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Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 D-Bag of the Year Awards Part 2 - Oh The Humanity

In Part 1 I did a semi round up of 2014's biggest d-bags, glossing over some of the moments in order to not really do any damn research.  What I came up with was somewhat of a generalization of what I feel is the biggest d-bag of the year.  I think I've done it before but we win again, Humanity.

Call it a cop out.  Call it what you will, but my pick for the biggest, most vile, hipster hat and non prescription glasses wearing douchebag of the year is Humanity via Social Media.

What is that you say?  Did you just make up some weird nominee off the top of your head like some sub-sub-sub-genre of music like Mathcore or Lowercase…  You’d kind of know what lowercase is if you ever sat and watched the DVD menu of The Social Network.  It’s ambient music with a few notes scattered about with stuff like real life noise, people talking, traffic, clacking of keyboards, footsteps, etc.

Yeah, I just coined it Humanity via Media is the biggest d-bag of the year.  I wanted to just say Social Media specifically, but there’s more to it which I will get to in a bit.

Why Media? 

Social Media has been as pervasive in our lives. 
We post, tag, comment, retweet, upvote, tumblr (sp?), Instagram, blog, film, and basically overshare everything.  The problem is there is no governance in place to weed out the real, satirical, or fake information.  To the point about Bill Cosby, both Kirk Cameron and Raven-Symone were reported to have been raped or assaulted by Bill Cosby sometime in their career.  These stories were both false, posted by Onion emulating sites like HipHopHangover.  But regardless of their incredulous nature, they were shared across the Internet via twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.    The Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths promptly divided friends on Facebook, probably more so than the midterm elections because on one side you have the barrage of people tuned into the “Police State” conspiracy and abuse of police power theories, and on the other there is the contingent of people who stand behind the badge and say that if they were truly innocent victims they wouldn’t have been committing a crime and when an officer tells you stop, you stop.   The problem lies in the dissemination of information via Media and how Humanity shows its colors when it shares or promotes those stories, real, satirical, or fake as it were.   Look at the “fake” media accounts of Chris Rock and other Twitter celebs who were retweeted without any kind of verification of “Did they actually say it.”  It’s akin to everything on Facebook being attributed to George Carlin or Sarah Palin whether they said it or not.   The Media itself is wholly guilty because they sensationalize some things and no one site is truly objective in its portrayal of anything anymore.   Fox is all right wing, MSNBC is all left.  Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert piss everyone off because they get hoisted onto the pedestal of news when they are basically satire and entertainment.   But the media feeds into social media and then we go back down that rabbit hole all over again.
We have no filter and we have social media muscle. 
It’s kind of like beer muscles.  You get drunk and think you are invulnerable to anything you try to punch, animate, inanimate, or otherwise.  In the case of social media or even media, it’s the belief that we have no problem making a comment, vile as it may be, towards someone because we don’t have to say it to someone’s face.   Think back to that Artie Lange Twitter rant.  Go search over the ones tagged to the Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, or even Hollaback.  Do you think Artie Lange would seriously say, in person, to Cari Champion the things he tweeted?  Have you ever read the comments section on any news article concerning anything polarizing like politics or human rights?  It’s insane.   Now, I joke about hating on PewDiePie as a YouTube content producer because I am one, too and my opinions are just that, my opinion.  But he disabled the comments on his YouTube account, for good this time.  His belief is that the comment section on his videos is just rife with spam, self-advertising, and fights among fanboys.  With about 19 million subscribers, I guess there is a ton of comments.  Well, it may be best for humanity but it’s only one of millions of places to see vinegar and hate on the Internet.  I, myself, jumped into the ring early on, being online for certain things trying to drum up my social media profile after this little moment pushed me a small step towards Internet Fame Mediocrity by calling out John Travolta on Twitter during the Oscars. It was retweeted 1500 times and favorited by 1000 people.  I admit it, I took a little pride in my humor and was continuing to try and make fetch happen throughout the rest of the year.  Then again, I think John Travolta has dyslexia and I just laughed at someone with a disorder.  But, he's famous and knows famous people, and he is musical and should have known that her name wasn't Adele Dazeem.

