What can I say about the year that gave us "twerking" and the "Gay Lumberjack meets Hillbilly Chic" beard? The year that blatant abuse of power with a side order of racism and homophobia was the order of the day. Where pop divas battled for the top of the charts, but were side swiped by a smarter girl from Houston.
Yes, 2013 was a quite a year in news and for me personally.
It seems like every year Reality TV gets more and more out of control. We went from a sassy toddler beauty pageant contestant to a backwoods redneck duck-calling family and suddenly became surprised that the monarch of it was homophobic and racist. And not wanting to be outdone….the Kardsahians pulled every trick out of their Prada bags to stay relevant. Too bad that not even marrying Kanye West could keep them afloat on the internet. Kanye had a moment of truth on Jimmy Kimmel when he went on to address the parody of his BBC interview. For just a second, I understood his point of view, but then he just kept on talking! His mouth is going be his biggest downfall. He has some clever twists of phrases in his lyrics, but his idea of being a super genius is what keeps everyone from taking him seriously.
Poor Paris Hilton…..she's no longer the "rotten spoiled whore darling" of media. Instead of releasing that horrible song with Lil' Wayne she should have done a sex tape with him. That would have kept her in the news for at least a month. We were continuously being bombarded with information everyday. How could anyone keep up or pay attention?
Musically, we started out the year doing the "Harlem Shake". This really funky dance featured in many Hip Hop videos got appropriated and transformed into convulsions of the masses. Great beat, but no one I saw online was doing it right. This was kinda the "Year of Appropriation" (folks basically stealing other things from other cultures…..some for music, some to shock and some just to get a laugh).
Even I found myself being appropriated by circuit DJ/producers who years ago would never play or admit they liked tracks like "Bitch You Look Fierce" or "Why Are You Gaggin'?", but now are stealing riffs and lyrics to make these outdated tribal tracks for shirtless steroid boys to throw their hands in the air while their drugs kick in. That's so 1998!
But working with Cris Is Bliss, Cesar Murillo and Roberto Reyes on some new tracks for Jade Elektra's upcoming singles in 2014 turned out to be the highlights of the year. And having Leroy Burgess as a vocal coach in the studio will be something for my memoirs.
The word "twerk" was on everyone's lips after the 2013 MTV Music Video Awards because little Hannah Montana decided that once and for all she was no longer going to be a Disney Princess. So, when Miley Cyrus bent over in front of Canada's Marvin Gaye, Robin Thicke during a mash-up of "We Can't Stop" and "Blurred Lines" the course of pop music history was changed forever. Online and in the media, Lady GaGa and Katy Perry were slated to duke it out for the top of the charts by September. After that moment, no one was even thinking about an "Applause" or a "Roar". But no one could have predicted Beyonce coming around the corner in at the last moment in December with her brilliantly unannounced CD and Visual album. Finally….an artist got it right. Release more than a bunch of songs. Give your fans a complete package and they will go out and buy it in droves.
Rivalries between Chris Brown and Drake or Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea seem to cool by summer. I think a few people found out that the internet could be a dangerous place for their careers. Bad publicity is still bad publicity. And when you are trying to sell records in this economy…..it would behoove you to sit down and shut the fuck up! I didn't get the apology that I wanted from Eminem, but I did get to hear him say that he is not a role model and that he did a lot of his early 2000's antics for publicity. But like Andrew "Dice" Clay and Lisa Lampanelli, you can only go so far shocking people before it turns into hate. On top and everyone's talking about you and then poof…..you're gone. The next obnoxious thing comes along. So, I lifted my ban on him just in time for his well crafted album, "The Mashall Mathers LP 2" (produced by the legendary Rick Ruben).
Idiots like Justin Bieber and Rob Ford really found out how bad publicity travels around the world in a second. These fools spent the year just writing jokes about themselves with every move. And it's sad that the municipal government in Toronto has no way to remove Ford from office after admitting he lied about smoking crack, got caught on video with some shady dealings and told a room full of reporters that he has more than enough "pussy" to eat at home. Bieber just really needs a good ass-whippin'. Punk ass bitches like him are always super tough behind bodyguards when he would bust a grape in a fruit fight (to quote Jay Z). God….please make his announcement about retiring TRUE!
