2007: Seven Things We Should Pretend Never Happened
So many memorable things happened in 2007. We'd better start hiding the evidence now.
Seriously, there's a whole lot of shit that went on this year that we'd rather not have to explain to our children and grandchildren. Let's do our best to destroy every record of it. If that fails and if you're, in fact, reading this in the year 2107, we'll do our best to put it into context. But, really, you had to be there.
Huddled Masses Lining Up for Bullshit
The biggest shortage in 2007 was shortages. In this part of the world, there was so much food and clothes and stuff stacked around us that we weren't really short on anything. This was a terrible source of frustration for us, because it turns out shortages are kind of necessary. They gave us a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
The whole phenomenon was made worse by a wave of adults who were raised in the 80's. Movies like The Road Warrior and Terminator had promised us that by the time we grew up, we'd be living in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse, tear-assing around a wasteland wearing leather and firing huge guns at each other, while fighting over precious food and gasoline. Shortages, in other words, were going to give us a blank check to act awesome.
None of that happened and, by 2007, shortage shortages were reaching desperate levels.
In June, Apple released a phone that was the same as other phones, except instead of pushing buttons to make it work, you rubbed your finger around the screen. Astonished by this life-changing invention, masses of desperate Americans took to the streets, braving the elements and camping out on sidewalks, clinging to the hope that they may finally escape the tyranny of their cruel, buttoned phones.
These people needed purpose in their lives, and for that one morning, their purpose was to get a fucking iPhone even if it meant sitting on the sidewalk all night in front of the Apple store.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
In July, fans ranging from age 10 to pedophile lined up at bookstores around the world for the midnight release of the seventh and final Harry Potter book. Unlike the iPhone, there were in fact no shortages of the book and everyone involved knew that stacks of them would be available in every single retail outlet and grocery store in the free world the next day, and for the foreseeable future. No, these lines were purely so that the fans could find out Harry's fate that night, rather than getting a good night's sleep and picking it up the next day.
Here was a line, not for the chance to have the desired object, but only to have it a few hours sooner than their friends, so that they would be first to know that (SPOILER) the good guys win and everything turns out OK (END SPOILER).
The object of the frenzy is usually some mildly amusing toy that the manufacturer has failed to make enough of. In 2007, for the second year in a row, this was the Nintendo Wii. The Wii was an innovation over previous game consoles much in the same way the iPhone was an innovation over previous phones. Instead of pushing the buttons on the controller to play the game, the user shook the controller like a maraca.
This innovation set the bullshit-buying public aflame, clawing and scratching each other for a spot in line at their local Best Buy, and paying grossly inflated prices on eBay.
These buyers typically had two or three older game systems sitting unused in the closet, which is where the every single Wii was destined to wind up in just a few years when the cycle would begin again.
Let's just leave this one out of the history books, OK? Along with ...
Hollywood Divorcing Creativity, Getting Custody of the Movie Going Public
The tension between the business and the art of movie making has been around since the first movie ever (Star Wars, as far as we know). Hollywood's attitude has always seemed to be "this is business, not Shakespeare ... unless we're remaking Romeo and Juliet or Othello, in which case we're gonna need a lot of motherfucking guns."
But like an unhappily married couple staying together for the kids, Hollywood and Creativity had always at least pretended to get along. Hollywood threw Creativity a party every year, where vaguely arty films got little golden statues. In turn, she pretended she didn't mind when creative projects got passed over for Big Momma's House 2.
But in 2007, Hollywood stopped even pretending to listen to Creativity. Creativity talked to her lawyer and eventually filed papers. For the long and unhappy marriage between Hollywood and Creativity, 2007 was when, as marriage counselors say, shit got real.
Hollywood Releases 17 Big Budget Sequels
As they say in statistics, twice is a coincidence, thrice is a trend, and 17-ice isn't even a fucking word because things usually don't happen that many times. Certainly, there'd been big budget sequels in other years, but those years had big budget other stuff, too. In 2007, Hollywood refused to blast its money cannon at anything that didn't have a number at the end of the title (as opposed to CRACKED, who won't publish anything that doesn't have a number at the start of the title).
In Hollywood, producing a big budget sequel is like getting an anti-Oscar. Yeah, you just made a boat load of money, but you had to put your name at the end of a movie that's log line might as well be, "Hey, remember that last movie? Like that but with different extras!" But for whatever reason, restraint and shame went out the window in 2007, including a summer that saw the release of the third installments of Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider- Man, Ocean's Eleven, Rush Hour and Bourne.
