The 2020 Misery List (Part 1)

Ed Zitron 7 min read
The 2020 Misery List (Part 1)

I’m not going to agonize over some sort of overdone thing about how bad 2020 was - I feel like there are people who have it a lost worse this year and I have no space to complain - and just cut to the very first Misery List I’ll write. The Misery List is the opposite of Bloomberg’s Jealousy List, a collection of mostly benign or petty things that made me annoyed this year, a collection of things that either annoyed me personally, or other people took seriously and said were great that, in my opinion, were trash and sucked. Or maybe they agree that the thing sucked, but I hated it more. Or maybe we hated it as much as each other. Either way, here we go. This is part 1 of 2.

Susan Orlean’s Fake Drunk Twitter Night (And Subsequent “I’m Drunk” Brand)

When I was in my early 20s, we had reached a precipice of Young Men Wearing Button-up Shirts and Drinking Straight Whiskey caused by the popularity of both How I Met Your Mother and Mad Men. Several men I knew - and briefly, myself included - somehow absorbed the act of drinking into their own identity. Knowing that you were going to go out and drink, or drink at home, or sometimes drink at work, became some sort of cool guy’s calling card. I remember having conversations with guys when I was 22 or 23 about how cool whiskey was and how it made you feel, how much you enjoyed having a buzz, and feel a sort of embarrassed malaise fall over me. I guess it falls into anything that you can say or do that makes people like you - if it’s a trick that works and lets you fit in, you’ll keep doing it.

That’s why Susan Orlean, a 64-year-old (at the time, she’s now 65), is so despicable. In July, she simply tweeted “drunk,” and because some people have rocks for brains they immediately honked and hooted about the idea of her being drunk. She tweeted a series of tweets about how drunk she was, and people fell over themselves to say she had the “mood of 2020.”

Here’s the thing: she wasn’t drunk. I am 100% sure of it. None of her typos make sense, and I think, at best, she was tipsy, tweeted “drunk” and realized she could get engagement if she tweeted shit about being drunk.

None of these make sense. Why would she hit the symbol on the way to typing A? The iPhone autocorrect is aggressive.

Orlean then turned this into a brand, talking in rapid, lucid detail about how drunk she was, what she was doing while drunk, the events that took place in an alarmingly accurate and direct manner. It’s almost as if she totally remembered everything. There is absolutely no chance she would have avoided typing “ducking,” the asinine way in which Apple tries to correct you when you write fucking - shit, my Mac is trying to do it to me now.

Furthermore, my experience of being drunk, and especially drunk online, is that you generally do not want to be seen drunk. And Orlean constantly talking about drinking is depressing on a whole other level - a well-off white person rambling incessantly about how tough their life and how they have to drink away the pain of being a famous writer. Nobody knows what goes on between the ears of someone else, whether they’re facing some unseen pain that would justify whatever action they’re taking, but choosing the “I love drinking” thing is so pathetic - there’s just something so fucking lame about it. Tweeting as an adult about being drunk, or how much you love drinking, is one of the least endearing things you can attach yourself to.

That, and she totally made it up.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light (and Destiny 2 as a whole)

I have sat through a lot of shit with Destiny 2, starting from…well, its launch. After finally getting somewhere with the original’s story, Destiny 2 has never quite found a way to tell anything coherent or endearing, and has continued to piss away every single seemingly good idea. I keep (well, kept) playing because the core FPS mechanics were great - they’re still the tightest in the genre, in my opinion - and I like the general feeling of the whole thing.

But expansion after expansion Bungie feels as if they have a genuine disdain for the player, with each storyline feeling as if it’s written specifically to let you down, starting most notably with Forsaken, a supposed quest for revenge after they killed off the most endearing character in the series (Cayde-6, voiced by Nathan Fillion), which ends with an extremely weird scene where you find out the guy who murdered him is hypnotized by a big orb alien thing that you kill, then you hold a gun to his head, the screen goes black, and there’s a gunshot. That’s it! Fuck you! No explanation! Nothing!

Note: this guy gets resurrected as a Guardian (not remembering his past life in the process) in the latest expansion, Beyond Light, and there is barely any fucking reference to the fact that he murdered your friend, that everyone loved. Everyone is fine with it. And no I do not care if it’s explained in some lore card I can read! Kiss my ass!

