The 10 Biggest Failures Of 2011
10. The Walking Dead: Season 2: The first season of The Walking Dead was the best thing to happen to sci-fi fans since Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air. People loved the series so much that the second season premiere set a ratings record. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. A group of disparate people desperately trying to escape hordes of zombies is exciting. A group of disparate people hashing out their feelings about each other on a relatively safe farm while they venture out to put down the occasional stray zombie they run across is not. At this point, the show is like a relationship that's going bad. It starts out magnificently, but then you slowly realize it's not as much fun as it used to be, but you're still hoping against hope that things will turn around before you have to break it off. If the Walking Dead keeps this up, a lot of its fans are going to have a "It's not you, baby, it's me" conversation with the show.
9. Righthaven: Righthaven is a group of "copyright trolls" that have been the scourge of bloggers and forums across the world. Its modus operandi is to buy the right to stories from various newspapers and then use a loophole in the law to sue anybody and everybody it can for "copyright infringement." There are no requests to take the material down, no harm done to the papers, just demands for ridiculous cash sums under dubious legal circumstances. After profitably settling a number of cases, Righthaven started losing in court. Happily, things have gotten so bad that "$225,000 in attorney fee awards have been assessed against Righthaven. Righthaven has pleaded poverty and said that it may be forced to file for bankruptcy, but the court in the Hoehn case issued an order allowing the seizure of Righthaven's assets to satisfy the award." Personally, I'm rooting for everyone associated with Righthaven to end up eating out of garbage cans. It couldn't happen to nicer guys.
(Update: Righthaven's URL is being auctioned off here. Bidders are expected to be mostly defendants trying to keep the Righthaven name and everything about it out of circulation. -- Ed Driscoll.)
8. Greg Mortenson: Three cups of fraud: The best-selling author of Three Cups of Tea not only managed to pocket a lot of money off his book, he started doing charity work via the Central Asia Institute. He was building schools for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, that heartwarming story turned into a cautionary tale after it was revealed that Mortenson made up things in the book, greatly exaggerated what was being done, and used the charity as a personal ATM machine. Although Mortenson has done some good, he also misled a lot of people, including Barack Obama who gave the $100,000 that he received from his Nobel Prize to the Central Asia Institute. Come to think of it, that may be the most responsible that Obama has been with money since he came to D.C.; so perhaps we shouldn't be too critical.
7. Doomsday prophet Harold Camping: Camping made the ultimate mistake for a doomsday-predicting crank: He actually gave people a date. You would think he’d learned his lesson after blowing it in 1994, but he tried it again for May of 2011. There was a huge advertising campaign, signs, and lots of publicity. I actually asked a couple of people in D.C. holding signs that referenced the May Rapture what was going to happen when the date passed and nothing happened. They dodged the question, which turned out to be a good move. After that Rapture prediction failed, Camping AGAIN predicted the Rapture for October of this year, which you may have guessed was wrong by the fact that you're reading this column in December. All of this would just merit excessive eye-rolling except for the fact that a number of Camping's followers sold all their belongings and gave him money to spread the word. If there's anybody who was genuinely sad that the world didn't end, they're probably the ones.
6. Qwikster: In the face of powerful competition from Redbox, Netflix came up with Qwikster, the "new Coke" of the video world. The idea was that Netflix would split off its streaming video service from its DVD delivery service, but the idea was received with all the enthusiasm of a smallpox epidemic. Customers hated having a large price increase combined with having to go to two websites to get the same service they were already receiving at Netflix -- and come to think of it, who wouldn't hate that? In a sense, this is actually a move DUMBER than "New Coke" because at least that was a new product, while this is just splitting Netflix in a way that is all downside for its existing customer base.
5. Charlie Sheen: He's pumping tiger blood, man! He's winning! He's a rock star from Mars! He'll make your face melt off! Wheeeeee! Go to his live shows! Give him a new TV show! This guy is really exciting now! Cheer him on!
That's in front of the cameras. Behind the cameras, here's what it's like:
"You can’t do that much cocaine and work. I didn’t want to be writing a sitcom while my friend died. Or worse, hurt someone else. We couldn’t be complacent. There was a tragedy unfolding right in front of us. There was violence and blackouts. On a certain level, if you’re looking the other way, you’re responsible. It was falling apart. It was heartbreaking to be around here then." -- Chuck Lorre on firing Charlie Sheen from Two and a Half Men
We've already seen how this movie turns out. It's called "Amy Winehouse."
The same people who were laughing and cheering her on when she sang "They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, ‘no, no, no’" were the ones making jokes about her after she died. That's Charlie Sheen's future unless something changes, and it's not pretty for him or his "fans."
4. Casey Anthony: A total unknown became the third most Googled name in 2011 by being a hot party girl who people believe got away with "OJing" her daughter. This is actually more than a little ironic when Planned Parenthood exists, but the world is what it is. Of course, the really sad thing is that Anthony will probably parlay this whole experience into wealth and maybe even a starring slot on some D-list celebrity reality show.
3. The Kim Kardashian/Kris Humphries Wedding: This may be the only wedding in history where the marriage didn't last as long as the TV promos foisting it on the public. In fact, the whole marriage actually imploded so quickly that it spurred allegations that it was all staged just to rake in a massive reality TV payday. That seems improbable, but not impossible -- which says a lot about everyone involved. Whatever the case may be, we have found out that money really doesn't buy you class -- or sanity, or happiness, or a likable personality. Who'd have ever thought such things about someone who originally became famous for being friends with Paris Hilton?
2. The Penn State Pedophilia Scandal: The very existence of pedophiles is troubling enough as it is, but what's worse is finding out that there are apparently lots of people who're willing to turn a blind eye to protect their jobs, avoid rocking the boat, or just to safeguard the cherished image of Penn State football. Here's a quick piece of advice: If you run across anyone who's being raped, don't call your dad, don't file a report, don't have a polite chat with them about it later, CALL THE @%#$^&! police! Apparently, this is advice that grown men working for a university have not heard before now, which is a shame, because their silence helped a pedophile get away with raping children for years.
1. The Occupy Movement: Although this isn't really a political list, it seems fair to include the Occupy Movement since it’s not an effective political movement in any sort of meaningful sense. If it is, how is it that no one even knows what they want to to accomplish? Even the people protesting don't seem to know why they’re there. So, all they've ended up doing is recreating the Paleolithic era with a bunch of dirty, disheveled hippies, anarchists, and homeless people camping out in the middle of cities across the country, where they eat donated food, cause trouble, and try to puzzle out what they do with their own feces. The results of this experiment? Well, 5600 arrests, 400+ incidents, and at least 8 deaths. #Occupyfail