The Summer of 2014’s MVP

imageTo see the Summer of 2014’s Least Valuable Players, click HERE.

In a summer like the summer of 2014, a summer consisting of various war/conflicts and Ebola outbreaks and a Sarah Palin “news” channel, Most Valuable Players were more important than ever. The MVP(s) of the summer of 2014 needed to be the person, persons or thing that created the best distraction from all the bummers and hummers that dominated our lives throughout this summer. They needed to make us smile, laugh, cheer. They needed to make us feel good, not just about ourselves, but about our country, our way of life.

The MVP(s) of the Summer 2014- they were to be Masters of Distractions.

Giddy Up America’s Summer ’14 Most Valuable Player

10. Bachelor in Paradise

Is it a great show? Or is the greatest show? That’s a hard question. Bachelor in Paradise is definitely one of the most entertaining things to come down the pike in a while, chalk full of plenty of delicious wait…what? moments and more cringe-inducing acts than a person is almost able to handle in a two hour period. Almost.

If for some reason…and I have no clue what this reason could be…you’re not familiar with The Greatest Television Show of the Summer if Not Ever, then let me quickly bring you up to speed. A collection of rejects, some of the more colorful ones, from past seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are in “paradise,” paradise being a beachfront villa somewhere in Mexico with nothing but their bathing suits, lustful gazes, booze and questionable definitions of what love means. These delightful dim bulbs are there to find love because even though the majority of them are incredibly attractive and not even thirty, they are convinced that they’ll never find love. Because again, none of them might know what love actually is. Each contestant essentially has a day to strike up a connection with another contestant, followed by a rose ceremony where that contestant hopefully gives the other contestant a rose- saving them and keeping them in paradise. No rose, no paradise. But then, in what seems like every other day, a new contestant comes striding down the beach, date card in hand.

Does it get awkward? Hell yeah it gets awkward!

But does it get awesome? Hell yeah it gets awesome!

The only bummer about this show is that it’s ending. Why not go on forever? Why not make it a next logical step for other Bachelor/Bachelorette rejects? ABC is sitting on a gold mine and doesn’t even know it.

9. Summer Music Festivals’ Spotify Playlists

Spotify Radio is at best, mildly reliable. The Discover feature is just plain confusing sometimes. Spotify as a whole is pretty great, but sometimes you need to do some digging to make it interesting. One way to make the experience more enjoyable and ultimately more educational- playlists curated by some of the summer’s biggest music festivals. Bonnaroo, Made in America, Firefly, Governor’s Ball. They all rocked the shit out of Spotify when it comes to creating playlists. Playlists featuring their artists, playlists curated by their artists, playlists of sets, playlists of themes. Searching a festival and then perusing their public playlists became an endlessly enjoyable way to discover new music. You didn’t even have to crap in a disgustingly overused shitter to do so! Bonus!

8. Michelle Beadle

The whole Ray Rice suspension mess brought a lot of people down with it- whether it was Rice, the Ravens, the NFL, the NFL Network or ESPN. One person who came away clean though was ESPN’s Michelle Beadle. A long-time fan favorite, Beadle threw the hammer down on fellow ESPNer Stephen A. Smith, after he went on a tangent about domestic violence and that if women don’t want to get beaten up, then don’t ask for it. His comments definitely made waves, but until Beadle took to Twitter to respond, no one from inside ESPN’s fortress of solitude had really said that much about Smith’s comments.

Beadle jumping into the fray prompted a nut ball reaction from Smith and seemed to open the flood gates for criticism towards the loud mouth for his asinine comments. Beadle had long been one of ESPN’s most entertaining personalities. But on that day in July, she became one of it’s most respected.

7. Orlando Bloom

Sometimes details matter. Sometimes they don’t. When it comes to Orlando Bloom’s altercation with Justin Bieber in Ibiza this summer, we don’t give a eff about details! Who started it? Who ended it? Was a punch thrown? Was a punch even landed? Who gives a shit! All that matters is that someone finally stood up to Bieber. And whatever, Ibiza sounds like a made up place anyway. So why not make up the details of the whole Bloom/Bieber fracas?

