If you were looking for one word to sum up the way we live now, "efficiency" could probably do the job fairly efficiently. We are constantly looking for ways to shave seconds or minutes off our day – whether that's doing our food shopping (Amazon will do that for you now!), or buying cinema tickets (you can do it on your phone!), or destroying the lives of famous women we've never met (social media!), we're getting very speedy at doing all the things we love most.
Let's look at that last one a little closer. Society's oldest and most beloved hobby is appointing remarkable women as high priestesses of their own temples, waiting for them to fuck up and then burning those temples to the ground. The Mayans dug the hearts out of their virgins, the puritans hung their healing women as witches and, now, we wait for Jennifer Lawrence to say something stupid.
But, while the journey from building the temple to tearing it down used to take decades – hey, Joan Crawford! What's up, Britney Spears? – we've now shaved it down to about nine months. Since I started working for The Pool in 2015, I've watched Taylor Swift go from the most influential musician alive to the woman most commonly associated with the snake emoji. I've seen people declare Jennifer Lawrence their dream "girl crush" and I've seen them roll their eyes at her mere months later, casting her as the face of crude, ignorant, insipid "white girl feminism". Amy Schumer got it, Lena Dunham got it, even Emma Stone – least offensive person alive – got it for a rough minute there.
But pointing out something that’s wrong and rollicking in the pain of another, more fortunate person are two different things: one is conversation and the other is bloodsport
And the most depressing thing about this is that most of it starts out totally valid. When an extraordinarily privileged person in a position of influence fails to understand the problems of the wider world, it can be helpful in starting a conversation. But pointing out something that’s wrong and rollicking in the pain of another, more fortunate person are two different things: one is conversation and the other is bloodsport.
It's not like these women didn't make mistakes – many of them said or did something ill-advised, and on the record. But, in each case, the headline was never allowed to be "Human being commits human sin". The takeaway is always, always, always the same: it's "You know her? Her, who you thought was good, smart, sensitive, funny, feminist, inspiring? Turns out she was a real piece of shit all along."
Here are the women you loved in 2016 who will you be encouraged to despise in 2017:
The world fell in love with Kate McKinnon this year, both as Hillary Clinton on SNL and as one of the new Ghostbusters. 2016 has been the breakout year for the actress and comedian, making 2017 the year of her inevitable downfall.
It will begin with a throwaway comment in an interview. A niggle of uncertainty will puncture the public's love for her – words like "disappointing" will come up. We are disappointed in Kate. She will then star alongside a male actor who has committed some kind of crime and she will admit to enjoying the experience. This will also be "disappointing". She will star in a comedy that will feature problematic and offensive jokes, and she will be held responsible for them. Not the writers, not the directors – her. Because Kate is the one we fell in love with in 2016, so Kate will be the one who gets our rage.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is the perfect example of an overnight success that was a decade in the making – the actress and playwright turned her hit play, Fleabag, into a TV series that captured the hearts and imaginations of viewers in the UK, as well as in America.
Sorry, Phoebe. You work hard but, in 2017, you will say something out of turn on The Graham Norton Show, something that the British public will interpret as evidence of you being a bit "into yourself", perhaps a bit too "changed" by your success. You will be openly critical of both the left and the right wing, and we will be furious, because who asked YOU, Phoebe Waller-Bridge? All you do is write and star in hit TV shows.
The Broad City Girls
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer blazed a trail in 2016 with their sitcom, Broad City, a tale of two New York stoners, and their chaotic and often surreal adventures, proved to be an enormous international success. Sorry guys, but you're going down.
Presumably, one of you will have sex with a married famous man and the other will joke about it on a podcast. The interview will go viral within hours, where Person A will be deemed an amoral floozy and Person B will be denounced as an unsisterly harridan for "outing" you on the podcast.
Nice knowing you!
Angela Merkel has been around for ever, but I feel like she really came into her own in 2016. In a world where politics is all about vulgar showboating and weird made-up words ("BREXIT"? We’re still saying "BREXIT"?), Angela continued to prove herself as a staunch, graceful and fair leader, unwilling to be intimidated by the US elections, insistent that Germany remained open to refugees of the Syrian crisis.
Angela, I say this with the heaviest of hearts: you will also be cast aside in 2017.
Maybe you will say something wrong on a diplomatic visit to another country. Maybe you will allow Donald Trump to visit Germany. Maybe you will make any number of difficult decisions that a leader of a country has to make but, whatever you do, your free ride is coming to an end, lady.
Meanwhile, in the parallel universe that exists for men in the media, more famous men will beat their wives. More famous men will show up for work drunk. More famous men will lash out at their personal assistants while their microphones are switched on. Their anger will be seen as essential to their creativity, their violence as provoked by their feckless wives, their drinking portrayed as sad, glamorous scars from their troubled lives.
Because, at the end of the day, a man’s flaws are a tragedy. A woman’s flaws are just entertainment.