We love our end-of-year compilations, those thumbnail analyses offered by newspapers and magazines of the best and worst of the previous year. There’s something comforting, even a little vindicating, about corralling the disparate people, events, and creative experiences we’ve all encountered and charting them accordingly. Of course, every writer, editor and news source will have a different opinion (though there are always those choices that seem to transcend variance to land on everyone’s list!), but still…we love the list.
The many fine writers and editors here at Addicting Info have covered an intriguing slew of “best and worst” topics for the occasion of year’s end; please avail yourself of them all when you can. My offering might be the most blunt; certainly one of the most essential: The Ten Worst People of 2012.
Despite what you may think, this was not an easy list to compile. “Worst” is so subjective and certainly as you view the many harmonics and strata of the attribution, it comes down to degrees. There is the trivial bad (the vacuity of Carly Rae Jepsen or the redneck inanity of Honey Boo Boo), the hardcore global evil (Joseph Kony or “The World’s Most Repressive Societies”), and certainly the criminal evil (the Aurora shooting, the New Delhi medical student rape and murder and, of course, the Sandy Hook shooting).
But what about the prosaic, every day, touches-us-all kind of “worst”? That bad perpetrated by seemingly normal (if infamous) people who inspire the insult by their sheer idiocy, crass thoughtlessness, bar-lowering antics, or unethical, despicable behavior, either regularly or with enough impact to earn the title. That is the list I’m talking about.
The Ten Worst People of 2012.
In no particular order but with varying degrees of “worse-ness”….the amounts I’ll leave to your judgment.
1. Republican Men & Women: I hate to start with a category instead of an individual but, frankly, if I listed all the Republican men and women who earned the title I’d be through my Ten and then some. For the sake of fairness to the other nine spots, I’ve granted “Republican men & women” a singular category. They’ll have to live with that. The standouts for 2012 are well-known, their most notable acts of “badness” widely documented, their names a litany: Karl Rove, Paul Ryan, the Koch Brothers, Todd Akin, Rick Santorum, Richard Mourdock, all Fox News pundits and hosts, Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Dick Morris, Allen “Whiner” West, Ted Nugent, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Herman Cain…etc. As for the women, notables are: Michele Bachmann, Jan Brewer, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham, and that cranky other blonde on Fox…there’s always another cranky blonde on Fox. [My colleague at Addiction Info has compiled a list of the 12 Worst Republican Blunders Of 2012...thought I'd add that here for your enjoyment!]
2. Donald Trump: While Donald is included above, he imploded so spectacularly this past year that he deserves a spot all his own. What happened to this guy!? He used to be just a loud, pompous, hair-challenged rich guy with a successful, if ridiculous, reality show and a catch-phrase that was all the rage for about ten minutes (“you’re fired!”). Then 2012 happened and he seemed to devolve into a tinfoil-hat, spittle-spewing, crazy as a loon, Unabomber-level conspiracist who couldn’t stop making an ass of himself, most recently with an embarrassing display of stupidity while claiming he had an “October surprise” that would change the course of the election, only to have…nothing. Except a badly produced video of himself ranting on camera with an offer to donate a few million to “the charity of his choice” if Obama presented his passport application and college transcripts. To, I presume, Trump himself. October surprise? More like: get the jacket; Trump’s lost it!!
3. The Trump Sons: These two “bad apples who haven’t fallen far from the tree” won a spot on this list for their stunning lack of tact and global sensitivity in embarking on their March 2012 “hunting” adventure in Zimbabwe, Africa. Eric and Donald Jr. hired a company called “Hunting Legends” to guide them on a “safari” where they (or their guides) shot and killed a shocking number of big game. Later seen grinning in pictures with the dead animals, one or both of the boys then promoted those images all over the Internet. Eric denies being the one who leaked the photos, but he took great pride in his hunting prowess (one picture shows him standing with a sawed off elephant’s tail and the bloody knife that was likely used), even getting into a Twitter battle with those who found the excursion, the subsequent “kills,” and the gory photos disgusting. Word came later that the Zimbabwe government was investigating the legality of their “legendary” activities. If anyone belongs on this list, they do.
4. Lindsay Lohan: This may seem like a cheap shot but hear me out. As someone who’s worked for years in the creative businesses, in collaboration with many extraordinarily talented actors and entertainers struggling to get a foothold and build a career with sometimes little luck and few opportunities, I find it appalling to watch someone with inarguable talent (just watch 11-year-old Lindsay knock out a dual role in 1998’s The Parent Trap), who has been given every chance to succeed and live the life of a successful, respected actor – something so many others work so hard toward with little fulfillment – waste that opportunity with impunity. Putting herself in the public eye as often as possible, she appears to have abdicated any visible responsibility for her life; instead she’s chosen (or at least, allowed herself) to crash, burn, steal, pose, primp, pander; parade to and from prison, get drunk and behave badly in clubs and bars, hit & run, blame Mommy, Daddy, girlfriends, boyfriends, the media, the paparazzi and even the industry. She’s been in and out of expensive rehab, squandered the time and energy put in by her and others towards her sobriety, ruined her looks, and made whatever audience was watching suffer through her cringe-worthy stint on SNL and the debacle of Lifetime’s Liz and Dick. Though I wish her well, she’s on this list because, up till now, she’s trashed every chance she’s had for redemption. And that’s too big a waste to get a pass.
