#4. Louis C.K.

Everything and everyone is secretly great if you look hard enough. That might not be Louis C.K.'s actual message, but you can find it if you read between the lines. Somewhere between all the self-loathing, masturbation anecdotes and deconstruction of the absurd minutiae of everyday life, Louis C.K. has become the comedian who reminds us to calm down and play nice because we're lucky to be here together.

Sometimes that message needs to be shouted via bullhorn.

Like when Louis accidentally tweeted support to Daniel Tosh amid the infamous rape joke controversy. If you've already put the story out of your mind, Daniel Tosh was doing a stand-up routine and made some jokes about rape. And when he got heckled by a female audience member, he said "Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by like, five guys right now?" Maybe that makes you laugh. Maybe it makes you angry. Louis C.K. responded like this:

"To the men I say listen to what the women are saying about this. To the women I say now that we've heard you, you know, shut the fuck up for a minute. And let's all get back together and, you know, kill the Jews."

Kevork Djansezian / Getty
Louis C.K., Emmy-winning anti-Semite and rape apologist.

How do you top a rape joke controversy? With a joke about the Holocaust. And a quick reminder that comedy is a two-way street. The best comedians can show us the darkest corners of life and relieve the tension we confront every day. But the best comedians also approach those subjects thoughtfully and evolve and grow with time. Some performers want the right to joke about anything and everything. But C.K. is the rare performer who can straddle the line between offensive and endearing without being a complete jackass about it. His whole comedy philosophy was summed up in his reaction to Tig Notaro's set about her cancer diagnosis:

"The show was an amazing example of what comedy can be. A way to visit your worst fears and laugh at them. Tig took us to a scary place and made us laugh there. Not by distracting us from the terror but by looking right at it and just turning to us and saying 'Wow. Right?' She proved that everything is funny. And has to be. And she could only do this by giving us her own death as an example. So generous."

Michael Schwartz / Getty
Tig's prognosis is good. Proof that other people's laughter is the best medicine.

Everything is funny. It has to be. But not everyone can pull humor out of 9/11 and cancer and child abuse. That's thankfully rare. It's so rare that most people who do it end up looking like idiots. Louis C.K. is at a point in his career where he can get us to pay him directly to make us laugh about the most horrible things in the world.

#3. Krispy Kreme/Tyler Cassidy

Several of my entries this year have, on some level, touched on the ever-more-fractured nature of a post-post-modern culture where brands multiply ad infinitum and self-aware sub-genres proliferate at a rate never before seen on Earth. Several have also mentioned wieners, but that's incidental. I bring this up because in a world where everything's meta, everyone's aware of everything, there are GIFs of memes of parodies of genre tropes from TV shows that are themselves reboots, and references run amok in even the highest echelons of entertainment (parody porn), there's nothing quite as refreshing as being genuinely tricked. Krispy Kreme tricked me, and that's why he's my person of the year.

In the realm of Internet personalities, there seems to have been a slow but inevitable evolution from "person who has no idea that his inadequacies make him FRIKKIN' HILARIOUS" to "person who understands that he is a joke, but persists for monetary reasons" to "person transparently trying to pretend that he is inadequate so as to fabricate the monetary opportunities our culture now apparently affords the amusingly retarded."

Krispy Kreme, aka Tyler Cassidy, may be the first notable entry in the Web celebrity (or "weblebrity") genre of "person who crafted a replica of a hilariously inadequate human so lifelike, none could tell him apart from the genuine article, and monetary opportunities ensued." Many have tried, few have succeeded, and in my opinion, which means more than yours because it's printed here, he is the best. Case in point:

Krispy Kreme videos are the wonderful kind of magic trick that gets more amusing, more deserving of your respect, once you know that it's a fraud. And a fraud it most certainly is, as I doubt Krispy Kreme could snot-nose his way through something like this:

Cassidy stridently denies the connection and sows disinformation surrounding MC Kreme, despite the Internet's usually thorough job of rooting through every aspect of his existence using all technologies at our disposal. Making obligatory Andy Kaufman references seems belabored, so let me just tip my ornate and many-tiered hat to Tyler, call Krispy Kreme FRIKKIN' HILARIOUS, and get out of his goddamn way.

Krispy Kreme

KRISPY KREME 2012!!!!!

#2. Chris Brown

I'm going to let my word count suffer on this one and keep it brief. I don't think Chris Brown is actually the "Person of the Year." Of course I don't. But I do notice that he's still apparently relevant and has a career and is winning awards and has a slew of hoodrats on Twitter who still want to fuck him and don't care that he's actually a pompous entitled woman-beating piece of shit whose career should have been over the minute his fist touched Rihanna's face or, hell, even the minute Rihanna's battered face got tattooed near his face.

Jeff R. Bottari / Getty
What's the opposite of a tramp stamp and being a great guy?

When Kevin Clash, voice and creator of Elmo, was accused of having a physical relationship with someone under 18, he resigned. Nothing had even been proven, and he resigned. Now obviously this comparison doesn't work super well because Chris Brown's industry glorifies being a misogynist scumbag, whereas Kevin Clash's industry glorifies counting. But what still stands is the fact that our culture is a bit fucked when Chris Brown is openly taunting everyone about how he's a woman-beating piece of shit, but he's still performing at awards shows and getting tweetfuls of strange. And not only is the strange OK with it, but they're kind of really into it. I wish Chris Brown were the voice of Kermit.

It's not easy being a woman-beating piece of shit. Or green, I suppose. Actually, both are easy.

#1. Naked Face-Eating Man

His name was Rudy Eugene, but you only know him as the man behind the Miami cannibal attack, or the Miami zombie attack, or the Miami bath salts attack, depending on which corner of the Internet you get your news from.

On the evening of May 26, 2012, this headline splashed across news outlets everywhere:

Huffington Post

And here's the amazing part: That is not sensationalized at all, and in fact left quite a bit out (e.g., both men were naked, the attacker succeeded in eating most of the victim's face and the attack went on for nearly 20 minutes).

The story so perfectly fit so many frightening narratives that it almost seemed like it was staged as a viral advertising stunt (and I kind of wish I'd thought of it for my book, since it features a very similar scene on almost every page). Let us count the ways:

First, the story came out of Florida, the world capital for insane news stories (Adam Carolla used to have a radio bit where he would read a bizarre news story and make readers guess whether it had occurred in Florida or Germany). It really does look like the most realistic portrayal of the state was the Bad Boys franchise.

Downtown Miami, Tuesday afternoon.

Second, the story perfectly mimicked the opening scene of every zombie apocalypse movie ever ("Mysterious reports of a crazed man eating another man ... not stopping until police shot him ..."), only zombies don't go right for the face and typically are not nude, which only made it freakier. Soon the Internet was abuzz with a list of other stories proving that this attack was part of an epidemic.

Third, the second wave of reports revealed that the attack was the result of a terrifying and mysterious new drug called "bath salts." Holy shit! There is nothing Middle America loves more than stories of random violence due to some evil new drug. Headlines could not jump on the bath salts epidemic alarmism fast enough. Never mind that it turned out that Eugene had none in his system.

Wikipedia Commons
Bath salts. Not pictured: Face-eating.

Between the zombie bullshit and the bath salts bullshit, this story was the perfect storm for everything that is wrong with the way news is reported in the Internet age. But cut through it all and you still have an absolutely true story of a naked man who ate another naked man's face.

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