Culture Apocalypse 2008: Vulture’s Calendar for the Year Ahead

Photo Illustration: Everett Bogue. Photos: iStockphoto (hat), New Line (Harold and Kumar), Getty Images (remaining)

So long, 2007! When your Vulture editors finished creating the Culture Apocalypse calendar for the magazine earlier this month, we looked further into our crystal balls to see what else we could learn about the coming year. Happily, our forecasting skills are still potent; here’s Vulture’s complete guide to the movies, TV shows, and music that will disappoint us all in 2008.


In a case of hype escalation gone awry, New York calls HBO’s The Wire “The Best Show Ever on Television,” Rolling Stone proclaims it “The Best Work of Art Ever, Excluding Mick Jagger’s Solo Career,” and the Times endorses The Wire for president. Still, no one watches.

J.J. Abrams releases his much-hyped Cloverfield, about five young New Yorkers whose lives are devastated first by a monster attack and then by learning monster attacks aren’t covered by their renters’ insurance.

Wholesome High School Musical star Zac Efron becomes a fixture on the L.A. party circuit. Tween fans are aghast after Perez Hilton posts pictures of the actor carousing with Lindsay Lohan and Brandon Davis.


The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, becomes a surprise box-office smash after Woody Allen sees it 3 million times on opening weekend.

DreamWorks executives deny reports that the budget of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones has ballooned to $175 million. “Any budget overages,” explains DreamWorks, “are due to Peter’s brave artistic decision to shoot on location in Heaven.”

At the Oscars, striking writers refuse to write hokey, artificial banter between presenters, leading to an awards show that’s unforced, satisfying, and 90 minutes long. “Never again,” pledges the Academy.


Desperate for a movie that intelligently addresses the current political climate, enthusiastic audiences make Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay a $300 million hit.

Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns sets a Hollywood record for biggest March opening. A spokesman for a major studio snaps, “Yes, yes, we’re surprised, again.”

A “Page Six” blind item asks, “Which pretty-boy star of a certain high-school musical was seen wandering dazed and barefoot in a Los Angeles CVS?”

Photo: Getty Images


Fox airs a special “Sanjaya Returns” episode of American Idol. After ratings indicate that 450 million Americans watched the show, the Census Bureau is forced to admit that they have no idea what they’re doing.

George Will publishes a column titled “Harold and Kumar Are Right,” attacking the erosion of American civil liberties.

Grand Theft Auto IV is released for all major video-game systems. Set in New York, the game allows players to move freely around midtown Manhattan. It is criticized as wildly unrealistic.


Philip Pullman releases Once Upon a Time in the North, a new book set in the same universe as The Golden Compass. Still bitter that most of his anti-religious sentiment was edited out of the film, Pullman adds a scene to the new book in which God says your mom sucks.

At the TV upfronts, network presidents — lacking any newly written shows to launch to advertisers — just bluff their way through their presentations. Interestingly, NBC wunderkind Ben Silverman’s riff on “a crime-fighting dog who’s also a detective … Wait, I guess those are the same things … Also he’s a teacher?” will turn into 2009’s smash NBC hit Professor Pooch, P.I.

Photo: Getty Images
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Sex and the City: The Movie open a week apart, forcing moviegoers to choose between an aging hero out for one final spin and the new Indiana Jones movie.


Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls wins the Tony Award for Best Play, a mere 25 years after it was written. The reclusive playwright, embracing her first Broadway success, signs with Disney to write the book for their stage musical of Enchanted.

The ongoing writers’ strike prevents new episodes of The Closer, Damages, Saving Grace, and Weeds, so Kyra Sedgwick, Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, and Mary-Louise Parker spend their summer competing on America’s Next Top Model. In the show’s sexiest-ever season, all four actresses tie for first place.

Stung by a months-long outcry by the American public outraged at Harold and Kumar’s scathing portrayal of American intelligence services, President Bush shuts down Guantánamo Bay.


The original members of the Ramones reunite for a summer tour despite the fact that they are all dead. Reviews are strong.

Courtesy of United Artists/MGM

As expected, Valkyrie, in which Tom Cruise plays an eye-patched Nazi who tries to kill Hitler, is a huge box-office hit, spawning a successful hip-hop soundtrack and tie-ins at all major fast-food chains. United Artists announces plans for multiple sequels in which Nazi Tom Cruise fails to assassinate other despised historical figures, like Pol Pot and the people who took Ellen’s dog.

Upset over the media’s reaction to his increasingly bizarre behavior, Zac Efron shaves his head and attacks a Pinkberry franchise with a rake.


Attempts to court the Comic-Con audience grow more blatant. Ben Silverman hires every call girl in San Diego to sleep with attendees while whispering “Knight Rider on NBC” in their ears.

R. Kelly debuts the next batch of episodes in his Trapped in the Closet saga. By Chapter 50, the whole thing becomes an Ibsenesque drama of emotional desolation.

Harold and Kumar are invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Kal Penn and John Cho protest that they are only actors playing roles, but they are shouted down by enthusiastic delegates.


Following the success of Pineapple Express, Seth Rogen — having grown in Judd Apatow’s estimation from supporting actor to co-writer to lead actor to co-producer — takes the logical next step and replaces Leslie Mann in Apatow’s marriage.

Nothing But the Truth, Rod Lurie’s film adaptation of the Judith Miller–Scooter Libby fiasco, hits the screen. In classic Hollywood fashion, real-life people are played by actors much sexier and more appealing than they are. For example, Judith Miller is played by Kate Beckinsale, Matt Cooper is played by David Schwimmer, and Dick Cheney is played by Matt Cooper.

MTV invites the cast of High School Musical 3 to open the 2008 Music Video Awards. Visibly pregnant and wearing sweatpants, Zac Efron stumbles around the stage looking confused.


Millions of hipsters adopt children just to have an excuse to see the Dave Eggers–penned, Spike Jonze–directed film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are.

In sympathy with striking Writers Guild members, the Authors Guild authorizes a strike of novelists and short-story writers. The strike is called off a week later when the American reading public, learning that the computer who writes the Tom Clancy’s Net Force novels isn’t in the Authors Guild, collectively shrugs.

In an attempt to up the ante on Halloween horror, Saw IV sees its hero, Jigsaw, brutally murder the Great Pumpkin.

Photo: Getty Images


Owing to a script completed only minutes before the writers’ strike, the final act of the new James Bond movie is just Daniel Craig, naked, flexing his biceps in front of a mirror. The film earns $241 million in its opening weekend, most of it from our significant others.

Harry Potter fans decry the Half-Blood Prince filmmakers’ decision to replace Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore with one played by Harvey Fierstein.


Oprah Winfrey selects James Frey’s novel, Bright Shiny Morning, as her latest Book Club selection, claiming that the book is such a brilliant work of fiction she has forgiven the author. A week later, the Smoking Gun reveals that the “novel” is actually completely nonfictional. An incensed Oprah orders Frey killed.

Jay-Z shocks the world by coming back out of retirement to release an album inspired by the film adaptation of Marley & Me, claiming to identify with the titular Labrador’s rebellious nature and fear of thunderstorms.

After a prolonged Supreme Court battle, Harold and Kumar are declared president and vice-president.

Related: Culture Apocalypse 2008 [NYM]

Culture Apocalypse 2008: Vulture’s Calendar for the Year Ahead