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By: timbersfan , 1:13 AM GMT on January 03, 2014
Who Won 2013?
Our comprehensive, no-stone-left-unturned, mildly deranged accounting of all the people, players, and preposterous memes from the year that was
By Rembert Browne on December 30, 2013
Few things are worse than a forced wedding hashtag.
A phenomenon gained traction in 2013 as a result of the merger of two of our society's most innocent expressions of self-idolatry: Instagram and weddings. Their spawn is the wedding hashtag, a tool used, yes, to aggregate Instagram photos from a wedding, but also as a way of bringing "Bennifer" and "Brangelina"-esque portmanteaus into the age of social media.
Last year, in this introductory space of the "Who Won 2012?" bracket, I went on a very necessary tear about the "engagement" feature on Facebook and how it was adding much stress and clutter to my life. This year, having my Saturday Instagram feeds filled with #ShaneLuvsBethanny or some horrible combination of "Becky" and "Jamal" (probably #Jamelcky) has simply moved my side-eye from one platform to another. It's almost as if everyone purposefully failed to read the Knot's comprehensive "7 Risks of Hashtagging Your Wedding" piece.
I only bring this up because with every passing year, I'm closer and closer to trashing the "Who Won" bracket model in exchange for "Who Lost." Or "What Ruined This Year for Me the Most, a Bracket of 1024."
Thankfully, we're not there yet. There are still some things worth celebrating, people continuing to find ways to stay relevant and interesting, new concepts and innovation gaining traction, and most notably, new apps being made to distract people from day jobs, child rearing, taxpaying, and general human interaction.
Unlike Grantland's many other brackets, this is not a participatory process. As my mother would say to her curious only child when he had a question about why he had to do something, this is not a democracy. I honor her parental prowess by continuing to make the official call on who won the year, with the consultation and aid of no one, for a third straight year.
Last year's bracket:
The 2012 Final Four: Instagram, Gabby Douglas, GIFs, and the Knowles-Thronedashians, with GIFs losing in the end to the Roc-A-Fella diamond of Jay, Bey, 'Ye, and Kim Kardashian. The victory was an important career moment for the power quartet, particularly since 2011 saw a runner-up performance from the Kim-less "Knowles-Thrones." But as quickly became apparent, they had been missing one puzzle piece in their quest for world domination: Kim Kardashian.
It was a tremendous victory, but it does mean the Knowles-Thronedashians (as a collective, not the individuals) are now the second entity to get TRL-retired from the contest (2011 winner = Twitter).
But enough of the past. Let's discuss 2013.
Structurally, this year's contest will be the same as 2011 and 2012. It's a bracket of 32, instead of 64, because there weren't even close to 64 winners in 2013. The entrants come from four walks of life: Sports/Athletics, Celebrities/Entertainers, Technology/Internet, and Movements/Phenomena. Eight people/teams/entities/things are in each category, which is how, by way of multiplication, we make it to 32.
Before getting to the bracket, a few more crucial agenda items. Though this is a one-man job, there are guidelines, and while this dictatorship lacks checks and balances, there are laws to be obeyed.
The Deceased: Not included. People die and sometimes become postmortem winners, but no. Dying is never a win. Even if they go platinum.
The Royal Babies: Not Prince George, but Nori and Blue Ivy. They're always winning, but I don't have the heart to put them in the bracket. Because then I'd rig it to pit them against one another. And then I'd have to crown a winner and a loser, which would make it very awkward for me as the godfather to both.
The Honorable Mentions: A lot of nouns had great years, but there's just not room for everyone. The streets are rough. Trust me, I know. Because I am the streets. The following were considered but then dismissed:
Kendrick Lamar's "Control" Verse; Everyone Who Got to Bike Around With LeBron in That Commercial; White Santas; Molly (Drug); Molly (Lambert); Versace; Drinkin', Smokin', Fuckin', Plottin', Schemin', Plottin', Schemin', Gettin' Money; Auburn Play-by-Play Announcer Rod Blamblett, Juicy J.
The Really Honorable Mentions: And these are the ones that, for a moment, were in the field, but ultimately were moved to the bubble, either purely as the result of a numbers game or because of personal beefs:
Bitcoin; Lorde; Michael B. Jordan; Tinder; Louisville Basketball; Mike WiLL Made It; Olivia Pope; Yasiel Puig; Jimmy Johnson; Historical Accounts of Black People in Movies Having It the Worst; White Jesus; Drake's Parents; Uber.
The Seedings: This is the part I know no one ever reads, since almost all the comments I receive are people complaining about why certain things were seeded so high/low. But this is the only part of the entire bracket I have no control over. Kind of. It's an objectively subjective process.
Seedings are purely based on the person/thing's number of Twitter followers. That's the objective part. The subjective part is that if someone/something doesn't have a Twitter account, I then grant myself the freedom to pick a semi-related Twitter handle to determine placement.
