6 Blatant Attempts To Stir Up Completely Unfounded Outrage
A good chunk of the internet these days is nothing but people getting angry about stuff, or people getting angry that other people are or aren't getting angry about stuff, which is ... better? Worse? We don't even know anymore. So let's just stop and take a moment to laugh at the most blatant attempts to stir up baseless outrage. Like when ...
Everyone Lost Their Minds Over "Lady Doritos"
One of the many, many stupid terms that have entered our lexicon in 2018 is "Lady Doritos" -- a new product PepsiCo supposedly announced back in February. It was reported by everyone from The Washington Post to Fox News to this article's recurring guest star The Sun. Apparently, the bags would be smaller so they could fit in a purse, while the Doritos themselves would be softer and less crunchy, so that sensible women wouldn't have to sully their delicate lady fingers eating chips too manly for them to handle.
The backlash was swift and brutal. #LadyDoritos became a trending topic on Twitter, as people jumped in to mock the laughable display of sexism. But it wasn't just liberals who lost their shit. Rush Limbaugh felt the need to defend Doritos' honor, calling Twitter critics "feminazis" in an article about the "ongoing assault on our culture."
Swept up in the controversy, Doritos "backpedaled" -- well, that's how HuffPo put it. Doritos conceded that they're "always looking for new ways to engage and delight our consumers," but stated:
Crisis averted! Because it never existed. It all started when PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi went on the Freakonomics podcast. She was asked whether the company was considering launching male and female versions of snacks, and said: "It's not a male and female as much as 'are there snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently?'" She said they are looking into stuff like that, but didn't mention any specifics. The interview included the word "Doritos" once and "Lady" zero times.
In short, PepsiCo never actually changed their position. Meanwhile, Slate came back around and said that maybe they do want Lady Doritos, creating an ouroboros of stupidity that will eat its own tail until the end of time.
Sean Hannity Tried Really, Really Hard To Find Something Sexual About Obama's Official Portrait
When Barack Obama's official presidential portrait was unveiled, Fox News' Sean Hannity took to Twitter to warn impressionable viewers that the picture contained secret "sexual innuendo" -- specifically, hidden sperm. He used this close-up as evidence:
Once people pointed out that this was dumb even for Hannity, he deleted the tweet and claimed it was staffers who sent it. But the powerful eroticism wasn't Hannity's only problem with the painting. He also claimed it was "inappropriate," given all of the other presidential portraits' austere nature. Like other commentators, he was upset that Obama had a portrait worthy of a freshman dorm room when all the other presidential portraits are dull, dignified affairs.
But if they'd taken 15 minutes to research the issue, they'd have discovered this portrait was meant to hang at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, not the White House. The portraits there follow a long tradition of more creatively flexible work. It's typical for presidents to pick an artist they like and let them go nuts. For instance, here is FDR's wacky portrait:
And Bill Clinton's:
#BoycottStarWarsVII Was Just Four Sad Guys On Twitter
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is one of the highest-grossing films of all time, which is extra impressive considering it had that whole racist boycott campaign going against it. Remember that? Outlets like USA Today and The Hollywood Reporter told us that "a social media movement" was asking fans to skip the movie because it had way too many nonwhite actors (read: any). The Daily Beast published a thinkpiece about it, while Salon and The Mary Sue copied and pasted some tweets and called it a day:
You may notice that most of those tweets are from the same guy. That's because that was pretty much the entire "social media movement" -- a handful of dickheads trying to get a rise out of people. Mashable estimates that 94 percent of tweets using the hashtag were mocking the "boycott." A more accurate headline would have been "Like Four People Are Racist, Rest Of Twitter Gives Them The Attention Their Parents Did Not." Regardless, so many news sources covered the "boycott" that director J.J. Abrams felt compelled to address it in a tweet -- which the original trolls passed around as some sort of trophy. Good job, internet! We gave these sad sacks the happiest day of their miserable lives.
Fox News Wanted You To Be Outraged By Assassin's Creed And Its "French" Creators
The Assassin's Creed games have always showed us historical figures in fascinating new light, like that scene in which Ben Franklin tells you about the benefits of granny poontang. The DLC mission "The Tyranny of King Washington" in Assassin's Creed III presents an alternate scenario wherein George Washington is corrupted by a magic apple and names himself king of America. Naturally, it is your job to kill him. This is a video game, after all.
