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Gender + Sexuality

Seven Things I Learned from Pop Culture in 2008

Politics is hotter than porn, pretending to be dead is a good career move, and more.

Vanessa Richmond 17 Dec

Vanessa Richmond is the former managing editor of The Tyee and writes the Schlock & Awe column weekly.

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Lessons in the reflected light of the paparazzi.

Ah, the joys of reading and learning. I hope you agree my hours spent reading the mainstream media, blogs and tabloids have paid off. Here, I'm sharing with you the life lessons I've picked up this year.

1. Sell your babies to improve your ethical cred

As a masterful rebranding move (in this case, from vial-of-blood wearing, brother-kissing oddball into charity-working, saintly, mother of six), just sell photos of your babies, then ostensibly donate the money ($15 million or so in Brangelina's case) to charity. Apparently, when you invite strangers into your home, and allow of people to see intimate pictures of your newborns; sign a deal that guarantees biased, positive coverage of you for ever; and demand so much money that the magazine has to lay off people making, you know, non-million-dollar wages, that's good. Yeah, that's pretty saintly. Who says celebrity culture's values are skewed?

2. Pretend to be a dead person if your career is dying

Actors are used to borrowing other people's identities for roles in movies. But it seems in real life, when your reputation is suffering due to an addiction problem, if you borrow someone else's identity (even if that someone died from an overdose of barbiturates), it can bring you back into public favour, and generate the greatest readership in a magazine's history along with massive revenues. And if you show your nipples, it works twice as well. Thanks for the tip, Lindsay!

3. Politics is hotter than porn

No doubt the greatest celebrity of the year was Barack Hussein Obama. He and the travelling roadshow that was the 2008 U.S. election dominated the airwaves, print, and interwebs. Any celebrity that associated him or herself with the political process (See Damon, Matt,, etc.) saw their currency increase. At the same time, magazines and newspapers laid off sex writers (sorry). It appears readers have a limited amount of time, and are spending more of it reading about politics, so have less time to read about sex. (One friend said he managed to maintain an interest in both by masturbating over politics. Um, ew).

4. If you're female, you can be smart or good looking but not both

Sarah Palin, Hilary Clinton: 'nuff said.

5. 'Bite me' isn't an insult but a come on

Vampires are sexy, again. I guess it's a case of better the devil you know (vampires) than the devil you can't understand (real estate crashes, recession).

6. People paid to lie have more credibility than people paid to tell the truth

When kings become corrupt and lose credibility, who do we trust? The dedicated court jesters, it seems. Bush and Cheney: zero. Fey and Stewart: 10.

7. What's hot and not

Hot: cheating, cosmetic surgery, booze, divorce, curvy women, viral ads, vampires, cougars.

Not: real estate, weddings, Stephane Dion, journalism, the economy.  [Tyee]

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