Jewish World Review Dec. 24, 2013/ 21 Teves, 5774
By Meghan Daum
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) End-of-year wrap-ups are as mandatory as piped-in Christmas music at the dentist's office. Therefore I would be remiss if I did not offer up my list of notable phenomena of 2013, the overrated and the underrated. These opinions do not necessarily reflect the positions of this newspaper or even mine, the day after writing them.
Overrated: Lance Armstrong
He finally confessed to doping. A damning documentary film, "The Armstrong Lie," came out, and now we're hearing from a retired Italian cyclist who alleges that Armstrong bribed him with $100,000 in a cake box to throw a race in 1993. But unless Armstrong can solve healthcare or slow down climate change, he needs to go away and stay away. He really belongs to 2012. That was the year the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency nailed him. In 2013, he was merely scolded by Oprah which is to say, 2013 was the year he became James Frey with better bone structure.
Underrated: Jason Collins
Yes, he lied about his height (he's just 6' 8", not 7'). Yes, he deceived his girlfriend. And no, he's never been the biggest star in the NBA. But when Jason Collins announced last April that he was gay, he changed the game for good not to mention for the good. "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," Collins wrote in Sports Illustrated. "But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation." That conversation quickly included fellow player Kobe Bryant as well as President Obama and countless fans and fellow athletes.
Overrated: Prince George of Cambridge
If only Kate and Will had pulled a Beyonce and said nothing about their impending royal addition until suddenly, like the singer's surprise album release last Friday, he was just here. Alas, no. Royal baby mania dominated 2013's headlines until Prince George's birth on July 22, at which point public interest immediately shifted to the state of his mother's abs. Now, just in time for the holidays, those not fortunate enough to have their own heir to the throne can buy a porcelain doll version for $149.99. Pricier than Big Hugs Elmo, but worth every penny.
Underrated: North West
Astonishingly, the American royal baby otherwise known as the Kim Kardashian/Kanye West dividend named North has kept a relatively low profile since her arrival on June 15. Besides a smattering of paparazzi shots and a few photos that Kardashian selected and shared with only her 11 million Instagram followers, the new parents appear to be making good on their pledge to keep their daughter out of the spotlight. In fact, North is so reclusive, she hasn't yet acquired a suitable winter wardrobe. The Huffington Post had to issue the following correction: "An earlier version of this post referred to North West's neck accessory as a scarf. It's more likely the item is a bib."
Overrated: "Orange Is the New Black"
The critics gushed, the viewers tuned in (or downloaded, streamed, whatever) the recappers recapped and the commentariat commented. The takeaway: This Netflix drama about life inside a minimum security women's prison is provocative, radical and, with its ethnically diverse cast and frank exploration of female sexuality, real. But it's mostly only real because not all of the actresses look like starlets. As for lesbian sex, "Orange Is the New Black" doesn't have half the heat of the Palme D'or-winning, male fantasia French film "Blue Is the Warmest Color." So Blue may be the new Orange though if you're looking for something really overrated, try Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."
Underrated: "Getting On"
On Nov. 24, HBO premiered "Getting On," a dryer-than-dry half-hour comedy set in an extended-care ward of a blighted Long Beach hospital. It hasn't yet elbowed its way into the cultural conversation, but it deserves a place there. The show is hilarious, poignant and truly radical, in that it deals with the stuff even the "rawest," most "real" entertainment won't touch: aging and death, loneliness and loss, people who simply don't know how to dress. What's more, there's no stage lighting or professional makeup, leaving the actors looking shockingly ordinary. In a year in which the scourge of Photoshopping and distorted images of models was a trending topic, "Getting On" walks the walk. Time to start talking it up.
Overrated: Sheryl Sandberg
Does the phrase "having it all" sound perfectly reasonable to you? Do you believe running a Fortune 500 company is inherently more self-validating and/or impressive to others than being a teacher, scientist, artist, civil servant or anything else that doesn't necessarily require putting on a power suit every morning? If so, Sheryl Sandberg's manifesto-turned-movement "Lean In" is for you. If not, you might want to add some spice and imagination to the Facebook exec's recipe for success. It's as bland as the frozen chicken noodle casserole you'd probably be forced to feed your family if you tried to follow it.
Underrated: Ryan Gosling, the Internet meme
OK, technically the tumblr started in 2011, the book came out in 2012, and 2013 was the year it all ended, but that's what happens with underrated things: You don't notice them until they're gone. So, for those who missed the photos of emo-hunk actor Ryan Gosling accompanied by quotes (supposedly his, but not) that are essentially sweet nothings for the thinking woman's ear, I'd suggest you type "Ryan Gosling feminist" into your search engine right now. The enterprise is in no way connected to the real Gosling. It was a pastime for a Wisconsin graduate student in women's studies named Danielle Henderson, who is funny enough to single-handedly debunk the myth that Wisconsinites have no sense of humor.
When the supermarket in your gentrifying neighborhood opens a produce section called "Kale Korner," you know the end is nigh.
The end may be nigh, but it's rich in antioxidants.
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Comment by clicking here. Meghan Daum is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
Meghan Daum is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
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