Outlook: 'People we hated in 2010'

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Rocci Fisch,Monica Hesse,Monica Hesse
Monday, December 27, 2010; 11:00 AM

Washington Post staff reporter Monica Hesse discusses her Outlook article titled 'Outlook: 'People we hated in 2010'.'

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Rocci Fisch: The people we hated in 2010

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Monica Hesse: Good morning, everyone, and thanks for stopping by so soon after the holidays. Grumbly about being back at work? Angsty about truckloads of snow? Excellent, because we're here to talk about the most hated individuals of 2010.Ready your tomatoes, prepare to seethe, and let's get started.

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Jim Joyce: Please take him off the most hated lineup, if anything, he should be on a most admired list.. He realized after the game that he made a grave mistake, owned up to it, and apologized to the pitcher. Total class!!

Monica Hesse: Did you read to the end of the story? That's exactly the point I make -- he became beloved because he behaved well. It's a hate redemption story!

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Jesse James? Ugh.: Happy Holidays, Cupcake! Enjoyed the "Hate" article. But looking at the poll results, I'm somewhat dismayed. Jesse James really ranked #2 (as of this morning)? Who the heck is he, anyway - just some dumb guy married to a celebrity. So many people on that list who have really done things that affect us one way or another, but this guy gets a bunch of attention? Sigh. Unless people hate him for the besmirching of the good name of the original Jesse James, that is.

Monica Hesse: Clearly, the original Jesse James is rolling in his gunslinging grave over these poll results.I think that Jesse is high on the list because what he did feels very personal and specific. We can identify the person that he hurt -- and she's a person we would totally go shopping and get coffee with. Also, the act of infidelity is something many of us have feared, so Sandra becomes the talisman for our own paranoia of betrayel.

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Jay Leno: Did we hate Jay Leno enough in 2010? Can I still hate him or am I supposed to go back to liking him? I don't have cable (even TBS) so this is A Big Deal for me. Also on the media, am I supposed to hate big corporate media conglomerates who fire reporters and journalists because They (the corporate cheeses) don't understand budgets or 21st century technology? Or do I hate the journalists who took the packages and left, or the Blogs who hired them? It's so confusing!

Monica Hesse: 1) You may go back to liking Leno, if he is your only late night option. You shall be forgiven this.Does this help?

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LeBron: I think the LeBron hate had more to do with his basically spitting on Cleveland. He took a pay cut, so what? His real wealth stems from endorsements. Cliff Lee is never going to see the kind of endorsement money LeBron sees. And Lee was humble about the whole thing. AND rejected the Yankees. Hee.

Monica Hesse: Miami. If he had traded for, say, Omaha (Is there basketball in Omaha?) it would have been much less symbolic.

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You Look Like: Beth Reisgraf, who plays Parker in Leverage, which is one of my favorite television shows. It should be WHOM we hated in 2010. We is the subject and whom is the direct object, so it should be in objective case. (Guess my college major!)

Monica Hesse: I have just Googled Beth Reisgraf, and I am taking this as a huge compliment.Note: I didn't write "Who we hated" -- that's a head that came from elsewhere. There's a good chance I still would have gotten it wrong. Bad English major, me.

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Why Hate Leno: I don't hate Jay Leno and I don't see why anybody else does. Conan lost the Tonight Show because his ratings were lousy - not because Jay Leno is some evil Master of the Universe.

Monica Hesse: Isn't that the whole point, though, with lots of people who inspire our anger? It's not about what they did or didn't do. It's about what we've decided they represent, and why that symbol is so painful at a particular time.Conan was promised the Tonight show. He put in years or labor. And then he was denied. He was like all of the people who worked for decades and then found out that their retirement was gone.I'm not saying it makes sense; I'm saying I think that's what was going on behind the Leno hating.

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Bernie Madoff: Can we hate him this year too?

Monica Hesse: Bernie came so very close to appearing on this list. So very close.

