SOPA, Santorum and Seal

newt and mitt3 SOPA, Santorum and Seal

Old friends at their umpteenth reunion these past few months.

If you’re feeling withdrawal symptoms from reduced doses of Occupy Wall Street rabble-rousing (we hear they’re just hibernating), the success of last week’s SOPA blackout ought to cheer you up. Without going into the nitty-gritty of what this Stop Online Piracy Act was all about, let’s just say that the idea of blocking IP addresses and enforcing criminal laws for streaming copyrighted materials finally gave the Internet a reason to shut down for the day. While hundreds of kids complained that they couldn’t do their homework because Wikipedia was out protesting, the Congressmen behind SOPA withdrew their support within 24 hours of the January 18th viral movement that was opposed by almost every major web service. If there’s one thing more powerful than an army of lobbyists, it’s an inbox full of angry Reddit users.

Not that we needed another reminder that we rely far too much on the Internet information, but when a deluge of reports started streaming in Saturday night that Penn State’s former football coach Joe Paterno had died of lung cancer, Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree plugged into a nuclear reactor. CBS and The Huffington Post also jumped the gun reporting the death of the beloved and controversial coach, who had been dismissed by the college swiftly last November after allegations of sexual abuse emerged against his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. While Coach Paterno did indeed pass away, he died Sunday, not Saturday. Which just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you read. Or maybe you can, but give it 24 hours just to be sure.

One news item that we just flat-out refuse to believe is the separation of Seal and Heidi Klum. Those two were our inspiration, as much for their Halloween costumes as for their happy partnership. You’d think that after seven years together the couple would want to stay mum on the messy details, but Seal has a new album to promote and hit the talk-show circuit to discuss his heartache less than 24 hours after the announcement was made. Hey, Soul 2 isn’t going to sell itself! Unless, of course, the album is just 40 minutes of “Kiss from a Rose” covers. (Now that we think about it, that’s not a bad idea; we can almost hear Joanna Newsom plucking on her harp, followed by Randy Newman crooning about graying towers, eyes that emit light, graveyards, and whatever hell else that song was about.)

And of course the nominations for the 84th annual Academy Awards are in, and what do you know? Transformers: Dark of the Moon was nominated for as many awards as Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. Michael Bay’s third movie based on action figures also grossed over a billion dollars more than Malick’s meditation on life and death, but that’s to be expected. Robots sell: lush landscapes serving as metaphors for childhood don’t.

The nominations also fly in the face of theories espoused by the late Christopher Hitchens and former Letterman comedy booker Eddie Brill; it appears that women are, in fact, funny. Bridesmaids, last year’s frontrunner in the hysterical-to-watch but infuriating-to-talk-about category, snagged a Best Original Screenplay nod for Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, and a Best Supporting Actress accolade for Melissa McCarthy. Hopefully these Oscar contenders don’t inspire another false dichotomy involving ovaries and funny bones … or even worse, golf-claps for women triumphantly breaking through the gender barrier and being allowed to poop in sinks for laughs.

After all, isn’t it time we find something new to fight with our ideologically opposed families about? Certainly those Republican debates make for great conversation fodder. Newt Gingrich became a hero in South Carolina for refusing to answer John King’s question about his ex-wife’s claims that he asked for an open marriage while she was on her hospital bed, helping him to sweep up 40% of the votes in the state. (If only Mitt Romney could have someone leak to the press the existence of a few extra heretofore unknown wives; at this point it might help him pick up some extra points.) In other unsurprising news, Rick Santorum told Piers Morgan on Friday that he would urge his daughter not to get an abortion even if she was raped, and he’s predictably vehement about outlawing gay marriage. And Ron Paul, the only person on the stage with any military or medical experience, continues to have to fight to get a word in edgewise during questions about health or international relations.

It’s all sort of ridiculous, and dare we say funny. But not in a Bridesmaids sort of way. More a laugh-to-keep-from-crying sort of way. Just don’t bring up Heidi and Seal again, or we may lose it.