Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
You remember the Republicans’ 2010 midterm campaign message: Nancy Pelosi, engulfed in flames, demon-like. Nancy Pelosi, in charge, bossing you around with her crazy liberal values. An official “Fire Pelosi” bus tour sponsored by the Republican National Committee, and the specter of her leadership invoked in ad after ad.
All of this was a key Republican strategy in taking back the House, and while there were lots of reasons the Democrats lost and Pelosi was dethroned, it achieved the desired result. Since the next big electoral battle will be control of the House in 2014, and a Democratic win would presumably put Pelosi back in charge, expect to see more Pelosi boogeyman-ing.
“It didn’t bother me, I figured they thought I was effective and therefore they had to take me down,” Pelosi told Salon at the premiere Thursday night of “Fall to Grace,” her daughter’s HBO documentary on former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey. Still, she worries about the message it sends to other women who might be considering a run.
“What does concern me about it is that women that we want to be involved in politics, women like you, women who have options to do other things and we say, ‘Come over here and do this!’ And they’re saying, ‘No, I don’t want to subject myself to that. Why would I do that? I have a great life, I have plenty of opportunities.’ So what I’ve said is that if you lower the role of money in politics and you increase the level of civility, you will have more women running for office, elected to office, and that would be a very wholesome thing for our country.”
Of course, Pelosi is not as lonely as she once was on the Hill, and the more female leadership is normalized, the less likely such attacks are to resonate. As the New York Times notes in a story today on female senators, a critical mass is slowly but surely building, even if it creates long lines on the Senate floor’s bathrooms and female senators are still occasionally asked what they’re doing there. The piece also cites a recent American Journal of Political Science study, “When Are Women More Effective Lawmakers Than Men?” which found that “while men may choose to obstruct and delay, women continue to strive to build coalitions and bring about new policies.” Pelosi’s dealmaking as speaker can rankle, including on the left. It also, though, recently earned her the following designation from Vice President Joe Biden on the signing of the Violence Against Women Act: “If you ever want a partner to get anything important done, call Nancy Pelosi.”
In the meantime, Pelosi seems to be enjoying the Republican scramble to appeal to women and people of color, which they now concede is necessary to winning anything but a majority of gerrymandered House districts. (Or, to use their own words, “address concerns that are on women’s minds in order to let them know we are fighting for them.”) Does she have any advice for the other party?
“Respect,” she said. “I think respect would be a good place to start. We are fortunate in our House Democratic caucus — women, minorities, LGBT community members make up a majority of the caucus. We don’t need anybody to teach us how to speak to women, Hispanics, blacks, because that’s who we are. And not only do they have a seat at the table, they have a seat at the head of the table, because over half of our chairmen-to-be, our senior Democrats — people who would be chair if we were the majority — are women and minorities.”
Irin Carmon is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @irincarmon or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. More Irin Carmon.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.