As is the case every year, 2016 was full of cringe worthy moments in pop culture. From sports stars to movie stars to Twitter wars, awards shows, politics and some strange high profile deaths, there seemed to be no end to the egos, fights and general bad behavior among public figures in 2016. As is the case most years, the tabloid newspapers and celebrity blogosphere had no shortage of things to report on over the past month. Here’s a compilation of the worst moments in pop culture during 2016.
The Academy Awards honor the best in movies every year and have been around for 89 years. In that time they’ve proven themselves to be, well, pretty white. In fact, as of 2013, the people who make up the academy that votes on the Oscar winners each year was nearly 75% white and had an average age of 63 years old. “Old white people” pretty much sums up the Academy and they tend to like certain types of films — i.e. costume dramas and period pieces. And they tend to honor mostly white actors, although worthy performances by minority actors have been nominated (and won) over the years – such as Denzel Washington in Glory and Training Day, and Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball.
So it seemed strange when a community of black performers picked 2016 to decide that the Oscars are too white and biased against minorities. As is often the case, the whole situation spiraled out of control quickly with threats of boycotts and clever placards. This left host Chris Rock in a rather awkward position throughout the ceremony. The whole protest seemed overblown and manufactured and faded as soon as the awards ceremony was over, leaving many people to wonder “What was that all about?” Should Will Smith have been nominated for the Concussion? We didn’t think so…
9. Prince Dies… of a Drug Overdose
There have been some strange and shocking deaths of musical icons in the past decade. Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston are two that quickly come to mind. And there were some big musical deaths in 2016, such as David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. But has any musician’s death been as shocking as Prince, who died at age 57 this past April? What made Prince’s death so shocking was that it happened so suddenly. And then made worse when he was found, after an autopsy, to have died from a self-inflicted drug overdose. Immediately after the “Purple Rain” singer was found dead in the elevator of his Paisley Park home, reports surfaced that Prince had addiction problems. There were rumors that a flight he was on shortly before his death had to be diverted so the singer could be rushed to hospital and treated for an overdose. Fans didn’t want to believe it, and held out hope that Prince died from natural causes. The autopsy revealed the singer died from an overdose of the prescription painkiller fentanyl, leaving fans hurt and in mourning. R.I.P.
8. Johnny Depp’s Domestic Assault Charge
Johnny Depp has managed to keep a pretty low profile off the silver screen and cultivated a good guy, though eccentric, image over the years. He is seldom in the tabloids for anything. Yet the actor famous for playing Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise saw his reputation take a serious knock in 2016 after his girlfriend Amber Heard accused him of domestic violence, complete with police photos. This news was shocking to many people in Hollywood and, of course, Depp’s fans. However, reports quickly surfaced of Johnny Depp’s past about his famous temper and past incidents of violence – notably when he famously trashed a London hotel room after fighting with his then girlfriend Kate Moss in the early 1990s. Depp laid pretty low as the whole incident was handled in court, but how his career will be impacted by this transgression remains to be seen.
7. Donald Trump Actually Can’t Spell
We’ll get to the U.S. election as a whole later on in this list, but right now we want to focus on the president-elect’s continual use of Twitter to rant and vent on inappropriate subjects at inappropriate times. A lot of public figures get themselves into trouble on Twitter, but has anyone used the technology to more cringe-worthy effects than Donald Trump? Whether it was calling for his enemies to be locked up, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin or calling a former Miss America a “pig,” Donald Trump just couldn’t help himself in 2016. He frequently issued tweets at 3:00 a.m. and several times had his Twitter account taken away by his own campaign team. However, the most embarrassing thing, and likely the most telling, was when Donald Trump misspelled the word “dumber” in a tweet. He also misspelled “choker” and “honer” on Twitter too. Of course, the real question is what is the so-called Leader of the Free World doing using language like that in the first place? Welcome to politics in 2016!
6. Kobe Bryant’s Basketball Poem
Kobe Bryant was a dominant force in the NBA during his career and led the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships. So in that respect, he is a player worthy of much admiration and respect. That said, he was often injured over his past four seasons and barely played for much of that time. So it seemed a little anticlimactic when Kobe announced that he would retire at the end of the 2015-16 season and then proceeded to embark on an eight month farewell tour across the league – the praise, thanks, and fond memories all perpetrated by himself.