Anyway, this expansion is particularly shitty because it brings in the idea of The Darkness, who you have been fighting since Destiny 1, and then lets you get Ice Powers from it. There is little to no dramatic weight to the fact that you are somehow taking on the powers of your sworn enemy, the enemy that has killed millions…you’re just fine with it. Nothing.

And the actual gameplay of this expansion is a snow world. It’s a giant snow level. That’s it. Most of the bad guys you shoot at are reskinned versions of things you’ve already faced, in the worst possible setting, with a story about chasing some bad lady who’s also using the darkness…it’s just messy, boring and ugly. I haven’t bothered with the raid because why would I? There’s no new PvP, there’s some new guns I guess…the whole thing feels like garbage.

I wanted to give Bungie the benefit of the doubt when they left Activision, assuming that the general “we barely play our game and have no idea what fun is” attitude was coming from the top, but I think the rot is at the core of the company. It’s not like they put out buggy products - they simply seem happy to reskin and refashion old content and tell a story that suggests and intimates that something big is coming that will never arrive. It’s a truly loathsome way to create a game - as bad as CDProjekt’s Cyberpunk 2077 debacle - but instead of endless hype (which Bungie still pokes the press with) they have succeeded in creating a perpetual feeling that something big is always just around the corner, but never delivering it. Poo on that.

The Darkest Knight (AKA The Batman Who Laughs) Saga

You may think that the biggest crimes against superheroes are created by Zack Snyder, director of the new extremely serious Justice League movies, but you’d be wrong. Scott Snyder, who is not related to Zack Snyder, has been steadily churning out the worst saga in comic history with the Batman Who Laughs.

In short, The Batman Who Laughs is Bruce Wayne from the Dark Multiverse, who is driven to kill The Joker, who sprays Batman with Joker poison, which turns him into The Batman Who Laughs. The Dark Multiverse is a Multiverse where everything is dark.

The Batman who Laughs | Batman comic art, Batman comics, Batman metal

On the other side of that is the mother of the universe Perpetua who is trying to let Doom win over Justice, which means that the world will go Dark…christ almighty I’m skipping this. It’s so bad it makes my head hurt. In short, Big Baddy Lady Has Made The Universe Fall Into Disrepair, and The Batman Who Laughs and her took over everything and rewrote history so everything’s bad, harnessing crisis energy (jesus CHRIST) to do bad things…it’s just so bad. It’s incongruous. I’ve been reading it for over a year and I do not fully understand what is going on, and frankly I have re-read it and still don’t understand.

This story has been going on for two years, now that I’ve checked, and I thought this would be the year they turned it around (IE: ended it), but in fact they have made it worse by starting a series called DC: Metal: Death Metal. Basically the world has been taken over by The Batman Who Laughs and his Bad Batmen from the Dark Multiverse,  and the resistance of good guys are trying to reverse it.

Crucial detail - they have also wrapped a single multiverse of Watchmen into this. So, guess what? Doctor Manhattan is also in this universe. But he’s dead. Then the Batman Who Laughs gets killed. So they put the Batman Who Laugh’s brain in Doctor Manhattan’s body, and he becomes The Darkest Knight.

Dark Nights: Death Metal Reveals Batman Who Laughs' Powerful New Form

Now he’s trying to destroy everything for some reason.

It’s just so bad. Every issue and spinoff is more confusing and offensive than the last. Every panel creates some other issue and some other challenge that seems insurmountable, but is then surmounted, then another one pops up. DC has raised the stakes so many times that they have literally had to create old gods, new gods, then new new gods, each one more edgy and insane than the last. Just a total nightmare to read. And they even invented a character called Robin King who is Bruce Wayne but uh, for some reason became Robin, never really explained why:

This is probably the worst comic series ever written - it’s discordant, painful, complex in a way that feels disorganized rather than clever, to the point that I cannot truly remember what anyone is doing or why they’re doing it. Every issue of a DC comic is trying to one-up the last one and I do not know what is going on, but I hate it, I hate it so much, and will read to the end out of sheer spite.

To be continued…

As promised, this is part 1 of 2, which will close out The Misery List. Who knows what I could remember in the next 24 hours that will tear me up inside?

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