JUICE*Y PERSON OF THE YEAR: Justin Bieber
We solicited our dear Juice*heads for guesses as to who would be our Person of the Year. It's a tough competition, with previous winners including luminaries like Britney Spears, President Obama and Lady Gaga. Submissions included Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen (who won their own category) and even WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but no one guessed the Biebster. Maybe it's because so few of you are 12-year-old girls.
When Justin first came to Tampa Bay in November 2009 for Last Damn Show, no one knew who he was. There was some speculation that the YouTube sensation was actually a girl, much to the chagrin of the scattered but vocal Beliebers who showed up, signs in hand.
Fast forward 12 months, past the release of My World 2.0, past the Twitter smooching scandal with Kim Kardashian, through his mentoring by Usher and the rabid stampedes of girls with Bieber Fever across the globe, and what you have is a 16-year-old Canadian (the first foreign-born Juice*y POTY) who epitomizes the times. He was discovered online by a record exec who saw his second-place finish in a small-town singing contest as a 13-year-old. He rocketed to fame on the strength of one song, One Time, and followed it up with only one other real hit, Baby. That was still enough to send him to platinum status, and has allowed him the leeway to flash his adolescent six-pack at Rihanna. He's barely old enough to drive, yet his Twitter followers number in excess of 6 million.
From whence came this whelp, this upstart who has turned the recording industry on its ear? And who made the decision to popularize that awful, awful haircut? There's something inspirational about the story of the son of a single mom who was picked from the weeds and allowed to live the dream, thanks to a solid kernel of talent and a lot of marketing. What's remarkable, however, is the breakneck speed at which the Internet allowed his fame. And thanks to that same obsessive, self-absorbed culture, he just may be cast back into the nether-regions of onetime stardom, not to be heard from again until a future season of Celebrity Rehab. But that won't happen until his voice has finished cracking, we're sure.
Congratulations, Justin Bieber; For perfectly encapsulating the state of modern popular culture, right down to your retro Members Only jacket, you are truly the Juice*y Person of the Year!
COMEBACK OF THE 21ST CENTURY AWARD: Betty White
Can you really call it a comeback when she's been here for years? Thanks to a wave of nostalgia from Gen Xers who grew up watching her as Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls — and their parents, who also saw her as Sue Ann Nivens on Mary Tyler Moore — the 88-year-old has been riding a wave of popularity the past decade, culminating in her Highlander-like ability to outlive her Golden Girls castmates. After a couple movies (You Again and The Proposal) and numerous guest spots on TV shows (30 Rock, Community, Ugly Betty, Boston Legal, The Bold and the Beautiful), Lorne Michaels acquiesced to a Facebook campaign to have her host Saturday Night Live. A proven winner after a career spanning six decades, she has ended up a regular on TV again with Hot in Cleveland, in which she plays the salty caretaker of a house populated by three oversexed women of a certain age. That sounds familiar.
TAY ZONDAY MEMORIAL INTERNET SENSATION AWARD: Antoine Dodson
It all started as an overlong TV news segment featuring the brother of a woman almost raped in her own bedroom in Huntsville, Ala. Now Kevin Antoine Dodson is a genuine celebrity, turning his slang-riddled verbal smackdown of the suspect (who has yet to be caught) into a viral campaign to rival even last year's Rickrolling trend. Teaming with the Gregory Brothers to auto-tune his rant into the Bed Intruder Song, Dodson found new and creative ways to market himself, scoring a hit on iTunes and making him just famous enough to perform the song live on the BET Hip Hop Awards. Our personal favorite: The Antoine Dodson Sex Offender Tracker app, available on the iPhone for only $1.99, "because they rapin' er'ybody out here." And where did the proceeds of selling 100,000 singles on iTunes go? Why, to move Antoine and his family out of the Lincoln Park projects, natch. For real.
