Monday, December 5, 2011

Week of 12/05/2011

The 2011 Brutally Honest Awards
– by David Matthews 2

Yes, it’s time to wrap up things for the year. It’s time to fire up the lists and name the names, honor the best of the best and condemn the worst of the worst, and if it seems like there’s more of the latter and fewer of the former, it’s only because we’re not going after the truly worst of the bunch like we need to.

It’s time for the 2011 Brutally Honest Awards!

So let’s get it on…

The Biggest Failures For America in 2011: President Barack Obama, the Democrats in Congress, and the GOP in Congress. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. They’re all guilty. They have done nothing to deal with the continuing death spiral of the US Economy. They have done nothing to deal with the perpetrators of our collective misery and instead have aided and abetted the continued plunder of our economy. They have used every opportunity to fix things to instead play partisan games, finger-point, and narcissistically project their own faults onto others.

They deserve our anger, our bile, our rage, and the one thing they desperately do not deserve whatsoever are our votes next year.

The Biggest Wasted Opportunity for 2011: President Obama’s “Jobs Bill”. There was an opportunity for Obama to do something monumental concerning our continual economic death spiral and the Raubwirtschaft mindset in Wall Street. But instead of getting a Franklin Roosevelt “New Deal” idea, we got a Jimmy Carter-level “put on another sweater” suggestion and yet another spending program designed to tread water.

To call this a “mistake” is an insult to the American people. This is almost criminal negligence.

The Biggest Tease of 2011: Former Governor Sarah Palin. It’s one thing to actually announce that you’re running or not running for President, but Palin milked the whole anticipation thing to the hilt. She was doing “listening tours” at the same time as the “official” candidates were out doing their marathon debates and arguing over who would be better poised to defeat Obama. She was telling the media “don’t follow me” while at the same time travelling around in a huge tour bus that looked very much like a campaign bus.

If she didn’t want the media to “follow her”, then she should have gone back to Alaska. Or at the very least she could have sent the tour bus away. She did neither.

The Biggest Douchebags in America for 2011 (and beyond): Wall Street and their supporters. And yes, that includes Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, and his various Fox News media personalities. Don’t forget that Murdoch not only owns Fox News and the Wall Street Journal but also the Dow Jones, a significant portion of the parasitic entity that is Wall Street. So when the various Fox News media personalities start bashing the “Occupy” crowd, they are doing so as paid whores of Wall Street.

And it doesn’t help when you have pompous, self-righteous, self-serving snarky douchebags like Newt Gingrich telling people who are out of work and out of a home to just “get a job” and “take a bath”. Of course he has the luxury of making such asinine comments while he’s under the protection of the Secret Service. He doesn’t have to own up to the consequences of his words. How convenient.

The Biggest Waste of Time in 2011: The 72-day Wedding of Kim Kardashian. How much lower can so-called “Reality Television” sink to if they have to waste enormous amounts of time hyping up a wedding where the hype actually lasted longer than the wedding itself? Never mind what Kris Humphries supposedly did or did not do, it’s America that should be accusing VH-1 and the other entertainment networks of psychological abuse! We’re the ones that should be filing for divorce.

Yes, so-called “Reality Television” programs have brought people together and have chronicled the destruction of relationships, but this is not supposed to be happening within the same three-month period!

But, I think if cable television created this mess, then it should also be obligated to clean up the mess. The participants (including the production crew) should undergo marathon season-long counseling sessions by Dr. Phil on the Oprah Winfrey Network. By the end of the first week they all would be swearing off not only TV programs, but even television itself!

The Rot-in-Hell Forever Award for 2011 (tie): Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi. Oh you know that those blood-thirsty war-mongering neo-conservatives were kicking themselves to no end over this. First, U.S. servicemen finally manage to find and kill Osama bin Laden, public enemy number one for almost ten years now. Then a few months later, Libya self-destructs into civil war, and Muammar Gaddafi, aka the man with fifty different spellings for his name, is chased from power and ends up getting killed by his own citizens!

Think about it! We lost bin Laden in the spring, and Gadaffi in the summer! Two of America’s most notorious instigators of mass-murder were killed in battle, one of whom by our own forces! And the neo-conservatives had absolutely nothing to do with either of them! They were the ones on the sidelines complaining about why we are even there as long as Obama is in the White House.

But, though madness, there be method to their complaints. Neo-conservatives love war, like any good fascist does, but they don’t want that war to end. They need to have a war go on indefinitely; wasting what they love to call “blood and treasure” to keep themselves in power. Killing bin Laden and Gaddafi ends the reason for war, so it is counter-productive to their ultimate aim of keeping people in that war-like mentality that is needed for their political philosophy to flourish.