It was dark, the night was full of terror…and the sweet scent of Leonardo DiCaprio. Orlando Bloom sipped red wine from a chalice made of Lord of the Rings’ fan fiction. Just then, as thunder could be heard in the distance, Justin Bieber strolled in, all seventeen of his bodyguards in tow. His shirt was two sizes too large- Bieber don’t care. Bieber got swag. Bieber got too close to Bloom’s table, causing Bloom to throw some shade in his direction. Bieber responded with the mature, “I boinked you wife, brah.” Bloom looked at Leo, who nodded in approval, and then jumped up, yelling some wild Australian aborigine war cry. Bloom then unleashed a hellfire torrent of punches and round house kicks on Bieber, who was helpless to defend himself, resorting to calling out for his bodyguards- Prancer, Vixen, Dancer, Dasher, HELP ME!!! The bodyguards, slightly amused by the beating brought down on their employer, finally intervened, but not before asking Legolas for an autograph. Bloom obliged, because Bloom is a gentleman. The bodyguards then carried a bloodied and soiled Bieber away. The restaurant erupted into cheers. Night time became day time. Trumpets blared and from the kitchen, the chef produced the biggest lobster anyway had ever scene. A bus boy handed Bloom a bow and arrow, in which Bloom promptly squared up and fired a flaming arrow into the lobster’s back side. Game, set, match, Leonardo said, as he stood, clapping ever so distinctly.

6. Jay Z and Beyonce

Divorce, shamorce. Jay Z and Beyonce aren’t getting divorced, so save your tears. What they are doing is constantly entertaining America. Concerts, elevator spats, videos and more. Sorry Obamas, but the Carters are America’s first family.

5. LeBron James

When LeBron left Cleveland for Miami a couple years ago, few could have thought that Cleveland would ever embrace him again. That is unless he came back. And that is unless he came back with remarkable (albeit very well-scripted) grace. And that is if he told Miami to eff off in the process. LeBron did the almost unthinkable and with one letter totally redeemed himself. It was already becoming easier to root for LeBron, his greatness saw to that. But now? Now that he’s back with the Cavs? Well now it’s not just easy to root for LeBron, but way super acceptable. LeBron was never a good enough villain anyway. We never hated him. We were annoyed by him; frustrated by him. But we never really hated him. Dwayne Wade is a villain. Alex Rodriguez is a villain. Whoever made that shitty Green Lantern movie is a villain.

LeBron James?

LeBron James is not a villain.

LeBron James is an American hero again.

For now at least.

We’re kind of, sort of fickle like that.

4. Chris Pratt

For a week or so there, after the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Internet went off the deep end with it’s love affair with Pratt. It almost got excessive. BuzzFeed by itself was averaging what seemed like five or six Pratt-related posts a day. His Ice Bucket Challenge was better than yours, he braided someone’s hair, he rapped Eminem songs. He could do no wrong. And as a country, we were totally cool with all of that because quite simply, we’re totally cool with Chris Pratt. A lot of us have been on the Pratt Train for a few years now, thanks to his endlessly charming, hilarious and endearing role as Andy Dywer on Parks and Recreation, the second best comedy on television after Veep. But us early passengers on the PT could have never imagined Pratt’s career would veer off in the direction it has. Homeboy is a certifiable big-time Hollywood movie star. He could have been the next Kramer, but became the next Elaine instead.

It really is kind of nuts.

Pratt went from this…

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To this…

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But no matter what version of Chris Pratt is entertaining America, it really doesn’t matter. Just as long as he is.

Because then?

Everything is awesome.

anigif_enhanced-5826-1406741373-20

3. Twitter as a Real News Source

As previously mentioned, a lot of shit went down this summer. It was so much shit and shit flying around so effin’ fast, traditional news outlets like the 6 o’clock news and newspapers, and even their off shoots, like websites and 24 hour news’ networks, really couldn’t keep up. As a result, Twitter…yes, that Twitter, the same thing that provides an outlet for Jaden Smith’s musings, Kanye West’s rants and politicians to tweet ridiculous shit that they then delete and then claim was done by a hacker, had become a legitimate source of information. Whether it was Ukraine, missing airplanes, Israel, Ferguson it didn’t matter. Twitter was there, on the ground and on the scene, providing minute by minute and second by second coverage. The Ferguson protests especially were down right captivating when followed via Twitter, as journalists essentially live tweeted the protests and the resulting chaos that followed. By the time news stories were traditionally packaged and delivered to us, the story had already been effectively told and digested via Twitter.

Twitter really grew up this year.

Can’t really say I saw that coming.

