The phrase “guilty pleasure” has long outlived its usefulness. If you really like a song or a movie or a TV show, no matter how cheesy the conventional wisdom says it is, you should feel free to say so without guilt, and to defend your appreciation vigorously. That’s one reason why I (and, judging by the number of comments, you as well) enjoy reading Mandi Bierly’s PopWatch Confessional columns. They get at how important entertainment really is in our lives, and they open the emotional floodgates for readers by reminding you of things you’d forgotten you loved.
It was this sort of writing — passionate discussion of things individual writers cared deeply about — that marked the best of PopWatch for me in 2007. Whether or not you shared Michael Slezak’s enthusiasm for Fergie, or his appalled feelings over The Bachelor, you had to enjoy his writing about those subjects, maybe more than the subjects themselves. Same for Annie Barrett on The O.C. and reality TV, or Adam Vary on American Idol tapings and Transformers toys, or Simon Vozick-Levinson on hip-hop, or Chris Willman on country music and Bruce Springsteen, or Marc Bernardin on sci-fi, or Whitney Pastorek on music festivals and indie film, or Ken Tucker on Friday Night Lights, and too many others to name.
Looking back on my own writing this year, I found myself writing far too many obituaries — we lost too many talented people in 2007, and it’s tough to sum up the life’s work of an artist you admire in two or three paragraphs punched out on deadline — but I also found they led to some of my most passionate, and most warmly received items. (Credit here properly belongs to those who inspired me.) I also got worked up writing about such issues as free expression, the hijacking of pop culture for partisan political purposes, and the war on film critics, all of which are, of course, linked.
That these continue to be issues of contention saddens me, and it’spartly our fault as critics and journalists for not doing a better jobof explaining what the stakes are. That’s why I am so grateful to havebeen part of PopWatch in 2007, to have a forum to raise such issues andstart a conversation. So while I want to thank all the writers,editors, photo mavens, tech wizards, interns, and celebrity guest bloggerswho helped put together PopWatch in 2007, I especially want to thankyou, the readers, for your lively, intelligent, and civil commentary.We posted nearly 2,500 blog items this year, and you responded withmore than 110,000 replies. That kind of response is incrediblygratifying to us, whether or not you agreed with what we wrote, becausewe relish our ongoing conversation with you. Hope you’ll continue tocomment as fervently in 2008. Look forward to hearing from you.