It's December, which, among lots of other things, means fans of Internet entertainment should brace themselves for a veritable onslaught of lists of the best and worst things of the year that has almost passed. Cracked does them, and so does just about everyone else.
These ubiquitous lists can attribute their massive popularity, at least in part, to the howls of outrage from readers who feel wronged when something they love is excluded from the "best of" roundups or earns a mention on the "worst of" side of things. One such list, the 20 Most Hated Celebrities of 2013, as decided by the always reliable Star magazine, has been making lots of headlines this week. At least it's made enough headlines that it caught my attention, and when I read it, I spotted a few entries that struck me as more than a little unfair. Naturally, because there is no bigger affront in all the world than reading something you disagree with online, I decided I needed to say something.
Here are the five most undeservedly hated celebrities of 2013.
#5. Kim Kardashian
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Like most of the other problems in the world, the fact that Kim Kardashian is still making "most hated" lists in 2013 is probably Kanye West's fault. To be upset over any of her other perceived crimes against pop culture, like being famous for doing nothing (except Ray J) or sullying the airwaves with an inane reality show, is like being mad at the year 2007. These are things we should have all spoken our piece about and moved on from by now.
Even then, I've never completely understood the frothing rage some people seem to be able to work themselves into at the mere mention of Kim Kardashian. I'm not saying the concept of being famous just for being famous is a good thing; I'm just saying I don't give a shit. Tons of people her age live off their parents' money without doing half the work she's done. I don't care if photo shoots and running a clothing line doesn't amount to back-breaking work. It's still work. If laziness in the face of a financial windfall from her parents is what upsets you about Kim Kardashian, I'd like to introduce you to at least half of Los Angeles.
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They all wear the same glasses.
Kim Kardashian is a fucking workhorse compared to a lot of rich kids, even if it doesn't necessarily feel that way when you're dragging ass to a day job you hate. Again, though, famous just for being famous is a problem we inherited from the last administration. As stated previously, the thing keeping Kim Kardashian in the celebrity-hating community's cross hairs these days is her relationship with Kanye West.
If a melding of two of the most "newsworthy" celebrities in all the world strikes you as reason to be upset, rest assured, you're viewing the problem in the completely wrong way. Let's say you have two friends, a man and a woman, who both buy you a birthday gift each year. One day, that man and woman meet and become a couple. What happens the following year?
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Right, you get one less birthday gift, because your friends are now shopping as a couple. That's exactly how you should think about Kanye West and Kim Kardashian joining forces. Instead of hearing an obnoxious story about Kim Kardashian every day and an obnoxious story about Kanye West every day, now you just get one joint story about both of them. In total, that's one less piece of "news" each day.
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It's the same thinking that goes into keeping the president and vice president in different locations during times of crisis. If they're separated, it's harder for the enemies of this country to take out our number one and number two at the same time. If you view Kim Kardashian and Kanye West as enemies fighting against your right to hear meaningful news reports, having them joined at the hip should be exactly what you want.
#4. Jay Leno
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Hey, speaking of things we shouldn't still be mad about, when we look at it in retrospect, should Conan O'Brien be glad Jay Leno cost him his job at NBC? Even without Leno and his prosthetic chin in the picture, Coco wasn't exactly killing it in the ratings. At least the Leno fiasco gave him someone to blame when things went off the rails, which, given the state of NBC in recent years, was bound to happen at some point anyway.
Again, though, just like hating Kim Kardashian for being Kim Kardashian, hating Jay Leno for what transpired between him and Conan O'Brien is the kind of thing we probably should have let go of a long time ago. In fact, the only big news story that jumps to mind involving Jay Leno this year was the one about him finally giving up control of The Tonight Show to Jimmy Fallon.
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Where's your other hand, Leno?
Unless I'm missing something, that's the opposite of bad news. The end of the Jay Leno reign is exactly what people want, right?
Still, the Conan vs. Leno drama left such a sour taste in people's mouths that, even today, Jay Leno is making his way onto lists of the most hated celebrities in the world. If you ask me, the question isn't whether we should still care about Jay Leno hosting The Tonight Show; the question is whether we should still care about The Tonight Show at all.