2. Jon Oliver

Monday mornings this summer had one constant- clips from Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver dominating and winning the Internet. No one really questioned how successful Oliver’s HBO show would be, although some people wondered if it’d be nothing more than a The Daily Show knock off with eff bombs. Breaking News: it wasn’t. Sure, Last Week Tonight has some similarities to The Daily Show, but nothing that would cry out carbon copy. In the same way The Colbert Report used The Daily Show as a launching pad stylistically, so did Last Week Tonight. Oliver’s show also quickly developed a format that worked- quick rundown of the week’s stories in the A Block, a 10-15 minute topical piece in the B Block and short send off in the C Block. It was those B Block segments that seemed to garner the most attention and have the most momentum when it came to the Internet on Monday mornings. Prisons, FIFA, Payday Loans, Net Neutrality and more- Oliver tackled subjects that would seem both complicated and humorless with ease. He broke them down in ways that made them easy to understand, then skewered the absolute shit out of them.

He even managed to bring back Right Said Fred into our collective consciousness.


And he would have been the MVP of the Summer of 2014, if not for those pesky Americans…

1. Tim Howard and the US Men’s National Team

There was no better distraction for us this summer than the American squad that made a surprisingly strong run during this summer’s World Cup. For a few weeks, they dominated conversations, winning over the hearts and minds with laser-like precision. When they were slotted into this Cup’s Group of Death- consisting of future champion Germany, Portugal and Ghana, they were widely considered to be on the first train out of Brazil once Group Stage ended. But then the feisty Americans came out of the gate beating Ghana, then tying Portugal, when Portugal scored on a heart-breaking last minute goal in Stoppage Time. The U.S. then rounded out Group Stage with a 1-0 loss to the Germans. But thanks to some luck and the results of the Group Stage, the U.S. emerged from Group Stage, eventually losing in their first game in the Round of 16 to a tough Belgium squad. But the result almost didn’t matter. It was all about the journey.

The USMNT were a relate-able gang of dudes and were wildly easy to root for. They weren’t the most talented squad in the 2014 World Cup, but definitely one of the teams with the most grit and heart. And then as an added bonus, they played their matches at very American audience-friendly times (something that unfortunately will not be the case in 2018, when the Cup is in Russia…wait…Russia??? Yes, Russia. Like, the same Russia that is basically invading Ukraine right now? Yes, that Russia. Well, that doesn’t seem right. No it doesn’t. How can that be? I’ll let Jon Oliver explain FIFA to you, then it should make some sense.)

Brief Intermission While You Watch That Clip

Anyway, US games were played in the evening or late afternoon, making it incredibly easy for people to watch. And watch they did. Ratings increased dramatically with each match. By the time the US played Belgium, soccer hysteria was at a fever pitch and the popularity of Belgium waffles were in swift decline. Americans around the country…well, except for Ann Coulter, dipped out of work early to catch the match. The loss was disappointing, but the way the team lost sure as hell wasn’t, especially the play of goalie Tim Howard. Howard played the game of his life, breaking the record for saves in a single game. He single-handily kept the U.S. in the game, with dramatic save after dramatic save. For a hot minute, someone altered Howard’s Wikipedia page, listing him as U.S. Secretary of Defense…something the actual U.S. Secretary of Defense agreed with.

Following the U.S.’s loss, the Cup was only slightly less interesting. The remaining teams each had their merits and things that a casual U.S. fan could latch onto. For a shade less than a month, soccer was the most popular sport in America. While that roughly translated into maybe 3 new MLS fans, it did create a good amount of stateside interest in the English Premier League, especially in Everton, the club Howard plays for.

But for a couple magical weeks, America had the distraction it needed. Water cooler conversation didn’t need to be about all the absolute shit happening in the world or the ass clowns ruining things for the rest of us. People could talk about Howard’s greatness, the young speedsters the U.S. had coming off it’s bench, Jermaine Jones’ rocket of a goal versus Portugal, and whether or not Jurgen Klinsman had to pick his kids up from soccer practice later (you know, because he looked like a soccer dad with his polo and khakis.) The World Cup was fun in a fun-deprived time. It turned television channels, it altered moods, it sparked new conversations.

And they didn’t even win.

And that didn’t even matter!

America, typically a results-orientated country was totally hip with enjoying the ride.

Maybe it was a great summer after all.

Chris Pratt gifs – BuzzFeed

 

 

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