2014 is finally over. It was shit. Be honest, it was. Even the frankly trivial stuff was eye-gouging worthy. This isn't just because I'm a moody, cynical bastard with low self-esteem who takes out his frustrations on others and isn't creative enough to come up with his own title so he steals one from a TV show (a shit one. Please stop, Charlie, you've dragged a once great show through the mud enough), but because it was. 2014's shit was pretty fucking depressing, but before I mercifully bury it under 2015 I'm going to take one last look back at what defined (read: made shit) 2014.
a.k.a. Cold War II: Electric Boogaloo. Technically this is shit from 2013, but it got fruity in 2014 so it still counts. Tired of being some irrelevant post-Soviet buffer state, Ukraine decided to show its maturity since independence by overthrowing its democratically elected leader with the support of the ex-leader who the leader they overthrew imprisoned after her term ended. I'm actually all for Ukraine's integration into the EU, but doing so by overthrowing your President is not a good idea, and unsurprisingly the Russian-speaking population of Crimea agreed. And where there's Russians, there's Putin. Despite being the largest country in the world it seems there still wasn't enough room for him to swing his balls in, and before you know it Crimea's Russian and WWIII has broken out in Eastern Ukraine. Since then 1,000 people have died, over a million Ukrainians and Russians have been displaced, and a plane's been shot down. But hey, the EU's weaned themselves off Russian oil. Fucking brilliant.
In many ways Crimea was just Putin taking out his frustrations from the Winter Olympics in Sochi. There was no snow, the accommodation for athletes was shit, the Opening Ceremony malfunctioned, and every event he turned up at Russia lost. Oh, and basically the entire world hated him for his stance on gay rights. In many ways though we all got what we deserved for parading in front of the guy in rainbow ski jackets. It's Vladimir-fucking-Putin. He revels in being a Bond villain. Winding him up was the worst thing we could have done, and happily we paid the price.
Also, Canada changed the law so they could all get drunk while watching them win gold in the ice hockey. A shame that they won, really, as Canadian hockey riots are the best kind of riots.
I don't want to talk too much about this one as I feel like I'd be kicking a wounded animal. I'm a twat, but I can be sympathetic when I want to be. I really hope they find the wreckage and that the families get some sort of compensation, even just emotional. That said, as someone who loves aviation and has watched Air Crash Investigation religiously...the pilot can turn off the black box?! That's fucking scary.
The World Cup
As an Englishman I should hate the World Cup, but I don't. I love it. We are the very definition of an average national team: good enough to qualify but not good enough to do fuck all else. Doesn't mean the World Cup isn't addictive, plus it gave me a legitimate excuse to stay up until one in the morning. Course, it was all overshadowed by the fact that FIFA is corrupt to levels North Korea can only aspire to, but does anyone care? Fuck no. FIFA is only on the name of the World Cup. They aren't influencing results (yet), they're just influencing what bribe-rich oil autocracy gets to host it next and spending all of their money on making an awful propaganda film starring Gerard Depardieu. Plus Seth Blatter's had an uninterrupted spell as leader, unlike Putin who had to take a 4-year break and just pull the strings from afar. They should meet up sometime, they'd really hit it off.
UKIP seem pretty pleased with themselves going into 2015, and why not? In just one year they've won an election (the first non Tory or Labour win since about 1916) and got themselves their first ever MP. They won, and the rest of the country lost. For those unaware, UKIP are the Republicans of the UK. They love nothing more than blaming everything on immigration and occasionally coming out with crazy racist shit, but their public approval ratings aren't dropping. Why? Apathy. Our current Prime Minister is a cunt determined to sell off everything to his mates in the City, and the alternative isn't much better. Ed Miliband isn't a disagreeable chap, but he's terrified to offend anyone, probably because a split in his party is waiting to happen and he's determined to keep it together until the election comes. Admirable, but sitting on the fence doesn't win you votes. That leaves UKIP to throw punches, and given your average Englishman in the street apparently hates foreigners and thinks a bloke who is regularly photographed in pubs is relatable the Kippers are on the up. Except for all their relatability UKIP want to take away benefits and privatise the NHS, two things that are often valuable to their predominantly working class support base. The left's response to this? Calling UKIP racist, a not entirely baseless claim but one that won't win them supporters in time for the next election, so don't expect the circus to leave town just yet.
What happens when you've ceased to be relevant in your particular field? You become an activist. Lenny Henry's done it, as has Jason Roberts, but none caught the imagination quite like Russell Brand, who's decided he's had enough of 80s remakes and cash cow animations and ordered Britain not to vote, as that will solve all our problems. Somehow.
Poor Russell, he doesn't even know himself what he's doing. In his first interview he whined to Paxman that he doesn't have all the answers to successfully having a revolution despite ordering us all to have one. I guess while we're stuffing the gunpowder under Parliament it's his job to lay back and be fanned and fed grapes by 20something Guardian readers from Shoreditch. Still, there are positives to come out of this farce: he's using the advance fee from his book to open a café in North London that'll be staffed by rehabilitated drug addicts. Who'll no doubt be back on again once they find Brand's personal stash hidden behind the toilet.
I believed that this TV show would make men rape women until I realised that that would mean ITV2 had cultural influence. Didn't stop 44 comedians signing an open letter condemning the show and its creator, Daniel O'Reilly, a list of names that looked suspiciously like a roll call of irrelevant comics. I only recognised three names, and this is coming from someone who watched stand-up religiously until about 2013. But hey, they succeeded. Dapper Laughs is no more. Cheer up, Daniel, at least you can go back to making Vines about what black and white people be like.
