From the “mommy porn” craze that was “50 Shades of Grey” to the end of the blockbuster Twilight movie franchise to a huge music and comedy concert in Woodstock, 2012 had its ups, downs and who-the-heck cares moments.
Here are our picks for the 10 most talked-about stories of the year.
If you haven’t read it yet, you’re curious. Just admit it.
It’s at the top of library waiting lists, the best-selling book of all time and most recently the Book of the Year, as voted by the public in the Specsavers National Book Awards.
Yep, 2012 is the year of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Dubbed “mommy porn” because of its erotic sexual content, the book continues to be in demand.
“We saw another resurgence of it over the holiday season, people who didn’t pick it up during the height of the craze,” said Arlene Lynes, owner of Read Between the Lynes in Woodstock.
Yes, it’s mostly women, but men are buying it, too.
“I think people just really are looking for some form of escapism to get away from reality,” Lynes said.
A love story at its core, the book written by E.L. James as a sexy homage to the “Twilight” series first drew older fans of that vampire saga, said Penny Ramirez, assistant head of adult services at Crystal Lake Public Library.
“People want to see what it is all about,” she said.
On Dec. 21, “Gangnam Style,” Korean pop superstar PSY’s viral dance-along single, made it to an unprecedented 1 billion YouTube views. It topped the charts at No. 1 on Billboard’s K-Pop Hot 100 for five weeks and has held the No. 2 spot on the U.S.-based Hot 100 for 15 weeks. It became the go-to song for DJs across the nation as bar-goers and club-goers alike hit the dance floor to move their hips like PSY.
A string of legendary musicians and entertainers died throughout the year – young and old. Pop icon Whitney Houston died at age 48 of accidental drowning Feb. 11. Longtime TV show host Dick Clark died at 82 from a heart attack April 18. Disco legend Donna Summer died May 17 of lung cancer at 63. Other deaths included Etta James (Jan. 20), Don Cornelius (Feb. 1), Davy Jones (Feb. 29), Adam Yauch (May 4), Andy Griffith (July 3), Ernest Borgnine (July 8), Phyllis Diller (Aug. 20), Michael Clarke Duncan (Sept. 3), and Larry Hagman (Nov. 23).
Rock ’n’ roll definitely had a revival in Woodstock in 2012 thanks to the second annual Wasted Plains festival. The daylong Wasted Plains Rock & Roll Revival in August featured nearly 20 bands throughout Chicago and its suburbs and other entertainment, including live comedy, a late-nite talk show and attractions for kids and families. Event coordinator Brandon Pacyna sought to expand the event from the year before and succeeded, drawing hundreds to the venue, both inside and outside the Woodstock VFW. Plans for 2013 already are under way.
2012 brought plenty of Royal news. It ranged from the scandalous – leaked photos of a nude Prince Harry playing pool and snapshots of a top-less, sunbathing Kate Middleton – to the celebratory, with the announcement of Middleton’s pregnancy. And then tragedy. A London nurse killed herself after answering and falling for a prank call from two Australian DJs involving a pregnant and hospitalized Middleton.
Vampires bite the dust
After waiting one long year for part two of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” to be released in theaters in November, Twilight fans watched Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as Edward and Bella on the big screen for the last time. The saga began in November 2008 with the first Twilight release based on the first book in Stephenie Meyer’s popular series. Right behind “Spider-Man,” the franchise became one of the top 10 highest-grossing movie franchises in America at number eight, bringing in $1.4 billion at the box office. Worldwide, the franchise grossed $3.3 billion.
Direct to digital
The show must go on ... digitally. Cherished by fans for the nostalgia it brings to the area, the McHenry Outdoor Theater launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to raise enough money for needed technological upgrades. Without the upgrade, the theater likely won’t be able to play movies in a few years. It must convert from 3 mm film to a full digital format at a cost of about $110,000. The campaign failed to meet its goal of about $130,000, which also included general theater upgrades. But theater owner Scott Dehn has said that he will announce “Plan B” after the holidays. “I will not give up until our goals are met,” he wrote on the theater’s Facebook page.
Here she comes ...
Meet Alana Thomspon, 7-year-old self-proclaimed beauty queen and star of the TLC reality TV show, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”: “I like to win because I want to win MONAYYY! A dollar makes me holler, honey boo-boo.” That’s how she presented herself as a contestant on “Toddlers and Tiaras” before TLC offered her and her family their own show. Her southern Georgia twang and sassy, dramatic glam-girl child speak was enough for producers to include subtitles. The 10 episodes focus less on the pageants and more on a behind-the-scenes look into Alana’s outlandish family. Although not popular with critics, each episode has averaged 2.4 million viewers, while the season finale ended on a high note with 2.8 million.
Another local theater and landmark – Woodstock Classic Cinemas – also was in the news in 2012. Work began on a $4.8 million project to bring the historic theater on the Woodstock Square to eight screens from its previous four. Done in two phases, the theater will remain open during construction. The project, including the creation of an entirely revamped and renovated building, is scheduled to be completed in late-summer 2013.
When movie stars Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes split in June, the divorce hit the tabloids and people dropped their jaws. But because of Cruise’s devotion to the Church of Scientology, this breakup wasn’t so out of the ordinary – in fact, it followed a pattern. Cruise and the church declared his ex-wife Nicole Kidman a “Suppressive Person,” Scientologists’ greatest enemy. Penelope Cruz wasn’t good enough for the church, either, and even a Scientologist actress, Nazanin Boniadi, didn’t make the strict religious cut. Concerned for her daughter, Holmes, a Christian, reportedly could not tolerate Cruise’s Scientology anymore. She’s only lucky she hasn’t been declared an S.P. yet.