The Most Unnecessary Controversies Of 2016 Thus Far

In the age of social media and tabloid journalism, controversies bring home the bacon. They get clicks, inspire debate, and pay the mortgages of desperate reporters looking to stumble on that next great scandal. Sometimes, however, these viral stories end up being nothing but a bunch of hot air. Here are eight silly controversies that we were all better off not hearing about.


On May 28, 2016, a three-year-old boy fell into the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla pit. A 400-pound male silverback by the name of Harambe took notice, rushed over, and began dragging him around like he was a banana. Fearing an attack, zookeepers came to the conclusion the only thing left to do was off the primate with one bullet.

It quickly became a real-time display of the power of social media and brutal competition among online journalists looking to out-outrage each other. More than 515,000 people signed a petition to bring justice to Harambe, but sadly, Harambe was already dead. The event gave birth to a conga line of dank memes, including Muhammad Ali vs. Harambe and The Trolley Problem. It also became racial for some weird reason. In the end, the only lesson Harambe taught us was that people won’t budge an inch from their initial feelings and will continue to confirm their biases until we all hate each other just a little bit more.


Culturally Appropriating Pho

If you’re part of the melanin-challenged community, please cease offering advice on how to eat Pho, because you’re bound to become the internet’s “Asshole of the Week.” Enter Chief Tyler Akin of Philadelphia’s Stock restaurant. With the help of Bon Appetit, he created a video titled “PSA: This Is How You Should Be Eating Pho.” And then hundreds of people tried to ruin his life via Yelp by submitting 1-star reviews.

One commenter wrote, “Don’t cultural (sic) appropriate. It’s hard enough as it is to feel proud about your culture without someone telling you what you should be doing to eat the food in your culture the right way.” Another got punny: “Thank you for trying to tell me how to eat my pho. Like seriously, are you pho-real?” Bon Appetit’s Facebook was also victim to a barrage of racist accusations, leading the famous foodie mag to pull the video from the internet and issue an apology: “Who are we to tell you you’re doing something wrong? A fact made abundantly clear in all the comments the video elicited … Moreover, we misrepresented the chief (who is not Vietnamese), by putting him out there as a pho authority, something he never claimed to be.”

Sounds like a bunch of pho-niness to me.


Dr. Drew Speculates on Hillary’s Health—Gets “Resigned”

America’s most trusted physician by media outlets and allegedly threatened by executives of CNN for being “gravely concerned not just about [Hillary’s] health, but her health care.” Dr. Drew Pinsky was referring to Hillary’s 2012 concussion which led to a blood clot in her noggin and subsequent brain surgery. Dr. Drew implied that this surgery had ties to Hillary’s coughing marathons and eventually the Faint Heard Round the World. Dr. Drew’s last episode of “Dr. Drew on Call” is scheduled for Sept. 22. Maybe we should all listen next time.


Snapchat Goes Blackface

The invention of the selfie has led to many public downfalls of men. Just ask Anthony Weiner. On April 20, Snapchat released its Bob Marley lens feature to immediate backlash, prompting many to accuse them of having sympathies toward blackface. The feature, which is still going strong, allowed any sort of pasty-faced saltine to don dreadlocks, darkened skin, and a crochet slouch cap. Their noses also got bigger.

Cue the shitstorm in 3…2…1…

One writer, Aisha Dadi Patel of South Africa’s Daily Vox, summed up the frustrations in one succinct message: “The filter is a form of blackface, cultural appropriation, and totally problematic…” The Bob Marley Estate, which worked closely with Snapchat to produce the lens filter, was unavailable for comment. In an unforeseen twist, Snapchat replied to the outrage unflinchingly: “Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements. The lens gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music.” Lost to many is the fact that even now, any face swap app is capable of creating blackface.


Everything About “Ghostbusters”

Full disclosure: As a cisgender person with two testicles hanging between by legs, I can sympathize with the idea of not wanting to spoil a timeless franchise with a gimmicky remake. I can also sympathize with Hollywood executives who want to turn a profit by creating a gimmicky remake and not giving two shits about a timeless franchise. I’m at zen. As with many genderific controversies, The Great Ghostbusters Bickering of 2016 involved one side being called sexist and the other side not wanting to see Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd replaced by Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy. (It’s like turning Han Solo and Luke Skywalker into Hannah Solo and Lulu Skywalker, starring B-list female comedians). (Photo cred:


Lena Dunham, the Marshmallow

One fateful night for Lena Dunham’s career at the Met Gala this year, the 30-year-old creator of HBO’s “Girls” and 23-year-old superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. sat next to each other. Dunham later accused him of thinking quietly to himself, “That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.” The internet then collectively shat on her life.

What makes this controversy so unnecessary is the fact that yes, Dunham tried to be humorous. It was on her podcast, after all. But the fact remains that no one—especially someone who may or may not be a talentless, potato-shaped harbor seal who likes to ironically dress in tuxedos—should wield enough power to create a Twitter firestorm just because she thought something.


Madonna Exposes Teen Fan’s Boob During a Concert

We here at Mandatory don’t encourage the celebration or promotion of teenage breasts, but here’s the scoop. In March of this year, Madonna was performing in Brisbane, Australia when she invited 17-year-old model Josephine Georgiou onstage to “spank her.” That in itself is a lot more controversial, and dare I say creepy, than what happened next. Madonna ripped her top open to expose her bare breast. Uproar, outcry, and repressed horniness ensued.

But Georgiou wasn’t embarrassed, nor was she mad. As she told the Courier Mail, “Only I get to decide if I’m humiliated or not—why would people assume I am humiliated by my own breast, nipple, or body?” Damn right! You go girl. (Photo cred:


Huffington Post Accused of Antisemitism for Calling “The Fat Jew” The Fat Jew

During the Video Music Awards on August 28, Nick Jonas aired a performance of “Bacon” which featured a cameo from the alleged plagiarist and fat Jew Josh “The Fat Jew” Ostrovsky. Ostrovsky threw bacon in the air in a restaurant in the video, and The Huffington Post was watching closely. Their Twitter team tweeted, “not thrilled at the fat jew wasted all of that perfectly good bacon.” Could’ve used a little punctuation, but hey, they deleted the hell out of it. So what says you? Antisemitism? Or calling Josh by his Chosen name?


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