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8 Awful Pop Culture Offerings to Dread in the New Year

Racism, sexism and more Ayn Rand...we're gripping ourselves for some of the worst in 2012.
 
 
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Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
Photo Credit: Jeff Kern via Flickr

 
 
 
 

Certainly 2011 was one of the worst years for pop culture in recent memory. If you need proof, look at the resurgence of the Ayn Rand oeuvre, the spate of reality shows on virtually every channel on television, or, perhaps most chillingly, "Hey Soul Sister" by the band Train.  But in the first week of 2012, it already looks like this year might, in fact, be worse. Here are 11 forthcoming happenings in pop culture that may have you wishing for the Mayan apocalypse.

1. Atlas Shrugged, Part II

This follow-up to the worst movie of 2011 comes out in October, just in time to make election season even more hellacious. (Can you even imagine? We’re already popping Xanax in anticipation.) The follow-up to the laughably bad, "objectivist" Atlas Shrugged, which tanked in 2011 despite voracious Rand adoration from the Tea Party, various libertarians, and extreme conservatives, part two explores more destroy-everything capitalism in the campiest, least self-aware way possible. It follows suit with the films' financier John Aglialoro who was motivated to continue with his plan to finish his trilogy (oh, yes—a third film is on its way) after the first installment was summarily panned. (It received zero stars from Rolling Stone's Peter Travers and one from Roger Ebert). Aglialoro told the  Hollywood Reporter, "I'm going to get a picture of Ebert and Travers and the rest of them so I can wake up in the morning and they'll be right there. They're revitalizing me with their outrageousness." Not sure if he saw the same film we did, but the $10 million on advertising he promised to spend for the follow-ups lead us to surmise Aglialoro's a man in denial. At the very least, though, the follow-up inspired Second City TV to make this  hilarious trailer spoofing the film's proponents and its poor reception: "When the free markets get spanked by the free markets, there's only one thing to do: cut costs.  Atlas Shrugged part two, coming soon!

 

2. “Work It”

Network television seemed to peak last year with the amount of shows that boiled down gender stereotypes to their basest, with no less than three programs based entirely on the premise that masculinity is becoming rarefied and men are oppressed. Enter 2012’s first entry into this gross and highly offensive subcategory: “Work It,” in which two men decide the (mythical) “mancession” has affected them enough that they need to dress up as women in order to get jobs. Never mind that women still make 75 percent of the money men make in the same positions, and are less likely to receive promotions in corporate environments. Rather than repeating ourselves, let’s focus on the aspect of the show that provoked GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign to  protest before it even aired: that “Work It” perpetuates “negative and damaging stereotypes about transgender people.” [Update: the show, which ABC aired only twice, was cancelled Saturday following poor ratings and extreme disinterest from the TV-watching public. Heartening!]

 3. “Party Politics”

Election season 2012 has already shaped up to be a shitshow  and we’re already bracing for pain in November. Rubbing salt in the wound, though, is “Party Politics,” a reality show crafted by Doron Ofir casting, which is also responsible for your favorite, “Jersey Shore.” It’s based on the same premise, too: place a group of people with conflicting political views in a house somewhere (hopefully DC) and watch sparks fly. Doron Ofir told Fox: ““We want the hottest politicos in the USA, we want intelligent 21- to 35-year-olds who have had a little life experience and education and can argue their beliefs, and have the knowledge to back up the debate.” He also said: ““But it’s a reality show too – there is an entertainment factor. They’ve got to be inspirational to look at, explosive and dynamic, or maybe find love across party lines… you just never know.” Aren’t reality shows supposed to be about escapism? This just seems painful.