The silly list, Part 3: A look back at the most ridiculous moments that summed up 2013
Sunday 29 December 2013
20. News: That royal birth in full…
Private Eye was typically gushing in its appraisal of the birth of Prince George.
19. Culture: Chicken coop for the soul
The Bookseller magazine's Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year 2013 went to Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop – a "practical" guide on how to "clear your home and garden of goblins and banish them forever". But the silliest title of the year was Don't Flush: Lifting the Lid on the Science of Poo and Wee, by Mary and Richard Platt – a contender for the Royal Society Young People's Book Prize. Alas, it did not win.
18. News: The car-park king
Obviously, finding the remains of the hump-backed king is an exciting and serious discovery for archaeologists… but for the rest of us, the news that the remains of Richard III were found under a car park in Leicester was slightly amusing. Cue endless jokes about expired parking tickets/his kingdom for a Porsche.
17. Culture: All shook up
It began as just one part of a skit on YouTube, but the video dance craze was soon being copied round the world. The formulaic freak-out went viral, inspiring an estimated 100,000 imitations. While commentators keep calling the meme "dead", new versions kept on coming, notably from the Norwegian Army, Fulham FC, models Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn, the Simpsons… even the English National Ballet.
16. Web: The selfie
A portrait, typically taken with one's own smartphone, came of age this year to such an extent that the Oxford Dictionaries chose it as the word of 2013. We deplored the indulgence of "funeral selfies" and the oversharing of the "rich kids of Instagram" until, at the Memorial for Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and David Cameron outdid us all when they were caught in the act of posing for a selfie with the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. The Sun's headline: No Selfie Respect.
15. Culture: I know you don't want it…
For better or worse, Robin Thicke made one of the songs of the year with "Blurred Lines", described variously as a "bubbly bit of disco-shuffling R&B" and "eye-poppingly misogynist". The video didn't help. Then Students in New Zealand made "Defined Lines" with a video featuring objectified men in place of women, wearing comparably few clothes. The unblurred irony: YouTube pulled it for "inappropriate content".
14. Technology: The last post for posties?
Amazon, DHL, even Yo! Sushi – this was the year that delivery by remote unmanned drone got marketing departments excited. But can a flying robot post a "While you were out" note through your letterbox? We'd love to see it try.
13. Web: Miley wrecked
A bearded, nude, slightly overweight man threatened to out-viral Miley Cyrus with an alarming parody of the formerly child-friendly singer's song, "Wrecking Ball". Steve Kardynal used Chatroulette, the forum that randomly connects users with live webcams, to horrify viewers with his naked take on Miley's salacious original. The clip scored nine million hits in one day.
12. Celebrity: Hairprehension (n)
That feeling when you walk into the office after a new haircut and nervously await the verdict of your colleagues. Jeremy Paxman must have experienced it to the power of 10 when he returned to Newsnight after his summer hols sporting a bold new chin-warmer. Twitter was immediately ablaze. "Very louche and distinguished," remarked one viewer. "He looks like a vagrant," offered another. Within a few hours Paxman's beard had its very own Twitter account, @PaxmanBeard.
11. Celebrity: Cher? Not her as well!
The death of Margaret Thatcher prompted much gnashing of teeth over political legacy and funeral bills. And a Twitter storm in a skinny latte cup when the hashtag #nowthatchersdead (read it out syllable by syllable) went viral and was taken as news that it was Cher who had gone to the great gig in the sky.
10. Web: Zoo TV
Few have better demonstrated the democratic powers of YouTube than MisterEpicMann. His slapstick representation of the way animals would eat if they could sit at a dinner table has earned him almost 100 million views – all for a 90-second clip that would have cost nothing to make. Even his blooper reel has scored more than six million hits.
9. Web: #penisbeaker
"Do you dunk your penis?" Sara Crewe quietly posted on the Mumsnet parenting website. "We have a dedicated post-sex cleanup area on the bedside table. A box of tissues, a small bin, and a beaker of clean water for temporary cleaning/dunking while the bathroom is occupied by me." Cue instant viral notoriety.
8. Culture: Virgil, Chaucer, Morrissey…
The decision by Penguin to publish Morrissey's k autobiography in its first edition as a Penguin Classic – ranking it alongside The Aeneid and The Canterbury Tales – is officially the silliest publishing decision of the year.
7. Politics: Crack team
This is exciting: Paul Flowers, the former chairman of Co-op Bank and a Methodist minister; Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto – if we can find just one more portly authority figure allegedly dabbling in crack, we can get a Tumblr page up and running.
6. Technology: Slip into something a little more digital
This is the year that wearable technology got serious. And then again, not so much… The speccy computer Google Glass was daft enough, as was Samsung's computer watch. Then came news that Google had also developed a talking shoe. Sony, feeling left out, filed a patent for something called a SmartWig. Don't wear them all at once…
5. Celebrity: The rule of J-Law
It's every Hollywood star's nightmare: she tripped while climbing the steps to collect that best actress gong – though looking at the enormous meringue-style Dior dress she was wearing, it's little wonder. But her klutziness, her mortification, and her flip-the-bird response to questions about it at the press conference… it just intensified the universal Jennifer Lawrence crush
4. News: Financial armageddon
In a bad year all round for the City of London came news that one of its spanky new skyscrapers, 20 Fenchurch Street, didn't just look like a 37-storey tall walkie- talkie, it also had a death ray! Or rather, at a certain time on a clear day, the sun's beams were briefly reflected and concentrated on one spot below – in the case of Martin Lindsay in September, on to his Jaguar, melting its wing mirror and a panel.
3. Politics: Herr Farage
The Ukip leader Nigel Farage was on the BBC busy defending himself against all sorts of allegations about off-colour goings-on as a young man, when, alas!, a transmission glitch appeared to endow Farage with a moustache last seen on a political leader who liked Europe so much he decided to invade most of it 70 years ago.
2. Culture: Mutant food!
It was a year of mad cross-breeding in the bakery: the cronut (croissant and doughnut); the townie (tartlette and brownie); the brookie (brownie and cookie); the muffle (muffin plus waffle); the macanut (macaroon and doughnut); the peanoche (peanut butter-infused brioche); the duffin (doughnut and muffin). One of these is completely made up by the way…
1. Celebrity: Foaming at the mouth
When confronted by the sight of Miley Cyrus's gyrating backside at the MTV awards, many of us felt a deep confusion. Was this just terrible dancing? An example of racist appropriation? Or a major setback for feminism? Oh no. According to Steve Chmelar, inventor of the giant foam finger, this was much, much worse: "She took an honourable icon that is seen in sporting venues everywhere and degraded it. Fortunately, the foam finger has been around long enough that it will survive this incident."
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