by Daley Wilhelm
Let’s be honest: last year wasn’t the best. But 2017 had a special way of astounding me every time I glanced at the news. Astounding me in the wholly worst of ways. The list of why 2017 was a horrible, terrible, no good year is a long one, but excluding natural disasters and national embarrassments, I narrowed it down to five things that contributed to 2017’s particular brand of rankness.
1. Nazis everywhere
We started the year off strong with the most prolific YouTuber there is saying some seriously anti-Semitic things. Pewdiepie was by no means the only person on the internet saying questionable things, seeing as the alt-right — and by extension the Neo-Nazi—movements gained global attention throughout the year. Online, they protested a game series that has been killing Nazis since the ’80s as being hateful SJW propaganda. In real life, a mob of alt-right protesters with Tiki torches in Charlottesville killed a woman.
imagine seeing the words "no more nazis" and reacting like this pic.twitter.com/5L9b8CPm3s
— Senior Bracer Vylash (@MiraVylash) October 6, 2017
Although Pewdiepie made an apology video wherein he denounced those who claimed he supported the alt-right, this contrition was quickly eclipsed by his saying a racial slur on stream. He served as one of the first of many popular names to fall into infamy in 2017.
2. Hollywood’s sexual assault scandals
It seems as if every day, new details of the twisted web of sexual misconduct in movies and other media are revealed. While it’s a positive that the silence surrounding this pattern of abuse is being broken, it’s kind of exhausting just looking at the above list. It’s disheartening to see how an entire industry has systematically covered up the crimes of one man. It’s sad to have your heroes turn out to be villains.
What’s worse is that oftentimes, there’s few repercussions for these repeated abuses. What’s astounding is that this hadn’t come to light sooner, especially when it was an open secret that those like Louis C.K. and Harvey Weinstein had been behaving inappropriately for years. Years.
3. YouTube is Bust
YouTube has been having a myriad of issues throughout this year, and not just those involving problematic YouTubers and channels. That’s always been one of the platform’s thorns. But the community is no longer the issue dragging YouTube down: it’s the system itself.
Creators are no longer able to support themselves on YouTube. This is due to a devastating combination of demonetization and the baffling algorithm behind it. Smaller channels are unable to function in the face of the “Adpocalypse,” the trend of videos being consistently labeled as non-advertiser friendly for a variety of arbitrary reasons: controversial content, violence, gun-related content, and for some reason LGBT+ content.
This is all without much answer from YouTube other than their concern with putting ads on videos promoting hate speech or Neo-Nazi propaganda. Which 2017 has been rife with. The YouTube of the past seems to be gone.
Because this is all without mentioning the whole Elsagate thing. Because videos of mutilated cartoon characters are being specifically marketed toward kids via another busted YouTube algorithm is a thing. Thanks again, 2017.
And we're live
— Connor Ellington (@DerRealPolitik) December 20, 2017
4. Net Neutrality
Speaking of the Internet being changed for the worse: it’s no longer free. Free from being censored, slowed, and manipulated by internet service providers, anyway. This December despite an almost unanimous dissent against it, FCC Commissioner and internet pariah Ajit Pai pushed the repeal of net neutrality through, all the while laughing at those who disagreed with him.
What this means is probably increased prices from Comcast and Verizon, new obstacles for small businesses, and throttled competition.
What has especially left people bitter with this whole situation is that despite such vocal public outcry, the crux of this decision seems to have been made on the testimony of stolen identities. Comments supporting the repeal were made by bots, dead people, and people who elsewhere expressed their rage at their identities having been used to support a cause that they did not.
Turns out someone impersonated me during the @FCC #NetNeutrality comment period – further proof of forged comments in this process. We need to get to the bottom of this and demand justice for those who sought to be heard. pic.twitter.com/k8SOzHtS9J
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) December 18, 2017
5. Greedy games
Microtransactions have become more and more common, but this year people were angry enough about them to cover Reddit in memes and set a record for the most downvoted post ever. EA brought about a lot of ire during the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II, which gave significant advantage to those who paid to unlock items or characters, while claiming that those who did not pay to win could earn the same achievements… if they put in thousands of hours of gameplay, that is.
Microtransactions are nothing new, but because of debacles like these, the US is now looking to regulate loot boxes in game the same way other countries do: as gambling. Japan requires that you know the odds of rolling a rare item. Despite items like skins or characters technically having no real life value, there’s something to be said for people spending hundreds of dollars for the chance of getting that one thing they really want.
There’s also something to be said for the frustration players feel in knowing that the full experience of a game they already bought for sixty-something dollars is locked behind a paywall.
2017 was exhausting, but it wasn’t all bad. If you need to look at some positives, check out why 2017 might not have been as bad as it seemed.
May 2018 be free of Nazis and sexual assault, and see Ajit Pai with a different career.