For every Social Media win there are millions of fails.
Everyone thinks that revolution will not be televised, it will be posted.    We had countless videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on themselves, all for… charity?  Was it really charity or attention?  The Ice Bucket challenge was probably the most videoed moment of the year and people challenged each other to donate to ALS and film themselves being hit with a bucket of ice water, supposedly how it feels to have symptoms of ALS.   But what started out as a way to donate to a worthy cause became a “look at me” moment as everyone posted videos of themselves but probably not everyone donated.  And in doing so, did they actually fix anything?  Social Media Cause of the Week Awareness comes off more like Evil Political/Business Figure Karma Washing by building libraries or parks in areas to offset their horrible practices or platforms.  And while the initial ALS Ice Bucket challenge started off with a good message, it was polluted by the fails videos and other “Staged” event videos and copycat challenge videos that followed.  And it didn’t just hit the everyday Joe, celebrities got in on the challenge as well.   Glorification of the self outshone the message in the end.    Another case of fail was that Hollaback video where after it went viral, tons of parody videos including everything from someone dressed as Princess Leia to a Lamborghini became the subject of catcalls or lack thereof.  The Arab Spring was filmed on a cell phone and that lent a face to what was actually going on in the region.  That was social media for the win.

We have no context or objectivity.
 Recently, Sarah Palin tweeted out a picture of her son Trig, standing on the family dog to reach something on the counter.  As a proud grizzly mom, she said her son was a problem summer, the tweet went viral and the Internet did what it does.    She pointed out in a fiery article that Ellen Degeneres posted a similar picture in July of the same year.

A: Sarah Palin touts the problem solving skills of her son, Ellen says "Well, that's one way to reach the sink."  Both are bad examples of how treat animals. 

B: That's Sarah's kid and dog.  The other is fan submitted to The Ellen show.  Ellen can't stop someone else's bad behavior.  Sarah could.

The difference is, one is Sarah Palin, and the other is Ellen.  Righties, including Palin, will say "No one cared when Ellen did it."  Well, they did.  If you go to the Facebook post and look at the comments, A LOT of people called it out.

It's called context.  They pulled that Ellen pic because she is a well known liberal and lesbian.  It's a tactic of taking something that looks the same and then use it as a juxtaposition.  The more visceral and equally non contextual comment would to be to say, "Obama ate a dog once."   

We also look at things non contextually such as photos depicting a moment in time, free of whatever is going on before and after that moment.  Someone's face say the Obama daughters looking disgusted.  Then, media adds the context.

Or, as I did last month on Facebook to prove a point, "An armed white man killed three police officers in Pittsburgh, was in a long standoff with the law, and was taken into custody, alive."  Immediately, my conservative friends accused me of trying to associate this event from a few years ago to the Michael Brown case.  I did no such thing.  I simply made a factual statement with no context.   Everyone attached their own context based on their beliefs.   It was a dick move but showed the nature of what I am speaking to.

 We have no long term memory.
"Hey, did you hear the one about the price of gas when a certain President took office vs what they are now?  Blame so and so!"  
"Hey did you hear how so and so is giving all these illegals clemency?" 

Chances are, you have seen your friends share something on social media, touting their political leanings.  Usually, it's bashing the person they didn't vote for.  Chances are, they didn't do any research into the subject and just re-posted or re-tweeted something from a site or feed that uses these little subjective posts as click bait for traffic.  What usually occurs in some of these situations is that people cling to the notion that this country is going to implode because of the people in charge and nothing like this has ever happened before in anyone's lifetime.  Let's face it, nothing is new anymore. Policy and political strategy is about as fresh as Hollywood script ideas.  The problem lies in that people tend to have short term memory when these things occur.  They tend to forget that other administrations and other environmental influences recur, like the seasons.  Gas prices fall in the winter, and rise in the summer, so when someone points out that the price of gas was lower in the January of an inaugural year vs. the Memorial Day of a midterm, everyone grabs torches and pitchforks.  Moreover, Presidents have no direct influence on the price of gas.  The market fluctuates based on fear and speculation and time of year.  But social media, and by proxy, we tend to wear our hate right out on our sleeves and feed the trolls of viral mud slinging because why?  See the next point.
We are despicable human beings.
Everyone wants to see the train wreck.  There are far more disasters and fires started on social media and media outlets than good feel, faith in humanity stories.   Everything is hashtagged for social media glorification.  #NotAllMen  #YesAllWomen #NotAllPolice #NotAllBlacks #AlexFromTarget #BlackLivesMatter #PoliceLivesMatter #GamerGate  But, you cannot change the world with a hashtag.  Let’s face it.   We are not Gandhi, Maya Angelou, The Dalai Lama, or Whatevertheirnames are like Bukowski or Poindexter.    Slacktivism is not helping fix problems.   If it were, we wouldn’t need a name attached to a social media account.  It would be anonymously attached to a building or a billboard.  Stop the glorification of yourself in the name of some cause.  In a more despicable note, GamerGate was a form of victim blaming in that someone posted something, maybe true, maybe not, about a female gamer who released a game and then she and her family received threats by misogynistic people on social media.  People came to the defense of Person A and were threatened as well.  Others criticized Person A and they were threatened.  The funny thing is, I wonder if those same people who sent death threats would ever, ever follow up on them if they were face to face.  It's the Social Media Muscle at work.  "Yeah, I'll kick your ass from behind my firewall."  But, in person, you're peeing your pants at actually following through.  If it actually happened, it'd be like this... (NSFW - Language)


