Saturday, December 27, 2014

Anti-Heroes of the Year (2014)

By Shingi Mavima (SM) and Maximo Anguiano (MZA)
                          2014: the year of the institutional anti-hero

Last year, we introduced our anti-hero list. Because poor decisions at best and evil at worst are not going anywhere, we are back with our 2014 edition. Readers will notice almost immediately that, compared to the 2013 list, this year features less individuals and more collective Anti-heroic forces; from the NFL to ISIS, political parties to incompetent lawmen. Without further ado, let's get into it.



10) Obama's Tan Suit




Talk about a fashion statement. Whoever would have thought that one suit could cause such a stir; the tan suit Obama rocked on one particular day nearly broke the internet. Here were some of the headlines:
"There's no way any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday"-Rep. Peter King
"No One Heard Anything Obama Just Said Because His Tan Suit Was So Loud." -The Wire
"Yes We Tan."-Social media.
How you know this thing got big? The tan suit got its own Twitter handle. The other sad thing is that this was all considered “news.” Lol. I'll have a good grasp on pop culture, one day; but I may never fully understand this thing. Perhaps the tan suit is a conspiracy? The audacity of taupe, I tell ya.
-MZA.

9) The 'Money-Makers'

Trust me when I say I'm one of the biggest feminist/equalists that you'll ever meet, but this one was put into overdrive this year. I mean, I would have been unnerved had this been a bunch of men brandishing their pecs, abs, penis, or buttocks, as well (reminiscent of the time Justin Bieber stripped at Fashion Rocks and was booed). Answer me this question: what talent does Kim Kardashian have? Other than perhaps being advised that she needed to 'outshine' Nicki, J. Lo, and Iggy's rumps, what does it really matter anyway? Perhaps we've finally reached a time in history where women can say and do what they please. However, if you're going to show your backside in such a manner, don't expect it to come without some criticism. Personally, I like women with brains over butts; it's even more painful to know that Kimmy's ass is probably fake. That's what I call a moneymaker. The question that comes to mind for me is, are we solely left to be pawns gawking at T&A? Or are these celebrities of pop culture the modern-day Sarah Baartman's and the real pawns of society? I guess my dissension comes from the idea that women are more than JUST their bodies? It's a shame that one woman posing with an ass can minimize the moves made by a thousand women with brains. Granted, if you're one of the aforementioned women, revealing your body is not all you do; it's just the action that resonates the loudest. Feel free to respond, in the meantime, let's jam to the melodies of some decent music (and try to respect the butt on butt action, please).
-MZA.

8) The Brazilian National Team


There is no universe in which this was supposed to happen. For a dozen reasons.
El Selecao, the most successful team in the history of the game, was hosting the World Cup this year. Unbeaten at home in competitive games since 1975, the team went in to the tournament as the overwhelming favorites. After all, they had recently thrashed reigning champions Spain 3-0 at last year's Confederations Cup. The tournament's preparations had also been laden with controversy and protest by the Brazilian people, so nothing short of a victory would have been enough to placate the unsettled masses. What could go wrong?
That's right- they had to spell out Seven- just so we're clear!

Then the Germans showed up in immaculate form. Playing like the champions they would go on to become, they dissected every bit of the Brazilians' game plan and psyche, and were up by 5-0 by half time! The performance was so underwhelming that their 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Netherlands in the next game, a result that would typically be unheard of for Brazil- barely gets mention.
The performance and result rank among the worst in World Cup history, and is definitely the worst by  a host team and favorite.
-SM.

7) Ray Rice


Was there any one person more deflated this year than Ray Rice? But perhaps he was more malevolent scapegoat than sole monster; Rice rightfully became the face of violence against women in 2014. While he still faces an uncertain future in the NFL, an organization that has historically fumbled instances of domestic violence, the league has joined several campaigns to address men's responsibility in the violence against women conundrum. Today, Rice has publicly apologized to society and his now wife over the elevator incident. Can Rice's actions be forgiven or should he be banned forever? Regardless, Rice's fall from grace (from the penthouse to the outhouse) serves as a reminder that we all have to be responsible for our actions. And somebody is always watching. I'm also waiting for the day we can hold Floyd Mayweather responsible for his actions.   
-MZA.