It was quite the year for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. These two have played their hand very well. I just wish that they would give thanks to Ellen DeGeneres for really launching their success by having them on to perform "Same Love" in October of 2012. And speaking of lesbians on daytime television……it has been great to see the void of Oprah filled with two dykes competing for ratings every weekday. Queen Latifah & Ellen seem to be fighting over guests and who's funnier. The only thing is one is completely out and the other dances around the subject.
But we did have some new entries into the game. The LaToya Jackson of the Braxton family, Tamar Braxton really stretched her 15 minutes into 20. Kendrick Lamar shook things up on the Hip Hop scene by just being raw on his lyrics. And thank God that damn "Royals" song by Lorde seems to be dying down! I love when they hype a new artist that they think is the next big thing. She should take a look back at Nora Jones. Praised and revered….now no one knows where she is (taco stand, maybe). At least with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis they had a few years under their belts to find their sound and message. This kid's album sounds like one song. No variations and nothing interesting. I don't want to hear another teenage girl who sounds like the voice of a baby doll programed with the latest catch phrases…..just tired! But we'll see what happens at the Grammy's.
And speaking of the Grammy's…..I definitely think it's going to be a Justin Timberlake year. I think the lawsuit by the Gaye family will hurt Robin Thicke's chances. But Pharrell Williams should snatch a couple awards for producing and singing the track "Happy" for "Despicable Me 2". Let's just hope there won't be any awkward performances like Lady GaGa & R. Kelly's "Do What U Want" on SNL or Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" on the American Music Awards even though they both made for good television.
Apparently some other "good television" in 2013 was "Breaking Bad". Who would have thought a show about dealing meth would be one of the highest rated shows? Perhaps with the state of the U.S. it's not that surprising at all. From the blatant sabotage of the government by the arrogant and racist Republicans to the dumbing down of TV programing, many didn't have much to turn to except drugs to cope. Medical marijuana has legalized pot in certain areas of the country and many are trying to find doctors who will give them a prescription for any ailment.
I'll tell you what continues to be "not-so-good television"…….RuPaul's Drag Race. This war on the art of female impersonation continues to erase our culture with each season. At this point, I ain't even mad at Miss Charles anymore. I don't believe that RuPaul has anything to do with the show's layout. She probably just shows up to collect her money…..and I don't knock a gyrl for getting' her change. Now, I blame the corporation called "World Of Wonder". They continue to exploit these drag barbie dolls and promote bad behavior.
And the reality TV shows just keep on a comin'! My favorite new title coming from the states is "Sex Sent Me To The E.R." (probably because I could have been on this show….but we'll save that story for my book). As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, it saddens me that good actors can't get work today while simple and common people can allow cameras to follow them around and makes millions. And talking with one of my good friends who is an excellent director, I realized that this reality crap has effected our actual actors in America. Now perfectly good actors are "acting" like reality stars to get work. This is why Australians and Brits are playing Americans better than Americans. It reminds me of when I was applying for a job at Gym Bar in Chelsea, NY back in 2009 and the owner actually asked me to not mix my sets. Mainly because the norm in the bars in Manhattan these days at some gay hangouts is a DJ who cannot mix. That is killing the art of DJ-ing and definitely killing the art of acting!
But never fear….Kevin Hart came up with one of the most brilliant ideas. "The Real Husbands of Hollywood" has flipped the script. It's a fake reality show with real celebrities. Very funny stuff! I predict that Mr. Hart will take the place of Dave Chapelle in 2014. God knows, he's about to drop several movies at once to start the new year off. Let's just hope he doesn't implode like Dave did.
