Life

A List Of Everything That Kept 2017 From Being A Complete Garbage Fire


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

But goddamn, if you you spend too long on Twitter you get to thinking we’re living in the seventh circle of hell. Yes, watching capitalism crumble is scary. Sure, our ever-widening wealth disparity is soul crushing. True, the open rioting of Nazis with citronella torches is repulsive. As is discovering that sexual assault is rampant across media, government, movies, food… and probably every other industry on earth.

And then there’s the whole other issue. The one we’re trying to avoid talking about. The elephant in the room, Tweeting so that we can’t ignore him.

Where were we going with this?

Ah, yes! Here we go: Amid the ugliness, there is beauty in the world. Amid the pain, there’s joy. The sun rises and the sun also sets and the sea is never quite as full of horrible bullshit as we think. Even Twitter — the neverending feed of wretchedness that so often leads us to despair — has proven to be a very good thing, on the whole. After all, it’s Twitter that pushed forward the work of hard nosed journalists in the fake news era. Twitter that has opened a platform for voices that were once marginalized. Twitter that has sparked a million “who’s the wokest debates”, which, ultimately, deliver us to a better place, as a society.

Today, we’re going to celebrate the positivity in our jumbled up, complicated, flawed-but-potential-filled planet. We’re going to shout out the fun moments, the pathos, the hope, the progress. Tomorrow, we can dwell on the horrors; we can bomb our Tweets on the crumbling ruins of civilization.

Today, we’re all about what was good in 2017.

-Steve Bramucci, Life Editor

Cardi B stomped out the competition in her “bloody shoes.”

If Cardi B rapping about owning expensive shoes like Louboutin’s as a former stripper wasn’t dope enough on its own, her calling them “bloody shoes” was the icing on the lyrical cake. “Bardi,” as she sometimes calls herself, makes a lot of references to being a Blood, and often replaces the “c” in words with a “b,” as do many of her Blood buddies. When she talks about being “bute” in her Loubs, she’s letting us know that she is living her best life as a boss woman who “don’t gotta dance” any more, but she’s still the same “Gangsta Bitch” from volume one of her mixtape, who might stomp you out with those stiletto heels.

This was a serious come-up, declared in one single lyric: The American dream, distilled.

-Hope Carter

A teen got his nuggs reminding us that dreams can come true.

When 16 year old Carter Wilkerson tweeted at Wendy’s and asked them how many retweets he needed for a year of free chicken nuggets, they responded (in what would be one of the smartest free marketing decisions of the year): “18 million.” And so one of the most fun viral stories of 2017 was born. Wilkerson’s quest became the most retweeted tweet of all time, shooting right past Ellen’s Oscar selfie. Though he never hit 18 million retweets, Carter did surpass 3.5 million which was enough for Wendy’s to give the kid his damn nuggs.

#Nuggsforcarter was the perfect example of how silly the internet can be and how fun it is to rally around a low stakes, fun cause once in awhile.

-Allison Sanchez

These two buddies headed off to save some lives.

If I had the power to award the Macarthur Genius Grant to two friends, I’d give it to these two super bros. As Hurricane Harvey response was debated across the internet they hopped in their fishing boat to “go save some lives.” That’s how it’s done folks, that’s how societies are built: Thanks to people who put aside self interest in order to help others. It’s the exact “we got us” mentality that Hope Carter wrote about in her epic piece about what Houston gets right.

It’s been awhile now since Harvey and I still think of these two all the time — cruising the flooded highways in a Bayliner, looking for people to help, doing the hard work. They hold the top spot in “people I’d like to buy a beer in 2017.”

-Steve Bramucci

The #metoo movement took off reminding us that we’re not alone.

#metoo didn’t start in 2017. It was started in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke as a way to empower women of color who had experienced sexual assault and abuse. But this was the year that the movement was embraced by a wider audience — when Alyssa Milano tweeted out for women to respond #metoo if they’d experienced harassment, abuse, or assault. Since then, the “me too” has transformed from a hashtag to a battle cry. It’s become bigger than anyone thought possible, with women all over the world connecting to it. The women behind #metoo were even Time Magazine’s people of the year.

