For America's celebrity-watching media, 2007 was the Year of Spears, about which we should breathe a sigh of relief that Western civilization survived. The year began with increasingly erratic Britney Spears popping in and out of rehab stints. Then she shaved her head in the spring, a move that screamed that the pop star's moves were more crazy than calculated by publicists. The year ended with the news that Britney's 16-year-old sister Jamie Lynn Spears, a star of the children's channel Nickelodeon, was pregnant.
Had the youngest Spears sister been cast as a tawdry teenage tramp on "Desperate Housewives," her real-world behavior would be seen as less scandalous. But Jamie Lynn Spears has been a fairly wholesome star on Nickelodeon since she joined the kiddie sketch-comedy show "All That" at the tender age of 11. She's currently the cool title character of the show "Zoey 101," set at a boarding school, a show watched by millions of grade-schoolers. So much for role models.
At the center of this vortex is the mother, Lynne Spears, who had her publishing contract "delayed indefinitely" for a book on parenting celebrity children, now that it's painfully apparent she doesn't know diddly about parenting celebrity children. The Spears family and their long trail of tabloid embarrassments make them some of 2007's biggest losers. Let's review some other cultural winners and losers from the year just elapsed.
Losers: Barry Bonds and every other professional baseball player caught cheating with steroids, human growth hormone and other doping methods. Most baseball fans will forever put a huge asterisk on Bonds breaking the career home run record of Henry Aaron, and this is correct. Bonds "broke" the record in a new way. He took Aaron's record and smashed its integrity like it was a priceless stolen vase.
Winners: The wider world of Major League Baseball, for finally publicly acknowledging the doping scandal that is ruining the national pastime. Add to this "winners" slot those modern superstars of baseball who never succumbed to the temptation of using artificial enhancements.
Losers: Jim Belushi and the makers of the ABC sitcom "According to Jim," for a story plot taking us literally into the toilet, with Belushi defecating out his wedding ring (complete with a clank) while his wife and other relatives hid in the bathtub behind the shower curtain. But not before his sister-in-law unloaded an "earthy" story about how "last week, I was up on the roof throwing water balloons I filled with my own urine."
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