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This article was published on December 31, 2016

Fuck 2016: An ode to all that is awful

Fuck 2016: An ode to all that is awful
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

2016 was the Gregorian calendar’s version of venereal disease. Dropping a glorified disco ball and shouting ‘Happy New Year’ will ease the symptoms, but like VD you’ll never shake the feeling that fewer bad decisions could have kept it from happening in the first place.

Unfortunately, they don’t make prophylactics for a bad year. If they had, though, we might have prevented the stinging piss that accompanied this one.

It didn’t come without warning. We should have known what awaited after a glance at the calendar; it was a leap year. The last thing anyone wants in an election year is an extra day. I’m not saying it’s Earth’s fault, but I will say that if it could have picked up the pace just a tad we could have avoided the need for 24 additional hours. You could argue the extra day had as much potential to be good as it did bad, but it doesn’t matter; the leap year is a culmination of four years of less-than-motivated rotation and we should all demand better.

2016 is almost over, but before we move on we have things to discuss, to remember, and to whip our dicks out for to ensure this never happens again.

2016 Killed some our favorite celebrities


The year started off on a sour note we lost music icon David Bowie. Bowie, who had just turned 69 two days prior — and released a new album, ‘Blackstar’ — lost his battle with liver cancer after an 18 month battle with the disease. The gender-bending music icon, and his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, had a storied carrier spanning back to the 70s and left millions of fans to mourn his passing.

After his death, tech companies celebrated his life with some really nice gestures ranging from an emoji that’s ‘not’ Bowie (but totally is), to a Skype livestream of a Bowie tribute show.

The hits just kept on comin’ when we lost another musical icon. Following a 911 call that an unidentified man was unconscious, the man — later identified as Prince — was pronounced dead just 19 minutes after first responders arrived on the scene. This would be as good a time as any to queue up ‘When Doves Cry.’ Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Prince’s death led to an outpouring of support by fans, including President Obama. Tech companies followed suit with a Google doodle, Snapchat filter, and Twitter memorial.

I could go on for days with what a rough year 2016 was for celebrities: Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman, Dave Mirra, Arnold Palmer, Harper Lee, Nancy Reagan, Jose Fernandez, Gary Shandling, Phife Dog, Merle Haggard, Muhammad Ali, Gordie Howe, Pat Summit, Leonard Cohen, Janet Reno, Florence Henderson, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, all dead. Hell, even Miss Cleo died; I bet she didn’t see that one coming. And if that weren’t bad enough, in recent days we lost Princess Leia herself, noted feminist badass Carrie Fisher. To show what a dick 2016 was, it took her mom, Debbie Reynolds, shortly after.

Apple battles the FBI

In 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook opened fire at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California — killing 14 and leaving 22 seriously injured. As the calendar rolled over to 2016, we hadn’t heard the last of Farook’s name. The deceased terrorist left behind an iPhone 5C, which the FBI deemed crucial to its investigation. The agency needed Apple’s help to unlock it.

On February 9, the FBI got a court order to compel Apple to unlock Farook’s iPhone. Apple was all like:

Ultimately the back and forth escalated to the federal level. The FBI wanted Apple to create a new version of iOS to push to the phone in hopes it could access what was inside. Apple, on the other hand, took the common sense route by essentially telling the FBI it didn’t work that way — unlocking one iPhone put all other iPhone users in danger.

The night before the case was to be heard by Congress, the FBI announced it had found a third-party to help it access the phone. It’s an end to this case, but there are many more just like it.


In March, Hulk Hogan — aka Terry Bollea — was awarded $140 million in damages by a Florida jury after suing Gawker for invasion of privacy. The lawsuit stemmed from a sex tape featuring Bollea having sex with his friend’s wife. In case that wasn’t Jerry Springer enough for you, the man that let Bollea Hulk Smash his wife was known in casual circles as — wait for it — Bubba the Love Sponge. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

After being ordered to take down the edited video clip, Gawker refused. The site then publicly thumbed its nose at the judicial process with the statement: “A judge told us to take down our Hulk Hogan sex tape post. We won’t.” Bad move, Gawker.

In the ultimate, ‘but wait, there’s more’ moment, we found out later that the suit was financed by Peter Thiel, whom the site outed as gay years earlier. You could argue Gawker had it coming, or you can be pissed that billionaires hold this level of influence over the press — there’s really no wrong answer.

The lawsuit ended in a $31 million settlement months later. This bankrupted the maligned website and led to its less-hated properties being scooped up by Fusion.


On May 28, a three-year-old boy climbed into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Inside was Harambe, a 17-year-old Western lowland gorilla that was less-than-stoked about the idea of babysitting a toddler; we feel you, Harambe. Still, though, Harambe dutifully carried out his task by standing over the boy in the moat and feigning interest while the toddler splashed around. We’ve all been there.

Shit hit the fan, though, when Harambe dragged the toddler to the other end of the enclosure. Ultimately zookeeper’s felt it was best to shoot and kill the gorilla to protect the boy.

We can debate all we want about what would have happened had the zookeepers let it play out, but the fact of the matter is a gorilla is dead, and a three-year-old now has a really cool story to tell over apple juice once he starts preschool.

For some reason, Harambe’s tragic death turned into one of the most popular rallying cries — and hashtags — of 2016: #DicksOutForHarambe — I really don’t understand the internet; I just work here.


