2017 WTF Moments.. Part Deux

Art work by Michelle Cheung for Novella Magazine

We love to chew the fat here at Novella — bring up the most innocuous subject, like ice cream, for instance, and sooner or later the talk will switch over to our cultures and societies and politics. When we are good, we are the non-complacent civic minded, observant and vigilant (which makes sense since our team is a weird and awesome amalgam of minorities). We can also be the harpies of old, pecking at your ears about the latest disaster and stupefaction available in the great outdoors.

But what can you do when 2017 is so far a complete shit show without intermission? (And I don’t really see one coming our way anytime soon.) New disasters — as of this week, North Korea detonated its sixth nuclear bomb — rise and old ghosts — the Swastika is back in style for some — are turning out to be actually not plasma but living people. I forget where but I read (saw or heard) somewhere that Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.” Fact check that for me.

The below list is one made of shits that have been on our minds for far longer than we’d like: they’ve caked on the walls and are now harder to clean. We’re sharing them with you so that you can commiserate, watch the shit dry.

Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief

The fact that we are able to put together a second edition of WTF moments is proof that 2017 is not going as well as we hoped. Ann Coulter, right-wing media pundit everyone loves to hate, recently blamed Houston’s devastating storm on the LGBT community. Coulter tweeted “I don’t believe Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston electing a lesbian mayor. But that is more credible than ‘climate change.'” It’s no secret that Ann is no supporter of the LGBT community, which is fine with us. I am not surprised that Ann is trying use LGBT community as a scapegoat but what is baffling is the fact that Republicans still think that Climate change is still some crazy thing liberals made up.

Hoon, Managing Editor

Trump recently pardoned Joe Arpaio of criminal contempt, good month and a half before the actual sentencing of the Arizona sheriff behind the notorious tent city, the modern American ‘concentration camp’ designed specifically for ‘illegal aliens’ and those suspected of being ‘illegal’. The baffling thing about the pardon is that it seems legal — despite challenges on the basis of the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause —, at least for now (cases are being made against its legality). The most sinister aspect of the pardon is that this may be Trump’s attempt to disarm Special Council Robert Mueller of his powers to subpoena and charge with criminal contempt — if Trump can pardon, say, an unwilling White House staff, who’s been subpoenaed by Mueller, of criminal contempt, Mueller is stripped of a necessary and important tool in his investigation. Trump is encroaching on the integrity of the Department of Justice and the judicial system at large.

Kimberley Drapack, Contributor 

Despite their horrible history with animal cruelty, SeaWorld has somehow topped itself. An orca whale named Kasatka recently died due to a bacterial infection. Kasatka is the third whale this year to die at SeaWorld. The nightmare began in January 2017 when the beloved Tilikum, from the documentary Blackfish, died without a confirmation from SeaWorld as to what it was that killed him. It is known that Tilikum was prone to bacterial infections, much like Kasatka. Global News reports that since 1961, at least 150 killer whales have been taken into captivity, and 127 of these orcas are now dead. Of those, 45 died at SeaWorld. Tilikum spent 33 years in captivity and died at age 36. In the wild, an orca whale has a much higher survival rate, usually living up to 80 to over 100 years old. It makes me wonder when they are going to shut down SeaWorld once and for all. A girl can dream.

Cara Fox, Contributor

So, the American evangelical-right got together for a tailgate party and decided to publish the stuff of every far-right Facebook status we have seen since 2002. Enter: The Nashville Statement. I don’t know what’s more WTF-worthy, the fact that there really is absolutely nothing newsworthy in the document or that James Dobson was able to climb out of his crypt to be the first to sign it. Congrats, American evangelicals behind this manifesto! You have successfully made your prejudice relevant for the twenty-first century by using words like “transgenderism” and “polyamory.” But oops, plot-twist! Guess who’s non-binary and asks to be called by a male pronoun? GOD!

Natasha Grodzinski, Contributor

So, it’s happened. We are in a time where facts are called fake and skewed opinion can be called fact simply because it is a belief. An unbelievable side effect from this has been the rebranding of Nazism. It had been, for a decades following the Second World War, a politically unifying statement to say “Nazis are bad.” That’s a safe one. You could probably say that at a party and have everyone agree. But then the “alt-right” came, who claim to be neither Neo-Nazis nor White Supremacists. Then Charlottesville happened, where protestors used Nazi salutes and old Nazi chants but Donald Trump said that there were “two sides” to the events there, and took his sweet time condemning the clear racism and Neo-Nazism. My question is this: are we doomed to repeat the past? Did we learn nothing from historic events in Europe to be able to recognize when something is bad and harmful to other people? Germany emphasizes how bad those historic events were in their schools, with facts. How are we in North America not able to do the same thing?

