It’s been a busy half year when it comes to the news, but there have been a few hot topics that have overtaken the headlines during the first months of 2009. From evil octomoms to marijuana mayhem, this is a look at 5 of the hottest newsmakers of 2009 so far:
Mothers of Multiples – It all started with the Octomom. Nadya Suleman and her gigantic brood of children made her one of the most hated women in America. No one could understand how a woman with no job or a husband with one could decide that having eight children was the next logical step in her life (especially since she already had 6 at home!). There were allegations that Nadya Suleman was obsessed with Angelina Jolie and had undergone plastic surgery to look like her and wanted a big brood just like her. The doctors who allowed the Octomom to undergo fertility treatments also came under fire, and we all wondered where a single mom already taking care of six kids got the money for the fertility treatments and the surgery. After months of bickering over whether the Octomom should be allowed to have her own reality show like ‘Jon & Kate Plus 8’, she finally got her way. But by that time, our attention had shifted to another mother of multiples, Kate Gosselin of ‘Jon & Kate Plus 8’. She ruled her roost with an iron fist, complaining about coupons that the family didn’t even need, harping on Jon over every little thing (even breathing!), and rolling her eyes like an annoyed teenager when her kids would try to talk to her while she was talking to the cameras. But fans of the show ‘Jon & Kate Plus 8’ had known this about Kate Gosselin for quite some time. What got the attention of the rest of America were a few pictures of her husband Jon Gosselin out partying with a twenty-something schoolteacher. It didn’t take long for more headlines of the couple’s failing marriage to start flooding grocery store checkout lanes: did they have an open marriage contract? Was Kate Gosselin dating her bodyguard? Did Jon Gosselin go out and party with friends on Kate Gosselin’s birthday? Should these two and their eight kids even be on a show? Were the stories about affairs just a big hoax to boost ratings? Is Kate Gosselin’s haircut really cute? The two recently finally did get a divorce, ending the speculation. Still, the show might go on and the debate over whether the kids should be subjected to it won’t end, and we’re waiting to see if TLC comes up with a replacement for the large family if the show does end.
The Fight for Gay Rights – Prop 8 was big news at the beginning of the year, as was the fight to repeal it. It’s frankly amazing to me that gay couples who live in one of the places in America that’s viewed as the most liberal still can’t get married, but I believe they will be able to in due time. The debate over gay marriage sparked one of the most interesting feuds of the year so far between former Miss California Carrie Prejean and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. During the Miss USA pageant, Carrie Prejean was asked whether or not she thought that gay couples should be allowed to get married. She completely flubbed her answer up, saying she believed in “opposite marriage”. Perez Hilton later had some choice words for Carrie Prejean on his blog, and Carrie Prejean responded with a tryst with right-wing media outlets like FOX News. She argued that she lost the title of Miss USA because she stood up for what she believed in (although I still say she just stumbled all over her answer) and tried to become a martyr for the anti-gay marriage cause. Then one set of topless pictures of Carrie Prejean hit the internet, which she argued away as modeling pictures that weren’t abnormal for a girl in her position (they really weren’t anything worse than what you’d see in a men’s magazine; she was topless, but covering herself up with her arms). But then another set hit the net, and these really were topless pictures. Still, Donald Trump let her keep her Miss California crown, and co-director of the Miss California USA pageant and former Miss USA Shanna Moakler stepped down from her position after learning that Carrie Prejean was going to be allowed to keep her title. Eventually Carrie Prejean lost her title because she wasn’t fulfilling her contractual obligations, although she stated that she believed it was because she wouldn’t pose for more topless pictures in ‘Playboy’ or appear on ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’. Another former beauty queen in the spotlight who had expressed her support for Carrie Prejean, Sarah Palin, had to have shed a tear as someone so similar to herself faded away from the media spotlight, her last hurrah being a few E-mails between herself and a Miss USA employee that revealed her true character. So it was score 1 for gay marriage, a point that was quickly taken away as prop 8 wasn’t repealed. However, science might save the gay marriage argument: studies are revealing that gay and bisexual behavior is a natural occurrence in almost every species on the planet (remember the adorable gay penguin couple?). So evolution isn’t the only thing the religious right is going to have to find a Bible-friendly explanation for now. But the gay community could be tearing itself apart over a film by Sacha Baron Cohen. ‘Bruno’ is a movie done in Sacha Baron Cohen’s distinctive style of making people look like idiots by exposing their prejudice and hypocrisy by pretending to be a stereotype. But while the purpose of ‘Bruno’ seems to be to expose the ugly side of homophobia in a funny way, many members of the gay community are arguing that the movie just gives homophobes something to laugh about and that they’ll completely miss the message. Sadly, those who will be laughing at Bruno and not with him probably would not change their minds, anyway, so it’s best just to enjoy the movie and move on by fighting for gay rights where it counts: in the political world.