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Glenn Beck: Before even looking at the article, I nominated Glenn Beck. I can live with views opposite to mine. I have issues when the person holding those views decides to make up "facts" and "statistics" to go along with downright innuendo to prove his own point. I have huge issues when that person claims some combination that the government/society/national dream/country/world is going to end again and again and again because fear mongering=ratings. Throw in a self-congratulatory fear-mongering session/pep rally that smears the name and memory of one of the greatest of national heroes, and that's the year that Glenn Beck has had.

Monica Hesse: You know, I thought about Beck, too -- and also thought about President Obama -- but ultimately decided those were sort of Hatred 101 figures, and that we should look for Advanced Placement hating.But if I had included him, you have just outlined what I would have said. Yup. Good job.

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Leno vs what's his name: Why dump on Leno? If Leno is so bad, people would not watch the show, advertisers would pull out and the show would cancel. I tried giving Conan a chance. I watched several weeks worth of his antics and found it a waste of time. The network gave him a chance and the ratings plummeted. We didn't see Leno be evil, we saw an audience vote for the better comic.

Monica Hesse: More Leno love!

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Why Bristol Palin?: Does she really belong on this list? From my observation, Bristol had numerous defenders who saw her as a victim of snooty intellectuals and media types, as if a win for her would be a victory for "regular folks." That would be the party line from her mother. But the irony is that those groups don't even watch Dancing with the Stars. I suspect most of the insults directed at Bristol were really about her mother, and regardless of her dancing ability, I thought it was unfair to make her a proxy for Sarah. And lots of celebrities receive hate mail and death threats from unbalanced people. With LeBron James, there have been other pro athletes who have abandoned their homes towns in search of more money and more championships. The reason to single out LeBron is because those others didn't hold prime-time specials to rub their departures in the faces of the home-town fans. Christine O'Donnell seems to have been the target of ridicule instead of hate, at least by the rest of the country. Despite her claims about witchcraft, she sounded to me like someone who had grown up home-schooled by fundamentalists who shielded her from any outside influences. But many voters in Delaware resented her for regularly telling opponents that they were evil and not authentically American.

Monica Hesse: Thanks. Your points about Bristol illustrate how people use hate to identify themselves with particular groups. You're absolutely right -- lots of people loved Bristol Palin, but those who hated, hated big time. But however your felt about her, your feelings could be used as a shortcut to explain who you were and what you identified with.

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local TV weather stories: Can I hate local TV stations and their over the top weather coverage? 6-10 inches, we're all going to DIE!!!!!! Oops. Sorry. But we sent our reporters out to Delaware to show you snow where it is actually snowing.

Monica Hesse: You are talking to a person who loaded up the car yesterday with a case of water, heaps of blankets, and a flarge gun or two, then saw precisely three flakes between South Carolina and Washington DC.

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Palin: Why not nominate anyone with the surname Palin? That should top your list?

Monica Hesse: See above -- Sarah Palin was just too easy. It's remedial hate at this point. We need to hate smart, people.

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Why'd you run it on Christmas Day?: You got a lot of flack (including some from me) for running that piece on Christmas Day. I don't know how much of that was your decision, or some editor's decision, but either way, can you explain it? I'm convinced that in the new Internet world, irritating customers and getting people angry at you is simply a way to generate page hits. Offending your customers turns out to be an income producer, since it generates hits, and angry comments generate column inches of no-cost readership. Your view?Also, you're seriously debasing the language when you use/overuse/misuse a word like "hate" simply to gin up readership. There's an entire spectrum of words/emotions that don't all reduce down to "hate." I don't even give a rat's patoot about half the people on the list, and though I might "dislike" a lot of them, I don't "hate" any of them. Please try not to be so trendy and glib and post-post-modern.Thank you.

Monica Hesse: Thanks for writing, but the piece actually ran on December 26, not December 25 in the newspaper. And the reason for the timing was that the Outlook section is a weekly, not a daily section. It went on the last Sunday of 2010 -- an appropriate slot for a column recapping the year's emotions.

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Bristol Palin: Is it too late in the year to add Bristol Palin to the list?The latest news is, she bought a house in Arizona with her DWTS winnings. I know just what it looks like, all I have to do is watch "Raising Arizona".

Monica Hesse: Now this is just poking.

