In only a few days the year of 2013 will take a final bow and leave the stage, making way for 2014. Already by now people will be talking about their New Year’s Resolutions and looking towards a new period of work or study. But it would be foolish to not take one last look back at all the different events that have happened, to explore the controversies that many took different sides over. After all, this is the year that saw the words ‘twerk’ and ‘selfie’ entered into the Oxford Dictionary, and also the year the Demon Media Website first went online: The birth of a legend. Anyway, counting down in months I introduce to all of you the most controversial events of 2013!
Rise of the shock videos (Girl eats a tampon):
This is certainly a way to start, the story of the teenager Giovanna Plowman, who decided for reasons unknown to society at large to create a video of herself taking an obviously used tampon and proceeding to suck on it. This is just one of many ‘response videos’ that currently circulate around the internet, that are only uploaded for the purpose of eliciting shocked and disgusted responses from viewers. Of course, it has been debated back and forth whether the video is real or fake, but the question still stands, at just how far people are prepared to go in order to make names for themselves, and how much does social media outlets such as YouTube and Facebook help in that regard? Whatever the answer is, to Giovanna it makes no difference as she has expressed no regrets over what she did, made clear on her Twitter:
“what i did was stupid…but SO WHAT?! i’m famous for that, ill be on ellen, ill get verified, i’m getting money to show up at some parties!!”—Giovanna Plowman (@ItsGiovannaP) Posted January 22nd 2013
Resignation of one Pope, and the crowning of another:
Before February, the times were not kind to the Vatican: The scandal of Catholic priests involved in child abuse continuing to pop up and Vatileaks exposing a church government in desperate need of reform. On the grounds of health problems, Pope Benedict XVI chose to resign from his position, something that hasn’t been done since Pope Celestine V in 1294. Replacing him would be Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina, the first non European Pope to be elected in 1,200 years. Taking the name Francis, a new dynamic began to take hold within the Church. Although sticking to the Church’s ideals and teachings, the new Pope has expressed that Catholics have focussed too much on the condemnation of abortion, homosexuality and contraception, neglecting the need for mercy and compassion towards their fellow man. When discussing homosexuality in July, the Pope stated ‘If a person is gay and seeks God, then who am I to judge them?’ To this end, the current Pope has steered the Church more towards a focus of welfare, appearing to the world as a down-to-earth Pope, actively visiting those from all walks of life, from inviting national footballers to the Vatican, to kissing and washing the feet of juvenile offenders imprisoned in a detention facility. Despite criticism, particularly from Sarah Palin that this new Pope is being too soft towards non-believers and the nature of sin, this new, perhaps even progressive style of manner has named him TIME’s Person of the Year, an award many certainly believe is well deserved.
Horsemeat scandal running through Europe
When eating something, the last thought that should be running through your mind is, ‘What if this food is not the food that I think it is, or what the package it came from tells me it is?’ It’s a consumer right, and if not then simple common sense that beef should be beef. However if you have eaten a beef burger from Tesco, Asda or Iceland, or eaten a Findus beef lasagne in the last 2 years, chances are you may have unknowingly consumed horsemeat. This first started in January, when the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) discovered that beef burgers sold in Irish and British supermarket chains were found to contain significant amounts of horse DNA in them. The situation would continue to escalate all the way to April, when it would be found that not just the UK, but many countries in Europe were affected by the spread of around 50,000 tonnes of contaminated meat. The culprits had been identified as Dutch suppliers Wiljo Import en Export BV and Vleesgroothandel Willy Selte and have attempted to recall the affected products, however the majority of it may have already been consumed. Despite the surprising indifference by quite a few people, it does raise two main questions of the concerns to the health of consumers, and whether the horsemeat contains anything harmful to humans. Also, there is the issue of trust between supermarkets and customers, as to can we trust them to actually offer us what we intend to purchase? If we ask for a pork sausage, can we trust supermarkets to not give us one filled with sand?
Death of Margaret Thatcher
After suffering a final stroke on 8th April Baroness Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister of Britain had passed away at the age of 87. Known as the ‘Iron Lady’ by her contemporaries, her policies had firmly divided the country between adoration and loathing for the woman. On one hand, she was the heroic leader of the Falklands War and the breaker of the too-powerful trade unions that had brought down the Heath government. On another, to the miners involved in the strike under Scargill, the Northern Irish and even some within her own Cabinet she was a tyrant, with Sinn Fein politician Danny Morrison describing Thatcher as ‘the biggest bastard we have ever known’. And the death of such a person is bound to produce the most contrasting of responses. Leaving out the fact that she was buried with full military honours in a funeral paid for with public money, I would say there are two things that properly convey the opposite ends of the spectrum: On one side, there is the Chancellor George Osborne in tears during the funeral, at a time when many question if he actually cared about anyone at all; and on the other, Anti Thatcher sentiment would bring the song “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead!” up to number 2 on the UK singles chart on 12th April.
