Awards Wiz Awards: The Honor and Dishonor Roll of 2013

For those of you unfamiliar to the blog, this is one of my absolute favorite posts of the year. It is a time when I get to honor pop culture moments, entities, memes, happenings, websites, radio stations, podcasts, developments...pretty much anything I can't quite get to in other of the Awards Wiz Awards. It is also one of the rare moments that I allow myself to criticize. And this year there are two big ones. But first...the honor.


1. Netflix

This was the year of Netflix. To think that not too long ago I wondered if Netflix was their stock began to seriously plummet. (Can anyone remember that ridiculous name change for their dvd distribution? Oh yeah...Qwikster.)

But very quickly, with shows like "Orange is the New Black," "House of Cards," and "Arrested Development," Netflix became the best thing out there. After basically destroying Blockbuster by anticipating the next big thing in home viewing they did it again with anticipating the next step in binge watching. Legally binge watching new programming at home. Innovation. That is where it's at. I can't wait to see what they do next.
2. Grumpy Cat

In a year filled with hate (see the dishonor roll) one meme completely took me an the rest of you by storm. Perhaps there will come a time when it is all too much. But for now...just look at that picture above!!!


When I moved to Los Angeles I was thrilled to discover that KCRW was my hometown radio station. Last year I discovered the brilliant radio show/podcast: "Strangers." (Still my favorite thing to listen too!) as well as "The Business:" a look at the business of Hollywood with Kim Masters and John Horn. (The Business now has a sister show about television aptly called, "The Spinoff.")

And then there are the stalwarts. Kurt Anderson's "Studio 360," which this year had amazing shows about "The Wizard of Oz," the Vietnam memorial, and Disney theme parks. And "The Treatment" with Elvis Mitchell. Mitchell has always had some quirks that bug me...but he digs into his subjects (filmmakers, artists, actors, etc.) in ways no one else out there does. And all of the shows are available on KCRW. 

4. The Hollywood Reporter
In a time where investigative journalism appears to be dead in lieu of the quick, first and exclusive headline, "The Hollywood Reporter" has become the best entertainment website out there. Their look at the endangerment of animals on movie sets was absolutely brilliant, disturbing and unrelenting. As was their investigation into two deaths at an A list celeb rehab facility (which actually led to its shutdown). Entertainment journalism still exists. And THR is the leader of the pack.

1. Culture wars

First of all...people need to know the definition of free speech. If Paula Deen and Phil Robertson did not have freedom speech they wouldn't be suspended or lose deals. They would be in JAIL. Or murdered. THAT is the lack of freedom of speech. Enough ignorance!

Do not be is a marketing dream.  Do you think Paula Deen is really suffering? Her cookware was selling out after it was "pulled' (I still see it all over the place.) Perhaps she has a few less millions to count...but now she can start a whole new empire.

And that guy from Duck Dynasty? I'm sure he is and has always been a homophobic racist. But I can guarantee that both the folks at A&E and the family's PR folks were thrilled when this all happened and did their best to make him look even more redneck in the process.

You know who actually suffers? Everyone in the middle.  The ones these reprehensible people are actually talking about. Do you think it is easy for people to have their value debated by both sides of these culture wars? As one of the subjects of Phil Robertson's free speech, I can tell you first hand that no, it isn't. Shows get more ratings, websites get more traffic...and the mostly uninformed and unswayable on both sides gets angrier.  Instead of a discussion we get more hate fueled remarks.  

I am not a sociologist, but in a year that has seen so much violence, especially by the young, it cannot be ignored that the supposed adults are spewing fire. And children will listen.
2. The "battle" and takedown of the female artists

Just yesterday I read a headline from TMZ stating that Katy Perry would rather watch paint dry while showing a picture of her body language at the Britney Spears new show in Las Vegas. Then suddenly other websites were picking this up, as were friends on Facebook, people on twitter. But guess what. It wasn't a quote. TMZ intentionally misled you by leaving out quotations. In reality Ms. Perry had sent out a very supportive tweet before the show. And Ms. Spears received the best reviews for a live concert event since she stripped down to her naked sequinedness 13 years ago. So, of course TMZ couldn't wait to take her down. I even had a coworker feel the need to continually tell me yesterday that Britney is not an artist, she is an entertainer. So...there is no art in entertainment?

I feel that there is this need to no only pit female artists against each other, but the want to despise them in general. Look at Lorde's "takedown" of Selena Gomez. The never ending battle between fans of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry during their newest album's release weeks...highly perpetuated by the media...when we should have been celebrating two successful female artists who did something that hasn't been done in years. They sold more albums in a small amount of time than any other two women had in quite some time.

But the biggest take down, and the one that bothers me the most was the reaction to the Miley Cyrus VMA performance. I saw people who I consider intelligent completely going off the rails. The bottom line: have you heard the lyrics to the song? Have you heard the criticism of the Robin Thicke song being degrading to women? This was a great interpretation of both songs put together to illicit a response. It was a performance, an interpretation. Had that performance been done in an east village arthouse, portrayed by no name actors it would've been called avant guard. A brilliant look at how misogyny preys on young females and confuses their thoughts on the expression of female sexuality.

But what I heard the most: "She is lost...doesn't know what she's doing. So sad." Please....

If you continued to watch Miley's future performances they were all different, with different takes. Sure, they were envelope pushing at times. But sometimes she simply sat an sang the song. And people were saying, "what a shame she couldn't just do that all the time." But the thing is...there isn't one without the other. And why should she have to be YOUR artist. If you don't like her, don't listen to her. Don't watch her. But don't perpetuate a false idea that she is some puppet just because you wouldn't be doing the same thing she is.

This is not a girl who was being manipulated or confused.  But because she is a former Disney star millionaire, faux masturbating with a foam finger she was inexplicably treated along the lines of a serial killer.


3. The use of the word Schadenfreude
I swear if I hear that word used in another podcast I will stop listening.  Speaking of....


One of my favorite NPR podcasts drove me mad a few months ago. What used to be a fun debate on pop culture suddenly had one panelist, while discussing one of my favorite films "Fruitvale Station,' doing the unforgivable...for me at least. Stating his opinion as fact while managing to belittle all other thought. I was so furious. Was it because I loved the film so much that I became so defensive? Perhaps...perhaps, I stopped listening. But I really missed the show...and over time I picked it up again. So far, so good.

But then...NPR went and canceled my favorite of their shows, Neal Conan's "Talk of the Nation." Every day, Neal would take on a topic and have experts debate it, while listeners called in asking questions and giving opinions. Neal was a master at this. And suddenly the show was gone. An outrage.

Luckily we still have Terry Gross doing her "Fresh Air" interviews...and "Wait, wait don't tell me." And film and television critics David Edelstein and David Bianculli. Edelstein infuriates me at times...but he always makes me think. And Bianculli is smart...and unbelievable nice...a true television lover! 

But NPR isn't what it used to be when I first started listening several years ago. Perhaps I'm no longer the audience they are looking for. Only time will tell.


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