What a wild ride 2013 was, huh? So many memes, so many funny tweets, so many things on the Internet that infuriated us and made us think very hard about each other and also ourselves — particularly, “Why don’t we just delete all of our social media accounts so that we don’t have to see all of this stupid shit day in and day out?” (The answer: because we need it.) If you’re the kind of person who has ever dreamed about writing angry blog posts, you’re also the kind of person who watched with a combination of fascination and shame while the Internet made some weird attempt to self-destruct over the past 12 months. Let’s revisit some of the most annoying moments of the year; I apologize in advance for refreshing your short-term memory.
Jimmy Kimmel’s Twerk Fail
This was the year that we both became obsessed with twerking (thank you, Miley) and public failures (thank you, Miley). When a video spread across the Internet depicting a young woman twerking upside down and then falling backwards onto her coffee table and catching on fire, many people wondered, “Why would this woman post a video of herself looking like a complete moron?” “Forget it, Jake, it’s Internettown,” was the general reply as we all shared it on Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter, expressing our glee in watching a white woman scream as she tried not to burn to death. And of course, it all turned out to be a hoax created by Jimmy Kimmel, who thankfully was here to teach us all a lesson about how viral videos work or something, but not about laughing at women who are on fire. Oh well, maybe next year!
Bret Easton Ellis, Internet Gadfly
Bret Easton Ellis had a fun year, what with writing a film that was a complete and utter disaster (but hey, a real-life porn star was in it!) and being a general cultural gadfly on Twitter. Well, I guess that was the point of his provocative tweets, which really amounted to a grown man behaving like a precocious child with access to Wi-Fi. He had a lot of really interesting, rational, and fully formed thoughts to share with the Internet, ranging from how Matt Bomer was too gay to be in 50 Shades of Gray to how Alice Munro was the most overrated author ever, therefore making the Nobel Prize in Literature moot. (He’s still probably upset because he didn’t sell the Swedish rights to Lunar Park or something.)
Yes, this is the photo The New Yorker ran to accompany the Goldberg profile, to the amusement of the Internet at large. Photo credit: Pari Dukovic/New Yorker
Bustle: Essentially the Internet’s First Ladyblog
Women’s media went through a radical change this year with the introduction of Bustle, a new website where one can read the same old shit you’d see on any other blog marketed toward women. The brainchild of Bleacher Report founder Bryan Goldberg, Bustle is, according to its founder, going to be the “biggest and the most powerful women’s publication in the world.” Of course, he also apparently didn’t realize that women have been reading sites like Bustle — so many of them! many, many blogs — for years, because he’s not particularly invested in actually doing anything interesting with women’s media as much as he’s hoping to make a lot of money off of women who want to read about scarves and having it all and political movements that outrage us all, because all of those are good pageview business. But hey, I bet Bustle will really blow up. I mean, look at how fun the Bustle HQ is! Bright colors, attractive employees, and human coffee tables!
Starbucks Drake Hands
Of all the dumb memes this year, Starbucks Drake Hands was not only one of the dumbest, but also the one with the single least clever name. As with most memes lately, this one was born out of public shaming: barista meets girl, girl gives barista number, barista sends sad-puppy-dog-eyed video selfie in hopes of being that kind of sensitive nice guy who charms women into going out on a date with him. There’s also a lot of hand-grazing-across-face movement, all scored to a Drake song. Now do you get the title? Anyway, the woman shared it online, where it went viral, and everyone was like, “Ha ha ha, guys with perfect hair and jawlines who work at Starbucks are dumb,” as if we needed a YouTube link to prove that.
“Bound 2” — But With More Homophobic Humor
You see, Kanye West is cRaZyYyYyYy, especially about his love for Kim Kardashian, and remember when they made that cRaZyYyYyYy video together that reminded us all of Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone,” and thank goodness because we all needed a reason to think of him and Lisa-Marie Presley lounging around, sweating in bath towels? Well, because Kanye is so nuts and open to ridicule, James Franco and Seth Rogen took their insufferable bromance act to a new level and released a shot-for-shot remake of the Kanye’s “Bound 2” video, because they are a couple of regular Gus Van Sants. Like any Gus Van Sant film, there’s a homoerotic overcurrent to it, but not in a way that is, like, promoting the New Queer Cinema movement, but rather in that way in which it’s funny because isn’t it so gross that two dudes are getting freaky together? Ha ha ha, straight people are the worst.
