2012 was chock full of fail, with campaign gaffes, Olympic bloopers, and even some good 'ol' fashioned public nudity from a respected celebrity. Here's a look at the 12 biggest fails from the year that was.
1. Mitt Romney
If you had to pinpoint the epic fail of Mitt Romney to single moment, it would have to be the infamous 47% remark. At a closed-door donors dinner in late September, Romney stated that 47% of Americans are “entitled,” that they “believe they are victims,” and they're “dependent on government.” Little did he realize that his comments were being secretly filmed, thus producing the most viral video since Gangnam Style. It would be unfair to say that Romney lost the election in this one stroke by deeply insulting half of the country, especially since it was hardly his only gaffe. Other notable flubs include, “I don't care about the very poor,” and an incredibly ill-timed joke about rising oceans/global warming in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Romney also gave us the best/worst quote of the 2012 election: “They brought me binders full of women.” Some would say that poor Mitt was fighting a losing battle from the start, but the moments of brilliance he displayed in the first debate showed everyone that Obama was far from a lock.
2. The Fail Mary
The NFL's attempt to use replacement referees for the 2012 season was an avalanche of fail. Bumbling, incompetent, and in over their heads, these stand-ins made a joke of professional tackle football for three weeks. The embarrassment culminated on Monday Night Football, when one of the worst calls in sports history completely reversed the outcome of the game. The contest between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers came down to a hail mary pass for Seattle. The Packers intercepted the pass, but Seahawks receiver Golden Tate was ruled to be in “simultaneous possession” of the ball, and was thus awarded the game-winning touchdown as time expired. The entire football community screamed a collective, “WHAT!?” and then came together to demand the return of the regular refs. After three days of twitter-bombs, angry phone calls, and passionate pleas from commentators, the NFL Referees Association labor dispute was resolved, and the real refs were back on the field. It was later revealed that some of the replacement crews had actually been fired from the lingerie football league ... for incompetence! That's a whole 'nother level of fail.
3. GOP Candidates Talk about Rape
The third biggest fail of 2012 is a tie between Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, whose bafflingly ignorant comments about rape/pregnancy cost them their respective elections. Missouri Senatorial Candidate Akin struck first, saying that in instances of “legitimate rape,” the female body has ways of preventing pregnancy. This was a double-whammy of dumb. Not only does Akin imply that women who got pregnant by rape were not legitimately raped, he also revealed his downright fanciful notions of human anatomy. Mourdock, who hails from Indiana, got himself in trouble when he brought God into the mix. During a debate, he argued that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.” In other words, God intends for people to be raped. Yikes. Like I said, both these guys lost handily come November.
4. Bath Salts and the Zombie Apocalypse
This one is on the media. It started when police speculated that the Miami man who ate parts of another man's face during an assault might have been high on the designer drug, bath salts. Rational as always, media outlets everywhere decided it was time to do a report on bath salts and the now inevitable zombie apocalypse. For days, “Zombie Apocalypse” was trending on Twitter and Google, all thanks to one man who decided to eat some face and a U.S. media desperate for something to report on other than the Olympics and the elections. To top it all off, it's still unknown if bath salts even played a role in the attack, as the new drug is often undetectable by standard toxicology.
5. Italian Failboat
Captain Francesco Schettino of the Italian cruise-ship Costa Concordia will forever be synonymous will fail. After taking his vessel too close to the rocky shore off of Giglio Porto, he abandoned ship “by accident” when he fell into a life boat. Whether or not his evacuation really was an accident, or something more along the lines of Austin Powers' “Oh, I fell over! Oh, I fell over again!” is debatable. However, he then disregarded the coast guard's order to return to the ship, leaving the passengers and crew to fend for themselves without direction. The notion of the captain going down with the ship is an archaic one, but the notion of the captain sticking around long enough to give orders and help facilitate communication between the ship and the coast guard is timeless.
6. Ecce Mono
Concerned over the sorry state of Elias Garcia Martinez's Ecce Homo, elderly parishioner Cecilia Gimenez of Borja, Spain took it upon herself to restore the painting to its former glory. Unfortunately for Martinez, and for the painting, Gimenez did not have the talent to back up her ambition. What was once a classic depiction of Jesus is now described as “a crayon sketch of a monkey in an ill-fitting tunic.” Martinez had the purest of intentions, which only makes the situation that much more hilarious. The face of the restored painting has become a meme on par with McKayla Maroney, whose infamous unimpressed mug has been photoshopped onto just about everything.