It’s easy to dismiss what happens on Twitter as irrelevant. Or to worry that we use social media as a way to keep from pursuing actual physical actions that will result in change. But in this case, #metoo breaks the barrier of silence, the condition in which abusers, harassers, and rapists thrive in. And by breaking that silence, by naming our accusers, by speaking out when we see others being hurt, we take away that power dynamic that allowed Harvey Weinstein to amass power through fear.

#Metoo is more than a twitter hashtag, it’s a way to take away the shame and secrecy surrounding abuse and give agency back to women.

-Allison Sanchez

Danica Roem won her seat in Virginia’s State Legislature proving that hearts and minds can change.

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There’s a lot of focus on Danica Roem being a trans woman and unseating a guy who claimed to be the state’s foremost anti-LGBT bigot, but what’s more often ignored is that she simply ran a campaign the way it’s supposed to be run. She talked about fixing roads and made it clear her plans for serving constituents — all the stuff local politics is supposed to be about. She was elected not out of protest for her opponent, but because she did a better job as a politician. If you’re sick of your useless state legislator, Roem showed us how to kick them to the curb.

And it’s a lesson a lot of Americans seem ready to pick up. The fact that she’s also a reflection of our ever diversifying world is just icing on the cake.

-Dan Seitz

This little girl interrupted her dad on the BBC, proving that there’s nothing more important than a quick dance break.

Four year old Marion Kelly owned viral videos in 2017 when her dad forgot to lock his office door during an interview with the BBC. Giving zero f*cks about South Korean politics, Marion danced into the room, followed by her baby brother. And we all got to enjoy her mother having a heart attack as she dived into the room to pull the children out.

Those few seconds vaulted the family into international fame, and while at first her dad was embarrassed, he eventually realized it was hilarious, and that the reaction was all in good fun. This accidental child superstar became one of the best “feel good” stories of the year. Honestly, I wish Marion could dance through the screen of most conversations and newscasts about politics. We’d all be a lot happier.

-Allison Sanchez

We all got eclipse fever.

For a few stunning minutes in August, we turned to the skies to witness the first complete solar eclipse to cross the country in 38 years. This stunning celestial event brought us together, as we flocked to small towns in the line of totality and raced to buy up dorky looking glasses. Then — as one nation beneath the stars — we quieted ourselves and recognized that our fumblings across the planet are small, relatively speaking.

The eclipse was also an excellent example of people wisely heeding the warnings of scientists — as literally anyone with any sense avoided looking directly at the sun.

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Literally. Anyone. With. Any. Sense.

-Steve Bramucci

Serena Williams won the Australian Open… pregnant.

Kicking off 2017, Serena Williams’ victory in the Australian open was historic in many ways. It gave her the record for most grand slam singles titles by a tennis player male or female in the open era, she did it after age 35, and she did it PREGNANT. Legend. Even if Williams wasn’t vomiting all the time or didn’t have to pee constantly, THERE IS NO WAY SHE WASN’T THE MOST TIRED SHE’S EVER BEEN. Pregnancy makes you SO crazy tired. And she won the Australian open while feeling that way.

She. Is. A. Boss.

Footnote: I also had a baby this September. And Serena is most likely competing in the Australian open again this year. Four months after having a baby. Today, I got winded walking around the block. You know what? I take back everything nice I just said. Screw you, Serena Williams. Ugh. I’m going to have a glass of wine and several cakes to feel better. SEVERAL.

-Allison Sanchez

People marched, took a knee, and raised their voices, proving again that the ability to protest is what makes this nation great.

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Last year, I called “the power of protest” the best thing to happen in 2016. If I were giving awards, I’d double down for 2017. Across the nation, engagement in the political process was high. Moreover it felt high. The resistance was visible. People hit the streets, they marched, they rallied, they were a part of the solution.

