Winners & Losers Of 2010 (Part One)

Winner:  The Canadian National Winter Olympic Team

For the first time in 22 years, The Winter Olympics were held in The Great White North.  Expectations were high for the host nation.  The pressure was on to win 27 medals.  It seemed a daunting challenge.  Not one Canadian athlete had ever won the elusive Gold medal on home soil before (at least in an official sport).  During the Calgary Games in 1988, Canada only managed to win 2 Silvers and 3 Bronze.  In the 1976 Montreal Summer Games, our side earned 5 Silvers and 6 Bronze.  Surely, 2010 would offer a more satisfying overall result.

Little did we know just how determined our talented athletes truly were this past February.  The Gold drought ended immediately on Day 3 thanks to an inspired performance by Alexandre Bilodeau in Men’s Moguls.  On Day 5, cutie pie snowboarder Maelle Ricker won Gold in the exciting Women’s Snowboard Cross Final.  Speed skater Christine Nesbitt finished first in the Women’s 1000 Metre Final on Day 7.  The very next day, a supremely pumped Jon Montgomery won Gold in Men’s Skeleton.  The country shared his joy and beamed with pride for all of the medallists up to that point.

By the end of the first week, Canada had also earned 3 Silvers and a Bronze.  But that was just a warm-up.  When all was said and done, Canada’s athletes would earn a grand total of 26 medals, 14 of which were Gold, a new record for host nations. (Click here for the complete list of medallists.)

From February 22nd (Day 11) to the 28th (Day 18), Canada had at least one athlete standing proudly on the top of the podium each day as the national anthem played in front of an ecstatic Vancouver crowd with millions more savouring the coverage on CTV, TSN, The Outdoor Life Network, APTN and Sportsnet. 

It’s difficult to pick a standout moment of triumph for Team Canada.  Most will probably pick either Sidney Crosby’s dramatic overtime goal against the Americans in the Men’s Hockey Final or the awesome display of elegance and grace exhibited by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir during their historic Long Program in Ice Dancing.  Others will cite Kevin Martin’s redemption in Men’s Curling, Ashleigh MacIvor’s dominance in the Women’s Ski Cross event, Charles Hamelin embracing his beautiful Silver medallist girlfriend Marianne St.-Gelais after taking Gold in one of the short track events or the incomparable Women’s Hockey Team who crushed much of their competition while en route to another first place finish.

But for me personally, no performance was more moving and impressive than that of figure skater Joannie Rochette.  The sudden death of her mom was one of the biggest shocks of the entire games (right up there with the tragic demise of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during that infamous practice run).  Would she cut her Olympics short or would she carry on and do her best in honour of her mom?  In the end, not only did she prove herself to be incredibly brave for even going out onto the ice to compete in the first place, she did a hell of a job winning that Bronze medal.  Of all the success stories Canada had at the Olympics this year, Rochette’s hard fought 3rd Place finish, in a field loaded with superior talent who didn’t have to deal with sudden, overwhelming personal grief, was, without a doubt, the most inspired.

Loser:  Mel Gibson

14 years ago, he was on top of the world after winning two Academy Awards for his terrific Braveheart.  He was happily married and hugely popular. 

Not anymore.  Of all the bad years Mel Gibson has had in his life, 2010 likely ranks close to the top.  In January, after a long absence from being a leading man, the 54-year-old actor starred in Edge Of Darkness.  Made for a reported 80 million, it barely broke even (and that includes foreign grosses).  Critics were divided on the thriller’s merits.  (Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 55% rotten rating.) 

In April, his longterm marriage to Robyn Gibson came to an end.  The only good parts about that, according to TMZ?  It was amicable and they’ll continue to work together at Mel’s film company, Icon Productions.

Then came the summer.  RadarOnline started posting disturbed comments Gibson had made to his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva over the phone earlier in the year.  When he wasn’t being a scary mysogynist admitting to physical abuse, he was freely offering racial epithets.  Comedians and the media had a field day.  It didn’t help that Gibson and Grigorieva were already in the middle of a nasty custody battle over their baby daughter.  Investigations were launched and the whole sordid affair remains unresolved, as of this writing.  Gibson was dropped by his talent agency and Leonardo DiCaprio refused to work with him on a possible film project. 

When the possibility of Gibson making a cameo in the upcoming sequel to The Hangover became news this fall, one of the stars raised such a fuss that the idea was quickly cancelled.  You know you’re truly in the doghouse when the same actor had no problem working with Mike Tyson in the original.