Humanity lands a probe on a comet, a ten-year project that required precise calculations to get right, and they pulled it off. But who cares, cause one guy's wearing a shirt with half-naked women on it. Funny thing is I knew that would cause a storm the second I saw it (that's one thing I succeeded at this year: calling things). Apparently the art of looking away from things you don't like has gone out fashion, given both ends of the spectrum, Nigel Farage and the Guardian, want rid of things that can only affect you for two seconds at most. The best part of all this was the claim that it would discourage women from pursuing science as a career. A shirt. One that he was probably wearing for the first time and likely wouldn't wear again in a work setting. That his female friend made for him.
Surprisingly even the sympathetic rags like the Indy and the Guardian ridiculed this farce, with Julie Bindel saying it discredited feminism. Julie Bindel, the transphobic radfem who thinks she can change her sexuality at the drop of a hat. When Bindel says you're an idiot, you'd better believe it.
It's Braveheart all over again! Well, not quite. Not so much Bannockburn as ballot boxes, and less victory than defeat for nationalists. A 55 to 45 outcome, but two cities voting Yes gives the Scots the leverage they need to keep Westminster shitting themselves for a little while longer. Poor Scotland, struggling to control their land with their own Parliament that's about to be granted even more autonomy. Just think how free they'd be if they'd gotten some coverage on the biased BBC! That pro-Union media monopoly that only allowed Alex Salmond to express his views openly and freely, featured him and his party in several hundred impartial news reports in the build up to the election, and hires pro-independence media figures such as Frankie Boyle and Limmy. Och, the humanity!
But hey, Better Together didn't exactly cover themselves in glory either, what with a sexist TV advert (I don't know, everything is accused of being sexist nowadays so it's easier to just go with the flow) and generally scaremongering their way to victory. This won't work! That won't work! Like the world's most depressing parrot. In the end though they rallied to victory, but it's Salmond who had the last laugh: says a referendum is a once in a generation thing, then resigns so his Deputy who doesn't believe that can take over. Brace yourselves for more.
'DON'T YOU FUCKING DARE OPEN THIS CAN OF WORMS, YOU FUCKING IDIOT!' - akkejakke's inner monologue.
This year I played a lot more video games than usual. I was surprised to discover that not only did feminists not wrench the controller from my hand, smash my entire game collection due to its misogynistic content (replacing them with Gone Home and Depression Quest, which are both progressive works of art) and force me to watch the entire 'Tropes v. Women' series of videos so that I was fully aware of my patriarchal privilege, but also that they didn't make me want to go out and harm women or ethnic minorities in any way, shape or form. Think those views are a bit extreme? Well funnily enough it's what the opposing camps of Gamergate believe.
If anything sums up the shitness of 2014, it's Gamergate. It's the very worst of human behaviour rolled into one ungodly shitheap. It's the lying, the sniping, the factionalism, the tweeting, the propaganda. I'm not going to go on about the harassment, threats and real-life dodginess, as it seems to be coming from both sides (Sarkeesian and Wu receiving rape threats; Boogie having a fire engine sent to his house and Milo having a needle sent to him). Instead I'll tackle both sides for the children that they are.
I've actually followed GG all the way and was there when it started, but I'll be damned if I can tell you what it's about anymore. KotakuInAction, the pro-GGers Reddit hub, is mostly composed of angry comment threads about something one of their enemies have said about them. Not a lot of activism or campaigning or goal-setting, just whining. What is it about then? 'Ethics in games journalism!' comes the cry. Yeah right. Taking Gawker down a notch, more like. Don't get me wrong, Gawker are arseholes, but for lovers of free expression GGers seem very determined to shut up their biggest critic. But it's okay, because unlike their enemies they target their advertisers instead of telling them to shut up.
Which brings me to the anti-GGers. They are no less infantile than their enemy, utterly convinced that everyone who doesn't agree with them 100% wants to murder women and blacks. They claim to support women and ethnic minorities, yet slander those very things if they express opinions that disagree with their own. They claim they're 'not here to take away your games', yet supported a petition to have GTA V removed from Target in Australia. 'Shut up' and 'you're sexist' seems to be the best level of discourse they can muster. That and acting like a victim. Not that I can complain, as it's clearly working. Anti-GGers have been decried as SJWs, and yet people who've often mocked SJWs like Dara O'Briain and Patton Oswalt have thrown their hat onto the side of Anti.
This I feel sums up the problem of Gamergate. As a content creator I see dangerous censorious attitudes among anti-GGers, and pro-GGers have just given them a load of support from previously unsympathetic figures. All in the name of getting revenge. Hit pieces on gamers weren't a new thing – Anita Sarkeesian came about at least a year before Gamergate started, and accusations of sexism levelled at gamers go back to 2012 at least. With Zoe Quinn they saw a chance to hit back at the gaming press, their biggest critics, and foolishly they took it. Rightly or wrongly, gamers have suffered intense trial by media, alienated allies and given credence to ideas which beforehand were laughed out of the room. All of this they could have avoided had they done what they ironically tell anti-GGers to do all the time: ignore their critics.
I hate this entire clusterfuck, frankly. Pro-GGers for their hypocrisy and lack of focus; anti-GGers for their censorious attitude and slander. But the thing I hate most is that in a year of ebola, war, spying cover-ups, torture allegations, persecution, police brutality and widening inequality, the one thing that many internet users have dedicated so much time and energy to has been about video games. Fuck. Off.
And that's it. Farewell 2014. We had a good run, but I think it would be better if we just remained friends. I'll see you to the door. Goodbye now. Don't call.