At the heart of it all, once again, was Colin Kaepernick — who has become the patron saint of the protest movement. Kap’s a worthy hero. Not only did he lose his job in order to support his convictions but he repeatedly put his money and time on the line to support his goals.

Kaepernick was the most important man in football in 2017 and he played in one game. He’s bigger than that. He’s a reminder that humans have the power to make change and that the fight for progress is a noble one. This year, the nation continued to follow Kap’s lead and that was a very, very good thing.

-Steve Bramucci

The Fyre Festival allowed us to laugh at other’s (minor!) bourgeoisie misfortune.

One of the funniest things to happen in 2017 had to be the giant flaming disaster that was the Fyre Festival. Ja Rule’s “luxury festival” ended up with no music, cold cheese sandwiches, Fema-like tents, and people trapped Lord of the Flies-style on the island. I mean, you kind of felt bad for them, but overall, the internet had little sympathy for the young people who spent thousands of dollars in order to hobnob with Kendall Jenner.

Instead, jokes flew freely (unlike the Fyre festival goers who were stranded and couldn’t fly at all).

Looking back, I wonder what happened to the Fyre Festival attendees. I mean we kind of all forgot about them after we made our very good jokes the first day. Did they ever get rescued? Who knows. I have to assume that some of them are still there, crouching in makeshift tents, pressing buttons on power drained phones, and eating the weakest among them. At least, that’s what I like to imagine.

-Allison Sanchez

Travel companies gave away free trips left and right.

You know that we always support travel around these parts. We believe it to be the great equalizer — the planet’s ultimate tool for curbing shitty behavior and closed mindedness in favor of global thinking and a tendency toward compassion. Also, it’s dope and fun. In 2017, travel brands were all too aware of this and they offered dream jobs to get you on the road.

There was a gig traveling while drinking whiskey, partying in Cancun, crossing the country while guzzling canned wine, staying in luxury homes worldwide, eating pizza, and even one for living in a remote lighthouse. Naturally, we ran pieces on every single one of them, because free travel might just be the best travel and travel is deeply important. Especially in a world threatened by close mindedness.

-Steve Bramucci

The Babadook became a gay icon reminding us that what the B in LGBTQ really stands for.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdI9BrBgj5Y/

It started with a simple tumblr that showed that Netflix accidentally put The Babadook under LGTBQ films. But like most of the best parts of the internet, it turned into playful gas lighting and trolling — with people insisting that the Babadook has always been a movie about a gay icon. People quickly pointed out that he wears fabulous clothes, is being repressed by a suburban, white family, and quite literally pops out of closets. It kind of started to make sense?

https://www.instagram.com/p/BbnT7YLBLYW/

It all reached a fever pitch during Pride, with Babadook floats and costumes hilariously dominating the festivities in several cities. Claimed by the community as a mascot due to a silly mistake, Gay Babadook is probably my favorite thing from 2017. Plus, the arguments are legit convincing.

-Allison Sanchez

The Good Place got better every episode.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc5QwrfguYk/

The twist at the end of The Good Place season one happened in 2017, and it was amazing. Personally, I think it was one of the best TV reveals since Lost revealed that a series of flashbacks WERE ACTUALLY FLASH FORWARDS (sorry guys. I’ll never not love Lost and its twist-y if ultimately unsatisfying storytelling).

The Good Place is smart, hilarious, genuinely unique television. It’s really well acted, and the relatively unknown actors of color that make up three of the six leads are a reminder that creating a wonderfully diverse cast is easily done with excellent results. There is no show on TV that I look forward to more every week because it’s just consistently a treat. 2017 has The Good Place expanding its world with the best side characters while giving us lovable, three dimensional main characters that grow every week, and it’s subtlety and cleverness make it a refreshing change of pace from other network shows.

For me, the Good Place has been one of the shining lights of 2017.

-Allison Sanchez

New exoplanets capable of life were discovered reminding us that the universe is a bigger place than just our little corner.