It was probably around this time that writers started making jokes like, "Man, with all these sequels, who needs writers?" Of course, instead of laughing, studio bosses steepled their fingers together and muttered, "Yes, yes, who needs writers. Who needs writers indeed."
The Writers Go on Strike
The creative folks decided they couldn't take this shit sitting down. So they did what any outraged but ultimately powerless people do and walked around in the streets with witty picket signs. Signs probably a little wittier than typical picket signs, in fact.
Of course, taking any shit not sitting down often ends with a mess on the floor, and this time was no different. In response to a strike that had most of the movie going public at least a little nervous, Hollywood shrugged. Fans were outraged, unable to believe the hubris of Hollywood's "Who needs writers?" stance. Apparently, we were unaware that ...
The Movie Goers Side With Hollywood
... six of the seven most successful movies this year were sequels. The seventh in that lot, the shining beacon of creativity, was based on a line of toys. Can you blame Hollywood for deciding that writers are overrated when the pure spectacle of Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean At World's End and Transformers were the top three films at the box office? When the next four top earners were all either the third or fourth installments of a series?
The gap between critical and public opinion had never been wider. The year started with the break-out success of Wild Hogs, Norbit and Ghost Rider, all certified Rotten by over 50 percent of America's top critics, Norbit being described with words like "vile" and "cancerous" by most. Meanwhile, critically lauded movies like In the Valley of Elah and Zodiac went over like a wet fart in a sauna.
Combine these two trends and you might start to understand why Hollywood smugly scoffed at the writer's strike. Sure, we fumed over the image of a fat cat studio head thinking he can go it alone with shiny special effects and focus group testing, probably lighting a cigar with a burning baby kitten. But, if the movie going public would take a long look in the mirror, we'd see Wild Hogs and Norbit staring back at us.
Can we not just erase them from the annals of cinema history? Along with all records of ...
Cheaters Never Win ... OK, in 2007 They Did
In pro sports, 2007 was the year that cheaters got caught red-handed. In the NFL, the Patriots got busted using hidden cameras to intercept opponents play calls. Baseball players were accused of dealing with shady laboratories to acquire human growth hormone. These were not chance encounters with dishonesty. It wasn't like a marathon runner seeing the subway car and deciding, fuck it, might be nice to win for once. These were intricately wrought conspiracies orchestrated by powerful men using high tech equipment. The sort of schemes we count on James Bond to foil in a hail of glass beaker-shattering machine gun fire. Except for one thing: In 2007, the bad guys won. Like, a lot.
Anyone with eyes and a working understanding of human physiology had their suspicions about Bonds prior to 2007. Here was a man who started his career as a lithe, base-stealing five-tool player who around the age of 40 became a one-dimensional power hitter with a rippling six pack on his scalp, breaking Hank Aaron's all-time home run record.
Other than the danger of getting caught, the argument against steroids had always been that they make you more prone to injuries. This was the message behind the anti-steroid ads that ran throughout Bonds' record chase, in which a steroid user's arms turn into brittle plaster and fall off.
How it never dawned on them to just speed up footage of two grapes shriveling into raisins is beyond us. Maybe, ball jokes are too sophisticated for the people who write PSAs.
Either way, there was Bonds at age 42, knocking 28 home runs (more homers, in fewer at bats, than he hit when he was 24). This wasn't some muscle-bound power lifter squatting an automobile; this was a man picking up an automobile and running with it well into his 40s. The argument that they would shorten your career started to sound a little far fetched. Of course, Bonds was just one man, maybe he had just gotten lucky. But, then again ...
The Mitchell Report
Watching the Patriots season unfold was like watching a bad action movie where the villain is so over-the-top evil that it starts to become distracting. Of course, in the movies, this is all to make the ending where he's impaled on the Washington Monument all the more satisfying. For the Patriots, that moment never came in '07.
Bill Belichick started the season like he always does, smugly addressing questions from the media like a Bond villain condescendingly dismissing his henchmen's concerns. Patriot's golden boy Tom Brady started the season by leaving his pregnant girlfriend for a Brazilian supermodel. Then the team got caught video taping opponents play calls, presumably using the super satellite on the secret death laser they have orbiting Earth.
It was around this time that the Patriots started beating the living shit out of every single opponent they faced. Belichick continued smugly dismissing questions about why he was still throwing for the end zone in the fourth quarter of a three touchdown game. An "if he dies, he dies" wouldn't have felt out of place in most of his press conferences.
Sure, it could be argued that the Pats have been able to make their record-breaking undefeated run without cheating, and that this somehow proves something. But it could also be argued that Patriots' ridiculous win margin, and their supporters' "everybody does it" defense of their play stealing, are probably the two most compelling reasons why, after 2007, when a little league coach tells his team that "cheaters never win" he will be greeted by a bunch of tiny high-pitched coughs off, "Bullshit!"
