Over the last seven days, the internet has been full of unwelcome nostalgia: Here’s some nuclear brinksmanship! Here’s Puerto Rico, decimated by a natural disaster! Here’s the Senate, planning to vote on yet another healthcare plan to repeal Obamacare! But it’s not all been familiar badness; there’s been some new ill-feeling torment, as well. Just look below, if you don’t believe us. What’s that? You were hoping for good stuff? Um, well, we have some elf-based rhymes, if you can hold on long enough? This, friends, is what has become of the world wide web during the last week.
Sean Spicer’s Public Image Rehabilitation Tour
What Happened: Everyone loves a good redemption story. A bad one involving a former White House press secretary, however? That’s another matter altogether.
What Really Happened: Ah, the Emmy Awards telecast. It’s the annual celebration of everything good in television. This year’s ceremony, which took place last Sunday, ended up being more than just another big Hollywood party. According to media watchers, the show was exceptionally political, with winners and host Stephen Colbert taking shots at the current administration and not standing up for this crap. Well, apart from this, of course.
Just ask yourself: How do you think a chummy cameo from President Trump’s former flack Sean Spicer went down on Twitter? Exactly.
sean spicer was complicit in peddling straight up lies to this country but go ahead and pander for some laughs
— jellybean jones (@harryhateskale) September 18, 2017
enjoying all these awards for Resisting Trump Bravely With Art after the show asked us to laugh with Sean Spicer
— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) September 18, 2017
Steve Bannon got a 60 Minutes feature & Sean Spicer got an #Emmys cameo, but Hillary Clinton needs to "shut up & go away"? Mmkay.
— Sarah Lerner (@SarahLerner) September 18, 2017
— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) September 18, 2017
Sorry to be a spoilsport, but I don't think it's funny that Spicer is tacitly admitting to his falsehoods and using it for image rehab
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) September 18, 2017
Let's not let people like Spicer and Mooch become Cute Things. They were lying mouthpieces, utter disgraces. They should be shunned forever.
— Joe Berkowitz (@JoeBerkowitz) September 18, 2017
Sean Spicer sold his soul to work for Trump and repeatedly lied from the podium. Hilarious!
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) September 18, 2017
Five months ago, Sean Spicer denied that Hitler gassed people during the Holocaust. Sorry, but I'm not seeing the humor in that… https://t.co/6ChkFMjl6X
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) September 18, 2017
The only reason Sean Spicer should appear in public is to have custard pies and spoiled fruit thrown at him.
— Julius Goat 🦆 (@JuliusGoat) September 18, 2017
It wasn’t just Twitter that was appalled by show business’s gleeful embrace of a figure who had previously been deriding it at every available opportunity; the rest of the media was just as upset. Should we perhaps turn to an award-winning American literary figure to sum this whole thing up? Let’s.
Seeing contemptible Sean Spicer on Emmys in company of Stephen Colbert nullifies Stephen Colbert as a person of integrity. Just show biz.
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) September 18, 2017
The Takeaway: And the moral, if there is one, of this story, is this:
Sean Spicer was horrible in Jan 2017
Sean Spicer is horrible today
Sean Spicer will be horrible tomorrow
Stop normalizing horrible
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) September 18, 2017
The Facepalm Seen ‘Round the World
What Happened: The general public watching President Trump give a speech is one thing; someone who actually works for him watching the same speech is another. Can’t imagine what that’s like? Turns out, you don’t even need to imagine it.
What Really Happened: President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time on Tuesday, and it went just about as well as could be expected, as long as folks are OK with “as well as could be expected” including “boasting about how great the US is doing since his election and threatening to totally destroy North Korea.” But if you think that sounds like a disaster, wait until you see how White House Chief of Staff John Kelly seemed to take it.
— Colin Campbell (@colincampbell) September 19, 2017
John Kelly apparently went through some sort of existential crisis during Trump's UN speech. pic.twitter.com/v0JUz21klN
— Kyle Feldscher (@Kyle_Feldscher) September 19, 2017
John Kelly has a terrible poker face https://t.co/JIM05ybgWF
— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) September 19, 2017
John Kelly, doing his best impression of Kif Kroker's weary sigh. pic.twitter.com/rYYPHOJiqI
— MAURICE LAMARCHE (@MAURICELAMARCHE) September 19, 2017
— VoteVets (@votevets) September 19, 2017
Trump, referring to Kim Jong Un: “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime”
John Kelly: pic.twitter.com/sWkBmkeRKm
— Holly O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) September 19, 2017
Actually, you know, that picture looks kind of familiar…
John Kelly's reaction to Trump calling Kim Jong Un "Rocket Man" and saying he'd "totally destroy" North Korea: pic.twitter.com/S0ZR7B3Hql
— Nick Jack Pappas (@Pappiness) September 19, 2017
Oh, that’s why. But what was Kelly actually reacting to, anyway?
We lined up the AP's photo time stamp with the speech. Kelly had his hand on his face after Trump called North Korea a "band of criminals." pic.twitter.com/MbGqAP6fV2
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 19, 2017
The second of AP's Pained John Kelly photos was taken as Trump correctly said Iranian money helps prop up Assad. pic.twitter.com/nFcLy0o6vK
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 19, 2017
Of course, Kelly’s response didn’t go unnoticed by the media, either. (If you’re curious, the official White House response was that Kelly was just very tired because he’d been working so hard. So, you know, sure.)
Still, it could be worse. Trump could have made up an entire country.
Trump, at a lunch with African leaders, refers to the non-existent country of "Nambia." pic.twitter.com/N8megnC1Xi
— David Mack (@davidmackau) September 20, 2017
The Takeaway: On the other hand, perhaps Kelly could be a rallying point for the country at large.
