It’s funny how values and societal norms can divide the entirety of a community, whether it’s an online blog, a group of women at a book club, or all of Spike TV’s viewership. Some issues, no matter how benign, serve no other purpose than to transcend public opinion and serve as talking points.
On the other hand, some are so ludicrously stupid it’s possible that any further discussion will lead to irreparable brain damage. Here are six controversies that never should’ve happened.
6. The Obama Chia pet
2008 was a simpler time. We were in the middle of a crippling economic downturn, LeBron James and company were beating the ever-loving bejesus out of several timid Eastern European countries in the Beijing Olympics, and we had just elected our first black president. Barack Obama, while he himself is subject of much controversy, acted as the United States presidential Jackie Robinson by securing a place in the Oval Office. Naturally, companies sought to benefit off of B-Rack’s not old white-guy face, because the prospect of a young, hip president offered an unlimited amount of mass appeal. Of course, Chia decided to stake their claim to some Obama money; by opting to replicate the Commander in Chiefs bust in unflattering burn orange in the hopes of creating a Chia Pet. And did they ever.
At best, that’s the most racist thing I’ve ever seen. At worst, the operators of the Chia corporation should be tried for a hate crime. In addition to making the President of the United States look like an abundantly more cartoonish caricature of Dennis Rodman, they also (hopefully unknowingly) unleashed a Dom Imus-esque level of cultural insensitivity involving B-Rack’s hair. As you can see, continual watering of the Chia will lead your president to grow a bodacious 1960’s afro that would rival that of Eddie Griffin in his 2002 masterpiece “Undercover Brother.” Of course, the Chia creators didn’t mean to invent a horribly racist product; at least, not like the United States Supreme Court…
5. Plessy v. Ferguson
The beginning of the 20th century was a pretty great time in United State’s history: while we weren’t mass producing Chia pets, we were in the growing stages of the some of the largest technological advancements since the Industrial Revolution. The first flight, first movie theatre, and first radio broadcast all occurred in a 10-year period, while air conditioning and separate but equal laws were also erected. Wait..seperate but equal laws? Those are bad, right? Correct.
You see, in 1896 the United States Supreme Court decided to sit down and discuss the Constitutionality of “Jim Crow laws”, or as your weird great aunt calls them, “laws that kept blacks out of white restrooms”. You see, before MLK blazed a trail of civil rights and cultural understanding, the southern part of our great country had adopted laws such as “if you’re black you can drink from a water fountain, but not the same one as a white person.” Unfortunately, if you happened to be black and lived in Mississippi in 1896, your drinking fountain was likely contaminated with super-AIDS, while the “white” drinking fountain spewed forth the finest and most crystal of clear water. That year, the Supreme Court stepped in to draw a heroic conclusion; Jim Crow laws are wrong! Yay, so now racism is over, right? Haha, nope!! In fact, in a move that’s probably even more racist, the Supreme Court decided (in a 7-1 decision, mind you) that separate amenities could be maintained for black and white folks, but they must be held to similar standards. So basically, they allowed the south to continue segregating an entire race of people, just as long as they made sure the separate bathrooms weren’t smeared with Swastikas made of feces. Thankfully, the decision was finally overturned in 1954 in the infamous Brown v Board of Education decision.
4. Tim Hardaway hates gay people…admittedly
Tim Hardaway is a lot of things: he’s an all-star, he’s among the top-15 players all-time in terms of assists, he has a crossover so devastating both of my ankles just shattered typing this sentence, and he’s the owner of the worst shooting game in NBA history, once shooting 0-17 from the field. You have to wonder why he was still part of the game plan at 0-14. Either way, Hardaway enjoyed a respectable NBA career and even passed his legacy on to his son, Tim Hardaway Jr., who is currently the best player on the New York Knicks, which is kind of like being the most savvy drug dealer in a Tijuana apartment complex. Hardaway also once candidly admitted he hates gay people, admitting he was a “homophobe” with the sort nonchalant demeanor that suggests maybe he thought the term “homophobe” referred to his blood type.
“Well, you know I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States,” said Hardaway. Of course, he’s entitled to his opinion, but as a public figure disclosing these facts on a popular radio show, it’s safe to say a few eyebrows were raised. Hardaway quickly backtracked, stating his quote was taken “out of context”, which given the bluntness of the statement, seems a little odd. This story has a happy ending, though, as Hardaway eventually apologized for his comments and has done extensive work with the LGBT community, including being the first person to call Jason Collins (who came out in 2013) to wish him luck and express his support. Hardaway hasn’t entirely escaped karma, however, since he has to watch his son play games for the New York Knicks, which itself should be considered punishment enough.
