situation at work — he was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • On his last night in the hospital, James got a call saying that he was fired.

Jim Harris is a junior at the University of Oklahoma who has dedicated his time on campus to educating his fellow students about HIV. When Jim read about what happened to James, he was outraged — so he started a petition on demanding that Great Expressions Dental Centers apologize for how James was treated and pay him reparations. Click here to sign Jim’s petition right now.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attempted to mediate this situation, but Great Expressions refused the proposed settlement. So the EEOC gave James a letter supporting his right to sue Great Expressions — but a lawsuit will be costly and could take years.

James shouldn’t have to wait years for an apology or compensation. Great Expressions is a large chain of dental centers, with locations in seven different states — bringing large-scale public pressure is exactly the right way to force a quick resolution rather than letting the company wait it out and hope James runs out of money.

Please sign Jim Harris’ petition demanding that Great Expressions Dental Centers apologize and pay reparations for the egregious treatment of James White.

Thanks for being a change-maker,

– Michael and the team

New laws target abortion, immigration, alcohol and animals

By Josh Levs, CNN
updated 5:32 AM EST, Fri December 30, 2011

  • Nearly 40,000 laws were enacted in 2011, according to legislature group
  • Some of those laws go into effect January 1
  • Many of the new laws cited are in California

(CNN)New laws going into effect Sunday cover some of the nation’s most contentious issues, from immigration to abortion, while others deal with tanning beds, tuition and where you can sell a pet.

In all, nearly 40,000 laws were enacted in 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some take effect New Year‘s Day.

Among them is a controversial California provision requiring that schools add “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans” to the list of those whose contributions “to the development of California and the United States” must be taught in schools.

Another California law adds “gender identity and gender expression” to the list of characteristics that require equal rights.

New laws in Delaware and Hawaii make same-sex couples eligible for civil unions and grant them the same rights and benefits as married couples under the law, the legislature group said.

In New Hampshire, starting January 1, minors will have to inform a parent before getting an abortion or seek a court order to avoid parental notification.

Immigrant investors purchase U.S. future

 Gov. John Lynch had vetoed the bill, saying there must be an exception for rape, incest and abuse. The legislature overrode his veto.

New laws in Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia require businesses to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to ensure that employees are eligible to work in the United States, the National Conference of State Legislatures says.

California, meanwhile, is prohibiting any state or local government office from requiring that employers use E-Verify, unless it is required by federal law as a condition of receiving federal funds.

E-Verify is a controversial program designed to check a prospective employee’s citizenship or immigration status. Supporters say it helps businesses avoid unintentionally hiring illegal immigrants. Critics complain that it is expensive to operate, pushes undocumented workers further underground, and is not always accurate.

Some laws ahead for the new year focus on health issues.

One in California prohibits the production or sale of beer to which caffeine has been added. Another in the state would prohibit the sale of dextromethorphan, or DXM, to minors without a prescription. DXM is in many over-the-counter cough suppressants, but it has been used as a recreational drug, the National Conference of State Legislatures says.

California also will ban stores from selling expired infant food and formula.

Another law in California focuses on school athletes suspected of having a concussion or head injury. A school must remove the athlete from that activity and not allow him or her to resume until clearance is given by a health care provider.

Many of the new laws cited by the legislature group are in California, including one prohibiting the use of ultraviolet tanning devices by minors and another making it a crime to sell “a live animal on any street, highway, public right-of-way, parking lot, carnival, or boardwalk.”

Both Oregon and California will prohibit the sale of shark fins in the new year.

Oregon is requiring state colleges and universities to waive tuition and fees for foster children under age 25.

Some new state laws amend crime provisions. Kentucky will require that certain inmates convicted of drug crimes serve the final six months of their sentences in the community, under supervision.

Oregon will require ignition interlock devices — computerized breath analyzers — for people convicted of driving under the influence and people who are under intoxicant diversion agreements, which allow prosecution on a DUI charge to be delayed.

And more states are joining a nationwide movement for tougher laws against distracted driving. Nevada will prohibit all drivers from texting and using handheld devices, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. North Dakota is banning drivers under age 18 from using cell phones in their cars and barring all drivers from texting.

a message from John Podesta, Center for American Progress Action Fund

Center for American Progress Action Fund

December 30, 2011 | View Online
Dear Friend,
Please help us fight back. Here at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, we’re working hard for an economy and a country that works for all of us, not just 1 percent.
Conservative leaders are busy killing jobs and protecting billionaires. America deserves better.
Your $5 donation will help us debunk conservative misinformation and speak up for the 99 percent.
With 2012 rapidly approaching, it’s up to all of us to fight back against the right-wing rhetoric and ensure help is there for people who really need it. We can’t do it alone.
Your support ensures we have the resources to break stories, elevate the facts, dissect policy, and drive the debate. Can I count on you to help out?
Remember, as progressives, we’re stronger together than we are apart.
Happy New Year,

John Podesta             Chair, Center for American Progress Action Fund