As Lex Luthor said it best in “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”, “Nobody wants war. I just want to keep the threat alive.” That’s the neo-con policy right here, except that they not only want war, but they also want to keep the threat going. That’s how they can proclaim that America is still “the freest nation in the world” and “the safest nation in the world”, and then scream equally loudly about perceived terrorist threats and about how “we can never be safe anymore”.

I just hope that the next time around we can end up with a global bad guy that we can both pronounce and spell uniformly.

The “Make Them Stop” Award for 2011: The GOP “Recruiters”. You would think that they would learn after what they did with Fred Thompson in 2008. They brought in a guy that was clearly not ready into the Presidential circus, only to have him sputter and burn out quickly. They did it again with Governor Rick Perry this time around, and then they tried with Governor Chris Christie, and then, for good measure, they tried one more time with Sarah Palin. They just don’t seem to get it… if the candidate isn’t ready then you can’t coax them into it and expect them to instantly be the “chosen one”!

If you want a real challenge to prove your worth as a “king-maker”, then find a Democrat to run against Obama next year. And have it be someone that does not have either “Hillary” or “Clinton” in their name.

The Ma Bell Award For Monopolistic Attitudes in 2011: Too-Big-To-Fail Banks. Which part of “wrong” do the banks not understand?

First we have the robo-signing mortgage foreclosure fraud that they’re lobbying for “Get Out Of Jail Forever” cards for. Then they start charging for checking, telling people they need to start using ATMs and debit cards for their purchases. And then… you guessed it. They start announcing fees to use those!

Now, I know that customers can and should be pulling their money out of those kinds of banks, and there were many that did, but this kind of predatory plundering of their own customer base should be proof enough that the banks behind this kind of scam should be broken up like the original AT&T in the 80’s. These are the kinds of scams that necessitate and validate the need for government regulations.

And if there is any more proof that these banks need to be shut down, it is the revelation that they’ve been doing sweetheart deals with various states to administer and dispense funds for social services, but using bank debit cards that they then hit up with a fee. If a store or a business did that then it would be illegal. But because the banks are doing this with the blessing of the state and local agencies they’ve whored the constituents out to, it’s considered business-as-usual.

This is parasitic plunder, plain and simple. The banks behind it need to go away, and the government officials that allowed it need to be prosecuted and imprisoned.

The New Operative Word for 2011: Raubwirtschaft. It’s German for “Plunder Economy”. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Figures the Germans would come up with yet another word to aptly describe human misery.

The Most Likely To Deserve Getting Their @sses Kicked for 2011: The People Who Call The Rich “Risk-Takers”. When the biggest excuse for not investing in new jobs is “the economy is too risky”, then you forfeit any claim of being called “risk-takers”. And if you have a problem with that, then you should find there are plenty of people willing to “educate” you while also showing just how well your health insurance coverage is.

The Worst Comic Book Trick for 2011: DC Comics and their “New 52”. I don’t mind a reboot when one is needed. DC Comics did not need one this badly. Bean counters be damned; if you’re comparing yourself to Marvel Comics and Marvel is sucking in terms of storyline, and this is the “only alternative”, then you need to stop measuring yourself to Marvel, period. Plus you need to start finding better bean counters.

DC turned their latest “big crisis” event into an excuse to redo the entire DC Universe so they could merge their “New Earth” characters with those of the Wildstorm Universe, formerly known as Earth-50.

Okay, fine. It’s been done before. So we have Grifter and Fairchild and the members of The Authority in the same universe as Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman. But that still did not justify scrapping almost everything in the DC universe and starting from scratch.

So now we have Superman no longer married to Lois Lane. He also does not have a family anymore. His foster parents are now both dead. Oh, and he’s now wearing space armor. Originally a T-shirt and jeans with a cape, and now space armor. There is nothing “super” about space armor. Wonder Woman is now the daughter of Zeus instead of being fashioned from clay. The Flash is no longer married to Iris West. We now have a million different super-secret government agencies all with an unlimited budget to create super-soldiers, including a teenaged clone of Superman, and an all-powerful energy-based being that looks remarkably like Doctor Manhattan from “Watchmen”. (And to add insult to injury, the latter character actually was the basis for the “Watchmen” reference.)

There is no Justice Society of America that fought in World War II. Superheroes did not go public until “five years ago”. There is no Power Girl, one of DC’s biggest fan-favorite characters. Barbara Gordon was in a wheelchair but “she got better” and now she’s Batgirl all over again.

Oh, and to make things even more complicated, DC execs have proclaimed that everything that happened before still happened, only now it happened in the span of five years. Yes, Dick Grayson went from being a twelve-year old Robin to a twenty-something Nightwing in the span of five years, and in the process Jason Todd was recruited, killed, and resurrected as “Red Hood”, and Tim Drake was adopted and then “let go” as the new Red Robin, and somewhere in that same time period, Bruce Wayne had a son named Damian, who is now the new Robin. All within the span of five years. I take it DC doesn’t drug test their executives.

