News Article

The Year That Was

The year that was: 1990 -- 2 Live Crew, ''Pretty Woman,'' ''In Living Color,'' and ''The Civil War'' were some of the pop-culture highlights of the past year

2 Live Suits
The results were more comic than carnal when rap and heavy metal went on trial this year. In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., three members of the 2 Live Crew faced a year in prison for performing music deemed obscene by a federal judge. But then a police-made tape of the performance turned out to be badly muddled, Crew leader Luther ''Luke'' Campbell flipped his middle finger at a prosecutor, and the jurors laughed along with the rappers' exaggerated sexual brags — and promptly found the Crew not guilty. One juror remarked that the local sheriff who arrested the group ''ought to be shaking up crime instead.''

In Reno, Nev., a judge ruled that the metal group Judas Priest didn't intentionally sneak the words ''do it'' into one of its 1978 songs and thereby % persuade two young fans to shoot themselves in 1985. ''When people don't understand something,'' said lead singer Rob Halford, ''they begin to fear it.'' One prosecutor, Vivian Lynch, seemed fearless: She asked the group for autographs for one of her sons and wrote a song she titled ''No More Deadly Music.''

Shop in the Name of Love

Once Pretty Woman became a monster hit, everyone from Hollywood copycats to left-wing theorists pondered its success. ''The return of romance,'' you'd hear, or ''Crass yuppie Cinderella story.'' But really, it was this simple: shopping. That scene where Richard Gere drags Julia Roberts into the Rodeo Drive clothing store and says, ''We are going to be spending an obscene amount of money in here, so we are going to need a lot more help sucking up to us'' — that's wish fulfillment on a level everyone understands.

Screen Steam
Kilning Me Softly
Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze focused their foreplay on a revolving pottery wheel and transformed a cold lump of clay into an erotic masterpiece in the summer blockbuster Ghost.

Smitten by Grace
After opposing each other in court last spring, L.A. Law's Grace Van Owen (Susan Dey) and Victor Sifuentes (Jimmy Smits) repaired to Victor's car to seal a more passionate contract with a kiss. Said a blissful Grace, ''I've always wanted to do that.'' Months later, Victor returned the favor at the office Christmas party. Judging by Grace's stunned expression, we could tell it was worth the wait.

No Nudes is Bad Nudes
When ''The Perfect Moment,'' an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs of flowers, angelic-faced children, and extravagantly well-endowed men performing eccentric sexual high jinks, toured the nation in 1990, conservatives jumped on the propaganda opportunity of the decade. Led by North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, they assaulted the National Endowment for the Arts, which had helped fund Mapplethorpe's exhibition. Confronted with pictures from the show, Mrs. Helms exclaimed, ''Lord have mercy, Jesse, I'm not believing this!'' Cincinnati citizens' groups, decrying Mapplethorpe photos showing children's genitals, provoked the country's first obscenity trial targeting a museum and its director. But Melia Marden, a Mapplethorpe model at 3 and his defender at 9, rebuked the adults. Said Marden, ''Everybody was born without clothes.'' In October, defendants Dennis Barrie and his Contemporary Arts Center were found not guilty — after a six-month court fight.

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