Last year, I tried to get fancy and create an algorithm loosely related to the singer Jojo, but it was clear that was too AP Calc for the Internet, so we're back to square one: Twitter followers. Again, SEEDINGS = TWITTER FOLLOWERS. One more time: SEEDINGS = TWITTER FOLLOWERS. Let's bold and italicize and underline it: SEEDINGS = TWITTER FOLLOWERS.
But I know no one's reading it, so feel free to argue with me about seedings once you get to the end.
So those are the rules. I hope you feel they are fair, because from here on out, it's no longer about being fair. Only correct. Because, as Beyoncé said about last year's bracket, "This bracket, flawless. My bracket, flawless."
MORE ON HER IN LIKE 17 SECONDS — LET'S GOOOOOOO.
[**denotes appearance in 2012 bracket, ***denotes appearance in both 2011 and 2012 brackets]
**LeBron James: The basketball player in Florida; @KingJames
David Ortiz: The baseball player in Massachusetts; @davidortiz
Serena Williams: The tennis player from the West; @serenawilliams
Chris Davis: The college football student in Auburn, Alabama; @chris11au
Peyton Manning: The quarterback in the Rockies; @broncos
The Chicago Blackhawks: The hockey team in the Midwest; @NHLBlackhawks
**Andy Murray: The tennis player from Europe; @andy_murray
Jason Collins: The unemployed professional basketball player; @jasoncollins34
Kanye West: The guy with the yells; @kanyewest
**Jennifer Lawrence: THE GOD KATNISS; @TheHungerGames + @AmericanHustle
Macklemore: The dude that isn't Ryan Lewis; @macklemore
The Pope: The Frank, the one after Joey Ratz; @Pontifex
Miley Cyrus: The one without the clothes; @MileyCyrus
Benedict Cumberbatch: The serious actor, based on his name; @Cumberbitches
Pharrell Williams: The man they call Skateboard P; @Pharrell
Beyoncé Knowles: The woman they call Surfboard Bey; @Beyonce
Snapchat: The one where they disappear; @Snapchat
Netflix: The thing where you watch a bunch and don't move; @netflix
Grand Theft Auto V: The game where you run over people; @RockstarGames
Vine: The thing that is quick and then loops; @vineapp
***Instagram: The thing where you post old photos once a week; @instagram
Candy Crush: The game that is the same as smoking crack; @CandyCrushSaga
Spotify Premium: The one without the ads; @Spotify
Emoji: The one that makes words not matter anymore; @EmojiDictionary
The Breaking Bad Finale: The show about the meth; @BreakingBad_AMC
The City of Toronto: The place in Canada; @Drake + @TOMayorFord + @Raptors
Twerking: The dance that just got invented; @yingyangtwins
Scandal: The only show that airs on Thursdays; @ScandalABC
Cultural Appropriation: The phrase everyone just learned; @SenateApprops
Catfishing: The thing where you always lie; @CatfishMTV
Selfies: The cool thing where it's all about you; @shots
The Harlem Shake: The other dance that just got invented; @baauer
So there's the 32. And, just in under 1,300 words, we're ready to begin the bracket. It'll take the rest of the day to read, but don't be scared. You can trust Xtina and Adam.
They're your friends, after all.
Round of 32
Gold Teeth, Grey Goose Region
Miley Cyrus (1) vs. Twerking (8): Well what a convenient place to start. One of the most talked-about humans in popular culture going up against the dance move that she became unfairly associated with inventing, or even bringing back. It really started here, in June, in a scene from her video for "We Can't Stop."
And then peaked at August's MTV Video Music Awards:
Even though dancing in such a manner isn't new, she gets credit for making it as mainstream in 2013 as selfie. Ying Yang Twins, God bless their hearts, didn't put the word into the mouths of grandmothers with their 2000 blessing "Whistle While You Twurk." Of course the girls I went to high school with knew what it meant back then, but not the ladies at bingo night. Only 2013 Miley is responsible for a headline like this, in the Financial Times: "A year in a word: Twerking — the oldest trick in the book."
But despite the word taking on a new life of its own, it wasn't bigger than Miley herself. She wasn't a one-twerk pony in 2013; she gave us a year full of stunts to forget Amanda Bynes 2.0 ever existed. And she seemed to never let up, whereas the trajectory of the word twerking had a Facebookian rise and fall, peaking over the summer and then quickly becoming embarrassing to say aloud once it started getting abused by those with AOL email accounts and various members of The View.
Seriously. This video is called "Jenny McCarthy & Sherri Shepherd Twerking!"
So yeah, not even twerking can bounce back from that. Even though "what is twerking?" was the most Googled question of the year, Miley still wins. Because, now that we've all discovered that Google-generated answer, the phenomenon can end.
David Ortiz (5) vs. Macklemore (4): 11-for-16. That's the sporting statistic of the year for me, David Ortiz's line during the World Series (including two doubles, two home runs, and six RBIs). But after watching it in real time, one of the great sports "he's on fire" moments, it's shocking to imagine he actually didn't advance past home plate on four occasions. Even in a career defined by a clutchness rivaled by few, regardless of the sport, this Ortiz stretch truly stands out.
