We are planning to celebrate the great heroes that emerged to inspire and delight the world (or at least, the people within the Pedestrian world) in the year 2013. But first I wanted to remind you of the major players – both real and fictional – representing the side of evil, whose pervasive malevolence threw the popular culture world’s chakras out of alignment and made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Take a gulp of haterade as we reflect on the Ten Most Despicable Pop Culture Villains Of 2013.
10. AUSTRALIAN POLITICS
You don’t need me to tell you what a persistent bummer the entire #Auspol scene was in 2013. Even in a federal election year – when accentuating the positive and putting best feet forward is de rigueur – the road to parliament was one scattered with gaffes, fuck ups and missteps, creepy disingenuous youth speak, accidental anus references, and penises plopped in plonk. In retrospect, it would have been an absolute hoot had it not been so embarrassing.
The only positive thing to emerge from this year in Australian Politics was the Guide To The Grotsky Byotches of Australian Federal Politics, a master work of pop culture and politics born from the mind of my colleague and Mean Girls enthusiast, Nick Carolan. Thank you sweet prince.
9. WALTER WHITE (Spoiler alert. But are you really that far off the loop?)
Diagnosing Breaking Bad as one of the year’s most focal pop culture talking points is like casually observing that R Kelly doesn’t mind vaginas. Television watchers around the globe were obsessed by the denouement of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman’s journey into the Arizona-staged apocalypse. Jesse landed himself in a blue meth fueled hell hole (quite literally) before making his break from the binding ties of Heisenberg. Following his masterminded blaze of automatic gunfire, Walter found a moment of serenity inside his beloved super-lab before taking his corporeal leave from terra firma forever.
Walt’s ultimate mic drop – in an episode directed by the show’s creator Vince Gilligan – was a sympathetic and cathartic end to a monstrous individual, and a much better one than he deserved. Think about it for a minute, all you Walt sympathisers out there: the guy let Jane die when he easily could have saved her; he fucked up Jesse irreparably by coercing him into killing Gale Boetticher; he took out my favourite character Mike with a shot to the gut – one of the most painful ways to die (according to TV and movies I’ve watched). It’s testament to the wholly three-dimensional character created by Vince Gilligan, Bryan Cranston and the team of writers, that Walter White’s final not-entirely-self-serving actions somehow ameliorated for the countless – actually you can count them – lives he helped destroy. At least he wasn’t as bad as Skyler though. Right, Internet?
“In the Ben Affleck version, Batman’s parents kill themselves.”
That’s a decent example to represent the general consensus when it was announced Zack Snyder had chosen Ben Affleck as the next Batman for his Man of Steel sequel. Upon learning the casting decision, social media exploded in a torrent of neg, but the backlash also provided a catalyst for Affleck to show what a class act he really is. That’s the stuff of superheroes.
Fires furiously stampeded the dry Australian bush, claiming property and homes in its uncontainable wake. Typhoon Haiyan made mulch of the Philippines, taking thousands of lives in the process and displacing tens of thousands. The Sichuan earthquake in China disrupted the lives of more than two million people. The Patuakhali cyclone in Bangladesh effected more than a million. Third World areas copped it particularly hard and the subsequent battle to regroup and rebuild without the necessary economic and infrastructural buttresses in place made it an especially onerous burden for the communities.
Canadian astronaut and budding photographer Commander Chris Hadfield shot this amazing perspective of the New South Wales bush fires, some 410 kilometers above the earth’s surface:
6. MILEY CYRUS AND THAT FOAM HAND
Purely from a mentions-per-inch standpoint Miley Cyrus was THE person of 2013. No one got more press. From the moment she relaunched her personal brand with a platinum blonde makeover and butt cleavage, her bloggability cachet pitched into an ascent; but that acclivity went dead vertical when she threw on a set of flesh-coloured plastic underwear and a foam hand, and gyrated and booty dropped her way into the MTV VMAs history books. The collective jaw of the pop culture-conscious world opened wide enough to give a thousand blowjobs at once, and the word “twerk” instantaneously went mainstream.
Miley’s performance made her public enemy number one.
In addition to just freaking everyone the fuck out with the cray sexuality, the performance drew the ire of many for appropriating black culture and invoking minstrelry. Her subsequent Terry Richardson helmed video for “Wrecking Ball” (complete with nudity and a sexual subtlety visible from outer space) drew the wrath of a disapproving Sinead O’Connor and a scourge of memes. It’s too bad the hype over brand Miley Cyrus has completely overshadowed her music in Bangerz (released in October of this year) because there’s actually quite a bit to like about that album.
Russia has really come under the lens in the lead up to next year’s Sochin Winter Olympics, and the country’s appalling “anti-gay” laws, which ban “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”, and nationally endorsed bigotry toward its LGBT community have been highlighted as a blight on the spirit of unity that the Five Rings represent. One of the state-owned broadcaster’s top anchormen announced on television: “I
believe it is not enough to impose fines on gays for engaging in the
propaganda of homosexuality among adolescents. We need to ban them from
donating blood and sperm, and if they die in car accidents, we need to
bury their hearts in the ground or burn them as they are unsuitable for
the aiding of anyone’s life.”
The laws have led to a boycott movement of the Sochin games with high profile advocates including Stephen Fry. The laws also prompted Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller to decline an invitation to a Russian film festival and publicly announce to the world he is gay. It was a shock announcement to some of his fans, but not nearly as shocking as the fact Wentworth Miller is 41 YEARS OLD when he is clearly no more than 28.
Photo by Gerard Julien via Getty
4. CASUAL RACISM
There was the Qantas episode and the African-themed 21st birthday party that prompted a continent-crossing debate about the use of blackface and whether it perpetuates a historically significant symbol of racial marginalisation or an act of political incorrectness absent of any real malice. However, for me the pervasive culture of casual racism in Australia was cemented when, on live radio, Eddie McGuire made an unprovoked comment suggesting Indigenous Sydney Swans footballer Adam Goodes should be used to promote King Kong the musical in Melbourne – just a few days after Goodes had been called an “ape” by a 13-year-old football fan.
Goodes made a show of public support for the girl, spinning the furore into a platform from which to promote the Human Rights movement ‘Racism. It Stops With Me.’ Unsurprisingly, he was awarded the Man of Chivalry Award at the GQ Men Of The Year Awards and continues to prove himself the embodiment of that word spelled using the first four letters of his surname.
Just received a phone call from a young girl apologizing for her actions. Lets support her please
— Adam Goodes (@adamroy37) May 25, 2013
Perhaps the only wedding this year more shocking than the raccoon-eyed Pinterest punk nuptials of Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger was The Red Wedding. A marriage of inconvenience and the year’s best kept secret by those in the know, no other martial union in pop culture this year elicited sincere reactions ranging from absolute disbelief, utter grief and violent indignation while simultaneously hitting the reset button on everything you ever held to be decent and true. The Red Wedding and those who orchestrated go down (with a slit jugular) not only as some of 2013’s most diabolical, visceral villainy but an archive worthy moment that’ll be referred to in retrospectives for years to come. Also, that Game of Thrones gangland-style massacre was pretty fucking awful too. Gets me every time.
2. OSCAR PISTORIUS, or A LACK OF GUN CONTROL
How could Rhonda even consider
dropping a poetic Balinese chill bro with an eagerness for providing
tropical drinks and foot rubs for a Rohypnol hoarding (probably) super
jock named Trent Toogood? Fuck you Trent. And actually, fuck you too Rhonda. If anyone in this scenario is really too good it’s the gently subservient and gold turban adorned Ketut. #TeamKetut all the way.
Main image courtesy of Drizzle.