— BE (@ThatBarb) September 19, 2017
Hoist Your Own ‘Dotard’
What Happened: President Trump called Kim Jong-un “Rocket Man.” Then the North Korean leader called Trump “mentally deranged” (amongst other names). It was a whole thing.
What Really Happened: So, remember when Trump was talking to the UN and threatening to destroy North Korea? During that same speech, he repeated his new name for Kim Jong-un: “Rocket Man.” Now, we can argue the value of insulting the North Korean leader by naming him after a great Elton John song for days, but one thing that isn’t up for discussion is that Kim Jong-un fought back in this war of the words pretty damn impressively.
PLEASE read this full statement from Kim Jong Un reacting to President Trump's UN speech… pic.twitter.com/W2EXDo4UEt
— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) September 21, 2017
NORTH KOREA'S Kim Jong Un: "I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."
Didn't like Trump's speech.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) September 21, 2017
📈 Kim Jong Un calls Trump a mentally deranged U.S. dotard. Searches for 'dotard' are high as a kite. https://t.co/HztPoLSjXi
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) September 21, 2017
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) September 21, 2017
Mentally deranged US dotard? That's pretty good actually. I'd definitely rather be referred to as Rocket Man. This round to Kim Jong-un. https://t.co/vgZcmcGDKJ
— Mark Congiusta (@interactivemark) September 21, 2017
Looks up definition of "dotard." pic.twitter.com/kyf5j6J1DB
— Cameron Ridle (@CameronRidle) September 21, 2017
While I'm certain no one wins in a nuclear war, I might put my money on Kim Jong Un in a game of Scrabble vs Donald Trump. #dotard
— Clever Thing Later (@CleverLater) September 21, 2017
If you can't spot the dotard in the room, the dotard is you
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) September 21, 2017
'Dotard' is a good one to pull out of the bag. Wish I learnt it doing a crossword instead of through being on the precipice of nuclear war.
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) September 21, 2017
do·tard (dōdərd) noun
A word you didn't previously know existed, but googled today and said, "Damn, that's pretty accurate."
— Funny Or Die (@funnyordie) September 22, 2017
Even Twitter apparently couldn’t resist a little dig. (Sure, this was just an algorithm. Whatever.)
— E5QUIRE (@Dj_E5QUIRE) September 22, 2017
Before too long, the media was getting in on the act, because, come on; who doesn’t want to talk about dotards? But sadly, the story might not actually be exactly as it seems.
The Korean original statement said "늙다리 미치광이," which means old beast lunatic — which was translated into "dotard." https://t.co/2uQ0Xsxe2X
— Jihye Lee 이지혜 (@TheJihyeLee) September 21, 2017
The Takeaway: Of course, in all stories, there’s always an unintended victim to be found.
Damn. "Mentally Deranged U.S. Dotard" was going to be the name of my dad band, a kind of funk/math rock thing, and now I've gotta change it.
— John Schwartz (@jswatz) September 21, 2017
If You’ve Heard of Elf on the Shelf…
What Happened: Look, if you haven’t actually heard of Elf on the Shelf, this one might be a little strange.
What Really Happened: If you spend any amount of time on social media, you might have noticed that a lot of people have been talking about Elf on the Shelf lately. Or, rather, looking to replace the poor guy.
You've heard of Elf on the Shelf, but have you heard of pic.twitter.com/B6FTwOMNaW
— BUY 2 HAMS $20 CMU (@Buy2HamsCMU) September 14, 2017
You heard of Elf on the Shelf now get ready for pic.twitter.com/pLy8lNKDzF
— YASUSADA KIWAME? (@maruioli) September 15, 2017
You've heard of Elf on the Shelf now get ready for… pic.twitter.com/KvCwTPRh7b
— Snoozie (@SnoozySnoozie) September 15, 2017
Y'all have heard of Elf on the Shelf? Now it's time for yo boi.. pic.twitter.com/YVzhUJXizW
— Devon 🚑 (@thegeckoisdead) September 16, 2017
You've heard of Elf on the Shelf. Now get ready for… pic.twitter.com/Z1Fx6fvNqV
— gRegor Morrill (@gRegorLove) September 19, 2017
According to some, the meme got started last month on Tumblr, but it turns out, it dates back to at least December of last year, which makes a lot more sense considering the holiday stylings of Elf on the Shelf. (The August post is likely patient zero for this latest viral outbreak, however.) Nevertheless, as mainstream outlets caught the infection, it was already mutating on social media.
You've heard of elf on the shelf, now get ready for Animal Crossing on the Switch
I don't care if it rhymes or not ok just do it
— Balrog (@BalrogGameRoom) September 17, 2017
You've heard of elf on a shelf. Now get ready for OUR PLANET IS DYING BECAUSE PEOPLE BELIVE IN THE POWER OF JESUS OVER SCIENCE.
— Mike Stanley (@LoneWolfStanley) September 17, 2017
If you’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf, you may be entitled to a class action settlement
— Christine Love (@christinelove) September 18, 2017
You've heard of elf on the shelf but have you heard of cat in the hat? It's a book for children. There was also a movie.
— Hellvetika ヘルベチカー (@HellvetikaQueen) September 19, 2017
Isn’t there an Elf doctor out there to deal with this virus?
We said “doctor,” not dentist.
The Takeaway: What were we just saying about unseen victims to be found everywhere?
these "You've heard of elf on the shelf now get ready for" memes make me realize that I don't know what anything is called
— ʰᵉʷʷᵒ﹖🍒🖤 (@whomstbat) September 17, 2017