Murder of Lee Rigby
This month we received a grim reminder that terrorism can still hit at us, no matter how close to home we are. On a seemingly normal day in Woolwich, two men would attack and brutally murder Lee Rigby, an off-duty British soldier. But far from running from the crime scene, one of the killers, Michael Adebolajo approached someone who was filming the entire scene, and professed with blood still on hands: “The only reason why we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” However, this was more than an al-Qaeda inspired terrorist attack. The entire incident threatened to almost completely upset the already tense relations between Britain and its Muslim community, with the social media being afire with debates on whether the Muslim faith still had a place in the UK. Although both Adebolajo and his accomplice Michael Adbowale have now been found guilty, tensions still run high, with anti-Muslim crimes reported to be on the rise. One can only hope that cooler heads will eventually prevail.
Alex Ferguson’s retirement from the position of Manager
Personally I have never really been into the sport of football, losing interest by the time I reached secondary school. As a result, I do not have a real opinion of the former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. Although I do understand that he transformed his football club into a powerhouse of a team, there is also the phenomenon known as ‘Fergie Time’, which is time added to the added time already given after the 90 minutes of a match. Even so, Ferguson has been a football manager for 26 years, longer than my own life. Say what you wish about the man and his eternal gum chewing but his managing ability is unquestioned, and it does feel odd that someone else now sits in the chair he has been in for so long.
The Edward Snowden case
This event in particular has never really been covered or followed by me or Demon Media as a whole, but I feel it is something that must be discussed so this is me trying to explain the situation as best as I can: Edward Snowden was a former contractor for the National Security Agency(NSA) who disclosed NSA documents that detailed an extension of global surveillance, examples including the NSA collecting phone records from 120 million Verizon subscribers, spying on several diplomatic missions around the world, and the hacking of several Chinese phone companies and universities. These documents were leaked to journalists from The Guardian and Washington Post, in June, leading to a showdown in relations between the US and other nations, particularly Germany where the Chancellor Angela Merkel was furious at the possibility of being spied on. Although Snowden has scooped up awards such as the Guardian’s Person of the Year and the German ‘Whistleblower Prize’, he has also been charged by federal prosecutors with the theft of government property and violation of the 1917 Espionage Act, leading him to seek asylum in Russia. With #CensorshipUK already ringing in our ears, it does leave us to ponder whether we have any privacy at all, or is everything we do, either online or in real life being watched by someone? Not to mention the question of whether Snowden is a whistle-blower or a criminal?
Andy Murray becomes the first of Britain’s men’s singles to win in 77 years
Despite having one of the most distinct sports cultures in the world, the countries of the United Kingdom have never been able to really stand out and claim victory in the worldwide sport competitions. Although football immediately comes to mind, since England have not won the World Cup since 1966, for tennis the waiting has been for much longer. 77 years for someone to win the Men’s Singles at Wimbledon. But July has seen that wait finally end, as the Scotsman Andy Murray finally won against Novak Djokovic, breaking the deadlock set for three quarters of a decade. The UK as a whole has been so grateful to him that he has been named the BBC’s Sports Personality of the year and there were even talks of granting him a knighthood.
Transformation of Miley Cyrus- MTV Awards
Well we couldn’t have a proper list full of controversy without mentioning the former Hannah Montana star. In fact, it can be argued that Miley Cyrus was a high influence in getting the word ‘twerk’ entered into the Oxford Dictionary. Although the single ‘We Can’t Stop’, was the first sign of Miley casting off her Disney identity, it would make more sense to note down her performance at the MTV awards, gyrating her sternum against Robin Thicke’s crotch while singing the song considered ‘Rapey’ by many, ‘Blurred Lines’. Despite the many shocked faces in the MTV crowd, namely the Smiths, this has become Miley’s new image and she shows no signs of stopping, which has had many questioning the growing sexualisation of the music industry, including Lily Allen. Although nothing new, the fact is that this kind of tactic has worked, with Wrecking Ball becoming her first ever Number 1 single. What this says about the music industry as a whole however, can be merely guessed by you or me.
Sarin gas attack on the eastern region of Damascus, Syria
It must have been the perfect button for the Daily Mirror to press for ultimate shock value on the 22nd August: On the front cover, you see the photo of what appears to be a group of children sleeping on the same bed, until you see the headline: “Now they’re gassing children.” And then the realisation finally dawns….
