Winner: Zero Dark Thirty
Military slang for 12:30 a.m., this epic two and a half hour dramatization of the American military’s 2011 hunt for Osama Bin Laden was an overwhelming critic’s fave late last year. When it went into wide release this past January, it became the most talked about film in the country. When all was said and done, ZDT made over 130 million worldwide. (It was made for 40 million.) Furthermore, it ended up being nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow) and Best Actress (Jessica Chastain). Many professional observers believed it was the Oscar frontrunner.
Loser: Zero Dark Thirty
The media were wrong on both counts. It’s a terrible, irresponsible piece of shit and thanks to all the controversy surrounding its depiction of torture as being helpful to locating the Al Qaeda leader (a highly disputed plot point), not to mention the classified information the filmmakers were somehow allowed to see without any consequence to the leakers, plus the accepted script revisions “suggested” by the CIA, ZDT only took home one golden gong: Best Sound Editing, which it had to share with the James Bond sequel, Skyfall.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
The former Spirit Squad member began 2013 with the beautiful AJ Lee by his side and a Money In The Bank briefcase in his hand. (He would add a bodyguard, Big E. Langston, later on.) He was the number one entrant in the Royal Rumble in January and lasted nearly 50 minutes throwing both The Godfather and the returning Chris Jericho over the top rope to the floor. (Ziggler was the 27th man to be eliminated.)
The night after WrestleMania 29, following almost nine months of teases and delays, The Show-Off finally cashed in his MITB briefcase on then-World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio in an electrifying impromptu match on Monday Night Raw in April. It took roughly five minutes but he captured the gold following a Zig Zag.
Loser: Dolph Ziggler
Just a few weeks later, during a Smackdown segment, the new WHC was accidentally kicked so hard in the head by his former tag team partner, Jack Swagger, he suffered a severe concussion that resulted in a three-day memory loss. This unforeseen circumstance meant Ziggler wouldn’t be able to defend his newly won title in a Triple Threat ladder match at Extreme Rules in May. (Del Rio beat The Real American in an “I Quit” match to become the number one contender instead.)
At Payback in June, Ziggler not only dropped the title to the man he beat, he also switched roles. Mexico’s Greatest Export reverted to his villainous ways and The Show-Off became a fan favourite. Unfortunately, like The Miz, Ziggler didn’t really tweak his character all that much to trigger the appropriate response. (The right time for him to turn face was when he won the title on Raw in front of a super-hot crowd.) He also dumped AJ, now the Divas Champion. Furthermore, his feud with his ex and former bodyguard (now a babyface InterContinental Champion), was just terrible.
Since then, he’s been stuck in the mid-card wasting away while also-rans like John Cena and Randy Orton remain in the main event picture.
It’s not fair. He deserves better.
Winner: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
He won the WWE Championship from CM Punk at The Royal Rumble in January, despite the efforts of The Shield. He beat Punk again in a rematch at Elimination Chamber in February. And he revived his 2012 feud with John Cena whom he faced in the main event of WrestleMania 29, which was seen in more than a million homes on pay-per-view. The entire live event generated a reported 72 million, the highest in the company’s near 50-year history.
Also in February, Snitch debuted at number one in its first weekend. In March, the delayed G.I. Joe sequel, Retaliation, took in 375 million globally, about 70 million more than its predecessor. In April, he co-starred with Mark Wahlberg in Pain & Gain which earned almost 90 million worldwide. And in May, he returned for the sixth Fast & Furious movie which earned surprisingly strong reviews and almost 800 million in international box office receipts, making it the most successful installment in the series to date. As a result of all this, he was named the most bankable star of the year by Forbes magazine.
Loser: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
The Rumble encounter with Punk was a snoozefest. The EC rematch, unseen by me, wasn’t well received, either. Johnson dropped his gaudy WWE Championship belt to Cena at WrestleMania 29 in a match that was worse than their non-title clash at WrestleMania 28 (the 2012 broadcast was shown in 1.3 million homes on PPV, a record that remains intact). Because of an untimely injury, an angle with Brock Lesnar, that was to begin on the very next Monday Night Raw, was scrapped due to the fact that The Great One needed immediate surgery. Who knows when The People’s Champ will return to wrestle again.
Winner: Blurred Lines
It was the biggest song of the year, the indisputable anthem of the summer. This irresistibly catchy, sexually provocative dance collaboration with T.I. and Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes debuted at number one on Billboard and stayed there for three straight months. It has sold six million copies thus far in North America alone. According to a recent Oprah’s Next Chapter, it topped the singles charts in more than 100 countries. The uncensored version of the equally popular video has been viewed almost 240 million times online. Thicke’s live performance of the song with Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards was the most talked about event on Twitter this year, not only supplanting all the online chatter about Beyoncé’s half-time performance at the Super Bowl but also topping everything else since the site went online almost a decade ago. And the song has been nominated for a couple of Grammys including Record Of The Year.
Loser: Blurred Lines
The estate of Marvin Gaye believes it sounds a little too much like the late R&B star’s Got To Give It Up. (Thicke admits it was a major influence on the track but denies any charges of plagiarism.) Music publisher Bridgeport Music, which owns the copyrights to funk pioneer George Clinton’s material, thinks it’s a rip off of Funkadelic’s Sexy Ways. Before either party had the chance to file a copyright infringement lawsuit, Thicke beat them to it with his own litigation. As of right now, this legal dispute remains unresolved.
The MTV performance was heavily criticized for its hyper-sexualized presentation (although Cyrus received most of the blame because of her amusing twerking schtick). The song was banned from being played at a number of colleges and universities in America and the UK. And feminists were outraged not only by the video where the male artists are fully clothed and the women are topless but also by the controversial lyrical content which they argue promotes rape, an incendiary accusation that will be debated for decades to come. One such organization named the Canadian singer “Sexist Of The Year“.
Winner: George Zimmerman
In the summer, he was acquitted of murdering unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in the second degree, a verdict as predictable as the understandable worldwide outrage that followed its unveiling. The prosecution might’ve had better luck securing a manslaughter conviction. Right from the start, Zimmerman had nothing to worry about.
Loser: George Zimmerman
You would think after beating this high-profile murder rap he would keep a low profile. Well, you don’t know Zimmerman.
On July 28th, just 15 days after he got his freedom back, the former Florida neighbourhood watchman was pulled over for speeding. He admitted to having a concealed gun in his glove compartment. He was let off with a warning. In early September, he was pulled over again for going over the legal speed limit. No hidden weapon this time. He was ultimately given a $256 ticket.
Then came the domestic violence accusations. A week after the second speeding incident, Zimmerman was arrested for threatening his wife (who had just filed for divorce) and attacking her father. Sadly, the case collapsed when video evidence captured on an iPad was irretrievable thanks to the former watchman obliterating it before police took it into custody. For her part, Shellie Zimmerman backed off on wanting him prosecuted. (Perhaps this is what changed her mind.) Furthermore, it wasn’t their first violent altercation. Then, in November, he was arrested again regarding a scary incident involving his new girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe. Florida police weren’t accepting his version of events at face value so he was charged with “domestic aggravated assault with a weapon, domestic battery and criminal mischief.”
Once again, the victim had a change of heart and wanted the whole thing to go away. On December 11th, she got her wish.
Right now, Trayvon Martin’s killer is the luckiest man on Earth escaping all these serious charges. But for how much longer?
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 22, 2013