Fear sells better than cheer.
When Ebola entered the country, pundits went nuts saying "CLOSE THE BORDERS!" and "OBAMA IS TRYING TO KILL US!"  First of all, Ebola was already in Atlanta at the CDC.  The level of spreading of Ebola in the US vs. Africa is ridiculously disparate.  We are a first world country with better than average healthcare.  And quite frankly, how the hell do you close the borders to air traffic?  Ebola isn't just walking over the Rio Grande.  We had an outbreak of mumps in the NHL this past fall, did anyone, ANYONE start yelling to close the border to Canada?  Ebola is a dangerous disease if you don't have the capacity to deal with it.  But it's a lot easier to get people glued to their sets when you have that newscast with the scary music, biohazard graphics, and fear than it is to give out good news.  We are a society that likes Schadenfreude.

We are ALL the problem.
Was the iCloud hacks a sexual crime?  Maybe.  I am not a lawyer.  I am not a woman, either.  But, those involved did steal private images and videos.  They did re-post them and that, in itself, is probably worthy of some investigation.  If anything, digital theft or invasion of privacy, breaking and entering if that applies to digital environments.  And not as if I am downplaying the severity of what Jennifer Lawrence went through, but to say that anyone who viewed the images are also committing a sex crime, that is a stretch.  OK, I admit it.  I saw the images.   I wanted to know.  And I'm not claiming Pete Townsend "research" as reasoning, but really, is it a crime.  The sites that host the images, yeah, probably guilty of something, but best you can do is say, "Take it down or face litigation" over copyright.   What happened to the people who had their cloud accounts invaded is awful and this victim shaming/blaming mentality is horrible, but quite honestly, if you're using your digital accounts to store naked images and videos of yourself then you shouldn't be surprised that this is going to happen.  Not to say it's apples to apples but if I walk down the street in a bad neighborhood with $100 bills hanging out of my pockets, I don't deserve to be mugged, but it's probably going to happen eventually and I can be pissed off about it and say it's wrong and it is, but it's still something that can be prevented.  Flame me all you want, but the same goes for the cloud.  And yes, the hackers are the worst in humanity, but the victims calling it something it probably isn't doesn't help.  It is what it is, wrong and unfortunate. So, there it is.  As cliched as a wrap as that is, and pretty much ever word I say,  "That's That"  We have a lot of cleansing to do in 2015.  To quote Neal Sampat from The Newsroom, you embarrass me. 

I embarrass me, too.   I am just as bad.

Since 2008, I've pretty much dedicated 98% of this blog to pointing out what's wrong with the world through the pop culture lens.  The last two years have been particularly crass or depressing depending on the day.   And while I am probably going to continue to uphold the "Angry" moniker since it is my brand.  I want to be different.  I got old real quick in my late 20s and 30s and I will be starting a new decade of my life.  I gave up a lot of what made me... me.  I still haven't given up all of my snark as a resolution but I do plan on making substantial changes in my life starting now.  So, let's see if I can get back to being a little more like who I used to be before Mongo took over.  Hopefully, I can bring some of you along with me.

Happy New Year, d-bags. 

Sorry, I couldn't resist. 

2014 Annual D-Bag Awards Part 1 - What Am I Doing?

Should I just give it up?  Should I quit this?

What the hell, Internet?  Did I become lazy?  Did I get a life?  Did I actually do work? 