'I AM TIGER WOODS' CHEATIN' HUBBY AWARD: Jesse James
How in the world could you ever cheat on America's sweetheart, Sandra Bullock? And how, for the love of all that is just and prudent, cheat on her with a tattooed stripper with a Nazi fetish like Michelle "Bombshell" McGee? Mere hours after Sandy won an Oscar for best actress in The Blind Side, looking so happy with Jesse at her side, we were blindsided with news that she was leaving her mismatched motorcycle man because he was a cheatin' dog — he was even seeing his side dish while she was filming her Oscar-winning role. A little while later we then found out that the couple had been planning to adopt Louis, an African-American child from New Orleans, whom Sandra then decided to adopt on her own. It was a cascade of bad news, handled with aplomb by Bullock, who punctuated the MTV Movie Awards by kissing Scarlett Johansson onstage and asking, "Can we please go back to normal? Therapy's really expensive." She moved from L.A. to Austin, dutifully followed by her loser hubby, who claimed interest in parenting baby Louis, but whom we suspect really just wants to hit on the college chicks at the University of Texas. Truly, he did not do much to soothe people's qualms about their pairing.
BEST A FLORIDA CELEBRITY COULD DO AWARD: Jenn Sterger
The Miami-born, Tampa-raised Florida State grad has managed to carve a decent career for herself in sports media, thanks to her infamous TV appearance in the crowd at the 2005 Miami-Florida State game. But it was her time as a New York Jets sideline reporter that earned her biggest headlines to date. Apparently Brett Favre, who was quarterback of the Jets in 2008, decided he thought Jenn should see what was under his Wranglers, allegedly sending her suggestive texts and e-mails, including a photo of himself wearing nothing but a pair of Crocs. (Ugh, Crocs.) It wasn't enough to get Brett in any real trouble, as the desperate Minnesota Vikings pleaded with the now-41-year-old QB to return for another season, which has left the team with a 5-8 record and a home stadium full of snow after the Metrodome roof collapsed last weekend. Jenn moved on to a SportsCenter competitor on Versus called The Daily Line, but that was cancelled in November. We don't know exactly what the 27-year-old is up to now, but you can follow her on Twitter via @jennifersterger. Her tweets are by approval only, mind you — probably because she's gotten unsavory private messages in the past.
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING CELEB AWARD: 50 Cent
Weight loss was an unparalleled trend this year, eclipsing even starlets getting arrested (we're looking at you, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Snooki). The Price Is Right host Drew Carey showed up for the new 2010 season of the ever-popular game show 80 pounds slimmer and sporting a bowtie and resembling a bizarro Orville Redenbacher. John Goodman topped him, losing 100 pounds and giving us hope he won't drop dead from a heart attack at Darlene's wedding. Tracy Morgan doffed 10 pounds or more, because he was worried about dying of diabetes. Jason Alexander shed 30 pounds as a Jenny Craig spokesman, while part-time Tampa Bay resident Jennifer Hudson bounced back from giving birth to David Otunga Jr. last year to go from a size 16 to a 6 as a Weight Watchers advocate. But it's Curtis Jackson who clocks in the most dramatic transformation, dropping 54 pounds off his beefy frame in a mere nine weeks to play a cancer patient in Things Fall Apart. The best part: He gained most of the muscle mass back in time to play some concert dates in the summer. Christian Bale would be proud.
WITNESS PROTECTION AWARD FOR MOST ALTERED APPEARANCE: Heidi Montag
While it's true that Montag is on The Juice*'s banned list, along with Paris Hilton, Kate Gosselin and Ocotomom Nadya Suleman, her disappearing and reappearing act in January made us question her sanity. More than when she married Spencer Pratt, even. Heidi admitted to 10 plastic surgery procedures in one marathon session on Nov. 20. Her changes included, but were not limited to, G-cup breast implants, a butt augmentation, a brow lift, a nose job and lipo in several places. She later admitted that her huge bustline had become too much, making her tired and achy and generally not much fun to be around, which was arguably the case to begin with. While we'd like to question the sanity of Dr. Frank Ryan, the Beverly Hills surgeon who rebuilt her into the Several Thousand Dollar Woman, he died in a freak accident on the Pacific Coast Highway in August when his Jeep went over a cliff onto the beach. Tragic, we know, but at least Dr. Ryan's border collie survived.