Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone, which means it is a time of new beginnings, a fresh start and the knowledge that you saw and heard nothing worthwhile last year and are now completely out of the loop like a fool.
Yes, it’s the time of year-end best of lists and awards season. And few things make me feel like more of a failure.
Every year around the first few weeks of January, we are treated to a lengthy treatise by every blog, magazine and so forth counting down all the 50 or 100 best albums and artists to come out of the previous year, and every year, I’ve heard of exactly seven.
For example, let’s take Pitchfork, that fount of hipster superiority (or rather, it used to be, before it so totally sold out *ironically mussed hair flip*). Of their top ten, I’ve heard of five (two of which I really enjoy). I have no idea what DJ/rupture is, but apparently his album is a “brilliant pan-global mix.” I’ve never heard of Hercules and The Love Affair, but apparently disco is back. No one tells me anything.
Look, I think I’ve got good taste in music. If you looked at my Facebook favorite music section, you might think “she’s got cool taste in music. I would like to be friends with her, perhaps watch a marathon of Helen Mirren’s procedural crime drama Prime Suspect with her” and that would be totally understandable of you because while my taste in music is awesome and rad, it’s not pretentious or intimidating. I distrust people who listen to nothing but bands I’ve never heard of. Pick up a Ben Folds CD sometime, guy with intense beard whose jeans are practically leggings for whom Fennesz is a bit too mainstream, no one will think less of you.
I look at the rest of the top 100 and it just makes me nervous. It’s like homework. That’s a lot of music I’m supposed to be liking here. I do not have time to download all of these albums (and the artists’ prior albums mentioned in their blurb) just to rush through them in a half-hearted effort to feel musically intelligent. I love music deeply, really I do, but I have shit to do and there’s only so much time in a day. Plus the music I actually fell in love with this year didn’t even make the cut (save for Fleet Foxes and TV On the Radio). No Duffy? No Eef Barzelay? No Blitzen Trapper? NO BRITNEY?! And these people call themselves “music” critics. More like music a-holes. Yeah, I said it.
Once you’ve finally resigned yourself to the knowledge that you’ll never be as cool as the American Apparel-ed cubicle-mates at the big deal music blogs, you then have to deal with the most high pressure time of the year: film awards season.
Not since 1998 has a year gone by wherein I’ve seen all the big movies nominated for the various awards. By the time you read this, the Golden Globes will have aired. I would now like to list the nominated films I’ve actually seen this year:
The Dark Knight
And that’s it. I saw the most obvious, big budgetty movies of the year (and Milk). I haven’t gotten around to seeing The Wrestler, Happy Go Lucky, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, The Reader, Benjamin Button, Slumdog, not even fucking Wall-E. In my defense, I was really busy seeing Iron Man like eight times.
The thing that always sucks is that I love film. More than I will probably love my future children, but don’t tell them that, they have enough to worry about with me as their future mother. And I would, and will when I undoubtedly Netflix them, love these movies. But we’ve all been there – not enough disposable income, no one else really wants to go see it with you, Doubt isn’t exactly the date movie you and the signiffy other had in mind, you just have more important things to do, etc. There’s a million reasons not to see a movie and this was kind of the year of those reasons.
So what do you do? You arbitrarily decide who will win what based upon what you’ve heard. I’ve gotten quite good at this. It’s easier with the Oscars than the Globes, but I’ve got a theory that the voters haven’t really seen all the movies either. The winner is generally either the most or least high profile person/movie nominated. That’s why poor Kate Winslet never wins, she’s always up against people either more or less famous than she is, people who’ve campaigned harder or not at all. Also, people with terrible reputations rarely win (I say rarely, and I’m talking to you, Roman Rapeykins Polanski), so Mickey Rourke and his busted face might be screwed. But people love comebacks if the person isn’t a nightmare, so my sweet sweet Robert Downey Jr. will probably win the Globe for Tropic Thunder and will probably be nominated next year for The Soloist.
So you see, you don’t need to let this time of year get to you. And if nothing else, lie. “Dude, of course I’ve heard the new Lindstrom album, it’s epic yet simple. Layered, in a minimalist kind of way.” – this bullshit review can easily be applied to literally anything and will illicit nods and a tip of the PBR to you. Good day.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.