In February of this year, scientists discovered a new solar system called Trappist-1 with seven earth-like planets. Three of whom may have water on them. The search for exoplanets is a relatively new field that’s been exploding as of late with scientists racing to be the first to find proof of life on another planet. This year, we came closer than ever to finding that proof.

As they say on the X-Files, the truth is out there. And maybe in our lifetime, we’ll see it. Science fiction has never seemed less fictional, and it’s got us stoked to see what happens next.

-Allison Sanchez

Salt Bae happened.

Look, fam, there is literally no one I’d rather have keeping me seasoned and slicing me into manageable bites. The Salt Bae was fun and funny and… right on the verge of being the joke vs. being in on the joke.

More to the point, the Salt Bae is yet another stunning American Dream story for the modern era.

He started here:

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Ottoman steak 🔪

A post shared by Nusr_et#Saltbae (@nusr_et) on

And this week he’s hanging with Drake and DJ Khaled.

Not bad, bae. Not bad at all.

-Steve Bramucci

White guy blinked reminding us to keep it simple.

The year’s most used GIF seemed to encapsulate all of our bewilderment felt toward the events surrounding us. The white guy blinking conveyed both our confusion and our lack thereof, seemingly at the same time. With just a few well placed blinks he became the perfect reaction to anything that ought to have been obvious.

And sure, like any overused GIF/meme, it’s gotten old. White guy blinking is so 2017. But, you know, that’s the year we’re celebrating. Let’s not forget the first time we saw White Guy Blinking and realized he really got it. He really got us. We salute him.

-Allison Sanchez

Official Food Twitter accounts got existential and deep.

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Best Christmas EVER! #moonpie

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Did you know that Twitter is good for more than tweeting out national policy and thoughts and prayers? IT’S ALSO GOT SOME DECENT JOKES. And while you can catch plenty of comedians throwing it down (but like…that’s their job), the most surprising contenders for funniest Twitter accounts are some food brands that aren’t afraid to get weird. MoonPie has a particularly amazing handle, from giving out marriage advice:

…to telling us to scream softly into a pillow today:

The account is an absolute delight. And following close on MoonPie’s heels is newcomer Steak Umm who really wants to get Twitter verified, and is getting saucy about it. Like when they called out Twitter for verifying Nazis over them:

Plus, Steak Umm has some amazing steak related memes going:

Sure you could follow the Pope or Oprah, but the real heroes of twitter in 2017 were a few funny foods getting a little bit weird. #verifysteakumm.

-Allison Sanchez

A predictive text robot wrote a new chapter of Harry Potter reminding us that robots probably SHOULD take our jobs.

I grew up with Harry Potter. And I may or may not have attended a midnight book release party at Barnes & Noble once or twice where I wore Harry Potter glasses, and maybe, I don’t know, held a wand in my hand, and possibly, who knows, had a totally magical time. Whatever, the details aren’t important. What IS important is JK Rowling’s words were brilliant, her stories epic, her characters so lovable they felt like old friends, and all of that is now garbage.

You heard me: GARBAGE. Because there’s a new Harry Potter writer in town. He’s a predictive text robot who was fed all seven Harry Potter books and he’s better than you or I could ever hope to be. Robot’s prose is the stuff dreams are made of, and I never want to read any other Harry Potter themed literature again.

Botnik studios had a group of writers make a new chapter of Harry Potter using the predictive text bot, and the results were so very joyful. With lines like, “The pig of Hufflepuff pulsed like a large bullfrog. Dumbledore smiled at it, and placed his hand on its head: ‘You are Hagrid now.” and “Ron was going to be spiders. He just was. He wasn’t proud of that, but it was going to be hard to not have spiders all over his body after all is said and done” the bot has changed my life. Seriously, every line is my favorite from Ron wearing a Ron shirt and eating Hermione’s family to Harry Potter telling the dark arts to be worried while falling down a staircase all summer. It’s simply good literature.

Beautiful words for a beautiful year in human history. Thank you 2017, thank you. Now be over already.

-Allison Sanchez

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