It’s been such a horrible week, full of unbearably horrible questions. I’ve never been more grateful that I don’t have to think of answers to any of them. This column, from its inception, has been a strictly frivolous enterprise, with any profundity of insight it may generate being entirely accidental. I’m not saying this to be self-deprecating; if the events of the past several days have taught us anything, it’s that shallowness has its place—one can’t help in moments like these but think of that immortal post-Sept. 11 Onion headline: “A Shattered Nation Longs To Care About Stupid Bullshit Again.”
So, rather than spend the next 900 words or so wading into some unnavigable debate about gun control or mental illness or violent video games or some heartbreaking combination of the three, I will focus here, as is my wont, on the ridiculous, the glib, the hysterical, the inane. Sometimes you can’t listen to any more weeping parents, or you don’t feel like holding your kids tighter. Sometimes you just need to laugh at something random on the Internet.
So, in that spirit, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Tattler’s top 10 most Tattler things of the year!
10. Anything and everything Les Misérables-related
A movie musical as crowd-pleasing and long in the making as this one, to be released Dec. 25 on what I have hereby decreed “Les Miz-mas,” was always going to be a big deal, but nothing could have prepared us for the swelling deluge of material that millions of former drama geeks reliving their childhood have unleashed on the Internet over the past two months. Want to see a baby dressed as Javert? No problem! Various incarnations of nerdy-chic movie stars singing “Confrontation”? Go forth, my son! Anne Hathaway has been burning up the television lately in an array of edgy outfits she looks vaguely uncomfortable in, grinning manically as she gives us all the dirt on everything from her historically accurate starvation diet (utter emaciation being the preferred form of uncompromising vérité for female Hollywood stars) to how seeing her mother play Fantine as a child inspired her to become an actress. Never before have so many put so much effort into something so ultimately inconsequential. It’s dizzying, it’s ridiculous, and it is glorious. You’ll forgive me for using this space to feature my own humble contribution to the genre (feel free to sing on your way to the theater with the Horowitzes this year):
Have yourself a merry old Les Miz-mas
Skip the caroling
This year stand in line to hear the people sing
Have yourself a merry old Les Miz-mas
Storm the barricades
Much like Rent with syphilis instead of AIDS
See us all in the older days
Dark and colder days
Russell Crowe slowly goes insane n’
There’s Redmayne in
Dream a dream you’ll soon be disabused of
Get the Yuletide blues
At the multiplex you’ll know just what to choose
So have yourself a merry old Les Miz-mas, Jews
9. Naked People Going Nuts
From his Royal Highness Prince Harry reviving the age-old debate over Cavaliers vs. Roundheads to the Kony 2012 guy doing nude-tushy thrusts in San Diego to the insane person who ate that guy’s face off in the first wave of what we were warned could soon be an unstoppable wave of Travis the Chimp copycat crime, this was the year where people got mad and weren’t going to take it anymore—and by “mad” I mean “crazy,” and by “it” I mean “underpants.” Here’s hoping for a more placidly nude 2013, in which the unclothed will peaceably weave lanyards and put on productions of Our Town as though at an adult naturist summer camp. I still look forward to ruminating on whether various British heartthrobs are circumcised in the future, though.
8. Marilyn Hagerty, the Olive Garden Lady
Admit it. The moment that restaurant review of the Olive Garden in North Dakota went viral, you started wondering how it would have sounded coming from the pen of your Jewish bubbe. One thing about the Olive Garden and their bottomless salad/soup bowl: It is impossible to complain about the portions.
Maybe you didn’t watch the Most Important Television Program of Our Time 2.0, in which case, I hope you’re enjoying your male heterosexual privilege while it lasts. The rest of us were by turns elated and appalled by NBC’s bizarrely deracinated backstage saga, set in an alien Broadway world where no one seemed to know what a bar mitzvah was and the only Jew (apart from Manny Azenberg, as “Himself”) was Tom, the affable composer played by Christian Borle, which, delightful a performer as he is, is a little like doing a show starring Michael Cera as the only black guy in the NBA.
6. Aly Raisman (and beloved editor-in-chief Alana Newhouse lookalike) winning the Olympic gold medal in floor to “Hava Nagila”
5. Mitt Romney …
Look, no one is happier than me to see the back of that tastefully graying head of hair. But oh, the memes that man and his strange, strange deployment of the English language generated! Binders full of women. The trees are the right height. The rhythmic recitation of the verses of “America the Beautiful” (otherwise known as Mormon Hip-Hop). Romney wasn’t given so much to mangled Bush-style malapropisms as to flights of linguistic weirdness akin to the oddly poetic flavor descriptions on bags of Kasugai gummy candy. A one-man meme factory, if he gets tired of spending time with the grandchildren, he can always go work at Buzzfeed.
4. … and friends.
Again, if the Republican party is doing some serious soul-searching in the wake of electoral disaster, well, good for them I guess. But if once again having a rational opposition party in the democratic process means no more Clint Eastwood ranting at empty chairs on what looks like the stage of the Xenon International Academy graduation show at the Holiday Inn, well, that might be too high a price to pay.
3. Gangnam Style
It’s true what they say: Fifty million Elvis fans can’t be wrong, and neither can nearly a billion YouTube views. Psy’s tour-de-force of formfitting outfits, horsey dance moves, and sexy ladies holding the yoga cow pose is both a glorious zany distillation of our entire, absurdity-drenched, randomly brilliant idea-blender of the best of Internet culture and, if the roomful of Jewish kids singing along in fluent Korean at my cousin’s recent bar mitzvah is any indication, the real harbinger of a globalized world in which, as Oprah says, we are more alike than we are different. Because we all love that frigging video.
2. This column, and all of you!
It’s true! I may not be writing about serious things all the time, but I do take the writing seriously, and it has been an honor and a privilege to have done so for Tablet magazine over the past year. Thank you all for your support and occasional VITRIOLIC SPEWING BORDERING ON HATE CRIMES! I love you all! Though not as much as I love …
1. The anti-Semitic Elmo that got arrested in Times Square this year
This story was so utterly amazing, and so in tune with my personal interests, that I wasn’t sure at first if I had dreamed it. (And this was only the first piece of tsuris for Elmo this year, but I’m not even going to go there, since that was my least-favorite story.) A maniac named Adam Sandler reciting what sounded like passages from Mein Kampf while dressed as everyone’s favorite red furry monster. Anti-Semitism, Muppets, a shady past in Cambodian rape porn, the unforgettable image of a cartoon character in handcuffs: It had everything. Congratulations, Other Adam Sandler: You are Tattler’s Man of the Year. May your memory be a blessing, wherever the hell you are.
Merry Les Miz-mas everyone, and here’s to 2013!
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