Year's end is a time of many media traditions. For example, the tearing away of the last page of the calendar is all the excuse TV producers need to recycle hours of sensational video footage of dubious news value on the pretense that viewers need to relive the last 365 days. There's also the more honorable habit of remembering those who've died in the last year - something we could all do more of, particularly for our soldiers who were fighting abroad in our name.
And then there's the practice of retroactive "trend-spotting" (not to be confused with train-spotting, the preferred sport of Scottish heroin addicts). Trend-spotting has become something of an obsession with today's journalists, particularly at newspapers coping with the fact that they don't "break" news the way they did in the past.
I think it's time to marry some of these traditions. What we need are "trend obituaries." Hence, let us remember three of the cultural trends that died - or were at least mortally wounded - in the previous year, hopefully for the betterment of all mankind.
The discrediting of Hollywood "protest." Hollywood will never give up trying to make Americans think like Barbra Streisand, but 2007 showed that it might have a harder time raising money for the effort. In the last year, Hollywood dropped enough antiwar bombs to launch its own Shock and Awe campaign.
Robert Redford's star-studded "Lions for Lambs" was panned by critics and moviegoers across the ideological spectrum. But the bunker-buster of box-office bombs was Brian De Palma's "Redacted," which grossed a staggeringly paltry $65,000. ("Reno 911!: Miami" took in 312 times that at the box office in 2007.) Americans may not be keen on the Iraq war, but they appear even less keen on hearing Hollywood's opinion on it.
The demise of slattern chic. For nearly 40 years, feminists and others have championed female sexual assertiveness as a sign of self-confidence, independence and emotional maturity. Like so much in feminism, a defensible idea was carried to an indefensible extreme. In the 1980s, Madonna was declared a feminist icon because she "owned" her sexuality and treated men the way piggish men historically treated women. In the 1990s, an army of Madonna mini-mes were unleashed upon the land, each boasting to be even more sexually "independent" than the last.
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