Let’s assess the winners and losers in American culture for 2013. Our first obvious winner is “Duck Dynasty” and its Phil Robertson. He’s a winner for standing by his Christian principles after some offensive remarks about homosexuality.
A&E suspended him (hey have since reversed their position) and put out the usual statement that they are “champions” of the gay agenda — and proceeded to start running “Duck Dynasty” marathons. Mark Steyn put it just right: The gay-left blacklisters insist “espousing conventional Christian morality, even off air, is incompatible with American celebrity.” Robertson has successfully shattered intolerance of the anti-Christian left.
Winner: Universal Pictures, for “Despicable Me 2.” This cartoon feature came in third at the box office ($367 million) in 2013, beaten only by two other much-anticipated sequels, “Iron Man 3” and the second “Hunger Games” film. But in December, it shattered records for DVD sales of an animated picture, grossing an amazing $80 million in its first week of release. The previous record was held by ... the first “Despicable Me.” There were three animated family films in the top 10 hits, with G-rated “Monsters University” in fifth ($263 million) and “Frozen” in 10th ($204 million after five weeks and climbing).
Loser: Universal Pictures, for “Kick-Ass 2.” The ultraviolent first installment, which features the 12-year-old “Hit Girl implausibly killing tons of villains at a time,” grossed $48 million at the box office, a figure that shouldn’t inspire a sequel. The second edition grossed only $28 million. Entertainment Weekly found the immoral thrill of actress Chloe Grace Moretz killing and swearing like a sailor had vanished. At 16, she “can’t manufacture the same that’s-so-wrong jolt she managed the first time around. Back then, it was hilariously taboo to see a little girl spout arias of profanity.” Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr nailed it: “Kick-Ass 2 is a special kind of crap: the kind smart people make for audiences they think are stupid.”
Winner: Rockstar Games, the makers of the video game “Grand Theft Auto 5,” which smashed six world sales records, including the highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours and the fastest entertainment property to gross a billion dollars. It sold over 11 million copies in its first 24 hours and hit a billion in sales within three days.
Loser: “Grand Theft Auto 5” is a perfect example of the amoral and ultraviolent products that are never, ever advertised as such. Chris Suellentrop of The New York Times, fan of the game, explains that the latest version is “still an action game about hoodlums and thieves; we start with an extended bout of cop killing and proceed to a series of increasingly ambitious heists.” There are three villains you can choose to become, like “Trevor, an oddly lovable psychopathic meth dealer and gun runner.” This is not “Breaking Bad,” a series aimed at an adult audience. This is a game bought by children.
Winner: Melissa McCarthy. This comic actress led the year’s highest-grossing R-rated movie, “The Heat” (alongside Sandra Bullock), bringing in almost $160 million, and “Identity Thief,” which grossed over $134 million. It is unfortunate that her humor needs to be laced with so many profanities (they counted 269 in “The Heat”) the ratings cops felt forced to give it an R.
Loser: Miley Cyrus. The former star of Disney’s “Hannah Montana” turned 20 and became the star of a series of MTV-promoted outrages. Her antics are a grotesque perversion of her former innocence. She is disgusting.
Speaking of losers, Cher told USA today she would have supported Cyrus is she’d come out naked and performed well, but “It just wasn’t done well. She can’t dance, her body looked like hell, the song wasn’t great.” She seemed to miss the point. Cyrus went viral precisely because her performance was an ugly train wreck.
Loser: “The Fifth Estate.” Disney executives bit on this picture glorifying leftist WikiLeaks creep Julian Assange. It cost $28 million to make and grossed only $3.2 million. How bad was it? Its opening grossed only $1.7 million from 1,769 theaters — the worst opening of the year for a movie showing in more than 1,500 theaters. Maybe this will save us from Hollywood following its “progressive” heart and making an Edward Snowden-glorifying “The Fifth Estate 2.”
Loser: Robert Reich. He’s no Al Gore or Michael Moore in the documentary sweepstakes. His socialist lecture/film “Inequality for All” grossed only $1.19 million, despite Reich calling it an “’Inconvenient Truth’ for the economy” and touting that it won an award at a film festival in Traverse City, Mich. Reich told The Boston Globe: “This is the last hurrah. If this doesn’t educate the public, I give up.”
Was that a threat or a promise?