America Is Doomed / Camp / Lists / Trash

Filthy Dreams’ Fanatical Superlatives of 2020

At least social distancing means no more party games. Am I right, Maggie?

*blows party horn* *shoots confetti cannon* Ahhh…Happy New Year, dearest Filthy Dreams readers! Get ready for that champagne hangover after battling the hoards of amateur drinkers on these final days of 2019!

…or 2020. What year is it? Did we have a year? Or is this still some cold sweat alcohol-poisoning fever dream after choking down some “champagne” from a dive bar past midnight on January 1, 2020? Was it that swill that cursed 2020, a year of plagues, protests, anti-maskers, a presidential election, and a whole lot of conservative disco heresy? Or was it our collective 2019 crimes against nature–loving the CGI abomination Cats so much that we were punished by God?

Whatever it was, 2020 did not go as expected. On the bright side, I’m still alive! And if you’re reading this, you are too…for NOW! But hey, living in the moment is all we have in 2020, as well as 2021. Look. I’m not going to pretend that when the clock strikes midnight this spell will be broken. However, being doomed never bothered us much here at Filthy Dreams. Why–it’s part of our brand! One of our most searched terms is “America is doomed” so we must be doing something right.

As in previous years, let’s use our ever-dwindling time wisely–to give praise to parts of 2020 that we’re still obsessed with! Yes, yet again we’re dolling out our very own superlatives, bestowing them upon, well, mostly our loves that we didn’t have the energy or mental clarity to cover this year while trying to shake out the COVID brain fog. So grab some champagne or whatever takeout you ordered from Grubhub, take your vitamins (can’t be too safe!), and let’s celebrate what parts of 2020 tickled our fancy rather than filled us with dread:

Best “Fictional” Conservative Camp: Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) in The Crown

Why–oh, why–do I love horrible conservative women so? Is it because they’re allowed to be monstrous in a way the rest of us aren’t? Or is it just that I’ve been primed through high camp Old Hollywood films to adore women who act bad? No matter what it is–We have to admit that 2020 was the year of the conservative camp woman. My baby Kellyanne yelling at her daughter while infecting her with COVID-19. Judge Jeanine’s boxed wine rants. Melania’s resounding seasonal call, “Who gives a fack about Christmas stuff?” Kimberly Guilfoyle’s amphetamine queen RNC hollering. The vision of (il)legally blonde Mellissa Carone slurring her way through testifying about voter fraud with such aggressive and over-the-top aplomb that even Rudy Giuliani had to try to get her to quiet down. And, of course, all those Karens in full mask-rage at Trader Joe’s.

But this year, conservative women also dominated on prestige television. Though it was a tough choice with Cate Blanchett’s pinched and controlling to the point of psychotic take on anti-libber Phyllis Schlafly in Mrs. America, we have to bestow the best “fictional” conservative camp award to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as played by Gillian Anderson in Netflix’s The Crown. Unlike previous Hollywood incarnations of the Iron Lady, Anderson plays Thatcher as pure evil. She’s as bitter and brittle as her hairspray-shellacked do. I mean, just the sheer amount of attention paid to her enormous bouffant should place her in the camp canon. But more than her hair, whatever casting director chose Anderson is clearly some sort of deranged genius. Anderson visibly revels in every husky sociopathic statement made by the Iron Lady as she manages to be both emasculating to her all-male staff and internally misogynistic as she explains, repeatedly, that women are certainly not suited to higher office-or really anything at all outside the kitchen (where Thatcher also makes a few human rights violations with some ungodly egg dish about which I still have nightmares). The thing about The Crown is that the Royal Family is portrayed as so unlikeable that they make even Margaret Thatcher look relatable. Case in point: the second episode in which the Queen invites Thatcher to go stag hunting and she shows up in a bright blue dress with matching heels. Is this when I fell in love with Maggie? Maybe! 

Best Attitude: Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Speaking of delightfully bad behavior, our 2020’s Miss Congeniality has to be surly Mother of the Blues Ma Rainey as interpreted by Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Like all of August Wilson’s plays, which delve into Black masculinity, the film that bears Rainey’s name centers around her trumpet player Levee, played to jaw-dropping pathos perfection by Chadwick Boseman (who better win a posthumous Oscar alongside Viola!). However, Ma is a revelation–an oil-slick of smeared, sweat-stained smokey eyeliner smudged over her undisguised contempt for the white assholes around her who try to tell her what to do about the blues, a genre she pioneered. She sneers at the cops. She defies her bumbling ingratiating manager. She demands Cokes. She argues with the recording company manager. And she does it all because she knows all they want is something from her–her voice–so it’s up to her, as a queer Black woman, to make sure she’s treated with respect even if she has to do it through fear and loathing. As she says in the film, “They don’t care nothing about me. All they want is my voice. Well, I done learned that. And they going to treat me the way I want to be treated no matter how much it hurt them.” What a hero–and what an argument for so-called diva behavior!

