Written by: Rob Van Winkle, CC2K Staff Writer
As I looked back on the pop culture of 2007, I had a startling revelation: I had opinions on FAR more things – in movies, music, books, theater and TV – than I had actually experienced this past year. The credit (or blame) for this lies directly with this very website.
At the beginning of this year, CC2K was still a very small enterprise. We had four regular writers, two regular readers, and updates about once every two weeks. We were a tight-knit little family, but since we had long ago decided to upgrade from the Family-Wide Web to the World Wide Web, we knew there was room and need for improvement.
Cut to 2008. After a full year of recruitment, advertising and hard work, CC2K has grown by leaps and bounds. We now have close to fifty writers creating content every single day, a brand-new News section that has garnered exclusive headlines picked up around the world, and two (count them TWO) cease and desist orders from major Hollywood studios. In other words, we have arrived!
To honor this past year (and with help from several others), I have compiled a “Best of CC2K” 2007 list. Here they are, in no particular order:
The Unified Theory of Comedy by Lance Carmichael
During this summer’s cavalcade of hilarious sex romps, a rather in-depth discussion was begun in the forums trying to come up with an accurate rubric for comedy. Some lamented the state of current comedies in favor of the “Golden Age,” and yet no one could accurately define when this “Golden Age” supposedly occurred. Lance Carmichael began a response that ended with this article. Using his vast knowledge of film combined with his own impeccable sense of humor, the end result was a piece that breaks down comedy films, and lets us know that our expectations haven’t been lowered, they’ve merely remained the same. It was also the most nominated article for this list.
Every once in a while, something happens that can almost be defined as a present-tense déjà vu, where you experience the same thing twice, in two different ways, simultaneously. This happened for me back in April, when I spent a week as the groupie of a college friend-turned Broadway star, while also reading a book about … groupies. It was a heady experience to be sure, and it turned into this piece on the strange state of modern fame. (Note: this piece was nominated by others, I swear. You will see nothing more from me on this list.)
As Snakes on a Plane both proved and disproved in 2007, the internet has become a powerful force for grassroots pop culture promotion. Savvy marketers can create buzz for their pet projects in any of a hundred ways, literally years before that project ever sees the light of day. CC2K’s Phoebe Raven experienced several angles of this phenomenon this year with Death Walks the Streets. Raven found herself religiously following the progress of this film via various outlets on the web, and decided to discuss her experiences in this article. Incredibly, the film’s director learned of her work, and blessed us with exclusive, never-before-seen images from the not-yet-filmed movie. And so, by reporting on the pre-movie internet buzz, she became part of it.
Could have been a Krull: Super Mario Brothers by Tony Lazlo
Tony is CC2K’s undisputed king of re-imagination. Over the years, he has “fixed” the Star Wars franchise, examined the Indiana Jones trilogy, and taken an exhaustively in-depth look into Lord of the Rings. Because of this, we should not have been surprised by whatever was up his sleeve next. However, for September’s Video Game Week, Tony went one step further by breaking down the cheesy goodness of Krull, and breaking down how the execrable Super Mario Brothers could have been done just as successfully.
Halo: A Perspective by Big Ross
When Big Ross came on board as CC2K’s video game editor, he immediately took charge and brought incredible depth and breadth to what was admittedly a dormant section of the site. He organized Video Game Week to honor the release of Halo 3, and the pinnacle of the event was this piece examining the almost cinematic success of the Halo franchise, which somehow managed to be comprehensive enough for the real gamers, and accessible enough for the rank beginners. (This was the second most nominated piece for this list).
Virtual Potter: Dissecting the Fan Fiction Phenomenon by Anastasia Salter
Summer of 2007 was clearly the summer of Harry Potter, with movie number five coming out practically at the same time as book number seven. During CC2K’s Harry Potter Week event in July, Anastasia Salter decided to look at HP Fan Fiction, a genre that she both read and contributed to. The end result was the best kind of pop culture essay: a piece that introduced many to something loved by a few, and almost certainly inspired new fans to join that world.
Harry Potter and the Same Movie as the Last One by Erik Myers
There are three types of essays that end up on CC2K. The first type contains no controversy, and discusses issues that no one could disagree with. The second type inadvertently creates controversy by presenting a viewpoint that others take issue with. The third type – admittedly the rarest type – purposely intends to create controversy by presenting unpopular viewpoints in a confrontational manner. Erik Myers is a vocal hater of the whole Harry Potter thing, and he created this piece as his line in the sand against all those who worship at the altar of Hogwarts. It’s a great piece, and we’re still awaiting the sequel he promised us at some point in late July.