7. Ryan Lochte
Though the 2012 London Olympics brought plenty of win for Usain Bolt, Andy Murray, and Missy Franklin, there was more than enough fail to go around. Enter Ryan Lochte. He came into the games hyped as the next Michael Phelps, and even bested him in the 400m individual medley. However, as the anchor leg in the 4x100m freestyle, he lost a huge lead and was eked out by hundredths of a second in a complete reversal of the iconic moment from the 2008 games. Lochte also made a name for himself with his almost impossibly dumb twitter feed and interviews. His best moment came when he was asked what defines him. His answer: “What defines me? (pensive pause) Ryan Lochte.”
8. Innocence of Muslims
The most culturally insensitive movie since Birth of a Nation, Innocence of Muslims is the biggest film fail of 2012. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula aka Sam Bacile, wrote and produced the film which was only shown once to an audience of 10 people in a rented theater. However, a 14-minute series of excerpts from the film, uploaded to YouTube as “Muhammad Movie Trailer,” has now been seen by millions. These clips depict many of Islam's founding figures as child molesters, and compares Muhammad to a donkey. Oddly enough, the film's egregiously offensive message seems to have come entirely from Bacile/Nakoula himself, who added in all of the religious references during post-production via overdubbing. The film was blamed for igniting the tempers of Libyan and Egyptian terrorists who stormed the U.S. embassies in those countries, making this a fail on a global scale.
9. Chick-fil-A on Gay Marriage
Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy failed the second he opened his mouth in the gay marriage debate. Responding to accusations that the company makes substantial donations to anti-gay activism groups, Cathy chose not to take the easy way out, and instead came down hard on the issue of gay marriage. Apparently, Chick-fil-A is a family company, and family means a man and a woman as defined in the Bible. The backlash was enormous, but so was the outpouring of support from Christian customers. We'll never know if this was a calculated business decision or just bigots being bigots, but early estimates indicate that Chick-fil-A's profits were soaring after the declaration. Maybe this wasn't such a fail after all ...
10. Jason Russel's Naked Breakdown
Last March brought us one of the most widely shared videos in the history of social media, Kony 2012, (remember that from Facebook?). It racked up over 100 million views in a week, but the filmmaker and co-founder of Invisible Children, Jason Russell, destroyed his reputation almost as quickly as he earned it. Some 10 days later, Russell suffered a total mental breakdown that left him naked and screaming incoherently on a street corner in San Diego. Russell explained the incident in an interview with Oprah, saying that he was dehydrated and having an out-of-body experience. Personally, I think he was having an out-of-LSD experience, as in “I took all of it, and now I'm out of LSD.”
11. Clint Eastwood vs. Chair
I don't even know what to say about this one. In case you missed it, Clint Eastwood debated an invisible President Obama by talking to an empty chair during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL. And by many accounts, he lost. What was a non-sensical idea on paper achieved full-fledged absurdity as Eastwood mumbled his way through and clearly lost his train of thought on more than one occasion. Somehow, the crowd loved it, laughing uproariously whenever the octogenarian Oscar-winner would imply that the invisible Obama was telling him to shut up. Of course, it may have just have been that those were the only parts of Eastwood's ramblings that made any sense.
12. London Olympics Opening Ceremonies
Remember 2008? How awesome were the Beijing Games opening ceremonies? That's exactly how un-awesome the opening ceremonies at this year's London Olympics were. In the place of pounding drums, fireworks, and amazing synchronized choreography, we had Mary Poppins, a cloth baby, and the Industrial Revolution as told through interpretive dance. For American audiences, NBC compounded the level of fail by not only tape-delaying the proceedings, but also leaving its commentators woefully under prepared. At one point, viewers were told to Google Tim Berners-Lee to find out who he is. I just did, and apparently he invented the world wide web. NBC's classic “The more you know” became “The more you fail.”
Well that does it for the top 12 fails of 2012. Honorable mentions go the San Diego Chargers for blowing a 24-0 halftime lead against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football and to the Russian Government for imprisoning Pussy Riot, thus giving journalists everywhere an excuse to use the phrase, “Pussy Riot.”