Even though the year is grinding to a close—this is the last While You Were Offline column of 2017!—nothing is slowing down on the internet, where former Pentagon officials are talking about possible alien life, Bitcoin is apparently collapsing, and some really impressively bad reviews are circulating for Netflix’s big holiday release. Talk about going out with a bang and a whimper. But what else has been happening on this web we once called world and wide? Feast your eyes below, dear friends, and enjoy your holiday season. Let’s all meet up again in the year 2018.
What Happened: The Republican tax plan finally passes, on the third attempt, amid multiple examples of proof that this wasn’t the most considered attempt to reshape the American economy in history.
What Really Happened: After what seemed like an eternity of panicked last minute revisions and rewritings, the House took up what seemed like the final Republican tax bill last week, and things went according to plan for the GOP.
Sure, this is a bill that is fairly bad for the majority of Americans (no, really), but it’s not as if there’s going to be something that happened immediately as it was passed that acted as a visual metaphor for how things were going to go, right?
Still, that’s just gravity! Surely there aren’t any other easily avoidable problems that showcased how quickly this was rushed through the House without appropriate oversight, right?
Yes, that’s the stuff. It didn’t matter in the end, however; after the Senate passed the bill, it just went back to the House the next day for a do-over:
So, what does this bill actually do, anyway?
…Oh. Make America great again, I guess?
The Takeaway: Well, at least someone was pleased with the bill passing.
President Trump’s UN-Deniable Misstep
What Happened: Despite a not-so-veiled threat from the US administration, the United Nations expressed its displeasure with President Trump’s attempts to destabilize the Middle East peace process.
What Really Happened: Hey, remember when Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, ending decades of US foreign policy? Sure you do. In what can only be described as “nothing even remotely resembling a surprise,” it turns out that the rest of the world wasn’t happy with the decision, as became clear at the United Nations this week.
Yes, the president threatened to cut US aid for countries that criticized the Jerusalem decision, because that’s apparently how diplomacy rolls these days. How did that go down with the rest of the UN, though?
That’s embarrassing for the president. On the plus side, there’s a case to be made for the US helping international unity by being the bad guy that everyone else comes together to defy…
The Takeaway: Maybe there is a way to try and turn it into a win from UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s point of view?
So, About That Meryl Streep Street Art…
What Happened: Anyone who bet on “street art in Los Angeles obliquely referencing Harvey Weinstein” as the latest front in the ongoing culture wars, you should probably consider playing the lottery.
What Really Happened: The fallout of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein continued in an unexpected direction last week when Rose McGowan went after Meryl Streep on Twitter. In a now-deleted series of tweets, she wrote, “Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @goldenglobes in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa.” (McGowan later apologized for that last line, saying, “There is no map for this road I’m on, I will **** up.”) Streep then responded via a statement from her publicist, denying that she knew about Weinstein’s activity:
Many were impressed by Streep’s tone, and what she had to say.
Others, however, were less impressed. Or, at least, that’s what appeared to be the case when a series of posters showing Streep with the text “She Knew” across her face started appearing in Los Angeles. If this was an attempt to build a consensus against Streep, however, it wasn’t going too well.
And with good reason: The posters turned out to be the work of a right-wing guerrilla artist who wanted to protest the release of Streep’s upcoming movie The Post, about the Washington Post‘s decision to publish reports on the Pentagon Papers, and Streep’s political criticism of President Trump. “She’s swiping at us so we’re swiping back,” the artist—who goes by the name of Sabo—told The Guardian. The declaration of intent didn’t go too well.
The artist, however, was clearly enjoying his moment in the spotlight.
He was also upset at the accusations of plagiarism.
The Takeaway: But, by all means, let’s blame Meryl Streep for Harvey Weinstein’s actions! That’s far easier than people taking responsibility, right?
What Happened: Fox News’ Sean Hannity took to Twitter to complain about the media without checking his sources.
What Really Happened: In this age of #FakeNews, it’s up to truth warriors like Fox News’ Sean Hannity to tell America what’s really going on, with the help of their trusted outlets. Isn’t that right, Sean?
Of course, in his rush to lay down the righteous truth, Sean might not have noticed where his linked story originated. But, luckily, lots of other people did.
Well, maybe no one noticed. Oh, no, wait. Turns out, lots and lots of people noticed. But surely Sean had an entirely convincing explanation for what had happened…
…Yes, sure. That’s exactly what the original tweet said. Gotcha.
The Takeaway: Let’s think of this as a teachable moment for all involved. Especially those of us impressed at how hilariously Hannity’s original tweet came to bite him on the tush.
Pumpin’ Up the Volume, Breakin’ Down to the Beat
What Happened: It’s almost New Year’s Day! But what’s the best way to start 2018? Twitter has more than a few suggestions.
What Really Happened: It’s almost 2018, which means it’s time for that all important question: How are you going to get your next year started? Last week, social media was there to answer that question, by ensuring that no matter what else is to come, your new year will start with an amazing soundtrack. To wit…
Of course, this wasn’t the only way to start your 2018 off right, as Twitter was quick to remind you.
Wait, that’s not right. How about these, instead?
Of course, there are ways not to start your New Year, as well…
The Takeaway: Before we even get to December 31, should we be worried that all these suggestions are setting up unrealistic expectations for what lies ahead?