So about 2016 – the year kinda sucked, huh?
Now I’m not one to overlook our blessings. We were blessed with more than a few stellar albums and pretty fun singles too. Check out those links if you don’t believe me.
But in the realm of pop culture, many of your favorite celebrities proved they don’t have an ounce of home training.
In (dis)honor of those achievements, welcome to the sixth annual Playa Please Awards, where we give the worst of the worst one final walk of shame before we head into the new year.
Two caveats this year: I’m (mostly) ignoring politics, including that big orange elephant in the room. I’ve spent more than enough keystrokes covering that disaster. Also, conspicuous by his absence is Kanye West. Although he’s done MORE than enough to earn the top spot of shame, I’m not evil enough to pick on a guy who is seeking psychiatric treatment for his lunacy.
That album of his was still pretty suspect, though. Sorry, Ye stans.
Don’t worry, I’ve got more than enough shade to throw around. Here’s the six worst of 2016.
6. Justin Timberlake Talks Too Much, Gets Thrown In Twitter Jail
The offense: Most of y’all know I’m a pretty big JT fan. FutureSex/LoveSounds is a five-star album, and his debut joint isn’t far behind. But ever since that Super Bowl fiasco with Janet Jackson, his black card has been revoked for a probationary pass.
He can still come to the cookout, but nobody is eating that store-bought mayo potato salad he brings.
And while I think it’s unfair to demonize the guy for a stunt he pulled TWELVE years ago (and it WAS a stunt people, it’s not like Janet isn’t equally at fault), he’s certainly deserving of the avalanche of Ls he received last summer. After Jesse Williams’ phenomenal address at the BET Awards, JT tweeted about how inspired he was by the speech.
Then came the TKO.
Someone @’d JT, demanding him to stop appropriating black culture and apologize for the Janet stunt.
Justin responded with this nonsense: “Oh, you sweet soul. The more you realize that we are the same, the more we can have a conversation.”
NO, JT, WE ARE NOT THE SAME. Comments like “we’re all the same” fuel an extremely dangerous narrative. It whitewashes the black experience and indirectly enables bigots who still believe minorities fabricate the issues that hinder their communities. It doesn’t matter how many songs JT makes with black producers, his cultural experiences are NOT the same as mine – and that’s a GOOD thing. Diversity fuels this country, after all. But enough with that All Lives Matter garbage.
But it’s not so bad: Despite JT’s Twitter fingers and Black Twitter’s petty trolling, JT is NOT a cultural appropriator and has lots of respect for hip-hop. Proof: In a talk-show interview a few years back, a goofy host asked JT to show her how to pop lock. He politely refused, basically saying that he didn’t want this host to hijack hip-hop culture for giggles. Yes, the white pop singer y’all hate on has MORE respect for hip hop than your favorite garbage rapper, who disrespects pioneers like Biggie and 2pac. JT means well, but keep that man in the studio and off Twitter, please.
5. Ryan Lochte, You Ain’t Gotta Lie Ta Kick It
The offense: One thing we learned in 2016 was that if you’re a rich white dude with no morals, you think you can pretty much get away with anything.
So Ryan Lochte – AKA the pretty boy Olympic swimmer not named Phelps – ran with a sob story that claimed he and his buddies were robbed during the games in Brazil. At gunpoint. By a bunch of dudes dressed as police officers.
Why would a band of ruthless robbers need to dress up like the Village People to jack a bunch of drunken frat boys? I’ve never seen a stick-up kid run up on someone in a full Halloween costume. Real robbers don’t have time to put on Scooby Doo disguises to get that guap, playa.
It was pretty clear the story was garbage, and that was proven almost immediately when surveillance footage showed that while they were allegedly “being robbed,” the swimmers were actually at some gas station, ripping doors off walls and fighting a security guard.
Just a bunch of thugs. Ah, boys will be boys. *edit courtesy of Fox News*
But it’s not so bad: Shockingly, Lochte actually FACED CONSEQUENCES for his actions. He was suspended by Olympics and lost a bunch of endorsements. Still a slap on the wrist (especially considering that he wound up on Dancing with the Stars later in the year) but at least his douchebaggery was unveiled for the world to see.
