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Monday, December 8, 2008

The Top Five Things of 2008

In response to a friend, who recently posted a list of the Top Five Things of 2008 over at

5. Grand Theft Auto IV

Earlier this year Rockstar games released what would be the fastest selling and most critically acclaimed video game ever. I blogged about it shortly thereafter. With a sophisticated narrative and depth of realism only hinted at in few games before it, GTA IV skyrocketed the bar of quality for not just gaming, but for the entirety of any piece of plastic daring enough to call itself home entertainment.

Don't let anyone tell you that video games are child's play. With gross revenues approaching the billions, games like GTA IV have catapulted the electronic gaming industry into realms of profitability that now dwarf Hollywood returns. Amidst the doom and gloom reports of a devastating economic recession, the video game industry, propelled by creative masterpieces such as GTA IV, stands amongst few others that are showing no sign of weakness.

4. McCain losing the election

Much can be said about the pure victory of Obama winning the election. How the stars aligned one night in November for history to be made, for a new epoch of American politics and society to take its first wobbly steps towards the light. Having myself put in footwork for the Obama campaign, walking the mean streets of Hammond, IN for change, this victory has tremendous personal value.

We can't overlook however, the very real possibility that our country was headed for four more years of the backwards, bible-thumping, one-sided political ideology of the Republican nominees.

Roe v. Wade? Stem-cell research? In a few years, these things would not have existed in this country if McCain's campaign had won. America saved itself from another four years of the war-mongering Republican hate machine. Even worse to consider was the possibility of Sarah Palin as president. McCain lost the election, and this was very important for the future of our country.

3. Kanye West

While the personal tragedies of public figures such as Jennifer Hudson and Heath Ledger grabbed the biggest headlines this year, Kanye West's journey through loss deserves its own mention. Having lost his mother late last year and a fiancee earlier this year, Kanye persisted in his quest to make his music on his own terms. While he can be faulted for just a smidgeon of hubris, Mr. West has remained extremely prolific this year, releasing a deeply personal album while still dominating worldwide charts through other efforts. Having witnessed him live in concert this summer at Chicago's Lollapalooza music festival, it's safe to say that this man is a staggeringly talented artist, and the fact that he can continue to produce despite all of his recent struggles lends further belief that he is on the fast track towards becoming the greatest artist of his generation.

2. Facebook

Ahh, Facebook. Earlier this year, when I received a Facebook friend request from my mom, I finally understood what millions and millions of people understood for so long; Your mom is on Facebook. Started in 2004 by some genius Harvard kid a few years my senior, Facebook slowly infiltrated its way into college campus across the nation, eventually becoming the most popular social networking site in the world, eclipsing in April 2008.

Is the sky the limit? Offers upwards of $2 billion have been reported in acquisition talks. Facebook themselves think they're worth more, if not at least as much as Viacom's MTV brand. According to a research study, Facebook was named the second most popular thing among undergraduates nationwide, tied with beer and only ranked lower than the iPod. Tied with beer? Facebook is definitely one of the biggest things this year.

1. Obama wins the presidential election

Even if the only good thing I could say about this situation would be that the Future First Lady and I went to the same Chicago magnet high school, I would still be happy. As a person of color, though, I see this victory as a huge step forward in national race relations. People of color can be people of power. This is a message that my grandfather, a Mexican immigrant chasing the American dream, would hesitate to tell my father. My grandfather, who struggled to provide for his family in the same ill-fated South Chicago steel mills that Obama would repeatedly refer to throughout his campaign, probably had moments of doubts when it came to the American dream.

With Obama's win this year, I'm leaving aside my grandfather's doubts and confidently moving into the future as a man of family. I wont hesitate when it comes to tell my children (and grandchildren?) that with enough hard work and studying they can reach their dreams, that as people of color they can still be people of power. Because of this, because there are now millions more with this same sense of restored and renewed hope, Obama winning the presidential election is the most important event of this year.

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