Miley Cyrus, Marc Chagall, and 39 other topics that distracted us—at least briefly—from the election this year.

Arts, entertainment, and more.
Dec. 26 2008 11:17 AM

Who Says Obama Was the Story of the Year?

Miley Cyrus, Marc Chagall, and 39 other topics that distracted us—at least briefly—from the election.

(Continued from Page 1)

Dancing With the Stars (season finale, May 22).
View chart.

Lost (season finale, May 29): The enigmatic ABC show occasionally crested above the candidates throughout the fourth season, though the numbers are somewhat inflated by searches for the (unrelated) video game Lost Odyssey. The jump in searches after the season finale is unmistakably attributable to the show.
View chart.


Sex and the City (film released May 30).
View chart.

Sydney Pollack (died May 26).
View chart.

Harry Potter (actor killed May 24): Robert Knox, who played the character Marcus Belby in the sixth Harry Potter movie, was stabbed in a fight.
View chart.

George Carlin
(died June 22).
View chart.

The Happening (released June 13).
View chart.

CampRock (released June 20): The Disney original movie upset Obama's figures during the lull after the end of the Democratic primary.
View chart.

Wanted (released June 27): The unwatchable Angelina Jolie thriller crested above Obama during a slow stretch in the campaign. (Note: While wanted is a fairly generic word, other terms in the queries, like review and angelina jolie, suggest the majority of the searches were for the movie.)
View chart.

Hancock (released July 2).
View chart.

The Bachelorette (season finale, July 7).
View chart.

Marc Chagall (born July 7, 1887): Huh? Why would the Russian-born modernist artist, who died in 1985, skyrocket to astronomical heights—we're talking Sarah Palin magnitudes—for one day on his 121st birthday? A LexisNexis search for Chagall in early July turned up nothing remarkable, though Chagall also shows up on Nielsen's BlogPulse rankings for rising stars in the blogosphere on that day. Mystery solved: That day, Google displayed a Chagall-style version of its logo on its homepage, which was hyperlinked to a search for Chagall's name. (See more of Google's specialized logos here.) Alexander Graham Bell enjoyed a similar surge in March when Google gave him the same treatment, as did Diego Velázquez in August.
View chart.

The Dark Knight (released July 18): The sequel to Batman Begins steamrolled over political searches for nine days in July, surpassing Obama a day before the movie was released. Several of the stars in the movie, such as Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, rode the wave of interest ahead of Obama for a day or two.
View chart.

Harry Potter (trailers released): The boy wizard spiked twice in July on the releases of trailers and other news from the forthcoming sixth movie.
View chart.

Morgan Freeman
(car accident, Aug. 3).
View chart.

Bernie Mac (died Aug. 9): Bernie Mac's death at age 50 generated about as much search interest as George Carlin's, though for slightly longer. Mac's death even topped interest in the conventions.
View chart.

Isaac Hayes (died Aug. 10).
View chart.

Bigfoot (discovered Aug. 15): Two Georgia men who claimed to have found a Bigfoot corpse generated about as much traffic as Obama did on the first day of the Democratic convention a week later.
View chart.

Travis Barker
(plane crash, Sept. 19).
View chart.

Jennifer Hudson
(relatives murdered Oct. 24).
View chart.

Saturday Night Live (Palin appears Oct. 18): After the sketch show's mock vice-presidential debate on Oct. 4 and the real Palin's SNL appearance two weeks later, searches for it outranked searches for the candidate herself.
View chart.

Honorable mentions
Stonewall Jackson
(discussed on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader Jan. 11): The Confederate general very nearly unseated Barack Obama after Access Hollywood host Billy Bush—a first cousin of the president—incorrectly guessed Jackson's given first name during an appearance on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Bush guessed "Andrew." Many searchers appeared to be looking up the answer themselves, adding the word name to their queries. The correct answer is Thomas.
View chart.

Kristin Davis (sex tape leaked March 18): If images from your sex tape must be leaked, take a cue from Davis on timing: Obama gave his acclaimed speech on race relations the same day her tape was released. Searches for Kristin Davis, who played the wholesome Charlotte on Sex and the City,didn't top searches for Obama but still outnumbered those for Clinton and McCain.
View chart.

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.