Wrong Turn on the Road to Grandma’s House: Horror’s Debt to Fairy Tales by Jaime Kawamoto
Leading up to Halloween, CC2K presented Fright Week, where we looked to find unique angles on the horror genre. Jaime Kawamoto, CC2K’s first and favorite Canadian contributor, came through with this brilliant examination of fairy tales, and how they have influenced and affected what we know as horror today. (The attending forum thread only added to this piece, with further examination, and even a bit of controversy.)
Chick-Hor: Introducing the Female Horror Movie by Kristen Lopez
I just love it when articles come in that present a completely new (to me, at least) idea, laid out in such a way that it feels self-evident once you finish reading. Kristen Lopez did just that with Chick-Hor, where she contended that the overtly male horror genre is nonetheless littered with certain films that prey specifically on the fears and insecurities of women.
When Music Nerds Meet Sci-Fi Geeks: Get Ready for Wizard Rock by Catastrophe Waitress
This is probably the piece that had me in slack-jawed amazement the most this year, merely for the fact that its premise is not fictional! The notion of a band forming and writing music entirely around the world of Harry Potter is strange enough…but the concept that enough OTHER bands would do so that they’d create their own genre is frankly absurd. Catastrophe Waitress introduces all the muggles out there to this world with sincere surprise and humor.
Other Superlatives for 2007
Most Prolific New Writer – Mike Caccioppoli
When Mike Caccioppoli (blissfully shortened in my email address book to Mike C, or Seattle Mike) first joined CC2K in early 2007, we had no idea that he'd turn himself into a mini-empire, and our site into a legitimate destination for day-of-release movie reviews. Since starting in March, Caccioppoli has written a whopping 34 articles! But that only tells part of the story: five of those pieces were written about the Seattle International Film Festival, where he watched over fifty films in about two weeks! Good luck topping that, Mike!
The Best New Ongoing Series – Instant Expert by Jimmy Hitt
Jimmy Hitt has shown in his time at CC2K that his taste in music is both eclectic and spot on. His “Instant Expert” series tells readers exactly what they need to know about the artist, his music, and the album, to get us all up to speed.
The Best Continuation of a Pre-Existing Series – Don’t Tell Mom: The Babysitter’s Dead by Stella Artois
I admit that I have a real fondness in my heart for the Crapfest section. Where else can you go to read about the dregs of the pop culture world, with as much reverence as bile? Stella Artois dug back into the movie vault to find Don’t Tell Mom: The Babysitter’s Dead, and created this loving tribute to the film that you either didn’t see, or didn’t like.
Best Article Not Really about Pop Culture – Letting Go and (Possibly) Getting Laid, Without Getting Let Go: An Adult's Guide to Picking Costumes by Miellyn Fitzwater
About three times per year, an article comes to us that is perfect for the site, despite the fact that there is no appropriate category in which to place it. During Fright Week, Miellyn Fitzwater gave us this hilarious guide to costumes, which ended up getting placed in Movies/Essays, Etc.
Best use of Multi-Media – Top Ten Creepy 80s Videos by Sloan de Forest
Also for Fright Week, CC2K’s Golden Age of MTV expert Sloan de Forest went above and beyond the call of duty with this piece, finding the strangest and most unsettling videos from back when the “M” meant “Music,” and then offering up almost all of the videos for us to relive.
Best Line – Chuck's Full of Nuts: The False Nerdery of NBC's Latest by Shawn Feakins
Shawn Feakins’ first piece for CC2K was this essay complaining about the disingenuousness of NBC’s Chuck. In the midst of the piece, he makes this statement: “Chuck is geek drag. And bad drag at that. It's geekface doing a softshoe that's almost offensive.” It’s a statement that’s simultaneously strange, funny, and the best sentence on CC2K all year.
Best Moment of the Year:
And now, after a ton of ado, here is the finest moment of CC2K’s year … The relaunch!
The CC2K of today is in an entirely different league from the site that was first offered to the public a few years ago. In fact, the only way to truly indicate how far we’ve come is to show you how we began. Take a look at the first front page of CinCity2000, back when absolutely no one was paying attention.
And there we have it. With any luck, 2008 will be even greater, necessitating an even longer year-end wrap-up. Hope to see you then.