The Year in Stars



imbue/ɪm’bjuː/ 向…灌输;使充满;If someone or something is imbued with an idea, feeling, or quality, they become filled with it.

imbue sb/sth (with sth) ◆ Her voice was imbued with an unusual seriousness. 她的声音里充满着一种不寻常的严肃语气。

wax and wane (力量、重要性等)兴衰枯荣,盛衰;阴晴圆缺

barometer /bə’rɒmɪtə/ 变化的标志;晴雨表;If something is a barometer of a particular situation, it indicates how things are changing or how things are likely to develop. ◆ Infant mortality is a reliable barometer of socio-economic conditions. 婴儿死亡率是社会经济状况的可靠指标。

balm/bɑːm/ 安慰[物]; 慰藉物;If you refer to something as balm, you mean that it makes you feel better.

impeccable/ɪm’pekəb(ə)l/ 无瑕疵的;无可挑剔的;If you describe something such as someone’s behaviour or appearance as impeccable, you are emphasizing that it is perfect and has no faults.

whammy /’wæmɪ/ (困难或打击)同时发生,相继发生;祸不单行;Whammy is used in expressions such as double whammy and triple whammy to indicate that two or three unpleasant or difficult situations occur at the same time, or occur one after the other.

plethora /’pleθ(ə)rə/ 大量;尤指过多,过剩;A plethora of something is a large amount of it, especially an amount of it that is greater than you need, want, or can cope with.


For centuries, the stars have been used as a guide, their shimmering specks in the sky leading the way through darkness. They have been imbued with subjective meaning and held up as a mirror for the human condition.


Celebrities, the stars of the earthly realm, have played a not-so-different role: We look to them as models, or cautionary tales, and treat their waxing and waning relevance as a barometer of public opinion.


In 2021, the upward trajectories of several celebrities could not be ignored. Their names dominated headlines, their outfits were incessantly emulated. Some, you might say, ruffled the very fabric of our space-time continuum. (Who could have seen a Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian love story existing in this dimension?)


During a year when a return to normalcy was the most exciting thing most people could imagine, it was a balm to see celebrities return to their normally abnormal lives. Some just simply shined brighter than others.


Here, we chart the stars that rose — or flamed out — in another dark year.


Celebrities that are good at being celebrities


The barrier to becoming a celebrity has arguably never been so low. But to become a celebrity whose glimmer lasts longer than a news cycle? The field narrows considerably.


Lil Nas X led the charge of stars who “understood the assignment,” to use a phrase that should probably be retired in 2022. In terms of creating cultural moments, impeccably reading the room on Twitter and seeming to actually have fun with his newfound mega-stardom, no one else came close.

以利尔·纳斯·X为首的一些明星“懂怎么做”(understood the assignment),这是一个可能在2022年就会退隐的表达。在创造文化时刻方面,他在Twitter上无可挑剔地审时度势,似乎真的很享受他新拥有的巨星身份,无人能及。

Megan Thee Stallion and JoJo Siwa also maintained momentum this year. Megan graduated from college, a goal she’d been reiterating for over a year. JoJo Siwa, who came out as pansexual in 2021, became the first contender on “Dancing With the Stars” to dance with a partner of the same gender. She and Jenna Johnson made a great pair.

梅根·西·斯塔莉安和乔乔·西瓦今年也保持了良好势头。梅根大学毕业了,一年多来她一直重申这个目标。2021年以泛性恋者出柜的乔乔·西瓦成为《与星共舞》(Dancing With the Stars)中第一个与同性舞伴共舞的参赛者。她和珍娜·约翰逊组了一对好搭档。

The fact that JoJo Siwa was a delight on a reality TV dance competition wasn’t surprising. She had, after all, made her showbiz debut as a child on the reality TV show “Dance Moms.”

乔乔·西瓦在电视真人秀舞蹈比赛中表现出色并不奇怪。毕竟,她小时候就已经在真人秀节目《舞蹈妈妈》(Dance Moms)中首次亮相演艺圈。

Maybe it’s the double whammy of something nice actually happening for someone, along with the rareness of that someone seeming like a decent person. We’ve certainly been starved of a lot of nice things for years, and these folks kept us rooting for them.


Literary discourse magnets


What’s that old saying? The pen is mightier than the sword? It seems 2021 proved that to be undeniably true thanks to a handful of authors who seem to exist at the center of a Venn diagram between idol and enemy depending on who you ask.


There was, of course, “Bad Art Friend,” a New York Times Magazine article about two feuding writers that brought Twitter to a standstill.

当然,还有“糟糕的艺术朋友”(Bad Art Friend),这是《纽约时报》杂志的一篇文章,讲述了两个陷入冲突的作家使Twitter陷入了争论的僵局。

And of course, Sally Rooney, the hype-fueling author of “Conversations With Friends” and “Normal People.” Her latest novel, “Beautiful World, Where Are You?”, spurred conversation when she declined to sell the rights to her book to an Israeli publisher, citing her support of the Palestinian people. Who writes about the writers that get written about?

