If you're paying attention, as the fact that you even read those four words at all implies you are, then there's a good chance you recognize the premise of this article as being strikingly similar to something I did just a few weeks ago. Well, as similar as two diametrically opposed ideas can possibly be, anyway. I'm using big words to say I wrote damn near this same article in December, except back then, it was all about celebrities who got too much hate in 2014.
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This time around, I'm taking the opposite stance to discuss a few of the famous people of 2014 who, in my opinion, didn't get nearly as much scorn from the general public as they deserved. It's what we talk about on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
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Putting Jennifer Lawrence on a list like this is a tricky proposition. On the one hand, she seemed well on her way to finally eliciting that inevitable backlash that always accompanies becoming a bit too beloved in the public eye when she jokingly face-palmed Emma Watson on the red carpet that one time.
It seems minor, because it totally was, but seemingly inconsequential dickery like that has a way of putting the nation's advance-douchebaggery-defense systems on high alert, making whatever happens next seem all the more heinous. Or, even worse, people start digging up incidents from the past and using them as evidence that maybe this person has been kind of a jerk all along.
In the case of Jennifer Lawrence, that research might have turned up the time she went on The Tonight Show and swooned over Jesse Eisenberg's "weird quirks," prompted by the fact that he'd just talked candidly about having obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Like the real kind that involves doing seemingly insane rituals over and over before accomplishing simple tasks, not the Internet kind that involves sometimes having to clean your own apartment like a normal person but posting about it on social media as if the desire to clean up after yourself amounts to a debilitating behavioral disorder.
There's nothing cute about full-blown OCD, but good luck telling that to Jennifer Lawrence, who just wished she had some wacky rituals of her own and gushed about how Jesse Eisenberg was the most interesting person ever on account of how he's got a legitimate mental condition that negatively impacts his life.
A little more digging might have turned up the time she called herself "dykey" because she was a tomboy who played a few sports in high school.
There's also her claims of being "fat" by Hollywood standards, which means ... what? Hollywood is finally giving leading roles to women regardless of how they look? Because Jennifer Lawrence is killing it in terms of landing high-profile acting roles. If my math is correct, that means Hollywood has finally thrown concerns about physical appearance to the wind in favor of recognizing talent and talent alone, even when it comes in a package as average-looking as this one.
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Right, she's not fat, and it really is sort of a problem that she claims otherwise. The situation that she's complaining about is one that absolutely exists for a lot of women in that profession and just in life in general. As impossible as it may seem, as the industry's self-appointed face of overweight women in movies, she actually makes Hollywood seem worse than it really is. Sure, what she's trying to address really is a problem, but not so much that looking like Jennifer Lawrence is considered letting yourself go. Jennifer Lawrence gets a lot of movie work, sometimes while wearing yoga pants.
Her intentions are probably all well and good, but I imagine the last thing a woman who's legitimately struggling with body image issues wants to hear is that Katniss Everdeen is the new dividing line between skinny and overweight.
So, all of that combined with the fury surrounding her assault on Emma Watson had Jennifer Lawrence on the fast track to a hate-filled second half of 2014, then that nude photo leak happened and she kind of became the voice of why that was a way bigger issue than people were making it out to be and hating her became a whole lot more difficult. That's completely fair. Sometimes the shitty behavior the world at large displays toward a celebrity cancels out the shitty things that celebrity has done, and this was definitely one of those instances.
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Fuck these motherfuckers for forever and a day, though. For what? Oh, you know, just being a band fronted by Bono, mostly. If specifics are a must, though, how about the decision to distribute their new album as the first high-profile computer virus to exclusively target Apple machines?
Was that something people should have been angry about? Plenty of them were, of course, and on the surface, it seems like a really crazy thing to get mad about. We're talking about one of the biggest bands in the world giving their album away for free. What's to complain about?
There's plenty, actually. For starters, this isn't how giving things away is supposed to work. Traditionally, the people who want the thing you're offering come get it from you in one way or another and the people who don't want it just go about their lives. In this scenario, it's just assumed that everyone wants a U2 album on their phone, tablet, and/or portable music player, without exception. When is that ever the case? It's a statistical improbability from a taste standpoint, if nothing else. Not everyone enjoys the music of U2; it's that simple.
Making them the test case for this radical advance in album distribution has another huge flaw in that U2, historically, has been a fairly political band. Even if it doesn't always come through in their music, Bono is almost as well known as a dude who pals around with world leaders as he is a dude in an Irish rock band. If you disagree with those politics in any way, having a U2 album surreptitiously planted on your mobile device is especially problematic. It would be like if every liberal in America woke up one morning with a Kid Rock album under their pillow. That's going to read more like a threat than anything.
