The Top 20 Pop Culture Heroes and Villains of 2012

Not too sure how I feel about you, The State of Humanity in The Year Two Thousand and Twelve. On one hand, you exhibited moments of wondrous human advancement and unfathomable brilliance, giving cause for pure joy. On the other, ugh; at times you were just the worst
As the PA system in any supermarket will tell you over the next week, ‘So this is Christmas/And what have you done?/Another year over/Let’s make some reductive lists about pop culture heroes and villains/War is over if you want it, etc.‘ 
So in the spirit of that great lyric, and because ’tis the season, let’s do just that.


Prime Minister Gillard served and worked and turned it out on not just to Tony Abbott, but to all the ‘haters’ when she decried of the Opposition Leader: “If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia… he needs a mirror.” Of all the villains dished up their just desserts in 2012, Misogynists were among the most prominent. From Alan Jones’ backwards coronial inquest into the death of Gillard’s father, to the ACMA warning Kyle Sandilands once again to reign it in, to Tracey Spicer’s annihilation of pygmy-brained media dicks and – the piece de resistance – the Prime Minister’s worldwide headline-grabbing blistering takedown of modern misogyny in Parliament. 
It certainly hasn’t been a good year for men with entrenched prejudices against women (or anyone); and that’s a wonderful thing. Public discourse around the issue also became something of a minefield, and that wasn’t just to do with spelling (think food and drink: miso-gyn-y). A special place is also reserved on next year’s list – following the Royal Commission – for Child Abuse, “A vile and evil thing.”
2012 was the year when the world ‘troll’ (in the wider public conscience) stopped meaning adorable googly-eyed creeps with fluorescent hair and outstretched arms hanging out under a bridge and instead became synonymous with anonymous, incendiary cowards hiding beyond a flimsy veil of anonymity afforded them by the Internet, an avatar and a hashtag. Too many times we saw IRL ramifications of the unbelievably stupid things stupid people say on the Internet as they broached the sphere of the living, often with devastating consequences and this face.

Racist Xenophobic Dicks Being Awful on Public Transport
Is anyone sitting here?“, “Does this bus go past George St?” and “Speak English or die motherfucker” were unfortunately some of the most shockingly ignorant things said on public transport this year. Two unbelievable incidents in particular were caught on tape (bus and train, take your pick) and will remain a sad indictment on the apparently thriving existence of racism, lingering xenophobia and general disrespect that continues to rear its ugly fucking head in 2012.
Whoever Made All The Programming Decisions At Channel Ten
Ten have readily admitted this year wasn’t their greatest. We readily agree. The man largely responsible for the year’s programming lineup, David Mottstepped down from his post before things got really bad, but it was – as they say (and when I say ‘they’ I mean ‘JoJo‘) – too little, too late. For posterity’s sake, let’s take a look back at some of the year’s not even hate-watch-worthy highlights: Everybody Dance NowThe ShireBeing Lara BingleI Will SurviveThe Circle and Breakfast… The list, sadly, goes on. What a [ratings] year! Here’s to starting fresh and the continued use of this image as a painful reminder of the past in 2013. Seriously.
The Royal Prank
Just over a week into its gestation and the Royal Prank/Tragedy continues to grow into one of the most poignantly felt and divisive news stories of the year. The death of British nurse Jacinta Saldanha by apparent suicide three days after she received a prank call from two Sydney DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, has prompted countless words of confusion, anger, an outpouring of grief and no shortage of questions; most of which will go unanswered. Short of apportioning blame directly at someone in the same vein as the imminent coronial inquest, the Royal Prank itself – that is, the entire event, the consequences and the sensational furore surrounding it – would have to go down as one of the year’s most tragic and notorious villains. Honourable mentions also go to ‘censoring everything’ and ‘open letters to anything and everything in the Universe on Facebook.’

Chris Brown
Here he comes, shitting right onto the glistening surface of our collective retina! It has been a truly spectacular year for both Chris Brown and his very vocal fan-base, #teambreezy, and his just as vocal (if not more) detractors alike. Great feats of fuckery included, the tattooing of a bruised woman’s face on his neck, the dressing up as The Taliban for Halloween, fighting with Drake in clubs after dissing his bouffant eyebrows and being the best at Twitter shitfights like it ain’t nobody’s bidnizz. 
Image via @chrisbrown

Delta Goodrem
And evil takes a human form in Delta Goodrem, sitting on top of my hurl. Just kidding! Delta has enjoyed a long, fruitful career in the public eye as a sweet young singer-songwriter with a penchant for sour, older men. The girl she used to be, it turned out, had a terrible case of mistaken identity when it was revealed throughout this year – through bouts of weekly exposure on The Voice – that Delta was a sinister, sequin-encrusted, gold lamé Disney villain come princess. 
Also, Delta became the unsung champion of indie Montreal septuplets, particularly Arcade Fire, and in doing so provoked the ire of Arcadian purists and TV punters alike with her sickly sweet blend of spray-on insanity and maniacal overuse of hair extensions (to conceal all the secrets). She’s fabulous, but she’s evil and I can’t wait to see what kind of extravagant, childish antics she pulls out to compete with Latino divo Ricky Martin on next year’s show. And there’s always her wax figure, which is by far the most vandalised of all the dummies at Madame Tussaud’s to give you a good indication of the warm, shiny place Delta holds in our pop culture hearts.

