The 6 Most Overrated Media Outrages of 2013
Doing something that genuinely shocks people has become increasingly difficult as time has worn on. Still, just like a cat expends the pent up energy from its instinctive need to hunt by chasing after nothing in particular at full speed around your studio apartment for hours at a time, people build up stockpiles of internal anger, eventually, must be released. That doesn't change just because there aren't any legitimate targets around.
In 2013, these six stories quenched the general public's insatiable thirst for misplaced outrage more than any others.
Rolling Stone's Boston Marathon Bomber Cover
Do I have an opinion on the controversy surrounding Rolling Stone magazine putting Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on their cover? Sure, everyone did. If you'd like to hear mine, you can download it here:
For you "please explain what you're talking about" types out there, what you see above is Unpopular Opinion, a new podcast from Cracked.
"Doesn't Cracked already have a podcast?" Yes, sassy, we do, but here's the thing: Cracked is known for spilling its comedy onto a mostly fact-based canvas, like the recent feature article about the psychological dangers of giving people gifts, for example.
There's a whole other side of Cracked, though, where columnists such as myself and I'm not naming anyone else because I'm selfish get to say damn near anything without so much as linking to a source to back it up.
Unpopular Opinion is the podcast where we discuss that more opinionated side of Cracked. I'm the host, and that up there is the very first episode, so everything might sound terrible, but you should download it anyway! Especially if you want to hear me, my fellow Cracked workmates Robert Brockway and Robert Evans, and special guest Jeff May talk about the Rolling Stone controversy and more.
Download it now and listen while you read the rest of the article!
Justin Bieber and Brazilian Prostitutes
Big news, everybody! Justin Bieber went to Brazil and banged a bunch of prostitutes! Well, one prostitute. And it turns out she wasn't really a prostitute, we all just assumed she was because, you know, what kind of chick would stoop so low as to sleep with Justin Bieber?
Fine, name one more, though.
Right, that's his former girlfriend, pop singer Selena Gomez, who quickly become one of the most vocal opponents of Justin's Brazilian sex march. She was quoted as saying that she feels "none of this bad behavior stuff would be happening" if the pair were still together.
Apparently she's the good decision maker.
If you ask me, she's missing the point: This whole trip to Brazil is an obvious sign that Justin Bieber misses Selena Gomez terribly. He can go anywhere and have pretty much any woman, but he opted for Brazil. Selena Gomez was born to a Mexican father and an Italian mother in Texas. If you put those three things on a sandwich, we'd probably call it a Brazil.
Justin Bieber chose that country to make one thing clear: "I love and miss Selena Gomez and want to ease my pain by sleeping with a string of women who look just like her, but also Mexico is way too scary right now, so I'm going to do it in Brazil instead."
That's not to say I'm completely without concern, though. My first question upon seeing this video ...
... was "Where in the hell is this kid's security?" Does he not have a detail of former secret service agents and Liam Neeson action movie co-stars on retainer to make sure any shenanigans like these are quelled before they even have a chance to start? I had to watch that video 17 times just to convince myself she wasn't making ransom demands.
So, to summarize, I'm not mad that Justin Bieber is banging Brazilians, prostitutes or otherwise. I just wish someone was watching over him while he does it, just to keep him safe.
Spying on the German Chancellor
Spying is on everyone's mind these days. That's probably because the government is listening to and watching everything we do all the time. Sure, that's cause for concern, especially if you're saying things you wouldn't want the government to hear.
That doesn't mean we should get bent out of shape every time the feds have a listen to a conversation. Case in point: Remember when it came to light that the NSA had been tapping the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel for years?
3D technology didn't just invent itself, you know!
While the majority of the anger came from Germany, naturally, the program didn't escape criticism in this country. Major news outlets like CNN dedicated entire opinion pieces to speaking out against the alleged invasion of privacy, and Senator John McCain went so far as to call on Obama to fire the NSA official responsible for the program.
Isn't spying on other countries what we want the NSA doing, though? I get the concerns about the government spying on its own citizens, but spying on allies and enemies alike is just how that shit works. Even McCain had to concede as much when he was struggling to find a way to make this seem like a problem:
"Friends spy on friends, we all know that, but there have to be certain boundaries ..."
"Like, no dick pics, for example!"
Fine, so what are those boundaries? Is McCain implying that, given the chance to listen in on another world leader, we should just pass in the name of common decency? He knows as well as anyone else that we wouldn't hire spies if we didn't want them to spy on people. In fact, if I were a betting man, my money would be on the fact that even McCain doesn't quite believe what he said in that quote. In this political landscape, saying that Obama didn't do anything wrong would be tantamount to treason.
If you're looking for something about this story to get angry about, that's probably a better place to start.
Major League Baseball's Biogenesis Scandal
Ugh! The Biogenesis scandal, right, everybody? I mean, what kind of bullshit was that?
Right. For most of you, understandably, the proper emphasis in the previous sentence should be what kind of bullshit was that? As in, "What the fuck are you talking about again?" The simple answer is steroids. Specifically, steroids in baseball. That's another topic I covered in a column when I mentioned that, since the days when Ty Cobb was knifing spectators for having black friends or however that story goes, the real problem in baseball was amphetamines.
He certainly looked fierce!
The article didn't do a ton of traffic, which was to be expected. Baseball is a niche topic, and we're trying to reach a pretty wide audience here. Honestly, there aren't too many points I didn't make there that would be worth adding here. I included this on the list mostly because I feel like it's a holdover from a problem of a few years ago that wasn't really even a problem.