In June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. They also created a pretty clever name for this, ‘Brexit’ — which is shorthand for ‘British Exit’ in case you’re starting your New Year’s Eve drinking a bit early. By the way, ‘clever’ in this context should be taken to mean the same sort of clever as those trucks with the balls hanging off the trailer hitch.

There were a multitude of reasons Brits voted to exit the EU — some of them factual and most, well, not. The surprising part might have been in the days after the vote when it turns out many of those voting to leave didn’t actually understand their votes counted, and others weren’t even sure what Brexit was.

Being American, I’d like to take the moral high ground here, but just a few months later we elected a giant talking Cheeto to lead our country. We should grab some beers, UK.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

In the ultimate sign of treachery, even our trusty cellphones betrayed us in 2016. All told, Samsung was forced to recall some 2.5 million handsets after dozens exploded, some causing serious harm to users. Several airlines banned the pocket-sized incendiary devices after the initial reports, leading to the FAA imposing a ban on them nationwide. Now, the pocket rocket is banned on most international flights too.

If there’s a bright side, it’s that we got some really great memes out of it — the Note 7 even became the punchline of an Obama joke and made an appearance in GTA 5 before Samsung decided to take its (exploding) ball and go home.


Credit: jejim / Shutterstock

Ah, Yahoo. Once one of the world’s largest and most innovative businesses, Yahoo now is merely a tool for fantasy football and ridicule. Don’t believe me? Tell someone your email address ends in and watch as they hold back laughter.

Yahoo was purchased this year. So, there’s that. I don’t have much to say about it because if we’re being honest, nobody really cares. At the height of its popularity, the site was worth a reported $125 billion; it sold for comparative chump change at $4.8 billion. To put it into perspective, Yahoo bought microblogging platform Tumblr for $1.1 billion just three years prior. Now it’ll be added to the scrap heap.

More concerning — especially in regards to what a terrible year it was — Yahoo was the victim of not one, but two, of the biggest hacks in history. First, a hack from 2014 that was “discovered” (more on that in a moment) this year reportedly affected 500 million Yahoo users. An unrelated hack from a year earlier affected 1.1 billion accounts.

Security had taken a back seat at Yahoo for some time now. It’s no secret that top security brass had very public clashes with upper management, including CEO Marissa Mayer, over the inconvenience or cost associated with bringing the site into the 21st century security-wise. Reports also suggest they may have known about one — or even both — without disclosing the extent of the damage to users or potential buyers. Between the 2012 hack (450 million), 2013 hack (1 billion), and 2014 hack (500 million), you really have to wonder what it would have taken for Yahoo to get the memo. If you think Yahoo’s security team just didn’t notice hacks of this magnitude years-later, you’re probably going to want to go back to the kiddie table while the adults chat for a bit.


Luckily 2016 is coming to an end. Like American’s do though, we haven’t quite recognized the danger posed by fire. Instead of walking away, or better still, extinguishing it, we flip on the camera and have someone hold our beer while see just how much worse can make it. The election was this moment for us. It provided such an explosive ending to 2016 the only thing left to compare it to is the Galaxy Note 7.

I’m foggy on theology, but I believe prophecy warned of a braggadocios asshole that boasts about dick size in a debate, allegedly sexually assaulted no fewer than 18 women, mocks disabled reporters, calls an entire race rapists, and plans to ban 1.7 billion muslims from entering North Korea The United States. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is undoubtedly a sign of the apocalypse.

If there’s a bright side, it’s that Donald Trump could be the bullet that saves us from any additional suffering — so long as Russia can find our temple with it.

Fake news causes real danger

Trust in media is at an all-time low. You’ll probably see the finger pointed at CNN, The New York Times, or Fox News, but if you want to know the actual culprit look no further than your Facebook feed. It’s a complicated issue, but it’s hard to trust traditional media sources when pop-up websites are confirming your bias with ridiculous headlines like: “Obama caught fasting for Ramadan” or “Hillary Clinton behind child sex ring.” For the tinfoil hat-wearing populace, these stories reverberate within an echo chamber until they become more and more plausible. Ultimately, these people then start blaming mainstream media for “covering up” the news. Never mind the fact that traditional media would be covering sensational stories like this in a second if there was any hard evidence they were true.

Fake news isn’t a new problem, but 2016  brought to life just how big an issue it was. It spiraled out of control in the months leading up to the presidential election and actually became dangerous shortly after.

In December, a man with a gun walked into a DC-area pizzeria to “investigate” claims of a Clinton child sex ring operating out of this location. The news story was, of course, fake. Fake news doesn’t matter, though, when you have a real gun capable of firing real bullets — which the man did.

Luckily, no one was hurt. The situation, though, brought the realization that fake narratives could lead to real injury (or death) outside of DC vs Marvel debates at Comic-Con.

New beginnings

Midnight is almost upon us, and 2017 brings with it a fresh slate. As the year comes to a close, we’ll be left with the scars of what we’ve done, but the knowledge that time will minimize their appearance. We can’t erase a bad year, but we can grow from it to become stronger, wiser, and more genuine versions of ourselves — both personally and collectively.

It’s almost time to go, but before I do, let’s all say it one more time, in unison: fuck 2016.

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