Best Nurse: Oraetta Mayflower (Jessie Buckley) in Fargo

2020 is the year when we should honor our frontline workers, including nurses and especially including serial killer nurses as with the fire-wigged, heel-stomping and clomping Angel of Death (Mercy?) Oraetta Mayflower in Fargo. This season–perhaps the best season, at least since Kirsten Dunst’s pie-eyed manslaughtering 1970s housewife in the second season–of Fargo probes the depths of America’s mobbed-up crime-riddled psyche by way of rival gangs in 1950 Kansas City led by Chris Rock’s Loy Cannon and Jason Schwartzmann as Josto Fadda. This season gifted viewers with some of the best quotes about America that I could ever imagine:

“You know why America loves a crime story? Because America is a crime story.”

“Every country has its own type of criminal. In America, we got the confidence man. Snake oil salesman, grifter. He don’t rob you as much as trick you into robbing yourself. See, ’cause in America, people want to believe. They got that dream. And a dreamer, you can fleece.”

Hm…who does that last one remind me of?

But beyond giving America the historic read it deserves, Fargo‘s Oraetta Mayflower emerges as the healthcare worker we deserve–not the one we need–after a year of partying our way through a pandemic. What kind of care does she give? Well, she murders her patients and then takes jewelry and other items as trophies, which she stores in her pantry cabinet of homicidal curios! Sure, she also tried to poison a family with a pie. And sure, she also tried–and failed–to poison her boss with macarons. But, don’t you think that those Parler goofs who use their last unassisted breaths before getting the vent to gasp out, “COVID is a hoax! I must have the flu!” need a little extra assistance Mayflower-style?!

Best Theme Song: Nicole Kidman’s “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” from The Undoing

The Undoing is a terrible and terribly ridiculous show, filled with Nicole Kidman’s exasperated sighs, Hugh Grant’s bumbling Boris Johnson-like cadence (Close your eyes and listen to both of them–am I wrong?), absolutely no plot twists (yah, he did it), and rich people helicopter chases that seem to come out of nowhere. But, I forgave all of this. And I mean, ALL OF IT–every bad plotline, every unbelievable bit of dialogue–because of one thing and one thing alone: Nicole Kidman’s breathy unhinged contribution to the theme song. Her wispy take on the standard “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” somehow manages to be even more delirious than Mama Cass’, which is in itself a feverish achievement. We all remember Nicole’s thin voice from Moulin Rouge, but here it seems more like a psychotic break, as she drifts off, floating, unmoored from reality. And she does it in such a way that I want to follow her, twirling into hallucinations too!

Best Cult Documentary: Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults

Who doesn’t love a good cult doc? If you don’t, why are you reading this? Don’t pay attention to this year’s lesser options. I mean, flyers about UFOs attracting hundreds of “seekers” in the 70s. Cult leader names based off of The Sound of Music. Ideology taken directly from Star Trek. Camping for days on end waiting for a UFO. Tracksuits. Away Team patches. Message board cyber-bullying leading mass suicide. Castration. Let’s face it, Heaven’s Gate really earned the designation of “the cult of cults,” spoken by its bug-eyed closeted co-leader Do, otherwise known as Marshall Applewhite, otherwise known as Herff Applewhite, who started this space cult with his psychiatric hospital nurse Ti. And true to its name, HBO Max’s cult documentary Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults presents it all in an engrossing four episodes, including alarming animation about tossing some disembodied testicles into a river (shouldn’t that alone convince you to watch?). The docuseries will leave you wondering, or at least left me wondering: can mass suicide be kind of endearing? Unlike the panicked jungle mass hysteria of the final days of Jonestown, Heaven’s Gate members, with their uniformly vacant stares that also contain a demented and determined assuredness, seemed entirely set and excited for their Hale Bopp journey. And who knows–what if they were right? Fuck, we missed it!