Also, holy shit did they stick it to A-Rod! I think he's suspended until the Cubs win the World Series or some shit.
Any day now.
Sidebar! I was born and raised in Illinois, have been a Cubs fan my entire life, and even caught a game back before the stadium had lights. I'm allowed to make that joke, because I'm as sad as you are.
So anyway, I guess that A-Rod suspension made this noteworthy enough to mention as well.
Still, if you don't care about baseball, you've probably already stopped reading. If you do care about baseball (I certainly don't) and you read Cracked regularly (nope again), you likely read my article Why Steroids Were Never the Real Problem in Baseball. If you didn't and are interested, make a mental note to click that link a little later and read all about it. For now, though, join the rest of us in moving on from this bullshit topic, just like baseball should have a long damn time ago.
Racist Halloween Costumes
Of all the hot new looks this Halloween season, "racist" was the most popular by far. I actually wrote something earlier this year about racist Halloween costumes right around the same time this happened:
Orange is the new ... never mind.
That's former Dancing With the Stars pro and co-destroyer of the Footloose legacy Julianne Hough on Halloween this year. If you're unfamiliar, this is what she normally looks like:
Of course, once images of Hough's unfortunate costume choice started making the rounds, heads exploded. If we're being completely honest, I'm no less susceptible to being swept up in the false outrage generated by a bullshit story than anyone else. So, like I said earlier, I not only wrote about the Julianne Hough incident, I also included some angry words for stuff like this:
Relax, it just looks like it should be racist.
That's Slate editor Dave Weigel, who, like about 10 million other people this year, did his best to come up with a costume that best represented the debacle that was the launch of the president's national health care program.
Here's the thing: I have to crank these columns out every single week, along with doing a lot of other tasks for the site (it's a real job, everybody). Sometimes I'll write something and, given enough time to think about it, realize I'm totally wrong.
It's about as rare as this meat, but still, it happens.
Both of these stories would fall into that category.
If you're mad about Obama masks, name one president in recent times who hasn't had a Halloween mask or a thousand produced in his likeness. Are we really saying that, whenever we have a black president, only black children can dress up as the president for Halloween? Does that mean black kids can't dress up as white presidents? That's silly.
As for Hough, as I pointed out in that article (and again a few weeks ago), what she did is absolutely no different from what Robert Downey Jr. did in Tropic Thunder. If anything, it was less offensive. See, at least we know Hough is trying to look like a specific character. That's not the case with Robert Downey Jr. though, right? Even still, this isn't blackface:
I'm not saying racist Halloween costumes are something we should never be upset about; I'm just suggesting that you make sure they are actually racist before you decide to lose your shit. Unless you have a deadline to meet, of course.
Miley Cyrus at the VMAs
Former pop princess and (wink, wink) "salvia" advocate Miley Cyrus kicked her Hannah Montana image square in the vagina at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, where she twerked her way through the date rape anthem "Blurred Lines" while duet partner Robin Thicke turned the show into one long game of "Costume or not?" by wearing a suit that made him look like the lucky winner of Michael Keaton's belongings on some newfangled celebrity edition of Storage Wars.
It's not authentic without the wig, dude.
You know, the kind of show where celebrities show and up and it's just magically revealed out of the blue that they have some insane hidden talent that we never knew about? If I'm casting this show in my head, which I clearly have already started to do, I think Robin Thicke's hook should be that he only buys as much stuff as he can carry on bicycle, a nod to his early career days when he didn't realize that most R&B clubs have a strict dress code so he opted for a more "hippie bike messenger" persona before wisely settling into his current role as "the Justin Timberlake of Alan Thicke's offspring."
It's a testament to how little I care about this Miley Cyrus performance that I've spent the first two entire paragraphs just talking about Robin Thicke. But see, I think he's actually the problem. Or rather, his song is the problem. "Blurred Lines" is the song rape listens to when it wants to dance. The title alone is a questionable choice. Something like "How Drunk Is Too Drunk?" might have worked better, I don't know, I don't name songs for a living.
What I'm getting at, though, is that in a lot of corners of the world, "Blurred Lines" was viewed as more than a little misogynistic, and then into the fray came Miley Cyrus, endorsing it all with reckless, motorboating abandon. I imagine for a woman who was legitimately offended by the premise and lyrics of "Blurred Lines," seeing Miley Cyrus willingly play the role of the drunk chick Robin Thicke is trying to lure back to his sex van probably felt like a bit of a knife turn, especially coming from a young woman who's just a couple of years removed from being posterized on the wall of every girl of Disney Channel-watching age in America.
I guess I can understand that. Granted, if Miley Cyrus is a crisis that affected your family, it's totally your fault for watching the VMAs in the first place. But still, I get it.
Adam would like to remind you that he is hosting a new Cracked podcast called 'Unpopular Opinion' that you can download on iTunes right now! You can also see him tell jokes in person the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month at Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica. Click here for tickets and more info. If you're still in the mood for a few more links after all that, you can follow Adam on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
As 2013 draws to a close, be sure to check out Cracked's year in review because, well, we know you don't remember it half as well as you think.
Related Reading: Speaking of media cock-ups, Bryan Cranston won't be Lex Luthor. But at least those lazy journalists didn't accuse an innocent cop of beating a man. Really, it all comes down to the fact that most news organizations suck at Google.