Best What The F-ck Moment — The Zidane Headbutt
Is there anyone else utterly obsessed with French soccer god Zinedine Zidane’s rage-induced headbutting of Italian opponent Marco Matterazzi in the 83rd minute of the World Cup finals? Even if you equate soccer with fly-fishing on the sports radar — which many of you probably do — there’s something undeniably intense about a guy whose entire country is counting on him, a guy who normally does his job better than anyone else in the world without a hint of emotion, having a total meltdown at the most crucial moment of his life in front of a worldwide audience of at least a billion people. Whether or not we in the United States consider soccer a high-stakes proposition doesn’t matter — most of the world does, and a huge fraction of the world spent the 72 hours following Italy’s win in penalty kicks asking themselves one question over and over: Why did Zidane do it? Was it an existential crisis? Did Matterazzi call Zidane’s hospitalized mother a terrorist whore? Was Zidane looking for a way out of the match so his team, an underdog in a penalty kick scenario, would have an excuse for its impending loss? Even if this doesn’t matter to you, the fact that Zidane’s outburst came in the form of a headbutt to the sternum — one that leveled a grown man immediately on impact — has still got to strike you as pretty much the most badass thing possible, especially given the number of people who saw him do it. Absolutely the most mind-boggling thing in the last three months, if not in the last thirty years.
Best News Story — The “Survivor” Eugenics Challenge
CBS’ decision to turn its slightly slumping reality hit “Survivor” into a thinly allegorized race war — by creating four teams, comprised of whites, blacks, Asians and Latinos — is hardly the frank and nuanced racial dialogue that society so desperately needs. Anyone who’s outraged at this one has every right to be, especially because it’s a blatant ratings ploy … and because it’s going to work. Surely several million more people will tune into Survivor each week because, on some level, they’re at least curious how it’s going to turn out (if not actually convinced that the results mean something, which I fear will often be the case). I wonder what kind of odds Vegas is giving on this one? I’ll tell you one thing: The white people are going down. Hard.
Best Live TV Moment — Barry Manilow at the Emmys
I’m going to go ahead and stretch the definition of “Best” in this case; when I talk about Barry Manilow’s performance and subsequent win at the Emmys a couple of weeks ago I don’t mean “Best” in an absolute sense, I mean “Best” for making me want to simultaneously laugh out loud, lobotomize myself and run screaming for someplace isolated that can be defended easily by a shotgun. First Manilow was trotted out to cap off what was a rather tidily and tastefully-done tribute to ailing TV icon Dick Clark with a rendition of the theme from “American Bandstand” (the show on which Clark got discovered, got famous and remained for decades afterwards). Manilow wrote the song, so they let him perform it despite his seeming inability to lower his arms, bend at the knees or blink. He looked like Decrepit Pop-Star Barbie up there. Then, before the dust could clear (after Clark managed to diffuse the awkward scene created by Manilow’s terrifying countenance), Manilow was already back on stage … to accept, what a surprise, an Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program”. If my blood pressure was at dangerous levels during Manilow’s performance, it went through the roof when he beat out, of all people, Stephen Colbert to take home the trophy. I watch award shows with caution anyway, but this may have been the last straw … and since we have no hope of ever killing Barry Manilow (since he’s made of formica), maybe someone can just kill me instead.
Best Thing To Happen To The Web — Whatever This Weird-Ass Thing on the Facebook Is
There appears to be an absurd new bundle of features on the Facebook called News Feed. Or maybe a Mini-Feed? Regardless, the reason it’s the best thing to happen to the Web all summer is that it appears, from what I can tell, to be the Ultimate Death Blow to the hideous, irrepressible monster that the Facebook has become. I’ve gathered that this new feature not only allows people to post enormous bulletin-board-esque messages to everyone they know — messages which then clog the hell out of the first page you see — it also displays some sort of activity listing that catalogs your every traceable Facebook movement for the last however many days … as if self-obsession and compulsive documentation of one’s every online gesture hadn’t already been pushed far enough. Well that’s it: The Facebook is officially way too absurd for there to be any chance that it’s worth anybody’s time anymore. That’s it. It’s done. Game over. We’re all free to go back to our regularly scheduled lives, where “friend” isn’t a verb, a “profile” is what somebody looks like from the side, and “poking” is a euphemism whose meaning is clear.