2008 is almost history, and it definitely made some. We saw plenty of highs — the election of the first African-American President — and lows — the stock market dip — but as we look back at a year of extremes, our jaw still drops at these unbelievably shocking moments…
1. Teen Suicide Over MySpace Cyberbullying: MySpace, originally designed to connect people, has been responsible for some of the saddest stories this year. It took down a small town mayor who posted half-naked photos of herself in January. Even more pathetic is the 49-year-old woman who posed as a 13-year-old boy to terrorize a girl that lived a couple doors down from her. After befriending little Megan Meier as “Josh,” a boy who had just moved to a nearby town, Lori Drew started sending hate mail in character. Drew, also a mother of an adolescent, tortured Megan with bulletin posts, “Megan is fat,” and messages, “The world would be a better place without you. Have a shitty rest of your life.” Hurt by “Josh” and his MySpace activity, Megan hung herself. Drew is now on trial for her untimely death. [Times Online]
2. Prop 8 Passes: Just in time for wedding season, the California Supreme Court overturned a ban on same sex marriage. Hooray! Unconstitutional discrimination flew out the window, thanks to a court considered to be ruled by moderate Republicans, and it opened the door for Ellen to proudly marry her girlfriend Portia de Rossi and spread the love all over the pages of People. Things seemed to be looking up for gay rights — until the shocking passing of Proposition 8 on November 4th. After nationwide rallies and a public outcry, the California Supreme Court, at the encouragement of Governor Schwarzenegger, has just agreed to hear arguments on the constitutional validity of Prop 8, starting as soon as March. It looks like 8 will continue making headlines in 2009.
3. Wall Street Crashes And The Government Bails Out Banks: While “Wall Street Crashes” might sound like an awesome band name, the US market is as unstable as Keith Richards in the ’70s. We all knew something was up when we got an “economic stimulus” tax return, but no one was prepared for the bottoming out of big businesses like General Motors. It became one of the hot button issues of the election, with “credit crisis” and “bail out” on everyone’s lips. A trillion dollar government package may or may not save us all from another Depression. The one good thing to come out of all of this? We became recessionistas.
4. Life On Mars?: Phoenix, a Mars rover, captured images of Martian clouds shedding ice! Although the drops never landed on the planet’s surface, some traces of liquid H20 were found in the soil. Since water is the basis for life on Earth, there is new hope Mars may be habitable…or perhaps hosted life long ago. Sweet! Hot aliens. [PBS]
5. Bristol Palin Gets Knocked Up: Baby bumps are so 2008. Jessica Alba, Ashlee Simpson, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani. For the first time, almost every lady in Tinseltown didn’t have a flat stomach. But nobody’s baby news, not even child star Jamie Lynn Spears’, could compete with the Republican vice presidential candidate’s teenage daughter’s baby trouble. She got knocked up by her boyfriend (now fiancé), Levi Johnston, and the pair became the poster children of conservative family values gone wild. We’re certain America hasn’t heard the last of Sarah Palin. In 2009, it’s practically guaranteed we’ll see a bidding war over her Bristol’s baby (and wedding) photos. Will they be worth as much as Hustler’s Palin porn spoof, “Nailin’ Paylin?”
6. Going For The Gold: America watched the studly [...butterfaced! -- Editor] Michael Phelps swim his way to a record eight gold medals in the Olympics. He set seven world records and holds the most Olympic gold medals of any athlete. While his success is certainly an accomplishment, the women’s swim team had their own standout. Dara Torres, 41, is the first US athlete to compete in her fifth Olympic games, making her the first athlete over 40 vying for medals. Dara has a total of 12 Olympic awards, after earning three silver medals in 2008. However, not only did Torres break an American record at the national competition a little over a year after she gave birth to her first child, but in Beijing she broke her own record for the 50 meter race, which she set at 15. Torres is the fine wine of swimming. In our youth obsessed society, she keeps getting better with age.
7. Lindsay Lohan & Samantha Ronson: The child star admitted to loving a lady DJ. While the pair have been bosom buddies for years, after they got matching ink and got caught kissing on Diddy’s yacht, the “just friends” jig was up. Now, Lindsay has put her problematic substance abuse behind her and spends her nights going wild on Sam instead.
8. Hookergate 2008: In the city that never sleeps, Governor Eliot Spitzer sure slept around. When news of his date with call girl Ashley Alexandra Dupré hit the news last spring, it was the final screw. Shamed, Spitzer resigned from officee. While the politician went into hiding, Dupre pursued her music career and may write a book; the minute Spitzer was off the hook, she granted her first interview to Diane Sawyer. Will America come to love the Ashley the way Spitzer did her alter-ego Kristen? 2009 will tell.
9. Man With Child: Last spring, Thomas Beatie, aka “The Pregnant Man,” busted out his hairy belly and told Oprah and the world that he was a transgender man carrying a little bundle of joy in his womb. Although he’d had surgery to remove his breasts and was on a regimen of male hormones, Beatie had kept his reproductive organs in the hopes of someday having a biological child. While he continues to be legally a male, he stepped up to the proverbial plate when his wife wasn’t able to conceive. After delivering a healthy baby, Susan Juliette, this June, Beatie and his wife just announced he is pregnant again with their second child.
10. The Lady Madonna: Celeb divorces this year were ugly. Heather Mills gold dug her nails into Paul McCartney’s millions, and Christie Brinkley had her personal life dragged through the mud. But there was one affair that stood out above the rest. Madonna’s sex life has always been infamous, but this year she really outdid herself. After a nearly eight-year marriage to Guy Ritchie, it was revealed that Madonna was carrying on with baseballer Alex Rodriguez. Cynthia Rodriguez, Alex’s soon to be ex-wife, cited A-Rod’s relationship with the Material Girl as her main reason for wanting a divorce. Ritchie and Madonna finally decided to part ways in what became an ugly, but brief, public battle. Although Ritchie supposedly described making love to the star as “cuddling up with a piece of gristle,” he didn’t try to take a stab at her millions. As of Friday, they are legally divorced. Ritchie walked away from the marriage, a rumored $70 million, shared custody of their children, and his dignity.
12. Paula Abdul Super Fan Kills Herself: A few years ago, a sad soul who was obsessed with Abdul auditioned for “American Idol.” She was teased for her braces, rejected, and taped in the lobby offering harsh words for her idol. While Paula Godspeed never achieved fame for her talents, she recently made headlines when she overdosed in her car — the license plate read “ABL LV” — parked near Abdul’s house.
13. Clay Aiken Confirms He’s Gay: It’s been a big year for the ginger-haired singer. After releasing a new record and having a baby with his producer’s sister, he announced to the world that he is… wait for it… gay. Duh! Not so shocking, but we’re glad he finally got the courage to come out to his beloved Claymates.
15. The First African-American President: Long overdue, Barack Obama won the election and our hearts. With millions of outspoken supporters galvanizing at the polls, America hasn’t been this excited about a leader in a long time. We can’t wait until January 20, 2009!