Yes, our country’s a little short on jobs, math skills and legitimate baseball all-stars these days. But take heart, America! We still lead the planet in bad taste. We didn’t have to go back too many years to find a treasure trove of magnificent examples from sports, entertainment and politics. (And booze! Witness Mike’s Hard Lemonade’s Larry Light.) Here are our top five from the past five years…and how to avoid them.
Sports: Michael Jordan’s Hitler mustache
It might sound like a game of Mad Libs, but it’s true. In recent Hanes ads, MJ’s been sporting what can only be considered a Hitler ’stache (or a Tramp, for you Chaplin fans out there). He’s caught flack from Stephen Colbert and Charles Barkley, but when asked to shave the offending bit of facial hair, Jordan has responded thusly: “Nein!”
Avoid this mistake: Um, don’t shave your mustache to look like Hitler’s. If you do somehow wind up with a Hitler mustache, just shave it off. Easy fix.
Music: Kanye West
You’ll notice there’s no specific incident listed after Kanye’s name—that’s because the man himself is practically a monument to poor taste. Poor taste used for good, as in his infamous “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” pronouncement in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and poor taste used for evil, as in his slightly-more-infamous treatment of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards. Never has poor taste been so versatile.
Avoid this mistake: Well, just try to get over yourself. Once you realize you’re not the center of the universe, good taste seems to come easier.
Hollywood: Alec Baldwin’s family phone fun
You almost certainly remember this fiasco of poor taste, in which Alec Baldwin left a voicemail to his young daughter. Apparently frustrated by her not returning his phone calls, he infamously called her a “rude little pig,” and promised to “straighten her ass out.”
Avoid this mistake: We all know what it’s like when our tempers get the best of us, but check for recording devices before verbally abusing a kid.
TV: The Situation roasts Donald Trump
For the absolute Mecca of poor taste, look no further than the point in history when Donald Trump and The Situation converged. It happened at The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump. In case you haven’t seen it, it’s about as cringe-worthy as you can imagine, and the live audience is about as silent as Harold Lloyd.
Avoid this mistake: Don’t go anywhere near Trump or The Situation. They’re like black holes from which no good taste can escape.
Politics: Anthony Weiner, Chris Lee and Joe Stagni (ab)use the World Wide Web
You could count the number of recent political sex scandals on one hand, provided your hand has at least four dozen fingers (not counting the thumb). But these two stand out in the field of poor taste mostly because they’re so…lame. Weiner sent pictures of his, uh, surname to multiple women over a period of three years. Women he’d never even met! Fellow married New York congressman Lee sent a bare-chested photo to a woman he met on Craigslist. And Kenner, Louisiana, city councilman Stagni sent lewd photos to a woman that were eventually found on a city computer. Your tax dollars at work, people.
Avoid this mistake: We could be flippant and just say “don’t get caught,” but it might be a better idea to just cut back on the sexting in the first place. Teenagers are so much better at it.