This is my last post of the year. Thank you so much for reading! If you are looking for a last minute gift for your best friend, mortal enemy, newest crush, or member of the Pussy Posse … you can gift a subscription here. Also this post is too long and will cut off in email so maybe click it on-site!
I keep seeing variations online of one single idea: “I just want to live in precedented times again.” Bennifer, in some small, shallow, way are precedented times: the way Bennifer updates moved through my meetings, my group chats, my conversations with strangers and friends and family. I like the idea that people don’t ever really change — that we don’t evolve, that we don’t really grow, that we can be drawn to the same flames today that we were 20 years ago — it’s very Before trilogy-romantic. “Baby you are going to miss that plane,” but “Baby, two Leos are putting on their little outfits to go on a papp walk together.”
There are bigger stories than Bennifer, more important stories than Bennifer, but Bennifer is the performance I have most enjoyed watching this year. Part of it is the general familiarity in the midst of stars who are reinventing and reintroducing themselves every five minutes, people famous for single seasons of reality TV shows with drama we don’t really remember (if I say Harry and Francesca … exactly). We know Ben Affleck, we know Jennifer Lopez, they have both been famous for a very long time. And part of is that they have had such textured, volatile, emotional public lives — there’s something about watching two people prone to self-sabotage not actually self-sabotaging. There is so much that feels wrong or inconsistent or cruel. Bennifer is weirdly suspended in amber, a changelessness, a predictability, that gives some semblance of a monoculture.
Maybe that’s too high-falutin: this is a newsletter about culture and movies and celebrities and drama. Bennifer are putting on a show! It’s that quality in Ben Affleck that makes him pitiable but hatable but meme-able; it’s that quality in J.Lo, where she puts putting maximum effort into everything all the time — and it’s never perfect, and she never wins, but she never really loses, either. It’s A-Rod’s breakup ofrenda. It’s Lindsay Shookus engineering, if DeuxMoi is to be believed, a Closer situation. It’s “52 … What It Do.” It is somehow both the The Last Duel flopping and the inauguration “Let’s Get Loud.”
In January I said 2021 is the Deluxe Edition of 2020: “Everything is the same, but somehow worse.” I don’t expect 2022 to be any better. But Bennifer is always good, and Bennifer is my favorite performance of the year.
First Runner Up: Alec Baldwin, and no one is more upset to admit this than I
Song of the Year
Dame mas Gasoline (feat. Taylor Swift)
Runner Up: Jazmine Sullivan’s “Price Tags.”
Line Reading of the Year
“Father, son, and House of Gucci”
Runner up: Hugh Grant saying “I didn't kill the family dog. We never had a dog. I had a sister, I killed the family sister.”
Woman of the Year
Rihanna, who still has not given us an album but she also hasn’t texted Leonardo DiCaprio back, and that’s important to me.
Teddy Pendergrass of the Year is: Teddy Pendergrass
Man of the Year
Logan “Papi’s Home” Roy.
And also Jack Harlow, because despite having me not understanding his appeal and him not being tall and reminding me of a character cut from Ed, Ed, ‘N Eddy, somehow he persists.
Apology of the Year
“I have worked so hard to give you guys joy and be beloved” ???? Sorry it will never leave my brain, I wish it would.
Random List of Things I’m Sure You’ve Forgotten Were This Year But I’m Here To Tell You They Were and That’s How Long This Year Has Been
-“White Boy Summer”
- Ellie Kemper’s Klanceañera
- The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s end
- EmRata saying she was going to wait until her baby was 18 to refer to the child’s gender or something, and then immediately not doing that
- Armie Hammer
- The Capitol Insurrection, which happened to fall on Hilaria Baldwin’s birthday, not that that there is any literal connection between those things. But there is, I will say, some kind of spiritual connection.
- Lady Gaga’s investigation into the Insurrection.
Greatest Online Discoveries
An ode to the best part of the Oscars, maybe better than the speeches if we’re being honest. I have specifically selected this Judy Davis clip because she ate Husbands and Wives right on up, but I will also accept the Lesley Manville clip where it is obvious and embarrassing that very few people in the room saw Phantom Thread, and were totally surprised by the way she chewed Reynolds Up and spat him right back out.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Amy Adams will win an Oscar for a Tree Paine biopic and not a moment before!
This one came across my feed due to Matt of @PCD2009: it’s a Jessica Biel fan account that is doing the brave work of publicly hating flop Justin Timberlake 💜
People @peopleJustin Timberlake Confirms He and Wife Jessica Biel Welcomed Second Child Named Phineas https://t.co/M5E9uDpD2x
The Most Sharon!!!!!! of all the Sharon!!!!!!!s
Absolutely nothing will top Sharon Stone calling Cher ugly in her memoir The Beauty of Living Twice. You are wrong about this, but thank you Sharon!!!!!! I am, as always, accepting new Sharon!!!!! submissions, no matter how small.
Woody Allen is Still on the Upper East Side Somewhere Collecting Fucking Dust and Yet 2021 Took These People From Us
Michael K. Williams, DMX, bell hooks, SOPHIE, Larry King…
Fit of the Year
2021 in Feuds
“The Bad Art Friend”
This one doesn’t need to be explained, hopefully.
Scarlett Johansson versus House of Mouse
ScarJo — who literally always, always has something to say about everything — put on her legal action wig to sue Disney for an alleged breach of contract over the streaming release of Black Widow. Disney, in reply, released an incredibly personal and gauche reply. It was settled, but my god! Loved every minute of this, frankly.
Adam McKay and Will Ferrell’s friendship breakup
There are no sides, no winning or losing; there is just the reality that the Vanity Fair article about why they no longer work together is loads better than Don’t Look Up.
Assorted celebrities versus The New Yorker, on behalf of Jeremy Strong
Humiliating that we are even still talking about this — still! — but it belongs on this list.
DaBaby versus Any Lick of Sense
“Don’t fight hate with hate,” the man said, while being hateful!
Michael Rapaport vs Kevin Durant
My personal bias is showing here, but I still think of Pussy Rapaport daily and I hope she has a happy holiday season.
MichaelRapaport @MichaelRapaport@KDTrey5 @CellfromDBZ No we don’t Pussy. Don’t ever threaten me or speak on my wife Pussy.
The Met Gala vs What I would traditionally describe as “stylish” or “interesting”
A Met Gala not even worth robbing, I think I said at the time.
Ben Affleck versus Ben Affleck
This one is technically perennial.
My Favorite Photo of 2021
I can only assume that Pablo Larraín saw this, was as inspired by it as I was, and added that absolutely crazy scene to Spencer.
And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors*
I worked a lot this year and wrote a lot this year mostly to distract myself from the, um, crushing psychological turmoil of the global pandemic and also the crushing psychological turmoil of Martin Scorsese still not wearing his glasses. Here are my personal highlights:
I talked to celebrity publicists about how they write celebrity apologies, and expert gossipers about bane of my existence DeuxMoi, and third-wheeled Barry Jenkins and Colson Whitehead hanging out over Zoom.
Waystar Royco flew me out.
And twice a week — more often than not! — I wrote this newsletter twice a week for you.