My advice for the New Year is to get with somebody who knows a good massage therapist because I think our necks are going to need some serious attention. The election process has already given us a certain amount of whiplash, as Republican candidates enter then exit the scene like the Marx Brothers on meth. But we’re also in for some fast head turns in other areas. It feels as though 2012 could be a robust year for the “What?!” reaction on many fronts. Here are just a few things that I think will make 2012 a year that will have us coming and going.
Coming: Apps That Prevent More Apps
I suppose it’s wrong for someone who doesn’t actually own a Smart Phone to observe that the development of apps for mobile devices seems to be racing well ahead of our need for them. Before Angry Birds, were we asking ourselves “Is there some way I could kill time waiting at the car wash without doing any annoying reading?” I’ll concede that GPS on phones has a logical integration with life in Los Angeles. But an article on the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World website put “Freebird,” an app that provides a moving image of a flickering lighter for concertgoers who don’t smoke, near the top of its list of the 10 Most Useless Apps. FYI: An app that provides various toilet-flushing noises was first on that list.
Going: Fake Marriages
Never mind the distracting hue and cry over same-sex marriage; let’s see if 2012 is the year we can put an end to fake marriages. The 72 days of Kim Kardashian’s marriage scam may be less time than it takes to get a real person on the phone for some computer support, but more than enough time to figure out that celebrities real and imagined are using marriage as a career move. Katy Perry and Russell Brand got our attention with their wedding, then when the engines of their careers started making clanking noises they got divorced to spin our heads around again… 14 months later. Kids, call Hugh Grant for tips on more creative ways to bring attention to your next CD or movie.
Coming: More F@&*#!g Profanity
My mother blames my generation, the Boomers, for popularizing the “F” word. And for sand candles. I doubt the candle industry will make much noise in 2012, but you can count on more bleeped profanity on just about all platforms… possibly including the ones people stand on to speak at political events. Maybe we are all angrier, even the birds in our games are, but I’m not sure that dropping all these F-bombs is making us any better understood. My pitch is to introduce some new profanities. Starvation, war, health costs, homophobia, global warming, and greed: all far more obscene than a hard adjective referring to sex. Would it punch-up sitcoms if the wife yelled to her husband “Get your starving feet off the life savings-draining health care coffee table!?” And his spicy rejoinder would be “Oil company you!” Although I can see where some sponsors might have a problem with that.
Going: Republican Tears
Newt Gingrich pulled a John Boehner near the end of 2011 when he spilled tears as he spoke about his mother and her health problems. The ‘closer’ on his display of emotion? He asserted that he has come up with policy solutions based on “dealing with the real problems of real people in my family.” Too bad his party attacks and kills any effort to make health care affordable to “real people.” At a certain point, no matter how moving the image conjured by a grown man crying, you can’t be a hypocrite and also be a crying hypocrite: The day that George W. Bush appears with Barbara Walters and sheds tears over the dead and injured soldiers and civilians of the Cheney/Bush oil war will also be day we all agree that Republican crying must stop.
“I never expected them to be so nice about it!” declares an actor in an often-seen commercial for the Scooter Store that helps seniors obtain motorized wheelchairs “without having to pay!” Well, of course they can be nice about it, since that “free” Rascal scooter is paid for with your hard-earned Medicare dollars. But the idea that retail and other transactions can transpire with a fresh new attitude about service and civility will be coming on strong as retail and vendors have the bold 21st century realization that customers like a little respect. Many have experienced the modern-day dichotomy of dealing with a blasé high-end retail clerk only to then grab coffee at a franchise outlet where the employees go out of their way to thank you for your business. Make your cardboard freeway exit sign now: “Will spend for a little gratitude.”
Say what you like about privacy and living with the Internet, but Herman Cain thought he could lead a previous life where he disrespected women and then sell himself as a White House-aspiring motivational speaker. “I’m a leader of people,” he kept saying, and women who knew otherwise refused to let him sell a lie. Sure, they were hurt that he used them but they expressed their anger by refusing him the chance to hurt us. This specific dimension of Cain’s failed candidacy was a truly hopeful trend. America still has a long way to go in figuring out exactly what it wants in the moral fiber of our presidents, but we’ll resolve that sooner if we first demand that everyone simply operates on the truth. To clumsily paraphrase a political slug line, “It’s not the sex, it’s the lying… dummy!”