Photo: HBO

Cringiest Cult Activity: Volleyball with NXIVM

Riding through Death Valley on dune buggies looking for the bottomless pit. Recording albums. Sailing around the world looking for treasure buried in past lives. Hanging out in airplane hangers waiting for “Macho Man” only to be abandoned in extreme weather conditions for hours. Moving to the jungle. Tattling. Stalking people. Killing people. Killing themselves. For those of us who love extreme behavior, cults really do provide an endless source of fascination. But some cults don’t exactly live up to these high standards as evidenced by the Scientology rip-off as a painful corporate training retreat, NXIVM. Though playing master and slave while branding themselves with the initials of NXIVM leader and the lamest cult leader of them all Keith Raniere and Smallville actress turned sex trafficker Allison Mack is certainly shocking, I was more horrified by the centrality of volleyball to this cringe cult. Playing volleyball at all hours of the night while listening to non-genius Raniere’s rambling self-help mantras–Yuck! Count me out! I mean, just the image of Raniere in his sweatband and gym shorts is enough to make me wish NXIVM was a death cult!

Photo: Connie Sanchez (New York Post)

Best Photo of a Rat: The New York Post

Call up National Geographic! I’ve found the best wildlife photograph of 2020. Sure, other photographers may have captured sweet, stunning images of animals in large swaths of unspoiled nature. But is that really an appropriate image for 2020–the year of the plague?! NO! We should be represented by one animal and one animal alone: this wet, greasy rat. All hail the Rat King and his rat asshole and tiny rat feets! For those of you outside of NYC, you may not know that while everyone else fled NYC during the beginning of the pandemic, never to return, NYC is in its Rat Renaissance, with people (wimps) reportedly spotting rats the size of bunnies. Awwwww! Not only are these rats big, but they’re also full of RAGE, biting unsuspecting essential workers at Chipotle who try to get in their way as they gobble down massive quantities of avocados. And The New York Post, taking a break from posting gritty glamour shots of Hunter Biden, apparently had just the photo editor to say to photographer Connie Sanchez, “Yes. Let’s run with the rat butt.” Bravo! Now, where can I purchase a framed print of this historic image for my apartment?

Best/Most Bizarre Merch: Cave Things

Did you ever imagine that the man who speedball screeched, “Hands up! Who wants to die?” in 1983 would be hocking sweetly painted bunny bowls nearly forty years later? Did you think the song “Up Jumped The Devil” from 1987’s Tender Pray about “a wretched life” whose “blood was blacker than the chambers of a dead nun’s heart” would be memorialized as a milk jug? Did you ever guess that Nick Cave’s unsettling naked lady scrawled doodles would be transformed into expensive wallpaper that absolutely nobody purchased? Ok..that last one I could have believed. But for the first two, here we are with Nick Cave’s newest creative venture: Cave Things, a strange online store filled with Cave’s self-proclaimed “obsessive and dangerous end of granny-core.” Admittedly, I adore merch. And I adore baffling merch even more than your average T-shirts, hoodies, and coffee mugs. Why buy a tour shirt when you can have a prayer card or even better, redecorate your apartment bathroom to your landlord’s dismay with tiles of “Idiot Prayer” ducks and “Step Into The Vortex” kitties painted by Nick Cave, Man or Myth himself? The items I most covet, though, are Nick’s distressing Polaroids, including of a tacky Christmas tree and a kitschy angel figurine. As Nick described, “Fetishistic and deranged.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Jealous?

Best Mask: Korn Mask

Speaking of merch, did you know, dearest Filthy Dreams readers, that I “got the life”? I mean, just barely–I clung to life while trying to breathe in March. But thank Head to Christ, I survived in order to purchase the best/most nostalgic/most embarrassing face mask in order to protect me from COVID-19 and keep me from recognizing that 20-plus years have passed since the release of Follow The Leader: a Korn-branded surgical mask! Sure, other masks may be more iconic: Lana Del Rey’s fresh air-breather mesh mask, a cheesecloth mask that reads “This Is Tyranny” I saw for sale on an anti-masker Facebook group in which I perversely lurk, or The Vampire’s Wife mask I purchased since a scrap of fabric is all I can afford from Susie Cave’s designer clothier. But, this Korn mask–a ratty bit of nu-metal T-shirt material salvaged from a Hot Topic in a dead mall–is my personal favorite. On sale pre-pandemic, this mask sold out early on in the surge of COVID-19 and I stupidly figured I wouldn’t need to wear a mask for that long…WOULD I? Well, luckily I got my hands on it and I’ve been a freak on a leash ever since. Your envy gives me strength!

Baby Art?