If this were an October 2013 bracket, Ortiz would win. But it's the entire year, and during most of that year, when Ortiz was a very mortal baseball player, a man named Macklemore was everywhere. Yes, the act is a duo, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, but the rapper is the one who absorbs the majority of the praise, and in turn, the majority of the criticism.
Whatever your feelings about the guy, the impact of the singles from The Heist was unavoidable. "Can't Hold Us" was the no. 5 song on the year-end U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts, and no. 2 on the U.S. Rap charts. The song that topped both of those charts? "Thrift Shop." And then, if that weren't enough, there was "Same Love."
The existence, rise, and dominance of Macklemore is one of the more mulled-over conversation topics in music and culture in 2013. But regardless of where you land on him, it's hard to deny what he pulled off for 12 straight months. And for that, he advances.
Pharrell Williams (3) vs. Scandal (6): Imagine a 2013 without "Get Lucky" and "Blurred Lines." Maybe you'd prefer to, seeing as both songs were played ad nauseam, but there's no ignoring how different the year would have been without them. And neither would exist without Pharrell's vocals on the former, production and ad libs on the latter, and video cameos in both.
Also, Pharrell just turned 40 and is seemingly getting younger.
But it wasn't just those two songs. He produced 2 Chainz's weirdly-not-a-summer-banger-but-should-have-been "Feds Watching." And two tracks on Samsung's Jay Z's Magna Carta ... Holy Grail, one on Pusha T's My Name Is My Name, two on Beyoncé's Beyoncé, and four on Miley Cyrus's Bangerz. And, on top of all that, that great Nelly song in which Nicki Minaj referred to herself as "Bunz Menage."
But then there's ABC's Scandal. For me — and perhaps only me — the show is becoming my Godfather, in the sense that it's the classic example of the thing you tell everyone you've seen but you haven't. (Note: I've seen The Godfather, but you people know who you are.) I've watched only a few episodes here and there, because occasionally it's nice to see your friends on Thursday nights. But, because of the Internet and the live-tweeting culture around the show, I'm completely caught up. No exaggeration, I know every single thing that's ever happened on Scandal, and girl, is Shonda a trip or what, she can't keep putting me through this.
It's a legit phenomenon, and while the show's ridiculous plot twists might ultimately lead to its demise, the hysteria it caused throughout the TV-watching-and-then-talking-about-it-the-next-day public in 2013 makes it one of the year's most colossal forces. Not even Pharrell's conscious effort to make us dance all year can best Olivia and Fitz. So Scandal advances, mainly because if it didn't, my mother WOULD. KILL. ME.
Jason Collins (7) vs. Kanye West (2): I will not insult the year Kanye West had by burying the lede. He easily advances to the second round. But it's difficult to talk about the great things in 2013 without acknowledging Jason Collins's coming-out in April. And the great Sports Illustrated piece he wrote about the decision. And the milestone that it is in professional sports. Yes, there have been efforts to diminish its importance by noting that he wasn't a superstar and isn't currently on an NBA roster, and yes, if LeBron James came out tomorrow, it would forever upend notions of what is perceived as unacceptable and unmasculine, but that's not what matters. What Jason Collins did mattered, and will continue to matter.
But yeah, Kanye was 2013. So he's going to keep going. There's nothing more to say about that.
Bloodstains, Ball Gowns Region
Toronto (1) vs. Cultural Appropriation (8): This image really sums up the year of 2013 in Toronto:
That's Drake and the pre–crack confirmed/post–crack accused mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, having a jolly time in late September, as the news is announced that the city will host the 2016 NBA All-Star game. The two faces of the city, for better or worse, giggling. As someone not from Toronto but long a fan of Aubrey's "All I care about is money and the place I'm from" line, it's been great to see the city insert itself into daily conversations, be they positive or negative. The contrasting nature of its press is what makes Toronto truly relevant. And for big chunks of 2013, it was the most talked-about town in the news. Also, its two-headed monster is a black Jewish rapper and a guy who admitted to smoking crack and is still the mayor. Only in (North) America, right?
Going against Toronto is the phrase of the year. "Cultural appropriation." Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on with regard to those accused of said appropriation, there was no way to avoid the term in 2013. For big chunks of the year, the Internet felt like it'd just taken its first sociology class and was ready to take on the world with the tools gained from that mind-blowing freshman seminar. Just looking around the bracket, there are a number of people or things that were major talking points in the discussion of using "others'" "cultures" "irresponsibly" for one's own personal gain.
I put those three words in quotation marks because the beauty (if you're an ex-sociology major who loves watching dialogue play out) of the year's seminal circular argument hung on what constituted "other," what defined "culture," and what was ultimately "responsible." And the barrier for entry into a discussion about cultural appropriation is so amazingly low ("I don't like this"), anyone can participate.
And in 2013, it felt like everyone did. Which is why it's advancing to the next round. Sorry, Crackronto. Yes, I know you got Kanye to come to your city's club, wear your city's name on a BEEN TRILL shirt, and D'usse drunk scale your city's club's ceiling pipes, but it's not strong enough to advance.
Netflix (5) vs. Jennifer Lawrence (4): Remember about two years ago,