Good work 2007, you've given us something else to be ashamed of. Along with ...
The Greatest Minds Inventing Things No One Wanted
Based on our tendency to get worked up about useless bullshit, some bullshit manufacturers made the mistake of assuming that people would, in fact, line up for anything as long as it had been marketed properly and put into some kind of attractive box. Several years and billions of dollars were spent on several new products without the inventors ever stopping to ask whether they actually offered any kind of benefit to the consumer.
HD DVD vs. Blu-ray
After selling DVD players to every household on Earth that wasn't made of grass, the electronics industry needed something new to sell. They pointed out to the movie-buying public that regular DVDs didn't look so good when watched on a gigantic television the size of a wall. To make movies look good on that Blade Runner building-sized TV, you needed a high-definition DVD player!
Of course, the industry had not yet convinced the public that they needed the gigantic televisions in the first place, since most people already figured out that having a gigantic television simply meant you had to sit further away from it. So it actually occupied the same field of vision as a regular TV you were sitting closer to, only the big TV cost thousands of dollars more and now you had to shout across the room to be heard by your family.
Just to make sure consumers had as little reason to upgrade as possible, they were offered two competing formats (HD DVD vs. Blu-ray), one of which was sure to be extinct in two years rendering both the device and all the films you purchased for it useless. It was a game of consumer electronics Russian Roulette, where clicking on the wrong chamber would make several hundred dollars fly out of your pocket and burst into flames.
In a nation with 100 million TV households, only 700,000 of each kind of player had been sold, if you don't count the ones that PlayStation 3 buyers were forced to take whether they wanted them or not. Speaking of which ...
Sony sold a ridiculous 120 million of their previous game machine, the PlayStation 2 (if laid end to end they would reach from New York to L.A. ... going the long way around Earth). From this, Sony decided that the gadget-buying public simply liked to take home cardboard boxes that said "PlayStation" on them, regardless of what was actually inside.
So they released the PlayStation 3, a machine that cost five times as much as their old system was selling for, offered basically no advantage over the competing systems and had no games worth playing. Their rationalization was that it could play Blu-ray movies, which look great on the 128-inch TVs all of you own.
The consumers lined up for the PS3 around Christmas of '06, but by 2007 we had woken up and realized the babe at the bar was a $600 transvestite. Consumers let PS3s sit in huge, dusty stacks on the showroom floor for the rest of the year.
At least they had that choice, unlike those who bought ...
No producer of goods in the history of man has sold so much while caring so little. The combined love and craftsmanship in the every copy of Windows Vista sold in 2007 would roughly equal that put into one toddler's Play-Doh snake. Here was a program with several features, such as a warning box that pops up every five minutes or so to ask you if you're sure you want to do what you're doing, so shamelessly broken that they seemed to have been added on a drunken dare.
Nearly everyone hated Vista, in the way that nearly everyone hates being stabbed. It didn't matter. About 100 million copies of Windows Vista were sold in 2007, because 90 percent of the PCs for sale were already infected with it. Want a new computer? Want to be able to buy software for it? Well, then you don't have a choice.
Vista is one of those things the future will laugh at us for, in the same way we laugh about old hospitals using leeches. What will seem even more ridiculous and quaint ...
Politicians Embracing the Internet
In 2007, people who spend too much time on the Internet continued preaching to everyone else about how "huge" the Internet was going to be, how "important" it was, and "how much power" people on the Internet have and, further, that "you don't even know." As a result, politicians started reaching out to the incredibly influential Internet-loving demographic with a series of uninteresting and ill-advised videos.
See, if we'd learned one thing from 2006 (we didn't), it should have been that the Internet is great at making a whole lot of noise with no real world impact. Snakes on a Plane created a huge buzz online months and months in advance, inspiring thousands of fan sites, millions of homemade posters and trailers, and countless ridiculous Samuel L. Jackson impressions.
When the film actually came out in theaters in 2006, it made less money than anyone anywhere predicted, proving that the "Internet Crowd" is incredibly vocal and influential, unless, of course, they have to get up from their filthy, sweat-saturated computer chair and actually do something. In 2007, the powers that be decided they finally had something that would get the net crowd to take action: presidential politics.
Hillary Goes Viral
In early 2007, longtime Democratic front runner and former First Lady (sort of), Hillary Clinton, announced a contest to be voted on by the people to decide what her campaign song would be. Oh, and nobody gave a shit.