However, what really elevated Bryant’s farewell tour to the level of a true vanity project was the poem he issued, via The Players Tribune, to the sport he loved.
“Dear basketball,” the poem read. “I fell in love with you. A love so deep I gave you my all – from my mind and body to my spirit and soul… I played through sweat and hurt. Not because challenge called me. But because you called me. I did everything for you.” The poem goes on, but we decline to do so.
5. Fuller House
Netflix has made some good decisions in terms of bringing back shows people loved. Being able to stream new episodes of Arrested Development and The Killing have been great. Not so much with Fuller House. While there is a good deal of affection for the 1990s sitcom about three single men who raise three little girls (in one very crowded house), the new show, which showed the girls as adults and raising families of their own, fell pretty flat. It had none of the charm of the original show and just screamed “Why?!” Why are you resurrecting a show that is best left to reruns on Nickelodeon? Cameos by original cast stars Bob Saget and Dave Coulier didn’t help any and the whole project was greeted with a collective shrug by Netflix viewers. A rare miss for the streaming service, but a pretty big one nonetheless.
4. Kanye West on Twitter
It wouldn’t be a year in pop culture without some mention of Kanye West. As usual, the consummate showman was not short of weird controversies in 2016; from his rant on the Ellen show to his constant preening in front of the cameras alongside wife Kim Kardashian to the break-in at the couple’s Paris apartment. But the worst thing about West in 2016 had to be his near incoherent ramblings on Twitter. Worse even than the aforementioned Donald Trump, Kanye took to Twitter to rant, vent, critique, and praise everything from fellow musicians to the furniture he was considering buying. In one tweet he even goes so far as to describe how far off a bed his legs hang. Apparently the question: “Who cares?” never enters Kanye’s mind before he takes to Twitter. C’mon, man. At least try to say something interesting.
3. Draymond Green Kicking People in the Balls
The Golden State Warriors collapse in the NBA Finals, blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers, is arguably the worst sports story on 2016. But not as awful was the sight of Warriors player Draymond Green kicking his opponents in the balls multiple times during the 2016 NBA playoffs. Cited three times for hoofing opponents in the groin, the All-Star player was forced to sit out a game after giving Steven Adams of the Thunder a swift boot in the man-zone during the Western Conference Finals. What made the whole thing embarrassing was that is was so obvious Green was intentionally trying to crack the family jewels of his opponents. Sadly, this incident seemed to start a slide for Green, who later in the summer was charged with assault and battery.
2. Ryan Lochte’s Olympic-Sized Fib
By all accounts, U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is not the smartest fish in the ocean. The guy is widely viewed as a total moron – even by friends and family. Other than being a good swimmer, he isn’t known for much else. He even had a short lived reality TV show about himself, which was quickly cancelled because his handlers felt it showed him to be too stupid and they feared he’d lose lucrative endorsements. This lack of grey matter may partially explain the bizarre series of events that transpired with Lochte at the Rio Olympics.
After competing in his final Olympic Games, Lochte headed out for a celebratory night on the town with two other members of the U.S. swim team. He then gave a television interview where he claimed the three swimmers were robbed at gun point by criminals who claimed to be Brazilian police. The only problem was it turned out to not be true. Video surfaced of the three swimmers being detained at a gas station after they apparently trashed a bathroom and mouthed off the gas station owner, who wanted money for the damages. This weird lie became an international incident as the Brazilian authorities detained two of the swimmers and the government sought to extradite Lochte back to the country to account for himself. Of course, Lochte was forced to admit the whole story he told was a lie and apologize. But the one thing he never said was why he did it in the first place? What a dummy.
1. The U.S. Presidential Election
Has there ever been a stranger or more terrible presidential election than the one we witnessed in 2016? At various times, the U.S. Presdiential Election involved the KKK, Miss America, the FBI, the Russian government, sexual assault victims, and thousands and thousands of declassified e-mails supplied by WikiLeaks. To say that this election was the worst in U.S. history is a gross understatement. It may have been the worst election in human history, period. Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton effectively engaged in a bare knuckle brawl that battered the electorate and left voters disgusted and fed-up by the whole affair. Unfortunately, having elected Trump to be president, we now have at least four more years of this lunacy to look forward to. Here’s hoping it won’t be eight!