'Tis the season for looking back in list form and I'm not immune for that sort of easy clickbait, so let's look back at The Year in Stupid.
2015 was the year when EVERYTHING was declared offensive. In fact, I'm pretty sure that someone, somewhere, is offended by my mentioning people finding things offensive.
It was also the year that a select few saw that, no matter what they try, popular culture will always be in the wrong in the eyes of the new class of professionally offended people who write thinkpieces for websites.
Let's use sexism as an example.
Hollywood does have a sexism problem. They don't know what to do with female stars and female audiences like they did in the allegedly more sexist Golden Age, when both female stars and audiences were much bigger box-office players. However, modern Hollywood sexism is trapped in a never ending circle of offense. Even when they try to appease or even please their critics they still get crapped on.
Critics complain that there are not enough stories being made about the accomplishments of historic women. Hollywood responds with Suffragette, a lavish period drama about the fight of women to get the vote. Then Suffragette is almost immediately condemned as being too white and middle class to do anything but be offensive to modern audiences. (Ironically, a complaint made about the real suffragette movement at the time...)
Critics complain that there are not enough competent female heroes on the screen, so Hollywood gives them Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, who is tough, competent, and capable of tackling any problem. Many of the same critics then condemn the film and the character as a "Mary Sue" a female character who is "too perfect" to be believed.
There is literally just no pleasing some folks.
The greatest irony is that when there is something that just reeks of sexism, it's treated as a victory. I'm talking about the all-women reboot of Ghostbusters. Hollywood is literally tossing women the scraps of a franchise that's been dead for over 25 years, instead of creating something new and original, and it's seen as a victory for feminism.
To borrow a phrase from Admiral Ackbar: "IT'S A TRAP!"
If the film succeeds, the credit will go to the affection people have for the Ghostbusters franchise, the studios will go ahead with the planned all-male reboot, and forget about doing sequels with the women.
If the film flops, the blame will be put on its female stars.
Yet I appear to be the only person who sees this.
Ironically, I'm not offended by it, just saddened.
After they dropped $4 billion on his lap, Lucas called Disney "white slavers" because they revived the long moribund and once creatively bankrupt Star Wars franchise sans Lucas and his whims like Jar-Jar Binks.
George, I love ya for creating Star Wars, but you're driving me crazy with this sort of spoiled brat chatter. It was nice that you apologized, but maybe you shouldn't have said it in the first place, right when people were about to forgive you for the prequels?
My problem is not with the movie itself. It apparently got lots of good reviews. My problem is with the title.
It's hard to sell a Western, but calling a Western Slow West is about as smart as naming a play THEATRE CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS.
It's going to turn audiences away.
What producer or distributor allowed themselves to be convinced that it was a good title for a a movie?
It makes the film sound pretentious, annoying, and, most of all slow, and audiences hate slow and will avoid anything that literally promises slowness in the title and makes the film lucky to pull in the $200,000 it did at the box-office.
Not seeing that means those who green-lit that title should probably reconsider their career choices.
Now this isn't an entertainment or pop culture story, but it does have some lessons people in any business can learn.
Martin Shkreli is that Millennial multimillionaire who took over a drug company and immediately jacked up the price of one particular drug (for people with compromised immune systems) by about 7000%. He claimed he was going to kick the profits back into research and development, but his lifestyle, business record, and overall attitude about everything made everyone doubt his word.
In fact, when he was arrested and arraigned on running a high finance Ponzi scheme the internet pretty well cheered in unison.
Which brings me to the lesson:
A little known fact about business life is that no matter how honest an American businessperson strives to be, they commit on average several felonies a day without even knowing it. This number goes up exponentially the higher up you go in the financial food chain.
The majority of these felonies are violations of obscure federal regulations that even the regulators don't fully understand.
That creates an interesting situation.
First, there are laws that everyone breaks, but since they're so complicated and obscure, they're selectively prosecuted.
Second, if you want to be prosecuted for something, be a business person that makes himself a politically attractive target.
Which means that Shrkreli was nowhere near as smart as his ego told him he was or he would have seen that coming.
If Conrad Black could be convicted of a crime that never happened, then any businessperson can become a pelt on a prosecutor's wall. So be honest, be straight, and for the love of Xenu, don't make yourself a target.
There's been a lot more stupidity this year, but I've decided to just let it go, and pray that 2016 will be a lot smarter.
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