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Also, way to be the face of Apple's public display of its ability to just swoop in and drop whatever the fuck it wants onto the smartphones of millions of people around the world without warning, guys! It's a pretty terrifying capability, really, but in a perfect world, it will never progress beyond relatively innocuous uses like this one. If it does, though, don't be surprised if history eventually views U2's Songs of Innocence as the official soundtrack of the moment Big Brother proved he'd won forever.
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If I'm being completely honest, Iggy Azalea did get quite a bit of hate in 2014, and she deserved almost all of it.
The most obvious gripe is centered around the fact that she raps in a voice reminiscent of someone with firsthand knowledge of the gun violence that plagued so much of New York City in the late-'80s, but speaks in a voice that's more in line with the knife violence that plagued the Crocodile Dundee franchise during that same era.
It's that last detail that sets her apart from the handful of massively successful white rappers who came before her. The Beastie Boys never sounded like anyone other than the Beastie Boys, and Eminem at least grew up in a shitty neighborhood with other rapper friends and such. Iggy Azalea, on the other hand, is very clearly just mimicking the sound of something she likes, with zero interest in understanding why the fact that she's winning Grammy Awards for it now doesn't sit well with some people.
Is it really that she doesn't understand, though? Is she just from a foreign land where things work differently and racial politics are less of an issue than they are here in the United States? No. Fuck no. Quite the opposite. She's from goddamn Racist Island.
Are we calling Australia that yet? If not, let's start, because it's fun as hell and an apt nickname for a country with a history of racism so broad and robust it has its own Wikipedia page.
As recently as 1998 to 2002, when Azalea was in the formative-year wheelhouse age range of 8 to 12, outright racists like Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party were winning elections and claiming Parliament seats in Australia on a platform that centered mostly around keeping Australia from becoming "swamped with Asians." Say whatever else you want about the U.S. and its checkered past, but at least fringe political groups have to mask their racism behind other bullshit concerns to be moderately successful around here, you know?
Obviously, being from Australia doesn't automatically mean you hate minorities. What it does mean, though, is that no matter how limited your understanding of the history of rap music may be, you almost certainly know a thing or two about racism. Enough, at least, to understand that referring to yourself as a "runaway slave master" on record for all the public to hear would be a massive problem.
Still, she did that anyway, because Iggy Azalea gives not one single fuck what you care about her or her success. That kind of attitude is generally an asset in rap music, but in this instance, it just leaves plenty of room for those accusations of racism to be completely true. I'm no rapper, but that strikes me as a remarkably unfortunate label for a person in that industry to have a problem distancing themselves from.
Unfortunately, things only get worse when Azalea's defenders do speak up. You'll find all the evidence you need of that in the endless stream of tweets between rapper Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea's record label president and mentor, Atlanta rapper T.I. After some back-and-forth unpleasantness with Banks online, he said this on a Chicago radio station:
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Nice! Of course, when that defense doesn't pan out, there's always those piles of money to fall back on, as T.I. pointed out on a different radio appearance:
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Hooray, rich people! That makes me lonely for the days when I thought Iggy Azalea was just shitty for rap music. It's worse than that. She's like the adorable cartoon mascot for everything that's fucking wrong with the world.
Even with all of that taken into consideration, there's a right and a wrong way to hate a person.
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Iggy Azalea was on the right side of at least one public feud this year, that being her weird Instagram run-in with Snoop Dogg, which all started when he posted this ...
... back in October. Like I said, there's a right and a wrong way to hate a person. There isn't a whole lot of right to be found there and, unsurprisingly, Azalea responded unhappily.
Of course, Snoop being Snoop and bitchez being ain't shit, he was unfazed by her criticisms and made that known with even more, sometimes unspeakably bizarre ...
... Instagram posts. The BuzzFeed article that I'm adorably using as a source for these details ends by supposing that, at the end of it all, Snoop remains unmoved, sitting on a couch somewhere getting high.
While that's almost certainly true, they're leaving out the part where Snoop eventually apologized, but only after T.I. called him on the phone to talk about it. So, like, she couldn't say anything to make him ease up on comparing her to one of the saddest moments in Wayans Brothers movie history ...
... but since "her man" called and all, she's worthy of being apologized to for behavior that any moderately reasonable person would recognize as massively insulting. As far as apologies go, that's about as backhanded as they get.