Adina Heisler, Contributor

Even if you don’t know a whole lot about politics or international affairs, you can probably recognize that, when dealing with a country like North Korea, it’s important for world leaders, particularly the President of the United States, to be calm, keep a level head, listen to advisors, and not act rashly. Thank goodness there’s a man in the White House who only loses his temper over important matters, like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s TV ratings. On August 8th, Trump warned North Korea that any provocations against the U.S. will be met with “fire and fury”. Luckily, he thought that through carefully, took advice from his military advisors…what’s that? He totally improvised it? He’s a spoiled tangerine child with no impulse control and has absolutely no clue what he’s doing? We’re all doomed? Ok, cool. He’s playing Russian Roulette (wink) with North Korea, but hey, at least he doesn’t have a private email server!

Christopher Zaghi, Fashion Editor

Having to watch Houston natives suffer through Hurricane Harvey’s full onslaught and its devastating aftermath was horrifying enough, but, of course, the U.S. has a bad habit of demanding sympathy for its affected people while attacking those whose intentions are to help out. Such was the case for queer actor and all around bad ass Ruby Rose, who posted on her twitter that she was planning on generously donating $10,000 to an LGBTQ community centre to help with the cost of providing care for Houston locals. However, some U.S. citizens felt that Ruby’s choice of donating to an LGBTQ community centre was highly insensitive and wrong. Ruby was hit with tweets that read like a witch hunt news letter, some people felt her choice didn’t take into account that “All Lives Matter” (Lol) while other’s felt the need to tell her that “it must be nice to be able to flaunt your money like that.” It seems that the many citizens in the United States think it’s more important to be humble about your wealth then donating a portion of it to flood victims. And it’s far sadder that even more US citizens think that LGBTQ community centres have body guards at the door making sure that ONLY queer people are lining up for help.

Snigdha Koirala, Contributor

Last week, Munroe Bergdorf — a black, queer, trans model, and DJ — was announced as the face of L’Oreal’s True Match campaign — the corporation’s attempt at centering diversity and social justice in its advertisements and operations. Three days later, after Bergdorf wrote a Facebook post in response to the events in Charlottesville (where a white-supremacist killed an anti-racist protestor), she was dropped by the company. In her post, Bergdorf writes the following: “Most of ya’ll [white people] don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour…Your entire existence is drenched in racism.” Because of Bergdorf’s comment that all white people are racist — meaning that they benefit  from the systematic racism found in all corners of society, and, as such, unless they actively work towards fighting this form of oppression, they end up perpetuating it — L’Oreal claimed that Berdorf’s post went against its values of “tolerance” and “diversity”. L’Oreal, a worldwide corporation with a history of alleged racist and discriminatory work environments, a corporation that, through its products and advertisements, has continuously prized white women over women of colour, is now crying lack of tolerance when faced with the angry, unfiltered, true words of a black woman. WTF indeed.

Meg Summers, Contributor

The fashion world has been increasingly inclusive and it’s about time. Magazine covers and runways finally celebrate models of different body types, races, sexual identities, and more. However, there still seems to be some flaws when a brand shows their ignorance towards wanting to appear inclusive while not actually doing so. This past July, Vogue featured Gigi Hadid and her boyfriend Zayn Malik in a cover story that deemed the couple to be ‘gender neutral’ in their fashion choices. This is simply because Gigi enjoys wearing her boyfriend’s shirts and jackets (so basically, if you are a girl who has ever needed an extra layer or run out of laundry, you are also gender neutral — who knew?!). With the number of models who belong to the LGBTQ community and ACTUALLY identify as gender neutral, this could have been a great opportunity to gain some insight into a truly different aspect of fashion. Instead, this has been a sad attempt by Vogue to look edgy while still clutching onto their celebrity status.

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2017 Most WTF Moments….So Far

Some time last year, 2017 came to us like a lover we abruptly fell in love with at a social function because it seemed so fresh and put together. It was one smooth operating sonofabitch. It promised to meet us at the corner outside, next to the deli with all the colored flowers, under the streetlight where it’s parked a fast ride to the future, baby. We had a feeling that, together, we could be someone. Well, it didn’t work out so well. We got in the car and it drove us straight to a fuckboy of a new year made of what is increasingly turning out to be a frat party prank of a reality.

And believe it or not, we still have two thirds of 2017 left to go! More miles and ditches and road stops ahead in which all kinds of shenanigans will take place to the tune of craziness on television. But let us contemplate on what we rode past so far in this prelude to Fury Road.

Photo Credit: NurPhoto via Getty Images

Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief: After the madness of 2016, this year hasn’t been the year we were all hoping for. Reports of Chechnya allegedly detaining more than 100 men for being gay. According to the Independent, many have been tortured and at least four men have been killed. Yes, it’s no secret that with the many advances for the LGBT community there are still places in the world where being out is not an option. During my visit to Germany, I took a tour a of a former concentration camp where both Jews and Gay men were held, and the stories the guide told us were horrifying to say the least. It makes sick to think that this kind of abuse is still going on today.

Image via podtail.com

Natasha Grodzinski, Arts & Culture ContributorIf a person were to receive multiple allegations of sexual assault, be fired from their high-profile job, have the allegations taken to court and then be acquitted but have a reputation in ruins, what would be the best thing for them to do? Probably, as the kids say, go away quietly. Not Jian Ghomeshi. He now has his own podcast. The only possible explanation I could give on why this is happening is he must be an egomaniac. Even if you look aside from the number of women who came forward with sexual assault allegations concerning Ghomeshi both inside and outside of the workplace, the podcast itself (called The Ideation Project) is just bad. It’s him talking about some new-age “opening a conversation” stuff over trippy music. Listen if you want, but personally, I think I’ve heard enough from him.

Image via abc13.com

Claire Ball, Editorial ContributorUnited Airlines has been a complete disaster this year, to say the least. The airline has been a part of a slew of recent embarrassments. From a giant showcase rabbit dying, to stopping girls from boarding a flight for wearing leggings, and how can we forget the incident when United aggressively dragged passenger David Dao off of his fight? Honestly, everything about the airline infuriates me. This may be an obvious solution, but maybe United should just stop overbooking flights? Or join the 21st century and change their “dress code” to allow leggings? Regardless, the moral of the story: don’t fly United Airlines.

Devin Nunes, Republican U.S. Representative for California’s 22nd congressional district.

Hoon, Managing Editor: In the midst of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Trump’s allegations that Obama ‘wiretapped’ him — or, as the term came to increasingly denote, surveil him in ways that are if not illegal, unethical —, the Republican House intelligence committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes (California) made a secret visit on March 21st to the White House grounds to look at classified information pertinent to the case. The next day, Nunes returned to the White House with cameras to proclaim to a hastily prepared news conference that he’s found information regarding ‘incidental collection’ of information on U.S. citizens involved in Trump’s transition, which, translated, meant that he’s come across documents indicating that legal surveillance of foreign officials on U.S. soil led to incidental collection of U.S. citizens — Flynn, for instance — interacting with them. Why he felt the need to pretend to have found the information by himself and to brief Trump on information the White House presented to Nunes, and what this means regarding the sanctity of U.S. democracy and its capacity to withstand internal political turmoil is still unclear. That the Capitol was a setting for a half-written and dimly acted out spy story, on the other hand, is unbearably clear.

MegContributorAs if unhealthy, sugary drinks weren’t already hard to swallow, the notoriously ‘flat’ Pepsi ad was definitely a WTF moment. What was a sad attempt to encourage people to “join the conversation” was really a massive failure that affirmed the idea that lack of knowledge on inclusivity and global issues is still very much an issue. Pepsi created a campaign centred around supermodel Kendall Jenner who took time off from her bustling model career to save the multicultural mass protest against riot police by sharing a can of Pepsi. While this campaign has set a seriously narrow minded tone, I think the backlash that was received after is indication of the power that the people really can have in speaking out against what is so obviously wrong. After taking the campaign down, the issues surrounding it are still being talked about and addressed in a way that indicates change for how these subjects are approached. A few weeks later, Heineken came out with a campaign focusing on the same issues of encouraging dialogue over social issues but doing so in a way that was more raw and less commercialized. This WTF moment has thankfully turned itself around as other companies prove that careful and compassionate advertising is not lost.

Image: Mark Ralston/AFP

Kimberley, ContributorOver the years, it has become apparent that the Oscars have become irrelevant. Now simply used as a marketing tool, the Oscars often fail to offer any diversity within their selection of nominees. In 2017, major pictures, La La Land and Moonlight went head-to-head for the”Best Picture” title. After briefly hesitating to announce the award, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway declared La La Land as the winner. The entire cast and crew came up to accept their award, not long before La La Land‘s producer, Jordan Horowitz announced that there had been a mistake. It was later confirmed that Warren Beatty was handed the wrong card, and because of this, La La Land received the award over the rightful winner, Moonlight. I can’t pretend to know what it takes to successfully run an award show, especially one as big as the Oscars. This is certainly one of the biggest WTF moments of 2017, and will probably be mentioned for years to come. I just hope it won’t overshadow the importance of Moonlight as a film and take away from its victory as the “Best Picture” winner.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

Adina Heisler, ContributorWhile much of the attention has been given to some of the more outlandish, bizarre, and horrifying members and scandals of the White House and the Trump Administration, we shouldn’t forget about the unprecedented level of power and access Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner hold. Both now hold official roles in the White House (Ivanka is an “Assistant to the President” and Jared is a senior adviser), have been present at meetings with world leaders and domestic officials, and seem to have more influence than anyone else in the White House. Their qualifications? Being the daughter and son-in-law of the President. They may not be as flashy as the Donald, but their positions should be viewed with the same level of skepticism and outrage we give him, and his staff and cabinet.

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