Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Vote Now! The 2018 Miserable Crank Awards: Day Three

Here are the candidates for day three of voting for the Miserable Crank Awards of 2018. Don't forget to vote on the Day One Categories and the Day Two Categories!

Sinclair TV
Local TV has its own certain brand of amateur-hour absurdity. This was brought to the fore when the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns almost 200 local stations across the nation. By far the largest such owner, they had sent out that stations should read an "anchor-delivered journalistic responsibility message", which was a weirdly worded, conservative-fueled screed decrying "fake news." It was released like an independently-produced editorial, but its eerie similarity from multiple professional anchors across the nation just made it seem like rank propaganda.

While the Star Wars chapter about a young Han Solo wasn't a disaster, so to speak--it made worldwide $400 million dollars and was favored by critics and fans alike (well, except for Star Wars fans, who hate Star Wars with a passion unparalleled)--it still ended up being a bomb. It didn't help that the entire movie had to basically be reshot and directors changed halfway though, meaning its bloated $300 million budget before marketing was going to be a certain failure almost immediately. 

First Man
The Neil Armstrong biopic didn't start off great--any buzz the movie had was blunted immediately by conservative critics, who lamented that the single solitary iconic visage of the moon landing--planting the American flag on the moon--was not included and, thus, a slap in the face to the nation that actually pulled it off. Audiences themselves weren't thrilled, who seemed to be more interested in a move about the moon landing and not about Neil Armstrong. And Ryan Gosling didn't seem interested at all, sleepwalking through a movie meant to epitomize one of the greatest achievements of Western Civilization.

Chris Hardwick
In the #metoo era, a lot of people were caught in the crossfire, in various degrees of seriousness. Some managed to navigate the issue--see Ansari, Aziz--while others can probably pull it off if they lay low for a bit--see Franco, James. But Chris Hardwick's situation was...different. After his ex-partner Chloe Dykstra alleged (without naming names) a litany of verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse, it was clear she was talking about Hardwick--and as such, he was removed from most of his projects. When Dykstra declined to participate in any investigations, and there didn't appear to be any evidence one way or another, he quietly re-entered the industry. It wasn't a good look for anyone--Hardwick, who almost certainly did some of what was alleged based on what others have said; Dykstra, who wasn't willing to give additional details or even officially name any names, nor the organizations who employed both, who were stuck whatever decision they made.

The Happytime Murders
Everyone loves the Muppets, right? And everyone wants the Muppets to engage in sex, violence, and profanity, right? Wait, no!?! The long-awaited Happytime Murders, a movie that supposes a world where humans and puppets co-exist (similarly to Roger Rabbit) was a pet project of Brian Henson of the Henson family, although not really a "Muppet" move. Despite the star power of Melissa McCarthy and some decent writers, it ended up being an embarrassing bomb.

The return of Roseanne was one of the crowning achievements of this era of remakes and reboots. Set up on network TV--desperate for viewers being chipped away by streaming services--it was met with exceedingly excellent rating. Which, of course, meant that star Roseanne screwed the whole thing up by tweeting some racist things, bringing the whole thing down. They have continued the show without its star, rebranding it as "The Conners" (Harper, paging Valerie Harper) to solid if not fantastic ratings.

Logan Paul
YouTube personality Logan Paul (man, there's a lot of YouTube personalities on the list this year), popular with a lot of preteens, drew ire and shame by celebrities and professionals alike when he released a video from the "suicide forest" in Japan, where an actual victim of suicide was shown. Called tasteless and unsympathetic, he was temporarily banned from many YouTube channels and took a break, returning with a video focusing on suicide prevention.

Papa John
John Schnatter, founder of the Papa John's pizza chain, is no stranger to controversy, having previously made public comments about the NFL National Anthem issue. He finally crossed the line while on a conference call, using a racial epithet and other questionable statements. He ultimately resigned his chairmanship.

Michael Avenatti
The lawyer for Stormy Daniels and a perennial thorn in the side of Donald Trump, he was feted by many activists as a lawyer who got things done, especially in a climate where Robert Muller's official investigation seemed to be moving at a glacier-like pace. He wasn't quite as well-liked by moderates, who saw him as a camera hog in it mostly for Michael Avenatti, and for his support of the shaky Julie Swetnick allegations against Brett Kavanaugh (see below), which may have helped him get confirmed. He even started showing up on polls of the Democratic nominee for President. It all came crashing down, more or less, when he was charged with domestic abuse, and then Stormy Daniels announced that he had taken many steps, including a defamation lawsuit against the President, without her permission.

Brett Kavanaugh
After perennial Supreme Court swing vote justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, the race to pick his replacement was messy. Brett Kavanaugh, already a solidly conservative choice, was met with opposition immediately, as others noted that this would upset the traditional balance of the court. This was amplified when accusations of sexual misconduct came to light, and Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing became a microcosm for the liberal vs conservative divide, the #metoo movement, and a rallying point for abortion supporters and opponents. With a lack of hard evidence, Kavanaugh was squeaked in to the Court.

Straw Bans
In 2018 it became a bit of a cause celeb to come out against straws. Many national restaurant chains started to make straws optional, while some states (like SURPRISE! California) made this mandatory. Banning straws has such a laughably small impact on, well, anything, it feels like virtue signalling at its finest, and was met with a relatively forceful pushback from the disabled community, many of whom require straws. It also enables a bit of crowding out, as people feel like banning straws is "doing their part" and then not taking more effective actions.

Romaine Lettuce
Huge swaths of lettuce were recalled this year due to possibly being affected by the e. coli bacteria. Most vegetables are hard to track the provenance of, so while the outbreak is almost certainly contained to a small distribution, there's no quick and easy way to track it down--and so lettuce met a genocide for a few weeks this winter.

Vape Flavor Restrictions
As the popularity of vaping and e-cigarettes increased, it's no surprise there was some opposition from its appeal to kids. Despite being safer than cigarettes, it's still not healthy, and many "flavored" vape secretions (or whatever--I don't know what the hell is going on) were banned from retail sale (although still available via other outlets).

Swimsuit Competition Cut From Miss America
Bowing to pressure from many feminist and other groups, the Miss America contest finally did away with the Swimsuit Competition portion of their pageant. Or most people assume, since no one has watched the Miss America pageant since 1985.

Earlier this year as a promotion, the Build-A-Bear Workshop chain--a popular toy store allowing kids to customize their stuffed bears--announced that they had a "pay your age" day. Given the high cost of the bears under normal circumstances, this was so hugely popular that it caused disruptions in many of the stores in the United States and the UK, and the promotion had to be shut down part of the way through the day.

 [Voting is now closed.]

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