This year in the arts world

1) Michael Jackson’s death

Despite his reclusive nature and tarnished public persona, Michael Jackson’s death on June 25 was met with a gasp worldwide.

Perhaps due to his enigmatic nature as of late, Jackson’s music career – rather than personal and professional issues – were celebrated as reaction to his sudden death.

With Off The Wall and Thriller in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, not to mention his earlier career with the Jackson 5, Jackson became a household name, selling over 100 million copies of Thriller alone (so many vinyl copies of this record were produced that there is a 75 per cent chance you have one in your attic or basement right now).

After allegations of child molestation surfaced on more than one occasion, he dangled his infant son over a balcony and his appearance was altered by copious cosmetic surgery and a claimed skin pigment disorder. Jackson remained in the news for the last few decades even as his music career stagnated.

His death occurred as he prepared for a comeback series of concerts. He died of a reported drug overdose; his personal physician has recently been charged in connection with his death for administering the drugs Jackson was on when he went into cardiac arrest.

–Mike Lakusiak

2) Kanye West goes nuts

When it comes to being crazy, Kanye West always comes out on top. Since his debut, he’s made a name for himself by acting out in public and having one of the biggest egos in the world.

Since his alcohol-induced interruption of Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech in September, Kanye has done nothing to tame his reputation as a douchebag. After last year’s genius South Park episode starring Kanye as a gay fish (and the subsequent lack of amusement from West), Kanye decided to prove that he actually does have a sense of humour. In December, he signed on to do an episode of The Cleveland Show, which approximately zero people will watch.

Kanye West and his unitard-and-sunglasses sporting girlfriend Amber Rose rang in the new year in style, getting attacked by PETA for wearing fur coats.

He rounded out this academic year by throwing a hissy fit after being given a seat in coach on his way home from the Grammys, and still continues to post ridiculous blogs stating things like “IT’S FUNNY HOW SO MANY RAPPERS GET WORSE AS THEIR CAREERS STRETCH OUT BUT TRUE POETS GET BETTER.” Just when we thought he couldn’t get any more obnoxious, he discovered the caps lock key.

–Sarah Murphy

3) Lady gaga takes over

From her worldwide musical success to her unusual choice of attire, this year, Lady Gaga has certainly fulfilled her role as a performer. The internationally renowned 23-year-old’s performance at the 2009 MuchMusic Video Awards, began with her inside a replica subway car and ended with fireworks sparking from Gaga’s wire cage bra.

At the 2009 VMAs, Lady Gaga presented her hit song “Paparazzi” with a spooky twist. Beginning with Gaga and her dancers costumed aristocratically in all white, this performance puts a dark spin on Gaga’s song; ending with desperation and murder.

Most recently, viewers tuned in to watch Lady Gaga join in a duet with the legendary Sir Elton John at the 2010 Grammy Awards.

As Gaga’s songs and performances are constantly changing, it appears that the only consistency in her acts are her unusual outfits. Ranging from a dress made of guns (from the Monster Ball tour) to one made of plastic bubbles to match her transparent piano (from the Fame Ball tour), Gaga explains that the unusual clothes, just like the elaborate performances, are all for the fans.

–Katie Flood

4) The David Letterman scandal

Since he had been passed over for the job of host on NBC’s The Tonight Show almost 20 years ago, David Letterman has been riding Jay Leno’s coat-tails on the late night circuit.

Early last year, there suddenly was no more Jay Leno to contend with, and a new competitor named Conan O’Brien stepped up to the plate. Pretty soon, the two men were neck-in-neck in the ratings, until, one unassuming day, everything changed.

On his Oct. 1 broadcast of The Late Show, Letterman made a serious address to his audience where he admitted to having been part of an extortionist scandal. He was accused of having sexual affairs with a number of former female staff members.

If that wasn’t shocking enough, moments later Letterman himself confirmed that he did in fact have the affairs moments later.

For the first time in years, The Late Show’s ratings skyrocketed above The Tonight Show’s. Letterman handled himself in a professional manner, evoking both feelings of disdain and empathy from his audience members.

Since then O’Brien’s The Tonight’s Show has been given back to Leno, making the original Leno-Letterman rivalry start up again and leaving O’Brien high and dry.

–Wade Thompson

Other news

Deaths

While one of the biggest newsmakers of 2009 was the sudden passing of Michael Jackson on June 25, earlier on the same day it was reported that Farrah Fawcett had passed away after a three-year-long battle with cancer.

Father of modern news Walter Cronkite passed away on July 17, marking the death of one of the last trusted anchors of our parents’ generation.

On Sept. 14, Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze succumbed to pancreatic cancer after months of reports that he was on death’s doorstep.

Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein died on Aug. 28 of an accidental drug overdose. Drugs also claimed the life of ‘80s teen idol Corey Haim on March 10, 2010.

It was reported that actress Brittany Murphy’s death on Dec. 20 was caused by cardiac arrest, but speculation was rampant as to whether the underlying cause was a drug overdose or eating disorder.

The death of fashion designer Alexander McQueen was also shrouded in mystery, as speculation of suicide was reported following the discovery of a deceased McQueen in his closet on Feb. 11.

–Krysten Palser

Break-ups

It’s being called the Curse of the Oscars.

On March 15 of this year, it was confirmed that 2009 Best Actress winner Kate Winslet had separated from her director husband of nearly seven years, Sam Mendes, amidst rumors of his infidelity.

Only days later, a bomb dropped with the news that Sandra Bullock’s husband of five years, Jesse James, had allegedly carried out an 11-month affair with a white supremacist tattoo model.

The rumours became public not even two weeks after Bullock picked up the 2010 Best Actress Oscar.

Other notable celebrity splits of the past year included Canada’s own punk couple Avril Lavigne and Sum 41 frontman Derek Whibley in October when they announced their divorce.

Susan Sarandon and her partner of 23 years, Tim Robbins, announced that they had ended their relationship back in December last year.

On-again off-again couple Sean Penn and Robin Wright finally called it quits in August 2009 due to Penn’s infidelity, though the pair had previously filed for divorce twice in the last few years.

–Krysten Palser

Late night news

Over the course of the last few months, late night television became more relevant than it’s been in quite some time. As most of you already know though, that wasn’t because of the content.

In a move that was deemed quite evil by some, the National Broadcasting Company decided to pull the plug on their experimental gamble, The Jay Leno Show, forcing an unintended coup upon their late night cornerstone, “The Tonight Show”.

Executives at NBC refused to acknowledge that their experiment had failed, and made an attempt to keep Jay Leno at their network. Also aware of the fact that “The Tonight Show’s” ratings had been slipping since Conan O’Brien took over, they attempted to wedge in Leno’s show before Conan’s, going for the obvious ratings grab.

O’Brien being no slouch, didn’t want to damage the legacy that was “The Tonight Show” and refused to allow the show juggling to take place. This forced NBC to buy out the rest of Coco’s contract, and Leno was once again given the reigns to one of the network’s only profitable shows.

And the rest, as they say, is a dark spot on the history of late night television.

-Wade Thompson

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