2008 was a year that produced many singular and outstanding creative works. These were not those.
Waltz with Bashir. One of the most overrated films of the year, the recipient of far too many movie-critic blowjobs to count. Admittedly, the idea of a documentary presented entirely in rotoscopic animation is novel, but one novel idea doesn’t necessarily make a film good, and once you get past the gee-whiz factor of the cartoony Waking Life visual treatment of the film’s material, what do you really have? You’ve got a documentary that’s somewhere in between indulgent and boring, relying on the “oh this is serious stuff” aura that journalists will cheerfully hype about absolutely any inferior creative work related to the ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict. Pretty cartoons do not redeem it.
“Lollipop” by L’il Wayne. L’il Wayne has so much awesome work under his belt that it seems a cruel trick that this, one of the most annoying songs he’s ever written, should be his biggest mainstream hit ever. It’s not catchy, it’s just repetitive.
Countdown. It seems almost besides the point to mention how fucking terrible Countdown was, because everybody remembers how fucking terrible it was. But people deserve to be reminded of how shitty, how absolutely crap every fucking week of this fucking shitty comic was, in case they are considering buying a DC “event” comic. So: Jason Todd spent a long time becoming Red Robin. Then he quit being Red Robin. Mary Marvel became a magic-eating psycho whore. Then she stopped doing that. Then she started doing it again. Kamandi finally got the origin story nobody ever demanded. God only knows how many pages were spent detailing the slow death-by-superdisease suffered by Karate Kid, which would have been compelling if the payoff hadn’t been “they fail and he dies anyway.” (Memo to Keith Giffen: I know you’re proud that you’ve managed to kill off Karate Kid twice, but at least the first time it only took you one issue.) We met the Earth-3 “good guy” version of the Joker. Then they killed him off. Jimmy Olsen fucked a bug. Then the bug dumped him. Then Jimmy Olsen fought Darkseid. Again: Jimmy Olsen fought Darkseid, and they were serious about this, which gives one new respect for George Lucas because as bad as the prequel trilogy was, at least he never had C-3P0 fight the Emperor. And finally, a series ostensibly intended to “count down” to Final Crisis in the end turned out to have absolutely jack shit to do with Final Crisis, which begs the question what the point of this shitty, shitty comic was in the first place.
Four Christmases. I sat through this when a friend of mine’s son and I couldn’t get into The Transporter 3 and we needed to see something. Sitting outside in the cold for two hours would have been preferable to sitting through this lifeless, unfunny waste of time, a movie which just screams out “we only did it for the paycheque” en masse. If I ever see Vince Vaughn in real life, I will punch him in the cock.
Heroes. Okay, yeah, Heroes always sucked, but I am gratified that this was finally the year where everybody else figured out that it sucked too. Masi Oka, one of the few actors on this show capable of more than two facial expressions, got saddled with plotlines and dialogue apparently designed to make everybody hate his character. (It worked!) The writers continue to come up with new ways to not deal with the fact that right out of the gate they created three characters (Sylar, Hiro and Peter) who are massively overpowered compared to everybody else on the show and who need permanent power-downs or else the show’s idiocy level will rapidly become terminal. Of course, before they do that they need to figure out how to write a basic plot worth a damn. Also, if I ever see the guy who plays Mohinder in real life, I will punch him in the cock too.
The AI in Call of Duty: World at War. When I play the solo mode I want to really feel like I’m in the middle of the biggest war of all time. This is tricky when you have American GIs and Japanese banzai solders shooting at their respective opponents while standing literally shoulder-to-shoulder because the GIs are stuck in “shoot pointlessly at enemy” and the Japanese are stuck in “shoot pointlessly at you.” Do not even get me started on the Russians and their propensity to throw grenades at the same time they’re calling for you to charge something.
Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Introduced “nuked the fridge” into common parlance to complement “jumped the shark,” wherein the former means “movie franchise jumping from beloved icon to joke nigh-instantaneously,” but the phrase could have just as easily been “swing with the monkeys” or “watch the alien spaceship.” This movie is stupid, where previous Indy movies were so pointedly not, and that is the greatest disappointment imaginable. Shia Labeefs’ status as “Next Big Thing In Hollywood, No Really, We Mean It” aside, he sucked in this. Of course, everybody else sucked in it too – even Harrison Ford for god’s sake – so he’ll probably be fine.
DCU: Decisions. What was the point of this comic, anyway? Never mind that simply getting Judd “I’m A Liberal!” Winick and Bill “I’m a Conservative!” Willingham to tag-team-write a comic doesn’t actually ensure any sense of political balance so much as it boils down political positions to ludicrous cariacature (Lois Lane and Power Girl are Republicans because they’re for “strong national defense,” and Green Arrow is a Democrat because he’s a big enviro-hippie!). Forget that the plot made no sense. But seriously, who was going to care about this comic when real life was more important and interesting than figuring out who Batman would vote for? (And before anybody says “well, they scheduled it months before anybody knew Obama was going to be a candidate” – whatever, any real American election would be more interesting than this comic.)
The third season of Dexter. Oh man I have never seen a show go this badly off the rails before. What was previously sharp and savage got dull and indulgent real goddamned fast. And Jimmy Smits? Jimmy Smits is never bad in anything. What the hell happened? Did they put something in his water? Who is poisoning the waters of Jimmy Smits? I will discover who is doing this thing, and I will harm them!
“I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry. Any music critic talking about this piece of shit being “catchy” is trying to earn populist cred. Sometimes shitty popular songs are just that and nothing else. The only thing more annoying than the chorus and the lyrics was the ginned-up “controversy” about Katy Perry (WHO IS TOTALLY STRAIGHT EVERYBODY AND IT IS JUST A SONG) endorsing bisexuality. Christ, like James Dobson needed something else to get him hard?
Comics fanboys pre-emptively whining about The Dark Knight getting ignored by the Oscars. Heads up, guys: Heath Ledger is already practically a lock to win Best Supporting and that’s great. But you know what else? The movie is half an hour too long at least, the sonar thing was distracting and hard to watch, and that middle bit where Jim Gordon is dead and Bruce decides to quit being Batman then Harvey says he’s Batman then it turns out it was all a trick to catch the Joker except why did Bruce tell Alfred he was quitting being Batman – that bit made no fucking sense and Christopher Nolan, that clever little bastard, was just figuring we’d all cream our pants over everything else so much we wouldn’t notice and he was mostly right about that. The Dark Knight is a good movie, close to being a great one, but it wasn’t even the best superhero movie this year (that would be Iron Man). So please shut the fuck up.