当然,还有名气被一再推高的莎莉·鲁尼,她是《与朋友的对话》(Conversations With Friends)和《普通人》(Normal People)的作者。她以支持巴勒斯坦人民为由拒绝将最新小说《美丽的世界,你在哪里?》(Beautiful World, Where Are You?)的版权出售给一家以色列出版商,引发了讨论。谁来写写被书写讨论的作家?

Pop culture bad boys


You know who’s got two thumbs, a slender frame, a plethora of tattoos and a famous brunette girlfriend? These guys.


The supposed bad boys of the moment — Machine Gun Kelly, Travis Barker and Pete Davidson — had an above-average year. Machine Gun Kelly and his girlfriend, Megan Fox, are the hottest item on any red carpet. Mr. Barker overcame his nearly 13-year-old fear of flying and is now engaged to Kourtney Kardashian. Mr. Davidson, for his part, is possibly dating Kim Kardashian and continues to reign supreme not only as the King of Staten Island but also of our hearts.


Pop princesses that hurt your feelings with their music


What is it about this year (aside from the pandemic we continue to live through) that made us so sad? Perhaps it was the huge number of albums soaked in the sweet scent of heartbreak from the queens and princesses of pop.


We kicked the year off with Olivia Rodrigo bringing us back to our angsty teen years of love and loss. Then, in November, came Taylor Swift’s rerelease of “Red,” along with her 10-minute version of “All Too Well” and a short film that was painful to watch. (Let’s just say it was a bad week to be Jake Gyllenhaal.)

新年伊始由奥利维亚·罗德里戈开启,她将我们带回我们充满爱与失落的焦虑的青少年时期。然后,在11月,泰勒·斯威夫特重新发行了《红》(Red),以及她10分钟版本的《回忆太清晰》(All Too Well),这是一部令人痛苦的短片。(我们只能说那一周对于杰克·吉伦哈尔来说真是太糟糕了。)

Finally, Adele drove us home, serenading and letting us in on what it feels like to be alone, but maybe not quite lonely. Thank you to the women who hurt our feelings with their music this year — now please let us rest.


Athletes who defined triumph


Three of the biggest athletes in the world made headlines this year by not competing.


Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open, citing concerns for her mental health.


Sha’Carri Richardson, who was heavily favored to win the Olympic gold for the United States team as a sprinter, was suspended from the 100-meter race after a positive marijuana test.


Simone Biles pulled out from the Olympic all-around gymnastics competition while on the floor of the stadium in Tokyo. In the process she introduced the concept of “the twisties” — a sort of disorienting vertigo that gymnasts face — to the masses.


All three women were blasted for their decisions, but each was also heralded as a new type of role model. All three attended this year’s Met Gala.

这三位女性都因她们的决定而受到抨击,但她们也都被誉为新型榜样。三人都参加了今年的Met Gala。

Quitting is usually considered worse than losing in the world of competitive sports. But for some, the conversations spurred by the absence of these women made a greater impact than any victory could have.


Of course, there’s still glory in not quitting. Stephen Curry broke the record for most regular-season 3-pointers on Tuesday and garnered a bevy of accolades, including a crowd chanting “M.V.P.” and Spike Lee, clad head to toe in orange, contorting himself on the floor to capture the moment on his phone.


Revisionist rescue missions


It’s easy to forget just how differently we were thinking of Britney Spears a year ago. There were online rumblings about a conspiracy to control her and a movement to “free” her, but few of us understood the realities of what her life under a conservatorship meant.


The conversation changed significantly after The Times’s “Framing Britney Spears” and “Controlling Britney Spears,” as well as Erin Lee Carr’s Netflix documentary, “Britney vs Spears.”

在时报文章《陷害布兰妮·斯皮尔斯》和《控制布兰妮·斯皮尔斯》以及艾琳·李·卡尔的纪录片《布兰妮对斯皮尔斯》(Britney vs Spears)问世之后,讨论发生了重大变化。

In a matter of months, people who were unaware of or indifferent to Ms. Spears’s personal life were roped in. Ultimately, the pop star’s personal trajectory and her public perception turned around.


She wasn’t alone. This was a year of revisiting, reconsidering — and in some cases, trying to rescue — women who were famous or infamous in the past.


Princess Diana, an object of aggressive international media fascination when she was alive, had a posthumous cultural moment with both a Hollywood movie and a Broadway show — for better or worse — that reconsidered her legacy as a princess, an icon and a human being.


Monica Lewinsky was portrayed with sympathy by Beanie Feldstein on “American Crime Story.” Ms. Lewinsky herself was a producer for the project.

贝尼·费尔德斯坦在《美国犯罪故事》(American Crime Story)中饰演莫妮卡·莱温斯基,她的演绎中充满了同情。莱温斯基本人是这个项目的制片人。

Anita Hill’s press tour for her book about gender violence became an occasion to reconsider the ways she had been written about in the wake of her 1992 testimony against Clarence Thomas.


And Sinead O’Connor, another ’90s punchline for years, wrote a memoir that prompted a fresh look.


Of course, many of the wrongs inflicted on our female celebrities have not been accounted for. But this year was an indication that there may be an appetite to try to get things right.


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