Best of Pop Culture in 2011, an Art Review

Wow, 2011. Hundreds of years from now, anthropologists will look back at this year and wonder what in Zoltar’s name we were thinking. (Assuming we’ve connected with extraterrestrial beings by that time and they turn out to be oddball, Mr. Furley-style landlords of the universe, of course.) It seemed like everyone was getting in on their piece of the crazy while they could, although some figured out how to ration it out to make it last as long as possible.

Since I’ve moved back home, I’ve rearranged my bedroom, trying to make more space for  another bookcase. However, the new arrangement has left the wall right across from my bed painfully bare, and I’m thinking I could use some new artwork to spruce it up. Now, if you’re a 20-something girl in college, or have an appreciation for handmade crafts, you’ve surely heard of Etsy, an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items as well as art and craft supplies (or so says Wikipedia). I happen to fit into both categories, and while I could simply hang a painting my boyfriend did for me, or my framed Abbey Road poster, I thought I should peruse Etsy to see what there is to be had. I blanked on what terms to search, so I just put in a few keywords or names from this past year to find something wall-worthy… I must admit, there are some serious contenders.

So, here is the pop culture year in review, interpreted by the artists of Etsy:

1. Charlie Sheen

There should be a hashtag in there somewhere, right?

I feel like Charlie Sheen probably tried to recreate that scene in Scarface where Tony Montana dives face first into a pile of cocaine, and his meltdown is the result. Everyone was all, “I’ve got tiger blood” and “I’m a frickin’ rockstar from Mars” while tweeting about how they were #winning all the time. I still have a hard time taking people seriously if they spent the first few months of the year saying “winning” after they did something mediocre, if that. Unfortunately for me, the listing for this delightful cross-stitch is just for the pattern, not the actual completed work. No thanks.

2. The Royal Wedding

At least his bald spot probably isn't as apparent here.

For the record, there were over 6,000 items that came up when I searched for “royal wedding.” As much of a big deal as it was over here, it was even bigger across the pond. I know at least one Dame (Joni) who got up to watch it at about 4am our time. Lacking cable and sleep, I waited to watch the Today Show’s coverage of it the following morning online. Unlike other things that will show up on this list, this pop culture moment wasn’t so bad. Honestly, who doesn’t love a nice fairytale wedding? It was lovely and tasteful, and good Lord, that Alexander McQueen dress by Sarah Burton was incredible. However, the artwork I need has to be something I can put on a wall, although this could make a nice bookend or something.

3. The Republican Party

This one was truly a toss-up, so I’ll let you decide which is best. In my eyes, neither one of these is better than the other, and since they were created by the same artist, perhaps I could get a discounted shipping rate.

I find Pelosi’s mouth terrifying in this painting, and I fear for Secretary Clinton’s safety. Also, I assume Romney and Cain are playing GOP tag, and Cain is now it.

I’m really intrigued by the explanation the artist gave for this painting of prominent women in today’s political scene. He states in the listing, “I believe I find myself in the middle of the road politically. I believe the best thing we can do for Pelosi and Bachmann is have them suit up with a real politician, Hillary Clinton.” The artist also has a video giving more background on his thoughts on the subject. (OMG, no, seriously, watch this video.) Between Bachmann and Cain (and Perry, oh my!), this year, I was convinced the Republican Party was going to pick their candidate based on who spewed the most crazy. At the time, these two were the top contenders, but as of today, both have (conveniently) suspended their presidential campaigns, still allowing them to raise money to put towards the campaigns of other candidates. To avoid the chance of any bad dreams, I think I will pass on this political folk art, but thank you all the same, Denny Pinkham.

4. Occupy Wall Street

But if the pig is the 99%... well, now I'm just confused.

For the longest time, it seemed like many of the big name news outlets didn’t bother to cover the Occupy Movement, which started in New York City’s Zucotti Park in mid-September 2011, or when they did, they basically said they didn’t get it. Douglass Rushkoff, a media theorist, got it, and probably said it best: “Anyone who says he has no idea what these folks are protesting is not being truthful. Whether we agree with them or not, we all know what they are upset about, and we all know that there are investment bankers working on Wall Street getting richer while things for most of the rest of us are getting tougher.” Since then, several other Occupy demonstrations have taken place, including on college campuses. This is one moment of 2011 that isn’t going away anytime soon. However, to speak aesthetically, I like the minimalist, contemporary look of this shadow box, but I need something that packs more of a visual punch…

5. Kim Kardashian


Kim Kardashian, you are all that is wrong with society. Other than making a sex tape, what have you done to be this famous? If it’s not worth having a camera shoved up your nostril while doing it, you probably won’t do it. While I’m sure your wedding was a real boost to California’s economy, filing for divorce after 72 days is more of a threat to the sanctity of marriage than any marriage between two loving, committed people who happen to be of the same sex could ever be. Besides, didn’t you all see Sex & the City 2? (No? Just us? Really?) Stanford and Anthony’s wedding was just as opulent as Ms. Kardashian’s, and I can imagine the gift registry was just as insane — just think what that could mean for the economy. Besides, everyone deserves the right to marry the person they love. Units of time can now be measured in Kardashians: my sister and her fiance, who are getting married on June 2, will have their first Kardashian on August 13. Kim wasn’t the only one to get the Andy Warhol treatment: check out this refurbished window covered in Snookis.

On second thought, maybe I’ll just stick with the Abbey Road poster…


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