6) Donald Sterling



"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?"
In April, a recorded conversation between Donald Sterling, owner of NBA team The Los Angeles Clippers, and his then-girlfriend were released to TMZ, and exposed to the public his abominable racist side. Among other insanely bigoted rantings, he admonished his girlfriend about 'broadcasting' her friendship with Black people through pictures on social media, bringing them to 'his games', and singled out her acquaintance with Magic Johnson is being disagreeable and embarrassing. In true plantation style, he goes on to explain how minorities are 'just different' and, in essence, lesser than Whites.
So what is so remarkable about an 80 year old white guy who appears to live an insulated life being racist? He is dating a half-black woman, and the very basketball games he is incensed about are played by an overwhelming Black majority. Only a slave-master mentality would have you look down upon those who work for you with such disdain. And if someone as dignified as Magic Johnson is who he has a problem with, then his hate is beyond repair. Also, note that people were calling him to let him know his girlfriend had posted a picture with Johnson: there is a whole 'circle' who feel the way he does. Disheartening (but more on that later)

Sterling was subsequently ejected from the Clippers and banned from the NBA, but not without a fight.
-SM

5) Democrats

Cartoon courtesy A.F. Branco via ComicallyIncorrect.com
Let's be clear, I'm not a fan of Democrats or Republicans. I don't respect the dirty, partisan political tactics used by either of these rivals. However, if I'm ever elected to the U.S. House or Senate, I'll go on record to state that I'll caucus with the Dems. Which explains why I was so disappointed at their showing in the midterm elections this year. I mean, let's be honest, the national Republican victory was as near of an annihilation as we've seen. Worse part is the Dems didn't use Obama like they could have to better their cause, instead alienating him in order to attract voters who are low on the President's approval ratings. Perhaps some of his recent moves/decisions have been too radical for the party of moderates? Normally you'd expect the President to champion his party, speak at rallies for Democratic candidates across the country, and endorse top candidates for office. It would have been smart for the Dems to flex Obama's orating muscle and build off of his pseudo-rockstar status. Instead, we're left in the hands of angry Republicans who waste time & energy by challenging everything Obama does (textbook counter-production). And is it a guarantee that we'll have a Republican in the White House in 2016? Jeb Bush, Chris Christy, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney are all chomping at the bit, while Hillary Clinton is the sole & ideal candidate for the Dems. If that's the case, I'd like to wish Hillary a lot of luck, because these conservatives are tired of Barack's black ass and ready for their own "Change." What's that Aaliyah song?
-MZA.

4) The Torturous Nanny

In November, this disturbing video of Ugandan maid Jolly Tumuhiirwe, slapping, kicking and stomping the toddler she was entrusted to take care of went viral. Not a soul that watched it did not cringe.

The toddler's father had installed cameras in the house after he noticed her limping. The video has cast a dark shadow on the maid profession, which is commonplace in Uganda and other African countries. After a brief trial in which Tumuhiirwe attributed her behavior to loss in her own family and abuse by the child's mother, she was sentenced to four years behind bars. it was the least she deserved.

-SM.

3) 'Post Racial' America

http://media2.s-nbcnews.com/i/newscms/2014_34/630656/140820-michael-brown-ferguson-1930_506586b1b847cd8dd9581b4568af334a.jpg
With the several advances in civil rights and culminating in the 2008 election of Barack Obama, some have dubbed the USA a 'post-racial' society: that is, the country had now rid itself of all racial preference, discrimination and prejudice. A romantic idea, but those in the know knew better. I mean, didn't the country lose its head over an interracial couple in a cereal commercial just last year?