There was a time when we absolutely should have, and that time was back in the '80s, when the choice was between David Letterman and Jay Leno, and The Tonight Show was still an institution revered as one of the greatest (if not the greatest) late-night talk shows of all time. Who was going to take control when Johnny Carson left was a huge deal, because Johnny Carson was a huge deal and he made The Tonight Show the huge deal that it was at the time. The operative word there is "time," though, because caring about late-night television is quickly becoming a relic we reluctantly carry with us from a radically different time.
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The previous sentence was brought to you by the letter R.
What do we need to tune in to late-night television for these days? Jimmy Fallon wasn't crowned the next face of The Tonight Show because of his monologues, and putting him in direct competition with Stephen Colbert definitely won't make us miss his interview skills. No, Jimmy Fallon is massively popular right now because the skits from his show become huge viral hits online. You don't have to be in front of your television when Jimmy Fallon proves to be funnier than we ever expected he could be by doing something like this ...
... because five of your friends are going to email you that video the next morning. That's all we need these days. That (and the greatest band on Earth) is why Jimmy Fallon is popular right now.
If NBC executives think a massive Internet following is going to translate to improved ratings, it's just another sign that they're completely out of touch. Even if you're excited for Jimmy Fallon from a career standpoint, you probably shouldn't be. Beyond the ratings concerns (which NBC has shown a willingness to address in the harshest manner possible), don't expect a move to a more advertiser-friendly spot to mean good things for the quality of his work. It's generally accepted that Conan's best moments on NBC came after he knew he was going to be fired and stopped caring what the higher-ups thought. Translation: Something about keeping that job made Conan O'Brien feel like he had to hold back.
If you think that's a situation exclusive to him, consider the fact that, once upon a time, Jay Leno was pretty damn funny himself. His act didn't start out as an endless stream of "Jaywalking" skits and wacky headlines. Answering to the NBC machine for so many years just made it that way.
#3. Taylor Swift
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Here's a fun story! Back when I was working for Playboy, a freelancer turned in an article about why Taylor Swift was secretly the biggest dick in music.
Yes, the writer was a woman, thanks for asking!
Anyway, because that's exactly my kind of shit, I approved the article posthaste and published it on the site. Approximately 10 minutes later, I received an email from my boss demanding that I take the article down. People loved Taylor Swift so much (this was hot on the heels of the Kanye incident) that seeing her described as a "dick" in a headline, no matter how compelling the argument contained within the article may have been, was too much for such a demure company to stomach.
Kiss her ass all you want, it's never going to happen.
And now here we are a few short years later, and Taylor Swift is one of the most hated celebrities of 2013. That's a squandering of goodwill the likes of which we haven't seen since George W. Bush managed to make the entire world hate us after 9/11. If you're keeping track, that's two Bush jokes in the span of three entries. That's the kind of mindset having to still talk about Jay Leno puts a person in, I suppose.
The public's hate for Taylor Swift, though, is still awash in that new love affair scent. Hating Taylor Swift is cool now, because, oh my God, does she have to write a song about every guy she dates?
Does she make them sign a release?
Well, yeah, she kind of does. Rather, she doesn't have to, but why in the fuck shouldn't she? For one thing, relationships are something musicians have been covering in song forever. It seems like a problem here because everyone knows who she's singing about, but how is that her fault? Lots of easily entertained people want to know that kind of information. Why does that equate to Taylor Swift not getting to write the same kind of songs that so many men and women before her have written? The video for Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" made it pretty clear who he was singing about ...
... and there has yet to be an instance in recorded history of anyone being mad at that guy for anything. So why all the guff when Taylor Swift does the same thing? Is it because so many of her songs are about ex-boyfriends? If so, and I can't reiterate this enough, the fact that you even know who she's singing about is the real problem here. If you're that concerned about Harry Styles' (whoever that is) right to privacy, read better websites and watch better television. If you do that, the problem will just work itself out, I promise.