USA Today lists the five entertainers who they say had the worst 2002:
- Whitney Houston
Defining moment: ”Crack is whack.”
Recap: When Whitney Houston said those words to Diane Sawyer on national television, it became one of the next day’s most repeated phrases. Houston was saying she didn’t use crack, but she admitted that she and her husband, Bobby Brown, did use alcohol, cocaine and marijuana.
Defining moment: The dangling baby.
Recap: The pop singer has become synonymous with strange, but this year he seemed to reach a new level. Midyear, Jackson accused Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola of racism. Then there were the shocking close-ups of his nose taken in court, where he’s fighting a breach-of-contract lawsuit. A few days later, he showed up on crutches, saying he had been bitten by a spider. But the final straw was when he dangled his infant son over a hotel balcony in Germany as he showed him off to fans below.
Defining moment: The Queen of Nice became the self-proclaimed ”bitch who ain’t so nice and (who’s) just a big-mouthed fat lesbian.”
Recap: She came out of the closet, ended her TV talk show and shut down her magazine.
Defining moment: A snowballing of events that ended in her walking away from it all for a while.
Recap: The pop princess broke up early in the year with Justin Timberlake. ”I cried a lot, and it wasn’t fun,” she told People magazine. Sales of her most recent album, Britney, were less than half of the album before it. She made her film debut in Crossroads, which did OK but didn’t break any box office records. She made headlines by making an obscene gesture to photographers who surrounded her car in Mexico. She opened a restaurant in New York in June, Nyla, and by the end of the year pulled out of it as it struggled financially. Her parents divorced. And most recently, her Pepsi gig ended; the soft-drink company signed Beyonce Knowles.
Defining moment: A guilty verdict for shoplifting at the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue store.
Recap: She waited through 11 months of delays before going on trial for shoplifting more than $5,000 of merchandise.
Forgive me for pointing out the obvious if indelicate fact that at least these five entertainers are still alive, so they have a leg up on some of their peers, so to speak.
But just considering these five, here is my assessment:
Everyone already knew Whitney is loopy and prone to substance abuse. The fact that she kept it together through an interview and the success of her new album makes the last year better for her than any in a while – she succeeded by being functional and coherent when she had to be. And crack IS whack, it just sounded funny.
Jacko is the loser of the year. The freak achieved nothing as an artist, descended further into his disguise as a genderless albino alien, and capped it off with the baby dangle, for which he should be locked up and beaten with an infant’s carseat. I’m trying to remember the last thing a celebrity did in public that was more stupid and less explicable. Nope – can’t come up with anything. The 20-year anniversary of his masterpiece Thriller adds insult to injury.
Rosie definitely took a loss: from likeable closeted TV star and magazine publisher, to self-proclaimed ”bitch who ain’t so nice and … a big-mouthed fat lesbian.” She said it, I didn’t. The overt turn toward butch-ery didn’t help either: I don’t believe there are any rules saying lesbians have to make themselves as unappealing and unfeminine as possible. I believe Rosie may have lost her connection to the mainstream. Now if she would just shut up and go away…
Britney had a tough year, but nothing drastic: breaking up is hard to do but hardly unprecedented, if anything she is the more real for having gone through it and publicly admitted the pain. A million girls said, “If it can happen to Britney it can happen to anyone – I don’t feel quite so bad.” Her sales were down, but not bad. She will have to transform herself to keep going at superstar level, or what? She gets demoted to star. Big deal. She’ll be fine.
Winona had a real bad year – turns out she is a compulsive thief with a notable prescription narcotics habit to boot. If she uses this public bitch slap to get her life in order, she will be the better for it personally and shouldn’t suffer much professionally. If she continues to deny the problems, she is screwed. It’s up to her.