So in the spirit of George W. Bush’s ninja-like ability to duck a shoe thrown at him from point blank range, the following people and things spent 2008 getting away with shit that they really should have been busted on.
- Facebook – Despite the usability issues which will drive you crazy, and a redesign that did nothing to mitigate those issues — “at least it’s easier to use than MySpace” ain’t saying much — Facebook has taken over your life. Why? Because you’ve just friended those guys from eighth grade that you were sure that you were never going to hear from again. And, after that, you probably won’t.
Facebook has harnessed the power of temporary, no-strings-attached reconnection, and for that, it is ducking the shoe store.
- Jay Leno – Forget Barack Obama: the real reason I was looking forward to 2009 was that Conan O’Brien was going to take over the Tonight Show, finally giving that seat to a risk-taker, and kinda sorta mitigating the royal screwing given Saunt David Letterman. Alas, it was not to be. Instead, Jay Leno hopped upon the rail meant to run him out of town and rode it to 5 nights a week. In motherfracking prime time. Apparently, there are no more ideas left.
- Steve Jobs / Apple – Despite poor availability of the 3G phone (not to mention the actual 3G service); restrictions on the App Store; the snafus surrounding MobileMe; missing features (cut) (oh yeah, and paste) and the ongoing rumours about Jobs’ health, the iPhone remains a genuine phenomenon. At least part of the reason is that we’re all so desperately in love with the idea of the iPhone that we’ll ignore some of the reality.
- BBC America – On one hand, BBC America is a door into loads of great programming originally available in the U.K. And true enough, it’s where we first saw things like Coupling, Doctor Who, Life on Mars, Jekyll, and The Office.
But, oy, the commercials. Because we are TiVo-dwellers, the commercials in and of themselves are fine; what’s unforgivable is that they cut out bits of actual programming to make room for the commercials. So what you get on BBC America is the bullshit syndicated version, not the full original broadcast. Bollocks!
- W. Axl Rose – Axl ducks the shoe because he finally put out Chinese Democracy. And since 90% of life is just showing up, it didn’t even matter that this longtime fan thinks it kinda sucked. Even the reviews which pointed out that listening to it was like climbing Mt. Everest said that at least, Axl sounded good. The poor sales? Best Buy didn’t market it properly. Or those evil downloaders, which, if it was any good, would have spurred sales, not depressed them. And the next album? We’re all still looking forward to it.
- DRM – DRM took a lot of shots this year, but it’s still everywhere on iTunes, and just as it seemed to be losing steam in the music industry, here comes The Kindle, hot enough to be unavailable for Xmas, and chock full of DRM-laden content. Because, you know, historically, books have never been passed around.
- American Idol – Idol is responsible for the current cultural belief that how someone sings a song is more important than what song they song or why they are singing that song. That’s why, for all of its vaunted storytelling and star-making power, it leaves me cold. Which doesn’t mean that I underestimate its power: I used to think that the only way they could turn viewers away from it was if they killed somebody.
Now I’m not even sure about that.
- Bill Gates / Microsoft – As Bill O’Connor pointed out: “As Bill Gates moves rapidly from monopolist to philanthropist, his charitable giving has been changing some of the uncharitable opinions people have had of him.” To the point where they rolled him out for TV commercials and he seemed way more likable than Jerry Seinfeld, who also monopolized the 1990s.
That must be how he escaped the blame for Windows Vista, which is their most unusable OS this decade. (Tip o’ the hat to Bill O’Connor)
- Sci-Fi Channel – The arbitrary splitting of the final season of Battlestar Galactica into two parts was bad enough. But delaying the DVD of the first half of the season until just prior to the final half was unconscionable. Also: see BBC America entry for what Sci-Fi did to Doctor Who this year. What? You can’t run 75-minute blocks? You’re basic cable. Your fans have DVRs! Or, ahem, bittorrent. Your choice, Sci-Fi.
That said, you want our eternal love after BSG ends? Pick up season two of The Middleman.
- Madonna – With both her latest tour and latest divorce generating records, you’d think that — maybe, finally — the world would ignore her. No such luck. She’s like The Simpsons of pop music: unassailable and unbreakable, but even the people who think she’s the greatest ever kinda want her to stop.
- FOX News – Having failed miserably with their wild, flailing attempts to keep Barack Obama from being elected, FOX News will now no doubt rebrand themselves as “the loyal opposition,” dedicated to “keeping the Democrats honest.” Which, naturally, will continue to mean lies lies lies.
- Auto-tune – Souless robotic perfection, yay!
- Les Moonves – A 19th century executive overseeing a 21st century company. His pay goes up while he continues to oversee the gutting of CBS Interactive, which actually appeals to a demographic half the age of his TV network’s demo. Meanwhile, CNET has been a respected name since the dawn of the internet; we can only wonder how long that will last. (Tip o’ the hat to Tim Gaskill.)
- The Cast of The Hills – Untalented. Unattractive. Unintelligent. Unavoidable.
- Firefox – Still better than IE, or Safari or Chrome or any other browser out there. Still prone to weird font renderings, Flash bugs, strange crashes and eating up every spare ounce of RAM you’ve got.
Who did we miss? Who do you think ducked the shoe this year?