3. Jim Carrey hates violence
Jim Carrey has recently become one of the more vocal celebrities when it comes to the issues of…issues? For example, Carrey spoke out against violent movies after the horrible tragedies in Newton, Conn. during the Sandy Hook Massacre. Interestingly, Carrey had just gotten done acting in a movie called “Kick-Ass 2”, a movie about a vigilante group who commits a series of heroic tasks to save the day, or whatever superheroes do. Carrey’s character was especially maniacal, a given considering he was played by Jim Carrey, who once used his butt cheeks to insult an ancillary character in a movie about Dan Marino’s transgender ex-teammate. To Carrey’s credit, it’s not as if he was a hypocrite, stating he hated violence and then acting in a violent movie anyway. In fact, the movie aired only a few weeks after the Sandy Hook shooting, so filming had wrapped by the time the tragedy occurred. Carrey, however, took to social media to express his displeasure with the film, even stating he “can’t support that level of violence in a film”. It seems as if Carrey was truly upset about his role in the movie.
He was so broken up about his role in the movie and he hated violence so much that he constantly voiced his frustrations with the film, even suggesting he wasn’t fully aware of the amount of carnage portrayed on-screen. He publicly slammed the movie, in a way acting as the film’s most vocal protestor despite raking in millions in salary for his work on set. Thankfully, Carrey took those millions of dollars and proceeded to heroically donate them to absolutely no one except for his bank. While his conscious kept him laying awake at night for portraying such a visceral level of violence, he did have several million reasons to feel better at the end of the day. So, he really hated violence, but apparently liked capitalizing on violence just a litttttttttle bit more.
2. Mortal Kombat fatalities
My childhood possess some amazing memories that will never be taken from me: My first Charizard card, my first home run in Little League, and my first time awkwardly standing against the wall at a Homecoming Dance are all vivid, life-shaping moments of my life. I can remember every detail. I also remember hot, sticky Western Pennsylvania summer days where you could hear the buzzing of bees, smell freshly cut grass, feel the sunshine on your skin, and then immediately shut the window because I was inside playing Mortal Kombat. I was lucky enough to have parents who allowed me to have a television in my bedroom, which was hooked up to my Sega Genesis. Perhaps no game in my repertoire received more use than Mortal Kombat. The game taught me many things about life; fighting is okay, violence is awesome, and I’m just kidding because I was a well-adjusted, intelligent kid who made the executive decision to waste his summers playing video games.
Anyway, Mortal Kombat is the first game I can vividly recall that was debated at an adult level. As far as I was concerned, Mortal Kombat was about punching people in the face until I got to the next level. Adults, apparently, figured there was some real psychological damage being done, and I remember hearing lawmakers and news pundits debate the legality of violent video games. Specifically, they pointed to the ultra-violent fatalities as a reason for kids undergoing mental damage. In fact, Newsweek once reported that video games “change teen and adolescent brains”; the same Newsweek who published a photo of a dying baby on their cover 10 years earlier during the Oklahoma City bombings. The violent video games controversy is an argument for another day, but I’ll give critics some credit: As a 10-year old there weren’t many things more awesome than watching Sub-Zero rip Lui Kang’s still-beating heart from his chest cavity and eviscerating it with his awesome ice powers. Some lawmakers even called for the games to be banned, which is ridiculous, considering some semblance of parental responsibility could prevent unfavorable situations, since, you know, the rating are printed on the box. For example, if your 12-year old son likes murdering squirrels, don’t buy him the new Grand Theft Auto game. If your 10-year old can spell “antidisestablishmentarianism” then maybe pull the trigger on a game if you think he can handle it (thanks, mom.)
1. Ben Affleck is Batman
In nearly 24 years of life I honestly can’t recall a more divisive controversy than “Ben Affleck is Batman now, we guess.” A year or so ago, Warner Brothers announced Ben Affleck would be playing the role of Batman in their upcoming “Batman v. Superman” film directed by Zack Snyder. In fact, just reading that previous sentence has enough inflammatory language to induce hate-vomit from any especially feverish readers. Of course, the Warner Bros. announcement had everyone up in arms, and that’s excluding the fanboys. It was the sort of announcement that made people question friendships, reevaluate life decisions, and panic much in the way the faux Orsen Welles alien thing did, although that didn’t actually happen.
The sheer abundance of emotional extremes inhibited by those who postulated an opinion didn’t disappoint. Those who were in favor of Affleck portraying Batman acted as if the Lord Almighty himself had returned to portray the Dark Knight on the big screen while critics behaved as if Affleck had walked into their kitchens to slap their own mothers. The middle ground of rational beings saying “oh, cool, Batman” or “hey, yeah, Affleck is pretty good” was decidedly lacking, and the screaming ignorance of the psychotic public reigned supreme. Admittedly, the “We hate Ben Affleck” cause seemed to possess the most steam, as the Ben Affleck approval ratings are hovering somewhere between ISIS and mandatory armpit inspections. Of course, those who “hate” Ben Affleck are owed absolutely nothing, and the fact that people are “outraged” over this casting decision leads me to believe priorities are slightly flawed in our first-world frame of mind. If you go to Google, right now, and type “Ben Affleck Batman” you will return nearly 20 million results. Likewise, if you search “American illiteracy” (you know, an actual problem) it will return just over four million results. So, in closing, the general public has decided forcing Warner Bros. to fire Ben Affleck is a more worthwhile endeavor than educating the 32 million adults in this country who can’t even read this sentence. Your move, America.