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Mitch McConnell: Who we hated in 2010: I didn't see Mitch McConnell's name, but it certainly should be listed. His unpatriotic and destructive comments have done nothing to move our country forward. Please add his name to the top of the list!

Monica Hesse: Noted.

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Wizards: Remember how the Baltimore Colts left for Indianapolis in the middle of the night? Is there any way that we can get the dysfunctional Washington Wizards to do the same this and go to a place that is a better match for them (Detroit?)? I just wish we could wipe the slate clean and get rid of everything about the Wizards including the players, the coaches and especially the owners. Remember when Charles Barkley raised a big fuss with his "I am not a role model" comment? Every picture of a Washington Wizard that WaPo posts should have a "This is not a role model" disclaimer in it.

Monica Hesse: So...Are you nominating the entire Wizards team, then?

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Depressing: I read your article, and I found it depressing. Is it the new fashion to make lists of people we "hate," especially around Christmas time? Isn't there a more productive way to spend your time? If your snark is the new face of the Washington Post, then maybe it's time for me to stop reading it, because I find it sad that your column on "hating" could actually be published in what used to be a serious publication, rather than a lengthy entry on a Twitter feed. Sad, sad, sad.

Monica Hesse: Hmm. I'm sorry -- and a bit surprised, actually -- that you found the article depressing. I looked at the assignment as an interesting opportunity to explore a common, unavoidable human emotion.

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A few more for the list: Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, Dancing with the Stars (everyone and anyone who appears or watches). Albert Haynesworth, Dan Snyder, John Boehner (I'm sick of this cry baby), Tiger Woods. I could go on.....

Monica Hesse: Oh, you should! Where were you when I needed you?I've gotten a lot of Bieber nominations, which is fascinating. How did this nice 17-year-old kid go from behind a reprieve from the Jonas Brothers to being totally villified? Is it just overexposure?

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Who do I hate? My sister-in-law: Not only did she give me a Christmas list for all her kids, which I followed, she asked me for my kids Christmas list, ignored it, plucked presents out of the bargain bin at the last minute, all of them too young - she doesn't even know my kids ages!

Monica Hesse: On the upside, maybe her kids would like these presents next year?

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Madoff: Not on list? Investors hate themselves for being duped. Any plans for a dupe list?

Monica Hesse: Apropos of nothing, I re-watched "Elf" a few nights ago, and am now reminded of the scene in which Will Farrell sweetly believes that the scuzzy diner serves the "World's Best Coffee" because it says so.

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People we hated in 2010: Joseph Kony of the "Lord's Resistance Army" in Uganda and Sudan being backed by the terrorist government of North Sudan's president al Bashir.

Monica Hesse: There is probably an emotion beyond "hate" for that one.

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Unemployment: A bunch of celebrities to "hate" is a luxury most can't enjoy. My 59-year-old girlfriend lost her job last Jan. 1 after four decades of achievement. She faces ruin as she approaches retirement after all those years of hard and successful work (I of course won't let that happen). What does she care about Jesse James? He may be a scumbag, but does he even hold a candle to those at Goldman Sachs et al who are taking home millions in bonuses that we taxpayers made possible?

Monica Hesse: And the nameless suits of Goldman Sachs might belong on a list like this. But I disagree that hate is a "luxury." In fact, I think that when things are going poorly for us, we're probably more likely to seek out scapegoats or voodoo dolls.

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"How did this nice 17-year-old kid go from behind a reprieve from the Jonas Brothers to being totally villified? Is it just overexposure?": Most of the Bieber bashers are probably male. I suspect the younger fatherless ones are motivated by simple jealousy at a kid so young being so popular with females. The fathers are probably using him as a convenient target for their anxieties about their daughters going through the boy-crazy phase.

Monica Hesse: I also think there's a cohort of 17-year-old girls who hate him, mostly because they're embarrassed that they loved him at 15. He's an awkward reminder of childhood.

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Terry Jones: I would think that someone like Jones would be hated by the press because he laid out the bait, and the media took it hook, line and sinker. He got the publicity that he wanted without any cost (except a cheap banner). This is a recurring theme in the news these days.

