There's a difference between justified anger and performative outrage.
Police brutality, sexual harassment, religious intolerance, and other forms of bigotry, violence, and hatred are prevalent problems that plague oppressed members of society; so of course the justified anger surrounding such issues sustains for years.
Internet outrage, however, is like RompHims, fidget spinners, or Anthony Scaramucci's political career: it comes and goes in the blink of any eye.
I'm as guilty of it as anyone else. In April, a man was violently dragged off of an overbooked flight for United Airlines, I found that to be rather upsetting. I mean, I still fly United whenever it's the cheapest available flight and will continue to do so forever, but that's not the point. The point is that I was angry at United Airlines for a few days, and for a fleeting moment, I allowed myself to think that a multibillion dollar company would actually give a shit about my frustration. But when the time came to catch a flight, all my anger flew right out of the window once Kayak offered me a hacker fare via United.
But who could blame me? After all, I'm an American. And in America, we pride ourselves on being performatively angered by trending topics for an incredibly brief period of time.
For example, I remember people in Portland being furious at the band YACHT for releasing a fake sex tape last year. All that anger lasted for about three days, and then folks moved on to checking into Standing Rock or some other dumb shit because there's always some new flavor-of-the-week issue diverting our attention from the last thing we purported to care about.
This year was no different. From an allegedly racist Dove commercial to the killing of Xanda the Lion to our president tweeting "Covfefe," there was no shortage of internet outrage in 2017. But of all the performative indignation that occurred this past year, there were three moments of internet outrage that stood out the most:
1. Kathy Griffin and The Severed Head
In May, Kathy Griffin posted a photograph wherein she was holding the decapitated head of Donald Trump. In response, Griffin was quickly denounced by hoards of citizens who would rather defend a man accused of multiple sexual assaults than overlook a female comic's sick sense of humor.
The thing is, no one really cared. No one was truly offended. No one actually thought that Kathy Griffin was going to cut Trump's head off and hold the evidence of her homicide up for the whole world to see. The only thing the photo did was give conservatives the chance to make a mountain out of a molehill; the same thing they're constantly accusing liberals of doing.
There were even people invoking Barron Trump's wellbeing and wondering what kind of an effect such an image would have on Trump's youngest son. And look, I feel for Barron. I really do. But let's be honest: Donald Trump is Barron Trump's father, so that kid's gonna be fucked up in the head regardless of what any comedian says.
The whole ordeal was little more than an exercise in mass outrage and public humiliation leading to Kathy Griffin losing her gig at CNN.
And she wasn't only fired from CNN. In the wake of her photo fallout, Kathy Griffin also lost her endorsement deal with Squatty Potty.
If you're not familiar with the Squatty Potty, all you need to know is that it's a toilet-specific stool that aids folks in shitting their brains out. It's the same product that aired those tasteful commercials where a pooping unicorn shat multicolored frozen yogurt into a waffle cone.
Apparently, in the aftermath of her bloody photoshoot, Squatty Potty fired Kathy Griffin and released a statement denouncing the comic's antics. I never read the statement, but I can only assume it read, "Here at Squatty Potty, we pride ourselves in helping people shit. But we absolutely refuse to let anyone take a dump on our president."
It's especially odd that the feces-centric company would rush to show support for our president because we all know scatological endeavors aren't really Trump's thing. He's more of a pee-play kinda guy.
This is one of my favorite examples of outrage from this year because Kathy Griffin lost it all, but I literally can't name a single person who gives a flying fuck about the infamous photo she posted.
Griffin's punishment doesn't fit the crime, and the outrage surrounding the photo seems to have been perpetuated purely by the constant need for internet content rather than actual anger. And in the end, it just doesn't seem right that in 2017 we saw a slew of men lose their careers for raping women and a woman lose her career because of a bad joke.
2. Colin Kaepernick Protesting Via Football
It's fine if you don't think he accomplished anything meaningful, but if Colin Kaepernick's protest actually made you angry, then you're a piece of shit. The only thing there is to be mad about is how hard it is to spell that nigga's name without Googling it first.
3. The Kooks Burrito Incident
Portland does a lot of stupid shit when it comes to race—like gentrifying historically Black communities and then unironically allowing white-owned businesses that cater to the predominately white residents of that newly gentrified area to place "Black Lives Matter" signs in their front windows.
Maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe all those slapdash signs outside of a hipster coffee shops are really making a difference.
But by far, the dumbest pseudo-progressive faux-outrage to besiege this city in the past year revolved around Kooks.
For those of you who don't remember (and really, it was such an innocuous incident that no one could possibly expect you to remember it), earlier this year two white ladies opened up a pop-up tortilla stand inside of a food cart.
First of all, let me just say that I have no fucking idea what that means: "A pop-up tortilla stand inside of a food cart." Sure, I know what each of those words mean individually, but when they're put together like that, it sounds absolutely ridiculous.
My best guess is that, for a short period of time, there was a food cart somewhere in Portland where when you ordered a burrito, two overly cheerful white women popped up out of nowhere and started making tortillas while a sad Bon Iver song played wistfully in the background.
And because this is Portland we're talking about, it's fair to assume that these weren't just regular white women; these were Portland White Women. That means that they were probably each wearing some ill-fitting skullcaps, had an armful of shitty PBR tattoos, and had both at some point fucked a "struggling artists" who slept on mattress without a frame in the middle of someone else's living room.
But I digress.
Two white women were making tortillas in Portland, which was apparently very offensive to other white people in the whitest, most gentrified city in America.
Ultimately, the ordeal dissolved into a bunch of righteously indignant white people yelling at other white people about what they think is best for people of color, which is actually how most arguments in Portland tend to go.
After Kooks went under, a long list of white-owned "ethnic" restaurants began to circulate, and if even one of those businesses had also been forced to close, I would have believed for even the slightest sliver of a moment that anyone gave a shit about Kooks being culturally appropriative. But Pok Pok is doing just fine and the Taco Bell on Weidler is open, so clearly no one actually gave a fuck.
If you're Latinx and the existence of a pop-up tortilla stand inside of a food cart angered you, that's fine. I get it. I'm black, and as silly as it is, I still feel a twinge of anger whenever I see some ofay at Whole Foods slinging under-seasoned collard greens. But if you're a white person who was even remotely upset by the thought two women cooking the food they love in a goddamned pop-up tortilla stand inside of a food cart, then you should probably go fuck yourself.