If you're not outraged yet, Fox News wants you to consider one thing: The company releasing this game is (*gasp*) French.
Never mind that this is an "it was all a dream" scenario, and the main story shows Washington in a positive light. The important thing is that you get mad and go burn a croissant or something.
Hilariously enough, Fox News was so alone in their faux outrage that they couldn't even get the people who work at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate to condemn the game. They also interviewed a gamer who had "not yet viewed the game," so they might as well have asked the studio's janitor. Of course, none of this stopped the kind of people who hang out in Fox News' comments section from filling their diapers. Male-oriented religious website BroBible compiled some of the worst examples:
British Politicians Have Been Complaining About A Nonexistent "Banana Ban" For Decades
Of all the examples British conservatives give to demonstrate the tyranny of the European Union, the most common is the infamous "banana ban." In 1994, The Sun reported that the EU was "outlawing curved bananas" in a front-page story that came complete with a "cut-out-and-keep" picture of the boomerang-shaped fruit. Because even The Sun openly despises the day-drinking bus racists who make up its readership.
Other newspapers repeated the claim, while The Sun liked it so much that they reran the story in 1998. Problem is, the EU never banned curved bananas. They did try separating them into categories based on appearances, which was something businesses had pushed for -- that way, retailers could be assured they were getting shipments of attractive bananas, while manufacturers could pay less for ugly bananas to grind up into horse vitamins or whatever.
This was cleared up in 1994, and yet the story will not die. During the 2016 Brexit referendum, London Mayor Boris Johnson claimed in a major speech that "it is absolutely crazy that the EU is telling us what shape our bananas have got to be." That relentless commitment to facts recently landed him the foreign secretary job.
Cabinet member and former Conservative Party leader Ian Duncan-Smith also referenced "bent bananas" as a benefit of leaving the EU, while European Parliament member Dan Hannan once wrote to the European Commission demanding to know why they kept denying they had ever banned curvy bananas. Turns out it was because they hadn't. Go figure.
As late as 2017, The Daily Telegraph published an editorial calling on Theresa May to get rid of useless EU regulations like the banana ban. Nobody's coming for your bananas, Britain!
The Media Flipped Out About The Government's Nonexistent Muffin-Buying Budget
If you're unfamiliar with the "Muffingate" scandal, please savor these final moments of blissful ignorance. Just learning about it will make you slightly stupider, so this right now is the smartest you will ever be. Done savoring?
Let us begin:
In 2011, the U.S. inspector general released a report stating that the Justice Department had spent $16 per muffin at a law enforcement conference, and the media immediately went berserk. Senators were calling for resignations. Fox News' Bill O'Reilly called it "a symbol of how wasteful the feds are with our tax dollars," and accused Obama of craving more muffin money. Others were simply perplexed as to how one would even make a $16 muffin. How did the government think they could get away with this?
Well, maybe because it wasn't true. It took the hotel chain three days to clear up the mess, by explaining that the $16 price tag in fact paid for a full continental breakfast, including "fresh fruit, coffee, tea, soft drinks, tax, and tips." They only invoiced it as "muffins" because it was a shorter description, and the half-stoned waiter who keyed it in probably didn't think the bill would be scrutinized on television for several days. The inspector general was forced to retract and revise his department's initial audit, and the media moved on.
Or at least they would have in a sane world.
According to a LexisNexis search, of the 223 stories covering "Muffingate" in the first week, 178 didn't include the correction. Of those stories, 36 were published after the audit was revised, and they still didn't bother to explain the mistake. Let's just be thankful they weren't banana muffins, or this could have turned into a serious international incident.
Steven Assarian is a librarian. He writes stuff here. Zanandi is on Twitter. Wes Corwin is a stand-up comedian currently based in Dallas. You can like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or if you live in Dallas and enjoy comedy and alcohol, check out his weekly show at Noble Rey Brewery on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. He also has a Real Rob fan podcast called When Keeping It Real Goes Rob, which has more listeners than it should.
Celebrate the lack of sanity in today's media by munching on a bag of Doritos. Just do it.
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