Robert Brockway

Person: Anonymous


In keeping with my theme of bullshit and the bulls that shit them, here's a bullshit move on my part: I pick Anonymous as my person of the year. Hey, Time magazine did it back in 2006. You're not holding me to a higher standard than Time, are you?

Yes, I know that Anonymous is a group, not a person, but in all fairness, they do present one public persona, one face and one mission statement.

That persona is "dangerous, irreverent asshole."

That face is this:


And that mission statement is: "I don't know ... fuck you?"

Anonymous fucks shit up because they can't think of anything better to do. And like so much of this year, that's as respectably badass as it is total bullshit. LulzSec were the most prominent aspect of Anonymous this year (even if they were only tangentially connected to Anonymous, the media still considered them one and the same), and their exploits, for better or worse, finally put some teeth in that irksome smiley face.

Among other things, LulzSec hacked Sony and released user account information, leaked contestant info from Fox and even crashed the goddamn CIA's website. They were perhaps the most effective, and certainly the most publicized, terrorist force of the year, and if you asked them toward what end they did all of it, they'd tell you it was "for the lulz."

And then they'd probably say something about mudkips.

That's apathetic, incomprehensible and borderline sociopathic. In short, it is a damned appropriate statement for this bullshit year. 2011 was the year the world asked:

"Why'd you burn that house down, son?"

And we all answered:

"Because it needed burning, sir."

Internet Clip: Have This

When you say "Internet clip," most people think of funny, confusing or gross little throwaway videos they've shared with their friends. I'm sure my fellow editors have chosen some really cute, clever or innovative clips and have terribly amusing things to say about them. And why not? They're funny guys.

They're the life of the party, those guys.

"Ha ha ha! Remember when we had to pretend to know each other?"

Me? Right now, I'm the guy who hangs out in the kitchen and picks a fight about abortion rights with everybody who hits up the chip bowl. I didn't come to this thing to pound some brews and connect with friends; I just want to ruin your goddamn night because Shelly decided she wanted to have a gay phase and the office is doing layoffs and you just know that son of a bitch Chad is going to sell me down the river for that missing printer ink but have you seen that shit? It's like $43 a pop. That's more than the goddamn printer. What was I supposed to do, pay for it? Fuck that. Yeah, I took it. I did it, all right? And now I'm probably out of a job and my girlfriend is banging a fixie-riding half-Asian barista and I'm going to fucking talk to you about fetuses while you try to eat a Frito because it pisses me off that you're sitting there having a good time right in my face.

So here. Here's my choice for clip of the year. It's the Japanese tsunami.

Laugh it up, funny guys.

Word: Bro

2011 was the year "bro" woke up under the Ping-Pong table, stumbled into the kitchen, threw up in the sink, grabbed a breakfast brew, slipped on some 'flops and shuffled bleary-eyed to the front porch only to discover that it had been crowned king sometime in its drunken stupor, and now all the peasants were waiting on the lawn to swear their fealty.

It's not just a term for people who take Beer Pong seriously anymore.

Somehow "bro" went from a chief identifier of frat boys to netspeak, and it did so almost instantly. One day you could play Date Rapist Marco Polo at any party and shout, "What's up, bro?" into a crowd, knowing that anybody who answered back could legally be detained for semen samples. And the next day Reddit powerusers have more "bros" in their submission history than Pi Kappa Gamma's in-house dominatrix.


I'm not sure exactly why this sudden adoption took place (though I suspect it's meme-related). But regardless of why, 2011 has been all about this kind of bullshit: co-opting things that should be shunned, idolizing people who should be institutionalized and proudly saying things that should get your mouth scrubbed out with old bong Jaeger.

Photo: Vacationing Rebel

Kristen Chick via Christian Science Monitor
Jerseys stop bullets, right?

This is a photo of Chris Jeon, a math major at the University of California, in the midst of joining the Libyan revolution. But why on earth would a promising young college student risk life and limb to enlist with the underdogs in a bloody foreign war? Does he support the cause? Does he have personal ties to the conflict? Did Gadhafi grief him in Battlefield, and he's come over for some IRL payback? Nope. In his own words:

"This is one of the few real revolutions ... I just thought I'd come check it out. Just go and see what happens. At spring break I told my friends a 'sick' vacation would be to come here and fight with the rebels."

And in a sense, that is incredibly badass. Dude joined a motherfucking revolution like a pick-up game. When the other rebels shout "FOR LIBYA!" or "FREEDOM!" Jeon's in the back shouting "AIN'T NOTHING ON TV THIS WEEK."

"It's been a slow year. Anyone fancy casting off the shackles of British tyranny?"

But in another, equally real sense: That's a bunch of bullshit.

One of the things absolutely killing our culture right now is irony. Everything is done half-assed, wearing a wry smirk and an ugly cardigan. That way if it doesn't go over well, you can claim total immunity to criticism because "It was all ironic, bro." And now that excuse applies not only to finger mustaches and shitty theme bars, but warfare?! I'm not sure if I should be horrified that young people are now apparently willing to die for a quick joke or relieved that the line at the Artisan Grilled Cheese Truck is going to be shorter next year.

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