20 blog posts last year.  TWENTY!

That’s abysmal.  I did 123 in 2008 and averaged close to 95-100 a year, until I hit a creative or ambitious wall with 2014.  Granted, 2013 and 2014 were pretty much bad years as my content will attest to.

In any case, I couldn’t close the book on 2014 without doing my annual D-Bag of the Year Award.  And if you’ve been keeping score, I kind of mailed it in the last two years as it is.

In years past, I would go through this tournament consisting of several rounds matching like nominees such as The Grim Reaper vs. Mother Nature.  

2014 has had its fair share of celebrity deaths like Mike Nichols, Richard Attenborough, Joan Rivers, Lauren Bacall, James Garner, Mickey Rooney, James Garner, Ruby Dee, Bob Hoskins, Sid Caesar, Casey Kasem, Shirley Temple, and Eli Wallach.  That was some of the Hollywood Old Guard.  The notable names connected to a younger generation of entertainment consumers included David Brenner, Bob Hoskins, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Meshach Taylor, Harold Ramis, Jan Hooks, Maya Angelou, Christine Cavanaugh, Edward Herrmann, and Robin Williams.  That’s nothing compared to the lives lost through tragedies like what happened with airplanes overseas disappearing or crashing, deaths in Ukraine and the Middle East from war and strife, and deaths of police officers and/or alleged criminals like Ferguson, New York, Cleveland, or even my own backyard Pennsylvania with Eric Frein going all Rambo in the backwoods of PA after killing police officers.

But Mother Nature gave as good as she got plunging us into stretches of subzero temperatures with Polar Vortices, a late fall snowstorm in the Pacific Northwest and New England, cyclones, earthquakes, mudslides, landslides, and eruptions as well. 

I’ve also recounted in past years how various businesses promoted themselves with such great audaciousness, like Apple infuriating some of its consumer base with an automatic download and install of U2’s new album via iTunes, whether they wanted it or not.  There was also Hobby Lobby and the controversial Christian values trumps the ACA for contraception case before the Supreme Court.  Probably the biggest and most forgotten story was the NFL’s domestic abuse problem and how it quickly faded once the season got into full swing.

Then the business of politics always took a lot of the focus as nominees in the category would include people like Congress for constantly being a blight on the Democratic process.  Republicans for the ridiculous amount of time and energy wasted on trying to overturn the ACA, and immigration, and women’s rights.  The Democrats could not escape themselves as they completely dismantled themselves from doing anything during the midterm elections because they just didn’t care and it showed at the polls when they got walloped by the GOP.

But, I always found it easy to pick apart the individuals in my round up.  Chris Brown was an easy target as he was constantly finding himself being a royal d-bag, but this year he seemed to take a backseat to others.  2014 probably would have had me compare nominees like James Franco for being a creepy bastard with that underage girl over texting.   Shia LeBeouf would have been up there with his Joaquin Phoenix level meltdown, had that been real, declaring he was not famous, became the unknown comic, cut his own face for Fury, claimed he was raped during the filming of a movie, plagiarized a graphic novelist, and tried to mug a homeless man of Mickey D’s.  It could all be a stunt or he’s just drunk and off the reservation. 

NFL and the NBA all have players, owners, and commissioners who love to be douches.  The NBA had LeBron James, who went back to Cleveland, which made Cleveland look like such a whipped city because they welcomed him back with open arms.   Donald Sterling made the list this year after his much publicized remarks caught on tape by his “female friend” V Stiviano.  The NBA gave him a lifetime ban and forced him to sell the team which he fought.  In the end, justice kind of prevailed but the means to the end involved Ms. Stiviano being pretty much a d-bag in her own right.  