5. Wayne LaPierre: While LaPierre would likely make this list in any year, he was a Johnny-come-lately in 2012, only emerging from the NRA shadows in the last month to make a rage-worthy, tone-deaf statement about what this country needs in light of Sandy Hook and the other 12,000 homicides perpetrated annually by guns…which would be more guns. After the tragedy in Newtown, he and his organization seemed oddly quiet, as if waiting to gauge the temperature of the country after the second worst mass shooting in American history. Unfortunately his reticence didn’t reward him with insight and his big announcement about the NRA School Plan, a federally funded militia of armed guards in every school in the U.S., struck a very raw nerve and, other than the most fanatic of gun lovers, some on the radical Right, and likely the gun manufacturers who fund his efforts, no one applauded. He has been roundly panned by parents, educators, the President of the United States, and any person with commonsense who could cite the many reasons why this approach is ludicrous.
6. Barbara Walters: This one may surprise you. It does me…I like Barbara Walters. But she makes it onto my list for being a willing participating in lowering the cultural bar for the sake of ratings by pandering to the worst in American “fascination” rather than piquing and promoting the best. Known for her “Most Fascinating People of the Year” shows, Walters typically likes to mix it up with an eclectic list of entertainers, writers, politicians, world leaders, etc. This year is no different. But this year the “entertainers” include some of the most marginal, talentless and banal candidates in the show’s history: Honey Boo Boo and E.L. James in particular. Do I need to say any more about Honey Boo Boo? I don’t think so. But E.L. James? I’ve been trying to read Fifty Shades of Gray for the last few weeks and it has got to be, truly, one of the worst books I’ve ever read. It’s not the sex (the juvenile “oh crap!” sex); it’s the sheer vacuousness of the character, the writing, and plot. It’s as bar-lowering a piece of pseudo literature as the National Enquirer and while it purports to be erotic, I am not finding the vapid chatter of a teenage-sounding child-woman and her creepily dysfunctional lover remotely erotic. Is it me? All I know is women must not be getting enough out there if this book and this author are fascinating. That Walters vaunts either to be so for higher ratings makes her one of the worst people of 2012.
7. Lance Armstrong: This one made me incredibly sad. I defended him, I wrote on threads about how he had never tested positive, about his charity, about his fight for survival after cancer; I wanted him to be a hero. But when he threw in the towel, allowed the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to permit the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to strip him of his seven Tour de France titles and later bar him from cycling, it was clear, despite his spin otherwise, that there was something to the charges and likely nothing to disprove. What man stops fighting when his entire legacy is being obliterated? A guilty one.
8. Dan Cathy (Chick-fil-A): This one, on the other hand, was easy. The grinning, avuncular Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, took the love of Jesus to a whole new level of cultural flagellating, announcing without hesitation that he was proudly against marriage equality and had put nearly $2 million into groups with an anti-gay agenda. The heat was immediate and fierce, with boycotts, editorials, and angry citizens swearing off the much-vaunted chicken sandwich. There were counter-protests, Christians who stood proudly in allegiance with their intolerant, homophobic leader, and a chicken place never saw so much feather ruffling. Cathy maintains his stance, though he’s now a bit quieter about it. Too late. He made the list.
9. Karen Handel – VP, Susan G. Komen for the Cure – A staunch opponent of abortion, Ms. Handel instigated the decision for Komen to pull grants from Planned Parenthood, inciting a virtual riot among progressives, women’s rights activists, and those who work in women’s healthcare. Unrepentant about politicizing medical care, preventive and otherwise, in service to her right-wing agenda, Handel was made to resign after donations to Komen dropped precipitously and the reputation of the organization suffered. But clearly driven by her desire not only for political redemption but vengeance against Planned Parenthood, she’s recently emerged from her banishment to hit back with a lecture tour to promote her new book, Planned Bullyhood, which accuses the agency of nefarious intentions. Some say she might run for office in red state Georgia. She’d likely be as welcome there as she is on this list.
10. Fred Phelps and the WBC: This guy and his cadre of yapping sycophants embody the worst of any list, any time. Between turning “God Hates Fags” into a motto and meme, protesting and screaming epithets at the funerals of soldiers, and making the name of “God” sound like a swear word, these perverse Christians give Christianity a bad name. Except most real Christians refuse to claim them, anymore than the rest of us would. Beautifully poked and parodied by Russell Brand on his show, and with “hacktivists” taking them down Anonymous style, they’ve made themselves so universally hated that it’s unlikely they can fester on any street corner without the notice of louder, smarter, and more righteous folks who hate hate. Welcome, Fred and family, to your permanent spot; get comfortable, you’re going to be here for the duration.
And there it is. My Ten Worst People of 2012. Feel free to add your own in comments. It seems this is a list that, unfortunately, never runs out of contenders…
[And to view the other side of the "best/worst" spectrum, visit my companion piece, The 10 Best People Of 2012.]