The other disturbing trend I watched in 2013 was the Conservative Party of Canada's government borrowing pages from the U.S. Republicans' playbook. Not many realized that FOX News opened an office in Montreal this year. That means that the Republicans have raised enough money off the puppet shows like "Family Guy", "American Idol" and "The Simpsons" to expand to another country. The very things that the Republicans hate and want to fight to keep down like gay rights, immigration, poor people's dreams, etc. are the very things they sell us on their shows to make money to continue their agenda. Their remarking of voting zones and opposing Obama tooth and nail is part of their plan to take back the White House in 2016. And don't think for a moment that the Obamacare website debacle was not a scheme by the Republicans. It's just too bad that him being the first African-American President has left him in a position where he can't call them out without them saying he's playing the "race card". These days everyone is holding their breath hoping that Hillary Clinton will run in the next election. At this moment and time, she seems to be the only threat to the Republicans. But a lot can change over the next year couple of years. Remember back in 2008 when we all thought she was a shoe-in?
But I guess the most frustrating thing to watch this year was the acts of racism and homophobia. The George Zimmerman verdict in the murder case of Trayvon Martin really sent a message about America that polarized race relations. It gave us the new and improved "Jim Crow". It raised the question "Have we really evolved at all?" People like Paula Deen and Phil Robertson are great example of the rebranding of "Jim Crow". Celebrities like Julianna Hough dressing in "blackface" for Halloween, Steve Martin tweeting a racist joke, the attacks on Nina Davuluri for being crowned the first Miss America of Indian descent….all tell a different story about "the land of the free." Some tried to apologize while others just "stood their ground" and let their racist thoughts flow like the River Jordan. And even though Elisabeth Hasslebeck was finally asked to leave "The View", I think it was a little too late.
But I guess the most ridiculous thing I just read about recently is the "National Chick-Phil-A Day"coming up on January 21st, 2014. Supporters of Phil Robertson are planning to converge on all Chick-fil-A restaurants to show their support for him and freedom of speech. Hey…it worked when the company came out against gay rights! But in a strange move the fast food chain has quickly denounced any involvement with the movement. Probably because Robertson is not only a homophobe but also a racist. So, the company has had to pick and choose their hate. Yes…we hate homosexuals, but we love our black customers who eat chicken!
But as for me, 2013 taught me a lot about myself and where my life is going. With the help of my husband (John Allan), Todd Klinck, Phillip Fournier and the owners of Crews & Tangos I successfully maintained a monthly fundraiser for one of the charities that is dear to my heart, Toronto's People With AIDS Foundation. Probably because I have witnessed first hand the good work they do for people living with HIV/AIDS. I don't think that everyone realizes that all it takes is one person to start a movement or to take a stand. I hope that I have inspired a few people to live in their truth. It's the only way to live….for me at least. I've learned that it is never too late to right a wrong (especially when it comes to your family).
2013 also taught me to always stand up for what you believe in (even when it is the unpopular thing to do). Pride week in Toronto showed me how some people only see what they want to see. Supporting your friend when they have done something that is wrong or controversial does not make their actions right. It only makes you look uneducated. Opening a conversation and dialogue about different view points should not turn into a "Twlight" movie with Team This and Team That. If you don't know what it is to be discriminated against or degraded because of who or what you are, then of course you will not have the same view point as someone who has. Social media has turned everyone into their own little islands. And our youth suffer the most because they actually believe the hype of entitlement. A few likes or quick comments posted on a page makes them believe that they are that important when there are much bigger issues at hand.
So, even though I have lost a few friends and acquaintances for standing up against a racist act, I have gained a few along the way and remain proud that I said something when most didn't see what was wrong in the first place.
It's weird thinking back at the movie version of George Orwell's "1984". "Big Brother" was a real threat to our lives (or at least we thought back then). The idea that someone was watching us 24/7 without our control or consent was a scary concept. Now "Big Brother" is a reality show and everyone is clammering to post their most intimate details online. I love seeing photos of people behaving badly, smoking joints and almost naked in their bathrooms. And then they wonder why they can't get a job! It would seem that "Big Brother" has figured out how to watch us with our permission and no one is the wiser.
For 2014 I pray for clarity. I pray for continued good health. I pray for a common ground where we all can be heard and still respect each other. I don't have to agree with you, but that does not mean we cannot work together to make a better place for all of us