The summer of 2016 is starting to wind down. I don’t know about you, but I was cool with this summer. Truth be told, I like all summers. Summer is fantastic. Summer is awesome. You like wearing sweaters- cool, have fall. No one wants winter except for mountain folk and come on, spring? Please. No one likes spring. People can say they do but what they’re really saying is that they’re really glad winter is over and anxious for summer.
Every summer has a MVP – a person, place or a thing that helps make the summer even better. Maybe they made us laugh, maybe they made us think. However they went about it and whatever they might have done – ultimately they improved the summer in one way or the other.
In 2013, the first year I did this, we had co-MVPs. Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus shared the honor. In 2014, Tim Howard and the US Men’s National Soccer Team ran away with the MVP award. In 2015 an award was not formally given due to a labor strike, but all signs pointed to the US Women’s National Soccer Team, who won the 2015 Women’s World Cup, winning the award.
Least Valuable Player awards have been either given out or possible winners considered because even though summer is wonderful, non-wonderful things are still out there (i.e. the Ray Rice incident, Roger Goodell, race issues, the Confederate flag, Trump, etc.) The summer of 2016 also has a LVP unfortunately and I think it’s best to get that son of a biscuit out of the way now. Trump? Nope. Ryan Lochte? Nope. Summer movies? Negative. Congratulations goes to…FACEBOOK.
Yes, Facebook is this summer’s Least Valuable Player. Why? Because let’s be honest, Facebook is annoying and has become a force of madness, sadness and torrential badness. There are way to many pictures of food and come on, ease up with the pictures of you drinking or going on vacation. We are all thrilled you got away this summer or got out of the house, but one or two pictures would suffice- not a dozen. Also, the current state of politics in our country is to say the least, divisive. No one can agree on anything and if someone says something you don’t agree with it, God help you if you comment on it because then you’ve essentially thrown a can of gasoline in an already raging dumpster fire. Facebook had a good run and at times, it’s delightful. But on the whole and especially this summer, it’s taken a hit and because of that, congratulations, you are the Summer of 2016’s Least Valuable Player.
Now that that’s out of the way, it’s onto the Most Valuable Players of this summer.
10. Reporters Crushing the Trump Beat
Seeing as how Trump, a demigod partially created by the media and wholly craven of the attention the media provide, has made it a hobby of his to assail the press covering his shit show rallies, major props go to any reporter covering one of his events, let alone his campaign. And there have been a lot good reporters doing work out there over the past year, but I think a few of them have been especially notable. Olivia Nuzzi of The Daily Beast, Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, Sopan Deb of CBS, Chuck Todd on NBC, Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed, Charlie Pierce of Esquire and Matthew Yglesias of Vox have all been all-stars. Katy Tur of NBC has been a straight-up gladiator, providing clear and insightful reporting of Trump events, all while dealing with a barrage of insults and harassment – both in person and on-line.
9. Kim Kardashian West
Dude, she made Taylor Swift a villain (kind of.) All it took was some snapchats outing Swift as a two-faced liar and boom, public opinion was swayed – albeit briefly. It really only lasted a day or two, but hey, that day or two was entertaining.
8. Dave Itzkoff’s Twitter Feed
Itzkoff is a culture reporter for The New York Times, but homeboy has constantly won me over with his work on Twitter…because come on, newspapers, please. He’ll comment on anything and to be honest, does so in a way that’s funnier and wittier than most.
Twitter is a great forum for information sharing and getting the news, but sometimes you just need a sarcastic nerd out there throwing shade.
7. HBO’s The Night Of
Every summer needs one show that we can all rally around, watch religiously and talk about at work the next day. This is especially true now. With all the television shows out there and channels and streaming services – event shows or That One Show That Everyone Is Watching barely exist anymore. Game of Thrones is there, but that might be it right now. Game of Thrones takes the summer off though, meaning that the summer is missing that communal show. Two years ago HBO provided us with one with the first season of True Detective. But last summer they blew it with the second season of True Detective. It became the show everyone either hate-watched or flat-out quit on. HBO rebounded this summer though with The Night Of. The show has been amazing and it’s only reaffirmed my new found love for the limited series. On-going stories are great, but sometimes we want to watch something and get to the ending in one season. My only beef with the show is that HBO should have labeled it the third season of True Detective. That brand deserves to keep going; not to be put to bed.
