Andy Warhol envisioned a future in which everyone gets their 15 Minutes of Fame. George Orwell imagined everyone taking part in the Two Minutes Hate.
Two-thousand sixteen offered us 262,800 such 120-second periods to offer malevolence, rancor, and spite to give ourselves congratulations, catharsis, and peace. A few follow.
Ryan Lochte suffered a terrible hangover in 2016. His cultural insensitivity overlooked South American folkways that dictate that when an off-duty cop sticks a gun in your face at four in the morning, you not only give him the money—you don’t complain. Rather than blame their trainwreck of an Olympics on their leaders, Brazilians focused on a familiar scapegoat: Americans.
Kim Kardashian, another beautiful Ugly American, got rolled for millions in Paris. Then she got rocked by speculation depicting the heist as something less real than her reality show. Blaming the victim, especially when the victim enjoys better looks, more fame, and greater wealth than us, serves as a so very Two Minutes Hate impulse.
Kardashian’s other half, Kanye West, urged Americans to ditch their preoccupation with prejudice. “Stop focusing on racism,” West told a concert audience. “This world is racist, OK? Let’s stop being distracted to focus on that so much.” More infuriatingly, he voiced support for the winning candidate for president. A rapper can crash Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech and compare himself to Jesus Christ. But say a kind word about Donald Trump, and it’s a psych hold for you.
Black Lives Matter activists accused Charlotte police officer Brentley Vinson of killing a “mama’s boy” armed with a book. It turned out Keith Scott boasted a lengthy criminal record, including weapons offenses, and took a gun rather than a book to his final act. “Just know that all white people are f—ing devils,” the decedent’s brother told reporters. “Air that s–t. All white cops are f—ing devils — and white people.” They did. But the fact that the cop who shot his brother was black seldom made it into daily Two Minutes Hate broadcasts.
Time placed Colin Kaepernick on its cover and the president praised his “active citizenry.” But they failed to persuade anybody to like him. During a season in which he wore socks depicting policemen as pigs and highlighted the “good things” done by Fidel Castro, the national anthem kneeler became the most disliked player in the NFL. Posting a 1-9 record as a starter didn’t help.
Mobs went in search of clowns this fall. They found them in the mirror. “I’ve done 5,000 birthday parties and events over the last 27 years,” Flippo the Clown explained to me. “Over the last ten years, they’re calling me but asking me to leave off the makeup.” That we hate clowns begins to show how hateful we have become.
James Comey endured two rounds of the Two Minutes Hate, first by Republicans angry that the FBI director refused to indict Hillary Clinton despite finding evidence of wrongdoing and second by Democrats angry that he reopened an investigation into the former Secretary of State shortly before Election Day. The former group called Comey a “dirty cop” while the latter wondered whether he should go to jail for zealously investigating Clinton. “James Comey cost her the election,” Bill Clinton maintains.
“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in,” Orwell explained in 1984. “Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.”
Yeah, that about describes it. And lest 31,536,000 seconds not provide enough time to hate, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service kindly grants us an extra tick during the last minute of 2016. Use the second to hate wisely.