And I haven’t even talked about what they did to Starfire and Catwoman. Oh, and the stuff that went on with the Green Lanterns? That stuff doesn’t change! Those storylines escape any kind of reboot. What the hell, DC? What the hell?!?

This is just wrong in so many ways and on so many levels. Sure, some of the story changes are good. Some reboots work out. But you can’t have a reboot in some areas, keep others the same, and then try to make them all work together.

The really insulting part is that they’re justifying this by sales numbers. They’re proclaiming a success because immediate sales numbers are up. These are the same people that originally proclaimed that their salvation would come through perpetual mega-crisis events, that would kill major characters and then bring them back for no other reason than because of the bottom line or because some new movie is about to be released.

DC needs better bean counters. And DC readers that don’t like what they see need a better series of comics to read. I can point you to several, not to mention one that I personally write.

The Best Online Decision for 2011: MMORPGs Going Free-To-Play. Actually it’s not truly “Free-To-Play”, but rather they are a hybrid between that and subscription. It’s called “Freemium”, with a bare-bones service for free, then users can choose to buy additional features or else go full-subscription and get the rest.

The three big superhero-themed MMOs – Champions Online, City of Heroes, and DC Universe Online – all went “Freemium” this year, much to the pleasure of the users eager to try such programs out without having to spend the needed money. In this parasitic economy, every little bit helps, and for those that could not afford to keep up with a subscription, Freemium has brought these former virtual adventurers back into the fold.

The Biggest Superhero MMO Disappointment for 2011: DC Universe Online. There will be an article posted on this at some point soon, but certainly the much-hyped DC Universe Online has come up woefully short compared to Champions Online and City of Heroes. Yes it is the only one of the three that has a cross-platform feature, working for both the PC and PlayStation 3 game system. Yes it follows a very dramatic cinematic teaser. But all of that still does not help when the overall game is bugged. Really, the only good thing in its favor is its graphics and the fact that you’re working with several big-name DC heroes, many of which are no longer the same as their comic book counterparts.

It makes you wonder what Marvel Comics will do with its often-promised MMO.

The Beating-A-Dead-Horse Show for 2011: “Desperate Housewives”. Yes, it’s a good thing that it is in its final season, because it really has gone downhill over the years. Remember when Gabby was just sleeping around instead of getting into comical capers? Remember when Brie was the mistress-manipulator instead of the guilt-ridden den-mother from hell? This used to be an actual nighttime soap opera. Now it’s a bad comedy routine.

The Gutless Cowards on TV for 2011: NBC for killing off “The Playboy Club”. They should have known that anything involving the word “Playboy”, especially in its heyday, would invoke the wrath of the Christian jihadists. So they don’t even bother to give the show a half-a-season when it doesn’t give them the instant ratings they wanted. They wasted all of that free publicity for nothing and it gave the illusion of validating the whims of the self-serving self-righteous jihadists when they should be getting their asses kicked six ways to Sunday. At the very least the NBC execs should be finding a better network to air the rest of the season since they obviously don’t have the courage to stand up to the thumpers.

The Biggest Failure of a Finale in 2011: “Smallville”. How bad is it? I actually had a posting about it on! A ten-season series that should have ended after season four, that continually dragged out the “big event” for six years and turned Superman into Super-Slacker. There were even in-show jokes about the fact that Clark Kent, despite his bravado, was a lily-livered coward when it came to putting on the cape and tights. From the Legion of Super-Heroes asking Clark where his cape is, to Justice Society leader Hawkman chastising Clark and telling him that he hasn’t even “started”, fans of the series and fans of the Superman character got tired of seeing the “Smallville” clown car beating the same dead horse over and over again.

And how did the “Smallville” producers reward their fans for six years of needless drawn-out teasing? With a two-hour finale that should have been at least three hours long, with an earth-shattering crisis that was a pathetic failure, with a confrontation featuring an all-powerful deity that was resolved in a matter of seconds, and with a CGI-animated Superman instead of seeing actor Tom Welling actually wearing the whole Superman outfit.

Time Warner and the CW people couldn’t insult the tormented fans any more than possibly going to everyone’s doors, kicking them in the genitals, and then writing “TOOL” on their foreheads in Kryptonite Green.

The Un-Convicted Criminals of 2011 (tie): Nancy Grace and Rupert Murdoch. I had to give it to both of them because let’s get brutally honest here… neither of them will ever be held to account for their actions.