Finally, there’s The Beaver dilemma.  Gibson’s follow-up to Edge Of Darkness was supposed to be released sometime this year but unsurprisingly, it’s been delayed due to all of Gibson’s bad press.  According to the Internet Movie Database, it’s only scheduled to open in three European countries early next year.  It still does not have a firm domestic release date.  (December 16 UPDATE:  It does now.  Summit Entertainment, the film’s distributor, has penciled it in for March 23rd where it will begin an initial limited engagement.  On April 8th, it will get a wider release.  Entertainment Weekly has a brief report here.)

Is it any wonder he sometimes wear disguises when he goes out now?

Winner:  Katy Perry

The buxom singer’s third album, Teenage Daydream, has been certified platinum in three countries and was a surprise Grammy nominee for Album Of The Year.  It’s also a finalist in the Best Pop Vocal Album category.  (On the downside, reviews were mixed.)  Its first three singles – the title track and California Gurls (each nominated for a Grammy apiece) plus Firework – all topped the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart.  (The first two have collectively sold 5 million copies in America.)  She gamely appeared on a Saturday Night Live skit humourously spoofing the ridiculous controversy regarding her untelevised appearance on Sesame Street.  (The producers claimed they received a lot of complaints from overly worrisome parents about her cleavage.  It can only be seen online.)  She released a new fragrance called Purr and married multimedia comedian Russell Brand. 

Will her participation in two films next year continue her hot streak?  We shall see.

Loser:  James O’Keefe

He was once the Golden Boy of the right wing, thanks to his sadly successful campaign to bring down ACORN, an advocacy group for minorities and low income Americans.  But in 2010, he came crashing down to Earth more than once.

In late January, O’Keefe was arrested, along with three fellow conservative activists, by the FBI.  They were caught falsely imitating phone company employees while attempting to wiretap Democratic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s office phone system.  Despite looking at a possible 10-year sentence, O’Keefe ended up being fined for less than 2000 dollars, put on probation for three years and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.  Numerous right-wingers publicly criticized O’Keefe’s actions.

Between March and September, separate investigations by the Brooklyn District Attorney, California District Attorney and The General Accounting Office each failed to substantiate any serious wrongdoing on the part of ACORN employees O’Keefe spoke to on camera.  Furthermore, they noted the suspicious editing of the original videos he made with partner in crime, Hannah Giles.  (Regardless, ACORN has since filed for bankruptcy.) 

In June, O’Keefe released a video on the BigGovernment.com website that supposedly exposed chicanery involving census workers in New Jersey.  ABC News revealed that there was nothing to the story because O’Keefe had edited out footage that would’ve easily disproved his flimsy accusations of criminal wrongdoing.  Even O’Keefe’s political allies in the media weren’t convinced to cover the story in any significant way

In July, O’Keefe and Giles were slapped with a lawsuit by an ACORN employee who lost his job over the videos.

Then came the CNN debacle.  Reporter Abbie Boudreau was putting together a documentary about young right wing activists and wanted to do an on-camera interview with O’Keefe.  After a series of phone calls, Boudreau agreed to meet with him in his office in Maryland.  Unfortunately, O’Keefe was setting her up.  The plan involved inviting Boudreau on a boat that would be decorated with sexual paraphenalia with the intention of seducing her and making her look unprofessional.  The whole thing was to be secretly videotaped but a squeamish female colleague of O’Keefe’s tipped off Boudreau before the ridiculous scam could even get started. 

Later on, CNN obtained emails and documents that shed further light on the whole sordid plan.  There was a script O’Keefe planned to recite from on camera before Boudreau boarded the boat that equated her hair colour with her intelligence (“bubble-headed-bleach-blonde”) and plainly laid out his overall intention (“I want to punk CNN.”).  Instead of discrediting the 30-year-old cable channel and its decorated reporter, O’Keefe exposed himself as a hateful, dimwitted fool with no class and no integrity.  No amount of public backpedalling on his part could shatter that rock solid truth.

Finally, in late October, he released a series of secretly recorded videos from a conference for the New Jersey Education Assocation in an effort to discredit teacher unions.  Curiously, despite calling a press conference, O’Keefe couldn’t even be bothered to show up and stand by his fishy allegations.  (A Tea Party guy did his dirty work for him.)   Like the Census mishap, it hasn’t gotten much traction in the mainstream media.

That’s what happens when you’ve already destroyed your own credibility.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 10, 2010
12:53 a.m.

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Published in: on December 10, 2010 at 12:54 am  Leave a Comment  

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