So ... that's gangsta? Is it? I'm asking. I don't know. I know that spellcheck didn't try to dissuade me from using the word "gangsta" just now, and I find that a little disheartening, for a variety of reasons. Beyond that, all I know is that, as much as I'd encourage you to dislike Iggy Azalea for so many other reasons, if you were on Snoop Dogg's side in this debacle, it doesn't make you anything more than an asshole.
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I know, you don't sports ball or whatever the fuck, so this name means nothing to you. I don't care, Tony Dungy deserves the top spot on this list. To get you relatively up to speed, he's the soft-spoken former head football coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He holds the distinction of being the first black head coach to win a Super Bowl (over my Chicago Bears in 2006, so he can go right to hell for that, if nothing else) and is generally seen as mentor and positive role model for players who fall astray of the NFL's sometimes-stringent rules of conduct.
That's the PR-friendly way to put it, anyway. What it translates to in real-world situations is that he was instrumental in getting Michael Vick back into the NFL after that pesky dog-murder scandal threatened to derail his career forever ...
... and went on record to state that he'd be fine having Ray Rice on any team he coached, provided he'd expressed the appropriate amount of regret for turning his girlfriend's freshly punched face into an overnight Internet sensation.
Is it true that someone has to be an advocate for the fuck-ups of the world who just want a second chance? Sure, we have one already. His name is Charles Barkley. If you doubt Barkley's capacity to stick up for the worst the sports world offers, look no further than his defense of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was kicked out of the NFL early in the 2014 season after it came to light that he beat the shit out of his 4-year-old kid.
Here's the thing. As unfortunate as Charles Barkley's stance on that and so many other things may be, he at least has the decency to not claim to be a role model of any sort. He's actually made a point of reminding people of that for as long as he's been around, and in the name of not making this column 5,000 words long, I had to give him credit for that when compiling the final list of names to talk about here.
That's not the case with Tony Dungy, though. His associations with the worst disciplinary cases in NFL history don't earn him scorn; instead he's viewed as an instrument of good within the league. A man of morals who can set players who've gone astray back on the right path, if only they'll follow his lead.
That would all be fine and well if not for one gigantic hitch in the "Tony Dungy is a good guy" myth -- he's a massive homophobe. If you'd like a "tl/dr" sort of example that points to how very true that is, look no further than the fact that Outsports.com, the self-proclaimed "galactic leader in gay sports," named Tony Dungy their "Asshole of the Year" for 2014. That doesn't seem particularly remarkable until you consider that he beat out Russian President Vladimir Putin for that title.
To refresh your memory, Putin went on the record to remind those attending the Winter Olympics in Sochi that, for all intents and purposes, being gay around kids is now a crime in Russia. Tony Dungy beat that guy.
While his support for anti-gay causes dates at least as far back as 2007, when he famously donated money to an anti-gay-marriage group in Florida. He earned his gay-hating credentials this year thanks to his stance on the Michael Sam story. Sam was the first openly gay player to declare himself eligible for the NFL draft, leading to months of debate and controversy about the implications of homosexuals in NFL locker rooms. Tony Dungy, as usual, had something to say, and unsurprisingly, his desire to be an advocate for those who are unfairly prevented from pursuing their dreams had completely evaporated. He wouldn't want Michael Sam on his team because, in his words, "Things would happen."
When asked to clarify a few weeks later, he assured everyone that it's not his sexuality that would make Michael Sam an undesired addition to any NFL roster, it's just that the media circus surrounding him would be too much of a distraction. That would be a perfectly legitimate argument coming from someone who wasn't one of the most staunch supporters of Tim Tebow's right to suck up undeserved roster space in the NFL.
That guy was the textbook definition of an unnecessary distraction, every bit as much as signing a convicted dog killer or woman beater would be.
Yet those kinds of distractions, the kind with actual consequences and victims, somehow aren't a problem, but the distraction of being gay is a deal-breaker? It seems that in Dungy's mind, Peterson's and Rice's misdeeds involve behavior that can be changed and, more importantly, "sins" that can be forgiven. That's not the case with Michael Sam, though. His dreams can go to the same hell his lifestyle will land him in someday, as far as coach is concerned.
Tony Dungy isn't the voice of forgiveness and second chances in the NFL; he's the go-to apologist for everything wrong with it.
Hate Adam more in 2015 by following him on Twitter @adamtodbrown.
For more from ATB, check out The 5 Least Anticipated Albums of 2015 and 4 Famous People Who Got More Hate Than They Deserved in 2014.
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