Rachael Sacks, Poor Little Not-Poor Girl
The kids at Thought Catalog probably realized that no one was paying attention to them anymore now that everyone else has figured out that the best way to get attention is to be insufferable and generally terrible at writing (and also life), so they really stepped it up with a personal essay from one Rachael Sacks, who finally put her foot down because she will not have you forcing her into feeling guilty for being rich. Like any good Thought Catalog piece, Sacks’ was the opposite of self-aware, funny, or well-written, which, of course, landed her on the front page of the New York Post. This is the new American Dream: be rich, obnoxious, but able to write a poorly constructed sentence. Just some thoughts for Paris Hilton if she ever wants to get back into the game!
I think we can all agree that feminism finally died — we mean it this time, this was absolutely the worst thing in the history of women doing things, no kidding — when Page Six’s Stephanie Smith “outed” herself as the author of 300 Sandwiches, a blog in which she describes making 300 sandwiches for her boyfriend because of some offhand comment he made, suggesting he’d propose after she cooked a lot for him. Of course, no one had heard of the blog until she wrote about it in the Post, but everyone got mad about it as soon as she did. And that certainly shocked Stephanie and her boo, so she wrote a follow-up piece the next day and then went on the Today show with her boyfriend in tow to defend herself. “This is just a fun little project,” she insisted. Gee, what a shock that a month later she had a book deal, because in no way had she planned on making her professional-looking personal blog with a logo and a log line into a book. No way, just a coincidence. Anyway, these two won’t shut up (the boyfriend had a piece in the Post crowdsourcing innovative ways to propose), and it’s all our fault because we paid attention to them in the first place.
The Week the Twerking Died
Oh God, remember when the VMAs happened, and it was the end of the summer and nothing else was going on and so we had to read four to five essays a day about how awful Miley was or how not terrible she was and cultural appropriation and slut-shaming and et shitera, and then we finally solved everything and everyone exhaled a huge sign of relief and then the racist and sexist undertones so present in pop culture finally ended forever? (Don’t forget all of the open letters from other attention-seeking musicians we had to read!) Oh wait, right, we didn’t solve anything, we just found something else to be annoyed about. Oh well. Anyway, that was a shitty week, huh?
Diane in 7A
Here’s another Internet hoax, courtesy of a producer of The Bachelor, which should have tipped off everyone immediately because there’s no way anything good could come from someone already responsible for horrible cultural institutions that we cannot stop supporting despite knowing better. Anyway, because of Twitter, I guess, this guy made up a rude customer on his flight, called her “Diane in 7A,” and live-tweeted his fake sexual harassment of a fake person in order to prove some point about respecting people in the service industry. My hope for us as a collective culture in 2014 is that we don’t learn throwaway lessons about niceties and how the Internet works from idiot dudes who work in terrible network television. Between this jagoff and Jimmy Kimmel, I’m beginning to think that we’re conveniently forgetting how terrible TV can be while we gush over Breaking Bad as proof of this current Golden Age of Television.
Congratulations, Justine Sacco! It was just under the wire, but you’re officially one of the worst things that happened on the Internet this year. This was a somewhat fascinating story, actually: some girl in PR who had practically zero followers on Twitter made an unfunny, tasteless, racist AIDS joke. It got forwarded to Gawker, probably by someone she knows (that’s what frenemies are for!), and then it went viral. Creeps on the Internet figured out her flight information, and the Internet sat around and waited for her to land in Africa. In the meantime, people made their own stupid, unfunny jokes about her. Eventually she landed, presumably saw that she was suddenly infamous, and made her account private. The whole thing was sort of like a Shirley Jackson short story, but with hashtags instead of rocks. Now, if only the rest of us could be shamed off of Twitter and the whole thing could shut down, next year could actually prove to be a good year on the Internet. Fingers crossed!