By any metric, 2017 has been quite a year for desperation.
We speak, of course, of “thirst.”
Thirst is when you interrupt a conversation explicitly to make that conversation about yourself. It’s a Jumbotron promposal to a celebrity, with a Wiccan prayer toward helping it go viral. It’s everything about every episode of the television program Floribama Shore. I have spent hours searching back through the lowlights of this septic tank of a year to figure out who was the thirstiest among us. The journey was neither easy nor the kind of thing that makes one optimistic about the future. But this isn’t about me–even if writers are among the thirstiest folks out there–so let’s move on to the main event, a survey of the 13 people who craved attention the hardest this year.
13.) That Guy Who Hit On Someone Whose Dad Just Died
Reddit user JadeShade had just shared a photo on Facebook of himself with his recently deceased father. Rather than offer condolences, one loose acquaintance took this opportunity to fling himself toward JadeShade in a tactless Hail Mary of ill-timed seduction. This unnamed individual first says of the photo, “Lucky guy!” assuming it’s a photo of a couple, not a father-son duo. When JadeShade explains the situation, however, that’s when the commenter takes a step into the void and becomes a thirst legend. “Omg! I’m embarrassed! I thought he was your man. I’m so sorry. He aged well. I just thought he was a little bit older than you. Again, I’m sooo sorry! I wish I was your man but we live far apart. Maybe I can visit you where you’re at.” Now, it is true that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, but some shots even the most hopeful dreamers among us should dare not take.
12.) Neal McCoy
Just before Thanksgiving, country singer Neal McCoy dropped the sonic equivalent of turkey giblets all over America. “Take a Knee, My Ass (I Will Not Take a Knee)” is the gloriously redundant, parentheticaled song he wrote to push back against NFL protesters. You almost have to admire the mercenary entrepreneurship here: using lowest common denominator patriotism to sell records at perhaps a higher level than Toby Keith. He even stocks his music video with images of offended-looking troops, as if to say “Can you believe those commies are protesting our brave boys? And right before Turkey Day, no less!” At least he gave this exploitive cash grab a title that sounds like he’s singing a song to his own ass. Laughing at this whole mess likely helped a lot of people get through a tough Thanksgiving.
11.) Keith Olbermann
In a crowded field of lefty Twitterers jockeying to prove they’re the most against Trump, Olbermann consistently stood apart from the pack. That’s no easy feat! You have to make a lot of videos prematurely proclaiming that Donald Trump is finished, obnoxiously overpraise Eminem’s freestyle against Trump in the most out-of-touch way possible, and also write a book called Trump is Fucking Crazy (This is Not a Joke) to even come close. Yes, Keith, we understand it’s not a joke. Now please calm down.
10.) Donna Brazile
Elsewhere in the literary world, former interim chair of the DNC Donna Brazile wanted to make sure everybody knew she had a book for sale and that the problems plaguing Hillary Clinton’s campaign were definitely not her fault. One of the ways Brazile let us know was with a widely circulated book excerpt that ran in Politico in which she concluded, in no uncertain terms, that the Democratic primary was rigged for Clinton. Conservative media launched into told-ya-so ecstasies, but then Brazile appeared on CBS News to walk back the claim, saying, “I found no instances that the party rigged the process, and I wanted to make sure Bernie and his supporters understood that.” What an interesting way to make sure! Brazile’s omnidirectional promotion odyssey finally led her to a photo opp with Sheriff David Clarke, the stolen valor cowboy/Trump surrogate whose prison has a monstrously high body count. Hey, whatever it takes to sell books.
09.) Milo Yiannopoulos
Promoting his book–which was canceled by a major publisher for . . . reasons–was only part of the diminished alt-right darling’s attention-seeking efforts this year. He also set out on a tour of colleges, inspiring controversy through inflammatory rhetoric, and when his Berkeley “Free Speech Week” was canceled, he showed up anyway to take selfies and blow kisses. He’s also rumored to be the source behind BuzzFeed‘s October exposé about how Yiannopoulos worked with Steve Bannon at Breitbart to smuggle white nationalism into the mainstream. He certainly seems like the kind of person who would quietly sever ties with his former benefactors just to stay in the spotlight.
08.) Jake Paul
Being a professional viral video star means constantly vying for attention, so it takes a special something for a person in that line of work to make this list. Jake Paul, however, was an overachiever in abject thirst this year, making national news by turning his neighbors’ lives into one long, hellish viral video, releasing a holiday album entitled Litmas, promising to become the first social media billionaire, and possibly pretending to be hacked just to make headlines. Paul just may be the most obnoxious person that most people over 30 have never heard of–and he spent the year trying to change that last part.
07.) Azealia Banks
There was no hotter single in 2011 than Azealia Banks’ infectious, out-of-nowhere hit, “212.” We are now a long way from 2011. Since then, the Harlem-born Banks has become more known for being combative online and prone to homophobic and racist slurs than anything involving music. She started the year by posting Rihanna’s phone number online as a misguided rebuttal in an Instagram spat, called ascendant queen Cardi B “the poor man’s Nicki Minaj,” told producer RZA to “drop dead” when he contradicted Banks’s account of why she got thrown out of Russell Crowe’s hotel room in 2016 (!!!), and then closed out the year by threatening to take rapper Remy Ma to court over yet another Instagram spat. Most people have time for only one highly publicized fight a year!