4. Anyone Who Complained About Football Protests Is Part of the Problem
The offense: One of the most annoying parts of 2016 was the rise of the uneducated think piece, where every Twitter theologian and Facebook philosopher felt the need to weigh in on EVERY issue.
Half y’all barely made it out of your political science classes with a D+ yet NOW you’re public policy experts?
So when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to peacefully protest police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem, suddenly everyone had something to say. And ALL of them can shut up. I’ve got no patience for Kate Upton, Kid Rock – even your racist grandma can get it too.
Peaceful protesting is a constitutional right, and if a man chooses to demonstrate his displeasure with mounting injustice by taking a knee, that’s his prerogative. To complain about how a protest distracts from YOUR enjoyment of a freaking FOOTBALL GAME is the height of privilege, arrogance and disrespect.
Want to end those protests? Address the issues at hand, not the protester. Figure out how to correct a system that literally targets – and kills – black folks and we’ll let you have your precious sports back.
But it’s not so bad: The only bright spot here is that Kaep wisely brought issues of injustice before an audience that was too willing to turn a blind eye in the past. It’s a lot easier for some folks to turn off the news than a football game. Kaep dragged them from their comfort zones, which is pretty commendable.
3. Everyone Responsible For This Abomination
The offense: Every year, XXL Magazine highlights 15 of the hottest up-and- coming rappers. So according to hip-hop experts, THIS is the future of hip-hop. Just watch. And weep.
But it’s not so b…: I’m not even gonna try to be positive with this one. Next offender, please.
2. Congratulations Taylor Swift, You Played Yourself
The offense: Taylor Swift, I saw you coming from a mile away.
Ol’ girl has become a millionaire with her victim act – every man does her wrong, every celebrity friend breaks her trust. Y’all cry, she cashes in.
It’s only so long fake thugs can pretend.
Her on-again-off-again feud with Kanye caught fire again this year after the release of his song “Famous,” which included the line “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that b**** faaaaaamous.” As you’d expect, Taylor and her army of minions labeled Ye as a bully, but Kanye stood his ground, claiming that he spoke with Taylor about the song well before its release and she approved the line.
Everyone figured Ye was lying cuz, well, it’s Ye.
But wifey came through in the clutch. Kim K actually produced a recording of the phone call where Taylor in fact approved Kanye’s lyrics.
Kim exposing the phone call between Kanye and Taylor about his line in Famous. RT to save a life pic.twitter.com/FLBkEXkJTZ
— Claire McVey (@ohaiclaireee) July 18, 2016
The jig is up, sister.
But it’s not so bad: Far be it from me to revel in another person’s misery (*ahem*) but it’s long past time for Taylor to walk away from the innocent sweet girl act. There’s a strength to be found in being flawed and maybe being called on the carpet will force Taylor to move beyond her stale saccharine sideshow.
You’re just as screwed up as the rest of us, playa. You just need to admit it.
1. The 2016 Grim Reaper
The offense: Look, death is a part of life. We all get that. But in 2016, somebody must have stolen Light Yagami’s Death Note and wrote down the name of every 80s and 90s icon possible.
Look at the list of celebrities we lost this year:
Zsa Zsa Gabor
And those are just from the top of my head! I’m sure I missed about 20 luminaries. And during the writing of this post we lost George Michael AND Ricky ‘Taadow’ Harris AND Carrie Fisher in the span of like two days! Worst of all, the names above aren’t a collection of AARP members – most of these immensely talented people left us at a relatively young ages.
Why it IS so bad: I’ve seen a lot of backlash on social media against those who mourn celebrity deaths. There are a lot of “But why are y’all catching feelings?” posts out there.
Well, good sir, YOU can catch these hands.
Sure, we haven’t met many of these celebrities, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t an integral part of our lives. We grew up on the music of Prince, Phife and Bowie. Alan Thicke, Florence Henderson and Patty Duke, weren’t just TV characters, they felt like members of our own family – they were surrogate dads, moms and siblings. Athletes like Ali and Chyna inspired us and broke down barriers. Fisher and Rickman brought some of cinema’s most memorable personalities to life.
The names above aren’t just hollow celebrities, they are the pillars of America pop culture. That’s why each death stings so strongly.
But hey, we’ll get a clean slate in the new year, right?
God help us all.
Who else earned your disgust in 2016? Let us know below.
And while you’re at it, catch up on previous Playa Please Award recipients: