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Home » Culture and Criticism

The Smokies

Submitted by on March 11, 1996 – 8:05 PMNo Comment

For weeks before taking my vacation — and I have, as of this writing, fled my sweaty Manhattan digs for the more relaxing and cat-hair-free pastures of Cape Cod — I pondered how to write the column from a remote location while expending as little effort as possible in the process.I finally hit upon a solution earlier today while combing the tables of a flea market in search of bargains.As I flipped through a box of signed photographs, I happened on an autographed photo of Rob Lowe, taken during his ill-starred lambada with Snow White at the Academy Awards a few years ago.Then it came to me — an awards column!After a year and a half of harshing on the morons of pop culture, hasn’t the time come to dole out some prizes?

And so, faithful reader, may I proudly present the first annual Smoky Awards, conferred upon the most notable (or ridiculous, or vexing, or what have you) figures and events in the cultural consciousness.I would have solicited nominees from the readership, but since I just thought up this brilliant idea this morning, I didn’t have time.Please forgive the oversight, and rest assured that the Academy (in other words, me) chose its honorees with the utmost care.And now, the Smokies…

Most Ubiquitous Pop Culture Figure: Jewel.Just as Alanis Morissette did last year, Jewel has descended on the American public in the same manner as a new tax bill in Congress — welcomed by some, reviled by others, and blathered about incessantly by media instruments large and small.From the unrelenting airplay of her songs and videos to the profusion of her elfin image on magazine covers, Jewel hovers sweetly at the edge of America’s mental field of vision.She has become the Elizabeth Taylor of the non-tabloid world.

Sharpest Teeth: Mike Tyson.I wanted to give the award to Marv Albert, who allegedly noshed on some poor woman’s back, but since live television didn’t capture the moment, the Smoky goes to Iron Mike.Besides, any rapist can nibble on his victim’s shoulder blade; only a convicted rapist can tear through cartilage.

Lowest Depths Reached By A Talk Show (Or Talk Show Host): CBS This Morning.I saw a lot of strong contenders in this category.Jenny Jones took an early lead by appearing in court, denying that she has any idea how her staff puts the show together, and refusing to assume any responsibility for the murder with which her show was directly linked.Then Ricki Lake overtook Jenny on the backstretch by appearing on the Tonight Show and discussing in grotesque detail the artificial insemination process that she and her husband used to get her pregnant.I had handicapped Ricki to win this Smoky, especially since she and her staff fell hook line and sinker for the outrageous story I told them two years ago on her show, but unfortunately, the race had just started to get exciting.Kathie Lee Gifford appeared at the top of the turn, and since her face-lifted fossil husband Frank got busted in a hotel with a stewardess, a fact that Kathie Lee resolutely ignored in public, I thought she had the race sewed up — but then CBS This Morning featured “women who leave the work force to become nuns” last week, which I found so pathetic that I had to give the Smoky to CBS.I did, however, see fit to give Kathie Lee the Honorary “You Had It Coming, Sister” Lifetime Achievement Award instead.

Most Irrelevant Attempt To Update An Institution: The Miss America Pageant.Next year, contestants can wear bikinis for the first time in history.I cannot believe that a group of grown-ups sat in a room and decided that allowing two-piece suits in the swimwear competition would be the best way to bring the pageant into the nineties.I have a much better idea — why don’t they just abolish the swimwear competition altogether?Better yet, why don’t they get rid of the whole damn Miss America pageant?Let these women get jobs that don’t involve white high-heeled shoes.Every American deserves at least that much.

Least Charismatic Pop Culture Figure: Sandra Bullock.I had a difficult time narrowing the selections down to a single winner.So many boring people sprang to mind: Noel Gallagher, who could have phoned in his appearance on 120 Minutes last month; Renee Zellweger, co-star of Jerry Maguire, Jewel look-alike, and the latest in a line of lackluster dishwater blondes mistakenly dubbed “ones to watch” by the Hollywood press; Jenny McCarthy, who stubbornly refused to see the difference between “talented” and “obnoxious”; Jakob Dylan, whose staunch denial of comparisons to his father showed a lack of mental ingenuity surpassed only by the generic alterna-snooze stylings of the Wallflowers; Brooke Shields, who in spite of her highly publicized marriage to Andre Agassi and some artful eyebrow tweezing still couldn’t get the writers of Suddenly Susan to make her look like she can act; the list goes on.But none of these figures got as much press for having as little brio as Sandra Bullock.Noel makes good music; Jenny once did a Playboy spread; Jakob’s dad rules.Sandra doesn’t suck, exactly, but nobody understands how she got famous and stayed that way.She doesn’t make a hash of acting, and she isn’t ugly; she just doesn’t have a single memorable trait or talent in sight.

Most Musical Ado About Nothing: Electronica.Word to the music media — just because you insist that electronica is the next big thing doesn’t mean that anyone will believe you…and just because you turn around and declare electronica overhyped and dead three months later doesn’t mean anything either.Next.

Most Eagerly Awaited Web Site: Paula Corbin Jones v. William Jefferson Clinton.Apparently, they need pictures of Clinton’s pink Mustang in order to verify Paula Jones’s claims that he sexually harassed her.We all know that these pictures will turn up on the Web approximately twenty minutes after they get developed.So take ’em already.

Most Pointless And Surreal Corporate Web Site: Pampers.The proliferation of corporate Web sites in the last two years has caught up every possible product from Rolaids to Jiffy Lube, products that just don’t need a Web site.But has got to be the most bizarre.What on earth would possess someone to visit this site?If a new parent or babysitter is having trouble putting on a diaper, do they really have time to log onto AOL and point their browser to the Pampers site?

Most Unconvincing Satanic Wannabe: Marilyn Manson.Oh, please.Simon Le Bon knows more about the Dark Prince than this imbecile.

And thus, the Smokies.Feel free to send me your nominees for next year’s awards at the address below.I know that they seem like kind of a copout, but I don’t feel like working on my damn vacation, so there.



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