All things considered, it was a year without shame.
It was the year that Miley Cyrus French-kissed a sledgehammer in the music video for her song “Wrecking Ball,” and cavorted naked on said wrecking ball. The former Disney star popularized the act of twerking in a performance at the MTV Video Music Awards that was so luridly infantile, it wasn’t outrageous so much as pathetic. Yet it worked. It gained her at least another 15 minutes of fame and probably more, to have people pay attention to other insipid things she might do, usually half-clothed. Cyrus made us yearn for the good taste and restraint of the era of Lady Gaga, not to mention the golden age of classic Britney Spears.
It was the year the president of the United States posed in a selfie with other foreign leaders at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela. He evidently had a grand time, but made us nostalgic for the period before our presidents posed in selfies with other heads of state, i.e., the long stretch of American history ending on Dec. 9, 2013.
It was the year Anthony Weiner admitted in the midst of his New York City mayoral campaign that he had continued to sext after resigning from Congress for sexting. Under the delightfully absurd alias “Carlos Danger,” he had sent pictures of his private parts to a 22-year-old woman, whose notoriety instantly launched her career in adult film and as a spokesmodel for an adultery-facilitating website. Weiner made us fondly recall the self-effacing modesty of past New York City politicians like Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani.
It was the year that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denied smoking crack, before admitting smoking crack — probably “in one of my drunken stupors.” He blamed reporters for not asking “the correct questions” when he made his initial lawyerly denial, in which he had only said, “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.” He denounced a successful effort by the City Council to strip him of most of his powers as a “coup d’etat.” While running around like a bull high on amphetamines during the raucous council debate, he knocked a woman down. The good mayor made us miss the decorum and straightforwardness of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.