Celebrity Deaths – I don’t want to focus on this subject too long, because it’s depressed me enough this year, but there have been way too many celebrity deaths in these first few months of 2009. Natasha Richardson’s unexpected death early in the year definitely educated us all on head injures; she fell and hit her head while skiing, seemed perfectly fine, and died hours later. Legendary radio voice and storyteller Paul Harvey died in February, and Golden Girl Bea Arthur, also known for her ground-breaking work on the show ‘Maude’, died in April. British reality star Jade Goody wasn’t one of the biggest stars to die during 2009, but hers was one of the most-talked about celebrity deaths, as she allowed her struggle with cervical cancer to be documented to the very end. Other celebrity deaths include that of funnyman Dom DeLuise and porn star Marilyn Chambers. ‘Kung Fu’ Actor David Carradine’s untimely end became one of the most talked about celebrity deaths of 2009 because of the bizarre circumstances surrounding it, leading some to believe that he died attempting autoerotic asphyxiation. But perhaps the celebrity deaths that have gotten the most attention this year are the slew of them that happened in June, including that of Johnny Carson’s right hand man Ed McMahon and the blonde angel known as Farrah Fawcett, who died the same day as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. But while the news stories were pouring in about how MJ died, whether drugs and his doctor were to blame, and what would happen to his kids, another legend in his own right, infomercial king Billy Mays, died shortly after giving an interview about bumping his head. This led to speculation that he had died the same way as Natasha Richardson, but it was later discovered his death was from a heart condition. Of course these are just a few of the dozens of celebrity deaths that have occurred so far in 2009, and lets hope the second half of the year isn’t so dark.
The Struggle of the GOP – The Republican Party has had it’s fair share of blows so far this year. Despite no George Bush to bash, the GOP has had it’s hands full with jokes about the likes of Rush Limbaugh being the voice of the right and the star that is Sarah Palin not fading away. In fact, Sarah Palin seems to be making the headlines quite frequently, probably striking fear in the hearts of those in her party who see her as presidential poison. (Don’t worry, even Rush Limbaugh realizes how dangerous Sarah Palin is, and he won’t let her end up being the Republican candidate). But Sarah Palin is still sitting somewhat pretty, as the GOP has likely lost two of it’s possible candidates due to affairs. John Ensign fell after possibly being blackmailed by the husband of the staffer he had an affair with, and not too long after, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford made even more headlines when he went missing. No one seemed to know where he was, but it was only a matter of time before he admitted that he was seeing his mistress in South America. The media soon identified her as Maria Belen Chapu, prompting a frantic search for pictures of the former newscaster. It seems that Mark Sanford was truly head-over-heels for this woman, judging from the E-mails released (love letters from him to her), but he’s decided to try and keep his wife and his job. Even if he doesn’t step down as governor, don’t expect a presidential bid from him; like Ensign, he voted to impeach Bill Clinton when he went astray. Being lovelorn and called a hypocrite would probably just be a little too much for him to handle during a debate. And one more blow to the GOP: Al Franken was finally declared Minnesota’s Senator, giving the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority.
Pot Pushing – From the time that one of the most popular questions from an internet poll was posed to President Obama about legalizing marijuana, it looked like it was going to be a hot topic this year. There’s always a marijuana story that’s popular on the website Digg, and many are arguing that legalizing marijuana and taxing it could save our economy and put an end to the drug being smuggled across the Mexican border. News stations like CNN have done specials on the matter, weighing the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana, but it could be a long time before it’s ever legalized. Still, as cigarettes are becoming less and less popular, tobacco companies are going to have to find someway to make money, and switching over to marijuana might be the way to go.
So from bad mothers times eight to great drug and marriage debates, there have been some interesting newsmakers of 2009 so far. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this crazy year has to offer.