In an effort to build hype and bring the people-who-give-a-shit-about-her-campaign-song numbers up from "zero" to "at least a couple," Hillary made the above The Sopranos parody based on the show's infamous series finale. Feelings remain split regarding the actual finale. While some felt it was "bold" and "the greatest moment on television," many others felt it was a "cop out" and "fucking stupid." So, essentially, Ms. Clinton took an issue that no one cared about (her stupid campaign song contest) and wrapped it up with a television moment that about half of the country actually hated and, evidently, expected the powerful and influential Internet crowd to simply email her the presidency.
Oh, also, it was a fucking Celine Dion song. Celine Dion won the stupid fucking campaign song contest.
Mike Huckabee's Chuck Norris Facts
In ads like this one, Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee tries to capitalize on the so-last-year popularity of the Chuck Norris facts. To Huckabee's credit, this ad is much easier to stomach than Hillary's cold, uncomfortable The Sopranos ad, but it's still just as humiliating. If, in some strange turn of events, Huckabee does get elected president, every time we see him on TV trying to guide the people of America through a particularly difficult time, it will be impossible to separate him from "that guy who used to hang out with Walker, Texas Ranger and repeat someone else's Chuck Norris facts."
Also, it's important to note that Norris is as passionate about a Huckabee presidency as he is about the new Bowflex Home Gym. Now, that's integrity that you can't buy ... without money.
The YouTube Debates
To give YouTubers (people like "leave Britney Alone!!!!" Chris Crocker, the Numa Numa guy and cartoons of a dancing bear) a chance to feel involved in the presidential race, CNN unveiled the YouTube debates. It was a series of questions chosen from YouTube videos that each presidential candidate would have to answer, no matter how ridiculous or irrelevant.
The broadcast received high ratings, however, it was mostly from audiences who thought the videos wouldn't be screened and that the candidates would be forced to "answer" 50 videos of people painting their penises to look like Uncle Sam and flopping them around to the tune of "What is Love."
Instead, we got a series of uninteresting questions picked by the moderator, and that one asked by a cartoon snowman was about as entertaining as things got. Critics complained, the candidates complained, the YouTubers complained. Thus, 2007 wound up being the year we found out the Internet wasn't going to be the savior of democracy ... no matter what the supporters of Ron "still polling in single digits" Paul tell you.
As sad as that realization was, it still isn't quite as sad as ...
Tasering Becoming the National Pastime
The fad in law enforcement this year was the taser, a handheld device that offered officers a safer, less physically taxing alternative to beating suspects with clubs. The taser delivers a jolt of electricity that temporarily makes suspects act like they have cerebral palsy, making them effective for the purposes of street arrests and hilarious for the purposes of laughing at people.
But, when the tasers began killing people, it became unclear whether they were really a safer alternative to anything, or just an easier-to-clean-up alternative to shooting people. There was no doubt, however, that it was a much awesomer alternative to anything most law enforcement agents had been given to play with up to that point in time. So, cops and security guards alike tased people like there was some sort of tasing mileage rewards plan. And, they did it on tape.
This phenomenon combined the Internet's two favorite things: an opportunity to compare present-day America to Nazi Germany, and video of people getting hurt. The taser brought together the unlikely allies of people who laugh when other people fall down (that's you!) and outraged hyperbolic liberals. And since that ven-diagram encompasses pretty much the entire Internet, you couldn't turn on your computer without reading about or watching someone utilize the taser. Of course, it never could have happened without ...
Well-Placed Liberal Paranoia
America had been waiting for the rise of stun guns ever since the early '90s, when the bad guy from Men at Work and the stewardess in Die Hard 2 used them to drop people like battery-powered Grim Reapers. We spent years fantasizing about stunning our way to the front of lines. Instead of stepping around slow people on the moving walkway at the airport, we would be able to simply step over them as they peacefully napped with drool dribbling out of their mouth.
Apparently the cops that got tasers in 2007 had been having this same fantasy. Video after video surfaced of them being used on motorists who were too slow with the license and registration. In one particularly disturbing video, Canadian Mounties, the unintentional comic relief of the international law enforcement community, killed a traveler with multiple taser shots.
The Canadian Mountie airport incident highlighted the underlying problem: Tasers were regarded as safe; however, they were given to pretty much anyone who asked for one, including airport security, campus police, mall security guards and a bunch of other professions famous for unwarranted power trips. Of course, their eagerness to try out the new and exciting technology was matched only by their not knowing a goddamned thing about what it did to people, giving us a recipe for a horrible travesty of justice. And a hilarious Internet meme thanks to one particularly spastic young man in Florida ...