6. Air Conditioning
It’s been effin’ hot. A lot. It’s been the kind of hot where life is spent running from one air-conditioned space to another.
5. The “Keepin It 1600” Podcast
When Bill Simmons returned after his departure from ESPN with not only his own podcast, but the promise of a stable of podcasts, it was exciting. When he was at Grantland he had started to develop a solid network of shows and it now seemed like he was going even further- creating his own network. One of the best shows has been the network’s politics podcast, “Keepin It 1600.” Hosted by two former members of Obama’s Whitehouse, Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer, the podcast is obviously left-leaning, but it’s also a very common sense, practical take on the very uncommon and less-than practical current state of politics in our country. They also have some great guests – whether they’re former co-workers of theirs or members of the media. They are also starting a second show that will go up earlier in the week, mainly because this election has been so batshit crazy one episode a week isn’t enough.
4. “This Is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris with Rihanna
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s official. This song is our song of the summer. It was the first song to enter the race and now it’s the last one standing. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake gave it a run for it’s money, but I realized earlier this week that you can’t deny “This Is What You Came For.” So congratulations to My Girl RiRi, Calvin Harris and She Who Shall Not Be Named. You done did it again.
3. Bachelor in Paradise
It’s the best show on television. The Night Of is good, even really good. But it’s locked in at second place as long as Bachelor in Paradise is on. The show’s a trainwreck…but in the best possible way. I’d say that so far this season isn’t as good as last season, but we can’t judge it until the dust has settled, the drinks have finished and we’ve managed to uncover what exactly the appeal of Jared is.
That statement without context makes more sense. The fascination with Jared might be one of life’s greatest mysteries – if not life’s greatest mystery.
2. The Summer Olympics
You know, they were…good. It didn’t seem like anything massively bad happened. Michael Phelps was great. So was Simone Biles and the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team. Usain Bolt was, wait for it…more like Insane Bolt. But truth be told, I’m not sure they were great or amazing. I wonder how memorable they’ll be the further away we get from them. I think we’ll remember things like Michael Phelps dominating, Katie Ledecky dominating, Bolt dominating, Biles dominating – but I’m not sure we’ll remember how they dominated. Although that could be a larger issue for the Olympics as whole, both the summer and winter games. Are the Olympics as important as they once were or do they just feel that way and as a result, feel like they should be important and we should be viewing them as such? Either way, they’re the runner up in the summer of 2016 because overall, they were fun to watch and that counts for a lot.
1. The Bullshit Outers
Lying has never been something that as a society we should be cool with and let slide. But for the longest time it seems like it kind of had. I’m not saying we’ve been cool with it, but calling out lying and more specifically, bullshit, has been a more low key, fringe affair. But now with social media it’s become common place. Every speech, every statement is instantly fact-checked by social media- for better or worse. But mostly for the better. When he signed off from The Daily Show, Jon Stewart warned us about the dangers of bullshit and when he left, there was some concern bullshit might go unchecked without him around. But people have filled his shoes. Seth Meyers has been great and a rejuveinated Stephen Colbert has brought back some of the bite that made The Colbert Report so good for so long. Yet maybe the best new Bullshit Outer to hit the scene has been cable news networks, fact-checking Trump in real-time. This is a cute move, but I also think it’s an important one and it shouldn’t be sold short. Trump is telling lies upon lies and he needs to be called out and called out in the clearest way possible, which is what CNN and MSNBC has started doing, even though both were a little late in doing so. Now they have no qualms with calling out both Trump and his surrogates when they need to. Even Kim Kardashian West calling out Taylor Swift had merit and props to Calvin Harris for calling out Swift as well. Calling bullshit on apologists for cops who kill unarmed black men, calling bullshit on Roger Goodell and the NFL, calling bullshit on any number of injustices being thrown around recklessly in our country all are hugely important; more so by the day.
We are an informed society. We shouldn’t tolerate someone being fake, deceitful and frankly, someone spewing bullshit. We have the power to call them out and we should.
And we are. And that’s great. And important. And very much needed, which is why The Bullshit Outers are the Summer of 2016 Most Valuable Player.