If the culture is condemned to reflect the society that sustains it, then the world of 2015 was in fucking bad shape. Sure, there were a few uplifting moments — debut of first-rate hacktivist drama Mr Robot, departure from the BBC of low-rent hack, Jeremy Clarkson — but we have been largely beset by popular reminders that our species has earned its stupid end. Let the cats and the cockroaches inherit the earth for these creatures could shit on the surface of creation for a thousand years and not begin to foul it so much as we have in a single year of consumption.
Let’s pull on the gloves and isolate those ten turds in the cultural latrine that caused the biggest stink:
10: Worst Documentary
Upon its release, Montage of Heck, an authorised Kurt Cobain biopic, received overwhelmingly positive critique. This is either evidence that (a) worship for the band Nirvana suspends the faculty for thought or (b) promotional heroin was provided to reviewers.
The good thing about this film is that someone persuaded Cobain’s widow Courtney Love to open a few old boxes — certainly, the ageing Nirvana fan was glad for a change in memorabilia diet after 20 years of the same stale footage. The bad thing about this film was almost everything else but especially the inclination to give us the “tortured genius” Cobain and not the funny fabulist many of us remember from the time.
Cobain was very fond of biographical bullshit and often offered journalists competing accounts of his life. The most depressing, tragic and, of course, marketable version is presented here and what we have is not good record but Sundance-friendly miserablism intended to make persons of my age feel better about taking their antidepressant medication.
9: Worst TV Chef
Take one cup pretendy-science and combine with an unhealthy dose of aspiration, mould into approximate shape of former boyband heartthrob then call cosmetic dentist before laying in sunbed set to “hunky hunky high” for the entire non-ratings period.
I don’t know what form the scandal that will end the career of Paleo Pete Evans will take, but it cannot come soon enough.
8: Worst New Publication
If ever there were a legislative case to be made for the silence of artists, it is written in merrily stupid words by Lena Dunham.
As an auteur, Dunham refuses comparison. As the editor of newsletter Lenny, she refuses to be understood as anything but a centrist tit. I mean, it’s wonderful that this Brave New Breed of self-managed stars feel able to use their outside voice on every medium going, but could someone call a grownup and ask Dunham to fill her Clinton-loving, sex worker-moralising mouth with a pumpkin spice latte before I can’t enjoy Girls anymore?
This newsletter is basically Paltrow’s GOOP minus the extraordinary hair.
7: Worst Person
The Royal Baby
6: Worst Arts Policy
Former Arts Minister Brandis felt as entitled to his elitism as he thought Australians should be to their bigotry and so he took the peculiar step of initiating the National Program for Excellence in the Arts, AKA the “fuck the Australia Council, fuck it” scheme. Look, OzCo isn’t perfect but nor is it some single snoot that would rather quash the last possibility of fair funding than ever see a fringe festival flyer again.
New Minister Fifield has restored some of the budget to an organisation, we must remember, that does not only support dance projects you personally might not fancy but organisations, such as the Arts Law Society, vital to the everyday function of the sector.
Brandis’ “excellence” was a damaging moment that resonates still, but it is in his current function as Attorney General that he did the greatest harm. Just wait until metadata retention laws, which track your location data, situate you at whatever some moralising idiot has decided is an unlawful exhibition. Push-button censorship of the future will make the Henson case a fond memory of more tolerant times.
5: Worst Dressed
There are those whose congenital glamour knows neither the ravages of fashion or of age and, if you don’t believe me, look back at the biopics this year on Iris Apfel or Keith Richards. Richards, of course, is known not as a rangy clothes horse but chiefly as a guitarist and an ongoing drug experiment. Nonetheless, damn if that man can’t dress. Like Apfel, he is gifted of an independent style and can take a bandana and a discount Day of the Dead ring and make it seem natural. Unlike his worst Xerox, Johnny Depp who has come to look very much like a finance services worker who didn’t quite commit to the “come as your favourite junkie” party theme.
Across the past two decades, we have built strong faith that “raising awareness” is an end in itself. Across the past year, a few commentators have ventured that “raising awareness” may, in fact, be a mechanism that inevitably reduces the possibility of action and let us cheer these fearless souls who remind us that “starting the conversation” may, in many cases, be not a beginning but an end.
Meantime, the overwhelming majority of westerners believe that “awareness raising” is more than just an orgasm enjoyed in public and persons, such as the excruciatingly clueless Patricia Arquette who used her Oscars speech to demand equal pay for women because “we’ve fought for everybody else’s equal rights” just weeks after Ferguson, are celebrated. So it’s hard to find a stupid moment of awareness stupidity that stands above the rest, but this chick who ran the London marathon sans a sanitary item to raise awareness of “period-shaming” takes the golden tampon.
3: Where the hell is Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell?
Why have a legitimate genius whose unpredictable revulsion for all political endeavour produces strong ratings and useful catchphrases on telly when you could enjoy The Weekly which affirms the mild liberal views of its conspicuously caring audience without the terrible burden of being funny?
2: Worst Noise
I haven’t heard U2’s tribute to the Paris attacks Streets of Surrender yet and I will make every effort to maintain this blessed ignorance. Still, we know that (a) Bono wrote it and that (b) The Edge said that it will be “the sound of freedom” and so can be fairly certain that there are more pleasant sounds echoing on the planet, such as that produced by the arse of a rat whose stomach was upset by accidental consumption of a rancid awareness ribbon.
Five minutes ago, Amy Schumer was an ungovernable force of comedy. Then, she was introduced to Lena Dunham, and possibly Patricia Arquette, who told her that her mission was not to craft jokes about vaginal discharge but to make that vaginal discharge empowering.