Murdoch’s is probably the most recognizable. The phone hacking and fraud done by members of his news empire to get “exclusives” already shut down one of his media businesses, and the effect of it is still being revealed. It’s despicable, it’s sociopathic, and it reinforces every complaint made about journalism over the centuries. But it’s quite clear that no matter how bad the extent of it is, Murdoch himself will never really be held responsible for it. The blame will go to some underling. It always does. After all, Murdoch now owns part of Wall Street, and nobody in Wall Street is ever responsible for anything.

As for Nancy Grace, we were subjected to a summer-long media circus concerning the death of two-year old Caylee Anthony, with Grace serving more or less as ring-mistress. Despite her claims to want the police to “do their jobs”, she was the face in the media pushing for charges against Casey Anthony, pushing to punish the mother, pushing for a conviction at all costs. “Tramp stamp and a push-up bra” was Grace’s constant justification for a conviction of “Tot Mom”.

Well maybe in Ms. Grace’s dictatorial world would those things be enough, but here in the real world, the court system requires something rather annoying called proof. A “tramp stamp and a push-up bra” are not proof of foul play. And if she just kept her crusade to her own Headline News TV show, that would be one thing. But because she dragged this case out on every media show she could, she became the ugly face of this farce. The media wanted Casey Anthony convicted, no matter how much proof could be found. They demanded a kangaroo court, and the judicial system, including the jury, did not give Grace and the other members of the media lynch mob the satisfaction they demanded.

That’s not to say that Casey Anthony was innocent. She was found guilty of lying to investigators and she was punished for that. But if she did have anything to do with her daughter’s death, she’ll never be held to account for it specifically because of the antics of the media.

And the really annoying part of this is not that Grace and the others will get away with this attempted hijack of our legal system without any kind of consequence whatsoever, but the realization that this is but the latest in a string of such abusive crusades in her media career.

The Most Annoying Trend On TV for 2011: Screeching Divas on Wrestling Shows. Yes, I watch professional wrestling. But I watch it for the wrestling, not for the drawn-out drama that has hijacked those programs. Remember when female wrestlers actually wrestled? I remember watching a female tag-team wrestling match from Japan and you had four Japanese wrestlers going at it like alley cats, screaming at the top of their lungs as they performed their moves. I miss those days.

Today the only screaming and shrieking going on with female wrestlers is done outside of the ring. Vickie Gurrero, sister to the late Eddie Gurrero, is the queen of banshee-screamers for the WWE, and Karen Jarrett, wife of Jeff Jarrett and ex-wife to Kurt Angle, is the TNA/IMPACT banshee-screamer. Both these women need to lose their voices. “Excuse me!” No, excuse yourself! There is nothing more annoying than wasting fifteen minutes of airtime because a prima-donna banshee wants to scream like a petulant child.

Speaking of prima-donna banshees, that goes double for Michael Cole (WWE) and Rick Flair (TNA/IMPACT). While we’re at it, throw “The Miz” in with the bunch. He’s been a no-talent hack back when he was parading himself around MTV shows, and he’s not a bigger hack today… he just got more needless exposure.

Or, better yet, keep them right where they are and I’ll find better shows to watch. Or just play one of the many MMOs that have gone “Freemium”. They have better storylines.

And finally…

The “You Suck” Award for 2011: The critics. I’ve been at this for fifteen years. Longer than MSNBC, longer than Fox News, longer than Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, My Space, and the Geico Gecko. I was here when the media personalities were dismissing the Internet as a novelty item, and today they’re boasting about setting up Twitter accounts.

And yet I still get criticisms from people that proclaim that I “don’t know anything” about Internet commentary. Excuse me? I was writing columns and articles in local newspapers back when most of these critics weren’t even sperm. I was posting columns online back when Matt Drudge was still dumpster-diving for both stories and dinner. I was doing this long before it was called “blogging”. Don’t know anything? Where the hell have you been?!?

That’s not to say that I don’t learn from criticism. I do. If you compare some of the columns from January with the ones from November then you’ll notice there’s a slight difference. And those that complain that I don’t “include something positive” in my columns clearly have not read my columns for very long. I come up with new ideas often, and they’re dismissed just as quickly by people saying “they’re not realistic” or “they’d never work”. Besides, do you ask that when the Ministry of Truth (aka talk radio and cable TV media personalities) spend their entire time going on tirades?

No, I don’t take criticism well, that much is certain. So I always have to say you suck, but at least you’re willing to say something.

And before I close things down for 2011, here’s a helpful tip: being cool is not defined as whether or not you have a Twitter account. Being cool is knowing that Twitter is there and not feeling compelled to sign up for it just because everyone else says that it’s “cool”. There’s a difference between “cool” and “tool”. Being yourself is “cool”. Doing what everyone else does simply because they’re doing it makes you a “tool”. Guess what that makes all those people that waited in line for the latest iPhone to come out? Here’s a hint: it doesn’t start with a “c”.

See you guys in 2012.