But all drama aside, Syria has been in a continued civil war since the Arab Spring of 2011, between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the rebel force known as the Free Syrian Army. The civil war had been smouldering for two years, but no one was prepared for the chemical attack on Ghouta, in the eastern region of Damascus. Literally people died while they were sleeping, with the death toll ranging from 300 to 1,700 people. Although the Syrian government and opposition blamed each other, most of the Western and Arab governments blamed Assad, and David Cameron himself even called for military action but the proposal was defeated in Parliament. At the very least, Syria declared the intention to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and destroy its chemical weapons in September 2013, so at least it is highly unlikely that such a catastrophe will happen again.
Indian-American crowned 87th Miss America
On September 15th, Miss New York Nina Davuluri was crowned as the 87th Miss America, the first woman of Indian descent to ever hold the title. Soon after this victory, A flow of racist comments would surge across Twitter about the whole affair, a few examples being: “Miss New York is an Indian. With all do respect this is America”; “Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you” and “How does an Indian win Miss “AMERICA”…Wrong country.” Of course the obvious retort by many is the only people that can truly call themselves ‘American’ are Native Americans, and that all other ethnic groups are technically immigrants themselves. So what right or privilege do they have complaining about the national heritage of the victor? Even so, it did pose the question, and it probably still does as to what exactly makes a person a real citizen of their country? Does it come to a person’s manner and duration of living time, or does it still run in the blood?
US Government Shutdown
From October 1st to the 17th, the US Government was in a state of shutdown. However, the actual event is not as dire as the name for it really is, for it is only the non essential functions that cease in action. It all began in September, when a group of Republican members of the House tried to stop the federal funding for Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by rewording the proposal for the federal budget of 2014. However to pass this bill and continue the funding of the federal government, it needed to be approved by a Democratic majority in the Senate before October 1st. However, the agreement was not reached in time, and all non-essential government branches were shut down until a compromise bill could be passed on October 17th. More than 800,000 government works were affected, several official websites became inaccessible and many public buildings and services would close. Although the federal government is in service again, it is a little uneasy to think of how easily the government of a nation that many hold in such high prestige can come to a halt. One can hope that Obamacare is worth all the trouble.
Release of the next generation of gaming consoles
And so, another era of gaming passes us by, as the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 have now been released, already sold out for this year. However, from the beginning the Xbox One was on the verge of handicapping itself, as at the console’s reveal Microsoft were proposing to have the console be always online, checking every 24 hours and the removal of preowned gaming by having individual copies being tied to a single Gamertag. Due to the public outcry, these policies were dropped, allowing Xbox One sales to soar over the PS4’s, despite some within Microsoft lamenting that their worst mistake was ‘listening to the customers’. Regardless, it is a new generation for gamers, and may it be a prosperous one!
So much death….
The last month of the year has mostly been one of mourning, as several people in the public eye have met unfortunate ends to their lives: Paul Walker, the Fast and Furious star that died in a car crash while in a charity event, and Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 rifle who died of natural causes. However the biggest and most mourned death by far, is that of Nelson Mandela. Perhaps the most iconic South African figure in the world, most well-known for his lifelong fight against apartheid and other forms of race hate, the former President of South Africa finally passed away after 7 months battling respiratory illness. Despite the many honours laid on his name, ‘Father of the Nation’ being one of them there are still arguments on how he should be remembered, with some pointing to his violent protests against the apartheid regime, and certain acts that can be easily seen as terrorism. Regardless, Nelson Mandela is certain a man to be remembered, regardless of how or why.
Tom Daley ‘coming out’ via YouTube
Throughout this year the issues of same-sex marriage and the rights of gays had found their way into the limelight, with the legislation allowing same-sex marriage in England and Wales being passed through Parliament and the raised awareness of anti-gay opinions in Russia. With these events in mind, all eyes in social media were now turned to a newly uploaded video on YouTube, which would feature the British Olympian and diver Tom Daley announcing to the world that ‘Come this spring this year my life changed, massively, when I met someone and they made me feel happy, so safe and everything just great and well that someone is a guy.’ Of course many have flocked to his support, giving him encouragement and praise for his courage in ‘coming out’ publicly. And of course there are the critics, one being the founder of Christian Concern Andrea Minichiello Williams suggesting that the only reason why Tom Daley is in a same-sex relationship is because his father died. However, the main dispute is why the matter is even important at all. Even Tom Daley himself admitted that ‘in an ideal world I shouldn’t be doing this video, because it shouldn’t matter.’ To me, perhaps the video was recorded in the wrong country. If it was uploaded in Russia, then it would have been a much more effective message, and much more entitled to the publicity. But regardless of his sexuality, the man represents Britain in what he does best, and I wish him luck in Rio 2016.
And those are the most controversial events of 2013. Now that we have looked back at this year with either a teary eye or a shaking fist, we can now move forward to 2014, safe in the knowledge that all shenanigans of the yester-year have been documented by Demon Media. Thank you for keeping up with our articles, and wherever you celebrate have a most Happy New Year!