Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

A look back at a look back at 1998

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


At the end of every year in magazineland, history devolves into pithy lists of important events, quotidian grotesqueries, celebrity transgressions, and last year’s most potent political commentary: the dick joke. We offer the following chart as a public service to magazine editors who are no doubt already “conceptualizing” their looks back at 1999. This is what worked in 1998, and the hundred or so years before it. So there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work again.

Snappy proprietary package title High-concept visual element Total number of dick jokes Overcovered event of the year How’d we miss that?
Esquire Dubious Achievement Awards of 1998 “Jism in the News” graph plots how often the word “semen” is mentioned in the New York Times throughout the year. 19 See “jism” graph. “To protest ‘harassment’ of his brother Eric Rudolph, who is a suspect in numerous bombings…Daniel Rudolph cut off his left hand with a table saw and sent a video of the act to the FBI.”
TV Guide The Year in jeers TV actors dress up as the year’s most prominent figures 11 “Jewel wrote a book!” “O.J.Simpson surprised TV host Ruby Wax during a taped interview by stabbing her several times with a banana.”
US There’s Something About ’98 TV actors dress up as the year’s most prominent figures. 8 “Sexy: Jewel’s poetry” The first successful “fashion infomercial” hawks a dress with more than 100 looks. Says the garment’s model: “After a certain point, I think, the dress took over.”
Entertainment Weekly Best of 1998 TV actors dress up as themselves. 11 “The folkie’s tome reveals her tendency to both misspell the names of alleged influences and a fixation on breasts.” “To promote [her new yoga-influenced album, Ray of Light, Madonna] squishes Rosie O’Donnell into a few positions on the latter’s talk show….”
Artforum International Best of 1998 Lots of highbrow nudity 8 Veiled reference to Jewel: “Nothing in this world with a body and color is ever as simple as you think it is.” “[Claude] Wampler, as domineering mom in a steam bath with ‘jumbo shrimp’ Magic Markered on her forehead and some kind of jellied blood oozing from her nostrils, hurled Naumanesque abuse.”

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate