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That was the year that was 2004

Recalling a booby-trapped 12 months

By Todd Leopold

Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson's Super Bowl snafu spurred widespread indignation, despite her attempts to explain the "wardrobe malfunction."
Christopher Reeve
Howard Stern
Year in Review

(CNN) -- What can you say about 2004?

What can you say about a year that spent more time and indignation on a 38-year-old pop singer's accidentally exposed right breast than the vapidly violent dance routine, erection ads, capitalistic orgy (and football game) that surrounded it?

What can you say about a year in which the two most talked-about movies of the year -- and two of its biggest box office hits -- were a violent film about a man of peace and an effectively manipulative polemic about a president at war?

What can you say about a year that got some of its sharpest news from a fake news show?

What can you say about a year that glorified both a bright man who won 74 "Jeopardy!" games in a row, and also glorified a shallow, inexplicably famous hotel heiress/party girl who became even more inexplicably famous thanks to a Fox reality show?

What can you say about a year that made a self-aggrandizing, strangely hair-styled tycoon with an edifice complex into a TV star and put the queen of domesticity behind bars?

What can you say about a year in which the Federal Communications Commission levies a record fine for that aforementioned 38-year-old pop singer's bared breast -- but the violently graphic details of "CSI"-type shows were met with nothing but high ratings?

What can you say about a year that lost its Genius (Ray Charles), its Superman (Christopher Reeve), its Method man (Marlon Brando) and its "Friends"?

What can you say about a year in which wizards were featured in a top five-grossing movie, a major best-selling book, and the film named best picture of 2003?

What can you say about a year that featured Britney Spears getting married more times than Jennifer Lopez, and Jude Law appearing in more movies in four months -- six -- than a studio contract player in his prime?

What can you say about a year in which Howard Stern's best-known competition for sexually suggestive talk was Bill O'Reilly, and "Monday Night Football" was better known for a silly locker-room skit than a fourth-quarter comeback?

What can you say about a year in which "moral values" was revealed as some kind of bellwether, yet put "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" on the best-seller list, made a cleverly soapy show about "Desperate Housewives" its breakout hit and can't seem to get past a pop star's breast-revealing finale?

I can't think of anything.

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