06.) Mooch and Steve Bannon
Speaking of highly publicized fights, perhaps the biggest one this year took place in the (formerly?) hallowed halls of the White House. Yes, there were a lot of classic feuds at 1600 Pennsylvania this year, but the one resulting in the only doubles act on this list was between Anthony Scaramucci and Steve Bannon. Mooch’s hilariously brief 10-day tenure as White House Communications Director ended in part because of an expletive-filled rant to The New Yorker, during which he said, famously, “I’m not Steve Bannon. I’m not trying to suck my own cock.” Here’s the thing, though, in a White House brimming with I’m-rubber-you’re-glue projection, this statement takes the cake. Steve Bannon, of course, is indeed a classic narcissist self-mythologizer, who once compared himself to Darth Vader, but Scaramucci tried so hard to hold on to the limelight after being sacked, his hands are probably scorched. Whatever The Scaramucci Post is, for instance, the flailing sentient hairdo performed an avant-garde media blitz to make sure you found out about it. These two men hated each other because they deserve each other.
05.) Peter Daou
As much time as Keith Olbermann spent this year railing against Trump, Peter Daou spent it defending Hillary Clinton’s honor. The main way the former Clinton campaign advisor did so is with the launch of the singularly embarrassing media venture Verrit, whose entire concept basically boils down to “What if we pretend it’s July 2016 forever?” After audaciously boasting about the site’s growing Twitter presence following an ill-advised Clinton endorsement, Daou has watched his confusing company turn into a joke meme and then quickly fade from non-ironic conversation. As much as many of us wish we lived in a world where Hillary Clinton had been elected over Donald Trump, only Peter Daou (and occasionally Fox News) has the temerity to act like we do live in that world.
04.) Lindsay Lohan
Someone who has been mostly out of sight and out of mind for the past several years is Mean Girls star Lindsay Lohan. If her steady slide into irrelevance was tough to watch, seeing what she’s done in lieu of a comeback is even tougher. In 2017, the once-promising actress dedicated herself to tweeting sad hang-out requests at the world’s most famous celebrities and voicing support for Donald Trump with a strange new accent of unknown provenance.
Wanted to connect with you in #DUBAI since I live here but you don't follow me so I cannot DM you
— Lindsay Lohan (@lindsaylohan) November 14, 2017
“Stop bullying him and start trusting him,” Lohan wrote of Trump on Twitter, all but ensuring curious coverage from publications like Rolling Stone. It’s hard to tell what’s more wince-worthy: her cozying up to Turkish dictator Erdogan, stepping out on the town in a MAGA-red hat that reads ‘Russia,’ or publicly asking Emma Stone to make Mean Girls 2 with her, but it all felt like a train conductor pausing, mid-trainwreck, to persuade passersby to stop what they’re doing and check out this trainwreck.
03.) Tomi Lahren
Former Blaze contributor, current Fox News bot, and White Power Barbie, Tomi Lahren had a lot of opinions in 2017–each one seemingly devised with the exclusive intent of riling up the opposition. Guess what? It worked. But the threadbareness of her contrarian formula made it all feel a little manufactured, especially considering some old footage that surfaced this year, showing her taking more liberal stances on several key issues.
Whether she was conducting the Snowflake Awards for her aggrieved ideological opponents (despite the fact that conservatives regularly lose their minds over Starbucks cups), wildly misinterpreting the concept of healthcare, or tweeting a photoshopped image of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee on D-Day, she was always there, trying her best to trigger the libs. The only Lahren-related relief this year came when an also-thirsty fellow tricked her into appearing in a video in which he asks, “How does it feel to be a racist piece of shit?” Not all heroes wear capes.
02.) LaVar Ball
A lot has been said about the desperate ambitions of momagers, but let’s hear it for Sports Dads. LaVar Ball, father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, set out to conquer the world in 2017, popping up on every national TV show that would have him, launching a sportswear company called Big Baller, helping his sons launch TWO signature shoes, and starring in a reality TV show, Ball in the Family, which airs exclusively on Facebook Watch. Ambition can be a positive quality, and who doesn’t love a father helping his kids achieve their dreams? Watching LaVar Ball in action, though, one can’t help but think the relentless self-promoter is trying to help his kids achieve his dreams.
01.) Donald Trump
Not much more can be said about Donald Trump in 2017 that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll keep this unsurprising top pick short. The President of the United States is the thirstiest person on the planet. He is a preening, self-obsessed drama queen, the world’s first Bridezilla president. He views some of the most important decisions anyone has ever had to make solely through the lens of how the outcome will make him look. According to the New York Times, “Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.” Yes, the president said that. Out loud. To people!
The article goes on to say:
“To an extent that would stun outsiders, Mr. Trump, the most talked-about human on the planet, is still delighted when he sees his name in the headlines. And he is on a perpetual quest to see it there. One former top adviser said Mr. Trump grew uncomfortable after two or three days of peace and could not handle watching the news without seeing himself on it.”
All those times that many of us woke up to breathless denunciations of whatever impossibly inappropriate thing the president just tweeted? It may have been because not enough media outlets had been writing about him for two seconds. When Donald Trump closes his eyes, the whole world goes away. Here’s hoping the thirstiest man alive doesn’t provoke a nuclear war with a tweet trying to stay in the headlines in 2018.