"Don't Tase Me Bro!"
The perfect example of the taser's two-demographic appeal, the "Don't Tase Me Bro" guy was a champion of both human rights activists and people who enjoy watching douchey people get hurt. Like a perfect storm of Internet fame, he was himself a liberal conspiracy theorist acting in a manner that even Ghandi would have deemed worthy of a beating. Luckily, the campus police at the event didn't have to resort to using fists and just repeatedly electrocuted him instead.
He would later explain to the TODAY show that he had gone to the John Kerry forum to deliver his message that Kerry had been cheated out of the presidency in '04. Why he chose to scream the message at the only person who probably agreed with him was never explained. Whatever his intent, it was soon lost amidst a stew of garbled pleas for mercy and bro-speak. The video spawned countless "Don't Tase Me Bro" T-shirts, remixes and pop-culture allusions.
Use of the phrase "Don't Tase Me Bro" set an online record by going from clever to lame in under 20 minutes. Seeing all of the attention he was getting, human rights organizations rushed to his defense. Unfortunately for them, the most high profile tasering of the year happened to a guy that most people would have lined up around the block to punch in the face.
Kind of like how we wish we could punch 2007 in the face. If for no other reason than ...
Celebrity Rehab Becoming a National Obsession
How many of the world's problems could have been solved if we could somehow harness the collective time and energy spent following the personal lives of celebrities? The answer is probably none; if we had the intelligence or patience to tackles such tedious complexities, we would actually be doing that instead of browsing Google Image Search for the uncensored Britney Spears crotch shots.
And, whereas the car-exiting vagina flash was all the rage in 2006 among the famous, 2007 was the Year of Rehab. Will this not be our greatest shame, when our grandchildren climb onto our knee and ask us what we remember from these days? Will they not go hunting for news clippings of Darfur and find themselves sorting through piles of photos of Lindsay Lohan passed out in a car?
The truth is, child, we needed it. Our lives were busy and chaotic and stressful. We had not lived up to our childhood dreams and it made our days a little more bearable when we were able to look upon the celebrities and see that they, too, were as human as we were. Maybe a little less.
On Jan 18, Lohan checked herself into a treatment facility as a "proactive" step in her words, to get on top of her substance abuse before it became a real problem. We applauded her for her brave decision and hoped others struggling with these issues would do the same.
Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington
A week later, actor Isaiah Washington used an anti-gay slur against a co-star and decided he had to enter rehab to treat his addiction to using anti-gay slurs. We applaud his decision even more than Lohan's, as there are millions of Internet users who suffer from this affliction and never receive treatment.
On Feb 16, Britney Spears entered rehab in Antigua. After one day, she was cured.
Four days later, Spears was an addict again and re-entered rehab in Malibu, Calif.
In May, Lohan lost control of her Mercedes, and it turned out she was drunk and had cocaine in her car. For the second time in 2007, she made the brave decision to enter rehab to get on top of her substance abuse before it became a real problem.
In July, perhaps after seeing the instant publicity drug and alcohol treatment was generating for the patients, reality freak show attraction Brigitte Nielsen entered rehab and notified the press. The lesson for the world was that as far as addictions go, fame makes crack look like pretzels.
Later in July, Baldwin brother Daniel took it to the next level when he entered rehab and had the press follow him inside. This would appear to be the first time a celebrity's rehab attracted more viewers than any role he had played as an actor.
Lindsay Lohan checked back into rehab on July 24, the third time she made that brave decision in 2007.
Amy Winehouse, who was only famous for not wanting to go to rehab followed suit in August ...
And, finally, David Hasselhoff got "too-hammered-to-work-a-hamburger" drunk and was filmed by his daughter. The resulting video was so poignant that it wound up being the most compelling piece of video Hasselhoff starred in since Knight Rider. He entered rehab in October.
There are countless others, but we hesitate to drop to the Richie Sambora tier of celebrity addiction as we have already gone on too long.
All of this, all the Perez Hilton and TMZ rehab updates, all the copies of all the recycled Hollywood movies, all the stats from the cheating athletes, all the bullshit demand for bullshit gadgets ... all these trends made it seem like humanity itself was on that hotel room floor, eating the proverbial scattered hamburger while our descendants watched through their video camera of time and begged us to stop.
Let's take it all, everything on this list, and pile it into a huge time capsule. We'll seal it up, strap it to a rocket, etch "2007" on the outside and fire the fucker into the sun.
Now, onto 2008.
If you liked this article, check out our (much shorter, we promise) rundown of The 5 Most Kick-Ass Apocalyptic Prophecies .