Oh how quickly the facade crumbled. After the murders of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner at the hands of law officials who were all not indicted, the people were fed up with the post-racial nonsense. The message was clear. While one community chanted #BlackLivesMatter and #IcantBreathe, another was condemning the dead as thugs who deserved to die. One just has to read the comments section on any race-related issue to realize the depths of division and hate that continue to govern the minds of many in the community. Protests sprouted around the country against the continued persecution of African Americans. The scenes were reminiscent of the 1960s and 1950s Civil Rights Movement. Hell, even the rest of the world up in arms about the atrocities.
But it doesn't end there. You'll hear it in people calling media outlets to call Obama 'a ni**er' to the world. And the subtle implication of this headline about Jay-Z. The historical significance of Kim K's internet-breaking cover. Donald Sterling
Lest the divide seems Black and White, hateful vitriol also reared its ugly head at the border when children from war-torn central American countries seeking refuge in the US were met with chants of "Not our Children, Not our Problem."
Aah, to be the land of the free.
-SM.


2) Mayor Jose Luis Abarca & Wife



While most things on this list are ugly, shameful and frightening, this particular story particularly boggled our minds.

On September 26, students from a teacher's college in the rural town of Ayotzinapa got into buses and vans to nearby Iguala, Mexico to protest the lack of school funding and discriminatory hiring practices. Fearing that the protests would disrupt a speech being given by his politically ambitious wife, Abarca ordered the police to stop the students and 'teach them a lesson.' Six people were shot dead that evening, and the other 43 were bundled into vans and vanished. They were taken to the police station, it is said, and then handed over to a local drugs gang. 
The gang obliged and slaughtered the 43 students and, searches are currently ongoing for their remains. The mayor and his wife have since been arrested.
The gruesome story brings up several disconcerting issues: from a corrupt mayor supported by an equally corrupt police force working closely with the drug gangs who, in turn, are willing to kill dozens at the drop of a pin. And these kids were from a  rural teacher's college protesting about funding- hardly what most would picture to be a political threat to even the most narcissistic and corrupt politician. An incredible story
-SM.

1) The Extremists

American Journalist James Foley Beheaded by ISIS Executioner
For a while, Al Qaeda has been the buzz name for terrorist activity. They had a good(?) run. This year, however, menace took on several new faces; the most pronounced of which was ISIS. After several months of massacring masses across the Middle East, they captured the rest of the world's full attention be reprising the disturbing practice of recorded beheadings of Westerners. How terrifying is ISIS? So terrifying that it sent the US back to War in the Middle East. So terrifying that it sent Western forces into alliance with a Syrian government that had been top of their enemy list just last year. So terrifying they literally made the Al Qaeda jealous! In Africa, Boko Haram was running havoc in Nigeria, with their terror coming to global note after they kidnapped 273 schoolgirls, sparking the hopelessly futile 'Bring Back Our Girls' online campaign (and while Boko Haram will be remembered for the kidnapping, it is important to recognize they have been, and continue to be, killing 100s of other civilians in the region.) Meanwhile, on the other coast, Al Shabab is slaughtering dozens across East Africa, culminating in two back to back attacks that killed just under 100 non-Muslims in Kenya. Before the year was done, the extremist taint would befall even the usually untouched Australia, and while the assailant who held hostage the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney resulting in the death of two women has since been debunked as a lone madman, that he still proclaimed Islamist sentiment in doing so still induced increased global terror.
There are extremists in every culture and for nearly every stance. In the waning weeks of the year, a Pakistani Taliban attack saw 132 lives lost at a school house. Without proliferating xenophobic views, there were 31 firearm attacks at schools in the U.S. from August-December. Are we a nation and world that is infatuated with violence for a "cause?" Is our hatred for others so extreme that we look to torture, kill, and destroy as a means to an end? Humanity can be judged by its treatment for others and if this is any indication of the future, I'm a little scared.


-SM & MZA

Honorable Mentions: Don Lemon, Ann Coulter, FIFA, NFL, Kim Jong Un.
Who is on you Anti-Hero list for 2014?

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