Best Coloring Book: Grimes’ Miss Information

While we’re on the subject of stuff, c, otherwise known as Grimes, has had quite a year. She released what I consider to be the most prescient album of the year: Miss Anthropocene. When else, other than 2020, could a line like, “This is the sound of the end of the world” come off as not just dystopian, but accurate? She also had her first child X Æ A-12 who is apparently, if her Instagram stories are to be believed, a real human baby not A.I. or an alien (though anything is possible with Daddy being Space Boy Elon Musk). She also held an online art show with Maccarone–the only online art show I cared to look at this year–in which she sold her soul…literally. And now, on the occasion of that exhibition, Grimes released her first coloring book Miss InformationFor those who know Grimes’ bizarre self-created album covers, her drawings in the coloring book will be somewhat familiar–strange humanoid beings who are both alluring and alarming. The lines are printed in black and red, which, according to c, makes the book double as “baby art.” She writes, “Try practicing eye-tracking with your infant on some of the bolder images for healthy brain development.” Ok, c, but some of these may be a little scary, including numerous representations of Earth being run through with a sword. But, hey, they gotta learn about the apocalypse somehow, huh? But rather than for a baby, I’ve been enjoying fostering my inner child by scribbling my collaborations with Grimes’ deranged creations. Nothing like a little regression to go with our global disasters! The book also includes an unsettling A.I. generated poem about peace, war, and death. It begins, “I hold within my hands both peace and war. And I choose war…” Yikes! Better keep coloring to please our A.I. overlords!

Best Gobble: Azealia Banks

As I’ve explained to you, dearest Filthy Dreams faithful, time and time again, I’m obsessed with Azealia Banks’ Instagram stories. Why even watch TV when you can watch our beloved Azealia rant, dance, stare out her window at the rain, ship soap around the globe, take photographs of what looks to be an actual skull (whose grandma is that?), play with tasers, ride in Ubers around Los Angeles, and cook any number of (at least recently) plant-based creations? AB never disappoints. I mean, she even posted an image so arresting that there’s no way it couldn’t have stopped your compulsive scrolling short: a photograph of herself drenched in blood. Metal! And while that was certainly a memorable posting, the Instagram story that continues to tickle my fancy is this one of Azealia communing with a turkey. No, there was no explanation. No, there’s no additional context. It’s just a gobble-fest between Azealia and this big bird on what looks to be a farm(?). That turkey is obviously a fan and could probably use a bar or two of BussyBoy.

Best Number 1 Boy Quarantine Video: Don Jr.

2020 was the year of quarantine videos. And no, I don’t just mean demented celebrities singing “Imagine,” while “quarantining” in their Beverly Hills mansions (and taking every rapid test they can get their hands on). I’m referring to the quarantine videos taped by politicians, celebrities, public figures, and attention- and love-starved children of presidents in order to let their fans know that they’re okay even after they tested positive for COVID-19. Frankly, I could care less about most of these, but I’m always a sucker for social media posts that make you concerned for the safety of the person in question and all the people around them (self-isolated or no). Enter Number 1 Boy Donald Jr.’s quarantine video as he isolates in his patriotic-themed Ted Kaczynski-esque cabin out of an “abundance of precaution” after testing positive while asymptomatic. I’ll admit, I have more than a little soft spot for Jr. as Kendall is my favorite character on Succession. And it’s hard not to laugh with (at?) Jr. as he attempts to joke off being gakked to the gills at the RNC (“You can see I don’t have the red eyes like they claimed I had for apparently using cocaine prior to my RNC speech”). Why wouldn’t drug abuse be one of the things you bring up in a 2-minute video? However, the real stunner comes from the twist ending after Jr. asks for recommendations for Netflix, movies, or e-books. No, the shock isn’t that Jr. apparently reads. After soliciting recs from his followers, he nasally asserts, “There’s only so many guns I can clean before that gets boring!” …What? Did I hear that right? “I get to go through my safe, which will be fun.” Jesus. Don’t hurt yourself, baby!

Jon McNaughton’s Crossing the Swamp (Courtesy the artist)

Best Art to Memorialize the Past Four Years: Jon McNaughton’s Paintings

While we’re on the subject of the worst family…I mean, cursed family…I mean, FIRST FAMILY (sorry! COVID brain fog!), don’t you, dearest patriotic Filthy Dreamers, wish you had something–anything–to symbolize these past four years in the United States? Something to remember the Trumps by other than rampant unemployment, growing economic inequality, and pervasive COVID infections? Sure, we could wait for the Trump Organization’s inevitable New York perp walks and yearn for that near orgasmic selfie. And of course, I already can cuddle up to Trumpy Bear anytime I feel nostalgic. But that just doesn’t feel like enough. So what should you buy? A MAGA hat? Too triggering. A Trump wine glass? Too classy. How about…some camp Trump paintings?! Just right! Now, I feel that I should mention that a certain unnamed least worthy Pulitzer Prize-winning critic…ok, Jerry Saltz…seems to be trying to bite my obsession with camp conservative aesthetics, by asking the Internet for Trump art or a New York Magazine article. Lay off, Jerry! This is my corner. More than just another writer stealing my thunder (hey-if it works for you…), I’m afraid that Jerry is just going to look onto these aesthetics with faux finger-wagging horror rather than appreciating them for the masterpieces they are.

And the true Master of Trump is illustrious artist Jon McNaughton whose camp canvases fill me with glee every time I see them. From Trump riding on a bucking bronco illuminated by the Wild West sunset to zooming into the Capitol on a flag-draped motorcycle with Melania on the back to clutching an American flag on a football field to grabbing Mueller by the collar, McNaughton’s paintings just take my breath away. If I had to pick, however, my favorite has to be the trash update to Washington Crossing the Delaware entitled Crossing the Swamp. Crossing the Swamp features a lantern-holding Trump leading the way on his rowboat full of the lunatics we’ve come to know and love…ok, lovingly abhor…these last four years. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Ben Carson, Nikki Haley, and James Mattis row while Kellyanne Conway, and John Bolton clutch rifles. Why the stinking swamp just brings tears to my eyes! The imagery! The symbolism! The trash! USA! USA! USA!

Best Kraken: Sidney Powell

Speaking of lunatics, we have to give an extra special Filthy Dreams award to the Honorable Sidney Powell who has quickly shot to the top of my most beloved public sleazy lawyer whackos. Sure, Trump’s refusal to admit defeat is embarrassing and pathetic, while also completely in character. Like I said in my post-election think piece, of course, the Trump administration would end in frivolous and absurd legal battles. However, I’m not sure I could even conceive of just how ridiculous it could become. Though others on the legal team (more on that shortly) have made their own mark on this shameful history, Sidney Powell has far out-crazied them all by weaving unhinged conspiracy theories about voter fraud and the late Hugo Chávez on Newsmax. Beyond confirming that she’s absolutely batshit crazy, Sidney promised that she was going to “drop a bomb” on Georgia and “release the Kraken.” And well, she didn’t disappoint with this Kraken talk. Sidney’s Kraken lawsuit was full of misspellings, typos, paragraph symbols, and absolutely no spaces. Sidney! You aren’t supposed to mix pills before you type up your legal documents! At least have an assistant look at your Adderall-fueled Kraken before sending it out to a judge. Now, was this some genius tactical move in order to get the media to pay attention as some galaxy-brained Parler users suggested? Hey, maybe! It certainly got me to look and decide that if I ever need a lawyer or someone to commandeer voting machines, I know who to call!

2020 MVP: Rudy Giuliani 

But if I’m being honest, though, as much as I adore Sidney, the only lawyer for me would be flop sweat dripping, feverish, bug-eyed, Bloody Mary-swilling America’s mayor: Rudy Giuliani who shone brightly like a star all 2020, earning him the coveted title of Filthy Dreams’ 2020 MVP. Giuliani’s spectacular year started even before 2020 in December 2019 with Olivia Nuzzi’s awe-inspiring Pulitzer Prize-deserving article “A Conversation With Rudy Giuliani Over Bloody Marys,” in which the President’s lawyer guzzled Bloody Marys alone, drooled, left his fly open, almost fell, and forgot one of his phones in the car. This horseradish-infused Odyssey sent Giuliani spiraling into the New Year. Though Rudy’s involvement in Ukraine and obsession with Hunter Biden sent Trump hurtling toward impeachment, Rudy’s star-turn didn’t really come to fruition until later 2020. First came his sweat swapping with his RNC date during a global pandemic (At the point Rudy was diagnosed with COVID in December, I figured he had already had it for months). Then came his bizarre denture-clacking interview with Chris Cuomo in which he bragged that he finally figured out how to stop his mask from fogging up his glasses (after falling twice). Then there was Borat. Yet somehow being caught trying to unzip his pants in front of Borat’s teenage daughter wasn’t bottom for Rudy. In fact, it’s not even the funniest Rudy moment this year! He was just getting started. Though Rudy’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference is certainly one for the history books, the moment he truly earned his MVP status was a later presser with the legal team in which he acted out a scene from My Cousin Vinny and then proceeded to leak brown goo–spray-on hair dye?–down his face. Oh yeah, there was also the time he super-spread COVID through a fart. What can you do other than slow clap? Bravo, Rudy! To 2021 and maybe a pardon!

Reason to Live until 2021: Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club 

Obviously.

 

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