Monica Hesse: But the press loooooved him. He was so fascinatingly wacky.

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Jay Leno, redux: I'm hating on Jay Leno still for a few reasons: he totally hogged The Tonight Show, not letting on any guest hosts or anything, requiring only his re-runs to be shown. So then of course Conan didn't get a fair chance. Also, to me (age 30) Jay Leno is symbolic of all Baby Boomers who won't retire (or can't, in this economy) so that us youngsters (Conan is early 40s, no?) can finally get age- and education-appropriate jobs. So I would nominate all Baby Boomers, but since that's silly (my parents are currently housing my unemployed law school grad sibling) I nominate Jay Leno for Hated of the Year.

Monica Hesse: Oh good -- I'm glad we have someone articulating the Leno hate from the other side, and doing a much better job than I did a few posts ago.

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Tony Hayward and Persistent Media: Does the 24-7-365 news cycle make it easier to hate? I'd imagine that anyone dealing with a crisis, in a weak moment, would say that they'd like their life back - the only difference is that one stray comment gets recorded and sent to the world.

Monica Hesse: It makes it easier to hate, yeah, but it also makes the hate cycle go faster. We barely have the time to get lathered up about someone before a new villain swoops in.

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Justin Bieber: I wish people would leave Justin alone. All that girl wants to do is sing.

Monica Hesse: I swear, this joke must be retired in 2011.

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Hating Bieber: He also has a "swagger coach." In a 1980s-style summer camp movie, the attendees at the evil rich kids' camp would be the only ones to have a "swagger coach."

Monica Hesse: Are you serious? This is amazing news I had never heard!We all need to work on replacing "Justin Bieber is a girl" jokes with "Justin Bieber has a swagger coach" ones. Because if the second one is true, it is infinitely more bizarre.

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If earthquake was a people I'd be hatin': Haiti

Monica Hesse: Or, hating Haiti's fault lines, at least.

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Beth Riesgraf: And Beth Riesgraf, in turn, looks a lot like Ann Heche.

Monica Hesse: This chat is making me prettier and prettier.

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Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear: That bear never gives up, does he?

Monica Hesse: Wait, are we hating Toy Story 3 now? Or are there reference I do not understand?

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Klearly Kardashians!: It is just so embarrassing that they get publicity. I mean, what if you have to go to Europe or something?

Monica Hesse: Eh, I think the Kardashians fall more into that eye-rolling, "I am embarrassed for you" category.

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More Leno Hate: The issue wasn't ratings, since Leno and O'Brien were both doing badly in their new time slots. The issue was that Leno was widely perceived as pressuring the network into ejecting O'Brien. He and his onetime manager were accused of doing the same to Johnny Carson two decades ago. Bill Carter's "The Late Shift" suggested that Leno had a poor reputation among his comedy colleagues, and from what I've read, that hasn't changed.

Monica Hesse: Just posting...

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Levi Johnston: For humiliating Bristol Palin AGAIN, with that blink-and-you'll-miss-it engagement this summer. How much did money did he get from that magazine for this photos with her?

Monica Hesse: Just wait for his potential Wasila mayoral race reality show to commence. My guess is that we have not even begun to explore the depths of our feelings for that boy.

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CONAN Hate: The issue is that five years earlier Conan tried to push Leno out, no matter how well he might be doing when his contract was up.

Monica Hesse: A Conan hater!I think this spectrum has officially been covered now.

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Grammar: Would love to see grammatical analysis of "Hating On" v. "hating" v. "Being a Hater". Maybe for 2011, when we have a whole new slew of words to describe vile negativity...

Monica Hesse: I am thinking that one "hates on" a particular issue, while "Is a hater" refers to a generally disagreeable state of being. Except that "Stop being a hater" would likely be stated as a reaction to a particular comment, so...Oh, you're right. This is a linguistic goldmine.

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Monica Hesse: Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I hope this chat has been cathartic, and that we may all start the new year with warm and kindly feelings of love.Or, you know, whatever.Hating was a departure from my usual beat. I also chat on Wednesdays at 2, about Internet culture, and would love to see you there.


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