The NFL produced great d-bags this year like Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, who were suspended for domestic violence, and supposedly Roger Goodell has “top” men investigating it.  Saying Roger Goodell is handling the situation when it comes to bad behavior in the NFL is like saying Wyle E Coyote is this close to catching the Roadrunner with whatever ACME gadget Amazon Prime just delivered him.   Also with bad behavior, Pittsburgh’s LaGarrette Blount and Le'veon Bell kicked off the season with a rollicking ride in Pittsburgh, while high, missing the team flight and getting pulled over by the police.  It seems a moot point when Bell has been one of the biggest play makers for the Black and Gold, and Blount, after getting less than an acceptable amount of touches, walked off the field and into the locker room, finally being cut by the team and resigned with his former employer, The New England Patriots.  He was happy to be home and Pittsburgh was happy he was, too, I guess.  Still, it’s a move that could be interesting IF and ONLY IF the Steelers are forced to face down their only playoff demon left in the Patriots.   Still, Blount was a d-bag for being a whiny bitch and pretty much a problem child that needed spanked.  If Blount rolls over Pittsburgh in a playoff rout, it isn’t enough to call for the heads of Haley and Tomlin in Pittsburgh.   Christ, people have been calling for them in week 1 and now the own the AFC North.  By the end of the season, another famous d-bag, Ndamukong Suh, finished out his year by stomping on Aaron Rodgers, leading to a suspension, which was appealed and turned over in another great moment by Roger Goodell’s mantra of cleaning up the league.   But then again, I have watched all of five minutes of NFL football this year, taking a much needed breather from all the hypocrisy and thuggish behavior that product has included.   So, it’s really a tossup in sports, but there are no losers in that division. 

Much has been made about women’s rights and the treatment of women this year.  The constant politicizing of women’s right to use contraception took center stage with the Hobby Lobby debate and springing off the Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice stories was the catcalling video “10 Hours of Walking In NYC as a Woman”.  It showed the “reality” of what a woman goes through walking around and being accosted by men of color in “various” NYC neighborhoods.  I use quotes because the 10 hours of footage was not presented in full for viewing.  When taken to task by Slate, the producer said (paraphrased), “White Men catcalled her too, but they were too far off camera or the sound was ruined by a siren.”    That footage was somehow not included.   So, I include the producer of this, not for pointing out the reality of what women go through, but because he did it piecemeal, contextualizing it.  And speaking of being a d-bag towards women, how about Artie Lange and his tweets about Cari Champion?  Or, better yet, the allegations and retraction (apology) by Rolling Stone over the story about campus rape at UVA.  And how about this, as innocuous as this is against women, Justin Bieber managed to piss all over women and the holocaust by writing “Anne Frank Was A Great Girl, Hopefully She Would Have Been A Belieber” in the guest book at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.  That is far worse than those two cancer kids snogging and GETTING APPLAUSE for it in the same house from The Fault In Our Stars.  I jest because I loved the book and the film and thought it was a bit of a WTF moment which made me laugh.  Finally, the invasion of privacy, and sexual crimes against female celebrities due to iCloud hacks calls out a more philosophical question of what constitutes a sex crime?

But no individual’s d-bag story could have topped the one that pretty much crushed a lot of us 70s and 80s kids’ childhood memories when it was reported… A LOT, that Bill Cosby has had a long history of drugging and sexually assaulting women.  Since there have only been allegations and no actual charges filed (I Think) against Cosby and I wish it not true because I have adored the career of Cosby from his stand up to Fat Albert, from Picture Pages to the Cosby Show.   But, there is a hell of a lot of smoke to not think that maybe we should call the fire department. 

In the last segment I usually throw a giant generalization towards something like Me or the Media or Humanity to truly level the playing field in who I think is the biggest d-bag of the year. But one d-bag seems to challenge the faceless nameless category and this year it’s Hackers.   Hackers have been all over the place this year.  First off we need to realize that none of our information is safe.  Hackers hit every category this year.  We have business with all of our credit card and banking information hacked from Home Depot and Target, and NYC Taxi and Limo company.   The cloud was hacked and tons of pictures and videos were stolen from famous and non-famous account holders in what was called The Fappening and The Snappening.  Sony was hacked and emails detailing everything from pay inequality to what people really think of Angelina Jolie was shared.  Online gaming sites like XBOX Live and SONY’s PSN were hacked and kiddies opening up their new PS4s and XBOX Ones on Christmas morning couldn’t go online and shoot each other in the face, leaving them to face the brave new world of actually interacting with people face to face.  And then there is the supposed Sony hack by Kim Jong Un and his legion of TRS-80 hackers a la WarGames who threatened terrorism if The Interview was released.  Frankly, that movie should get its own award this year because I think this was an inside job by somebody looking to boost the hype over watching this film, not actually North Korea.

So, where does that leave us?  We’ve talked about sports and politics and business and celebs and technology in regards to who is the biggest d-bag of the year.  But what could possibly trump all those nominees? 

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