Monday, December 21, 2009

Under Rated 2009

Licensed Video Games

In the past, Licensed Video Games were usually poor quality, short, frustrating games that were rushed to the market to coincide with the release of a movie in an effort to capitalize on the popularity of the characters/story/media blitz of the franchise. In 2009, games like Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, among others changed that for the better. These games all featured familiar characters in innovative and polished games that were comparable to the best non-licensed games on the market. Hopefully, this trend continues in the next decade as game developers continue to devote more time and resources to providing quality content to fans of existing franchises and not simply use them to pad their bottom line.

“Other” Sneaker Releases

2009 was a relatively quiet year for two of the biggest sneaker lines of all time: Air Jordan and Air Force 1’s. Brand Jordan released a string of tepidly received retros (most of these are still available in your local Foot Locker) and some hybrids that have been constantly ridiculed online. It was also one of the quietest years for Air Force 1’s in recent memory, with the exception of a few super-limited quickstrike releases and several colorways popping up for the holiday season, there have been almost no significant AF1 releases in all of 2009. Also, the monthly releases of AJ/AF1 Hybrids have all been ridiculed online and are all still available at your favorite suburban mall.

In the absence of these two major players, other releases really got a chance to shine in 2009. Reebok’s 20th anniversary of The Pump, Fila’s Grant Hill collection, Nike’s Air Trainer Line (Bo Jacksons!), LeBron 7’s, Foamposites, Blazers and Air Max’s all kept Sneaker Heads happy and spending dough throughout the year.

The Rise of New Media

“King” and “Vibe” went out of business (albeit briefly), the biggest new Hip-Hop artist didn’t have a record deal, more people played Facebook games like “Farmville” and “Mafia Wars” than console games, record sales plummeted as major chain retailers continued to go out of business and celebrities “scooped” the gossip magazines via Twitter. Like Bob Dylan said: the times, they are a-changin’.

The “Reality” of MTV’s “Jersey Shore”

I have always been a proponent that everything on “reality TV” is carefully scripted and edited to have nothing in common with actual “reality,” however, with the release of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” I stand corrected. This show is the realist thing on TV!

I grew up at the Jersey Shore, not going there for the summers, a few fun weekends or after my senior prom, I lived there 24-7-365. This show perfectly depicts the drinking, fighting and general debauchery that vacationers from NY/Northern NJ engage in when they go “down the shore.”

Several groups have deemed the show derogatory for the Jersey Shore Community and Italian Americans. To those groups I say this: The show depicts “Jersey Shore People” (i.e. policemen, bouncers, barbers, the T-Shirt guy) as rational, hardworking and intelligent citizens, in contrast, the visitors or “Benny’s” are shown to be buffoonish revelers that drink to the point of hospitalization and punch women...I, for one, do not have a problem with this kind of realistic depiction. Secondly, older Italian Americans should worry more about their kids acting like idiots than MTV videotaping their kids acting like idiots.

We can only hope that the exploits of J-Wow, Snookie and The Situation continue to delight us in the new year.

Great Live Shows

The lack of revenue from record sales (see “Rise of New Media”) has forced acts to tour and become increasingly proficient live performers, because like B-Real from Cypress Hill said “You can’t bootleg a great live experience.” This new model for generating income has benefitted most music fans, but Hip-Hop fans in particular. In 2009, package tours like “Rock The Bells/Paid Dues” and “The Sneaker Pimps” and individual artists from superstars like Jay-Z to underground legends like Murs and upstarts like Kid Cudi, put on entertaining, professional and punctual (a rarity in Hip-Hop) shows that gave fans their money’s worth and a reason to spend money on music when artist’s entire catalogs are available online free of charge.

Tiger Woods as Athlete of the Decade

Many are offended that Tiger Woods can even be considered for this honor after his recently exposed “transgressions.” I disagree and challenge anyone that is appalled by this to come up with a better representative of what sports has to offer than Tiger Woods. Numerous extramarital affairs, exposing the mother of his children to any number of STD’s, embarrassing his children, alleged performance enhancing drug use, a contentious relationship with the media that made him rich and famous, constant use of foul language in public, contempt for his fans and a “win-at-all-costs” mentality...sorry to inform the outraged moralists, but THIS IS SPORTS.

If you are a sports fan and are completely flabbergasted by this shocking revelation I suggest you get involved in any number of past times with higher moral standards: adult films, the drug trade and politics are all good places to start.

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