Torsten Blackwoods via Getty
Bath Salts
‘Troll’ wasn’t the only once innocent now nefarious term to undergo a semantic change in the last year. 2012 also became the year the reputation of bath salts took a severe beating and chewing after some faces were eaten and signs of the oft-quoted Mayan Apocalypse drew nigh. This Christmas, give the give of a bath bomb that won’t result in hospitalisation; a bath bomb that, let’s face it, doesn’t exist. Do not, however, give the following.
The Olivia Newton John Travolta Christmas Album/John Travolta’s Hair
All I want for Christmas is anything but this. Travolta’s lacquered on hair is about as convincing as Tom Cruise’s marriage was to Katie Holmes (who just missed out on a spot on this list) and comes gifted to us in the form of one of the most heinous music videos ever – even worse than that one about Thanksgiving.


Melissa George 
“I’d rather be having a croissant in Paris or walking my French bulldog in New York City” than revisiting this neatly-packaged Internet shitstorm “but I’m really hard-working and people have to respect me for what I’ve done.” 
Patrick Riviere via Getty
Barack Obama
In light of recent events and statistics that are getting an airing (5/12 of the worst mass shootings have happened during Obama’s time in office, Obama only spoke about gun control three times during his re-election campaign, etc.) Barack Obama’s has still earned a place on this list not only for his re-election his victory speech but his becoming the first US president to endorse marriage equality and his adept social media skills that have provided the year with some soaring highs (and also, admittedly, some crushing lows).
Hugh Jackman
He’s boosted the NSW film industry by recreating mid-century Tokyo on Foveaux, and his star has finally landed in its rightful place on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The Boy from Oz continues to pose a triple threat to talentless Hollywood hacks everywhere now he’s Australia’s greatest hope for taking home some nice gold trophies for excellence in the field of breaking hearts through the art of song. Hugh Jackman continues to prove why he’s one of the nicest (seeming) leading men working today. A movie star.
Curiosity and The Higgs Boson God Particle aka Science!
Yeah science! You had a great year, I think. Highlights include that one time NASA landed the IRL equivalent of Wall-e on Mars and live-tweeted the whole process, then threw an excellent party afterward. It was great. Also, something something the Higgs Boson particle was proved fifty years after something something proposed theory science sorry I don’t know too much else about it. All I know is that ‘it’ is everywhere and it gives everything ‘mass’. So there you go. Honourable mentions go to the man who jumped from freaking outer-space and broke the sound barrier while we watched it on our laptops. That was also pretty neat.
Frank Ocean and Progress in Hip-Hop
Not only has he delivered one of the best albums of the year (just ask Gotye/everyone), he also shared (first with his Tumblr and then the world) the moving tale of his first love with another man. It was a move that, depending on whose theories you subscribe to, was either incredibly brave, moving and heartfelt considering Ocean’s tenuous place as a relative newcomer in the industry or was one of the most deftly-executed PR stunts of the year (hint: it’s the former). 
Honourable mentions here also go to Jay-Z for forcing the hip-hop community to address marriage equality unprompted and of his own accord, which then lead to vocal support from T.I., Diddy, (kinda from) 50 Cent, Russell Simmons and A$AP Rocky. More honourable mentions also go to Azealia Banks, Le1f, Zebra Katz, Nicky Da B and Mykki Blanco for throwing shade on bigots and leading the charge for progress in hip-hop, queer and otherwise.
AFP/Stringer via Getty
Anna Meares, Sally Pearson and Australia’s Olympians and Paralympians
Anna Meares and Sally Pearson’s insatiable appetite for gold was best summed up in this soon-to-be-mounted-on-your-office-wall quote from Pearson: “I want this. It has to be mine. It can’t go any other way.” While many an armchair critic sorely felt the disappointment of Australia’s lacking (in comparison) medal tally, others were buoyed not only by the thrill of The Games but the outstanding achievements of some of our incredible athletes in fields that don’t usually draw a lot of attenion, i.e. sailing.


Jacki Weaver and Rebel Wilson
Jacki Weaver, who has just celebrated 50 years working as an actress, proves that while 2012 has had its lowlights the best is yet to come (as long as you’re exceptionally talented as both an actress and human being). Weaver is killing it in Hollywood right now, scoring roles in some of the year’s most successful and critically acclaimed films including the awards-season favourite Silver Linings Playbook. Rebel Wilson is also just a certified comedic national treasure and your argument is invalid.
Terry Rice via Getty

Carly Rae Jepsen
Sorry, but you can’t write a retrospective list in 2012 without an obligatory Carly Rae Mention. In 2012, the Benjamin Button with bangs (she’s 26 but looks 16) and her band were likes herpes: she was on everyone’s lips and there was something undeniable about her infectious pop kiss. You can’t get rid of it, and yes, that was a reference to another excellent Jepsen lyric.

Christian Bale
Visited both the victims of the The Dark Knight Rises Shootings at the Aurora South Medical Centre in Colorado and flew a four year old leukaemia patient (whose dream it was to meet Batman) and his family out to Disneyland for lunch with his own (reportedly adorable) family. Also literally plays the year’s best hero. Sorry, Avengers, but I’m not sorry.
All Those People Who Continue To Do Good In This World But Go Unacknowledged, or Channing Tatum
How am I supposed to scratch the surface of Channing Tatum’s meteoric rise? Like this, probably.