Many of us get along in life by the formation and maintenance of basic relationships with other humans. If we’re lucky, the head of HR will decide to hire us and our friends will introduce us to someone who we decide will make a passable sexual partner for the next bit of time. But for some people, drifting through life is not enough, they’re out making their own luck and this year’s Self-Made Man, Donald Trump, knows a bit about that. Trump, who is by his own admission “really rich”, has sat comfortably at the top of Republican opinion polls for the latter half of the year despite spending relatively little on political advertising. Seen in previous years as being socially liberal, he has rarely been out of the news by attacking such huge swathes of the electorate as Mexican immigrants, women, Muslim immigrants, veterans/former Presidential candidates and residents of first-primary-State Iowa. Thanks to the free advertising he has created for himself, he’s got his name-recognition game on point but is still unlikely to ever become President. Handing over his Apprentice hosting job to fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t the first time he gave up a lucrative opportunity: if he’d simply retired at thirty and invested wisely he could be worth $10 billion more than he is today.
Katie Hopkins: In a bid for money rather than power, Katie Hopkins has been busy mouthing off to hit the headlines as much as possible. She also had a brief flirtation with politics when she made it difficult to work out who should be more embarrassed about her appearance at the UKIP party conference in September.
Elon Musk: Not one to rest on his laurels after success at PayPal, Musk has nurtured ambitious projects Tesla Motors and SpaceX through some tough times. This year however, his efforts bore fruit as he brought the future into our lives. Tesla introduced “Autopilot” to their Model S over Wi-Fi and at the end of the year SpaceX managed to launch a rocket into space and successfully land the first stage at Cape Canaveral, paving the way for much cheaper space travel.
The old adage that real life is sometimes so strange “you couldn’t write it” was countered for many years by writers inventing ever more farcical scenarios. But at some point, reality fought back with equally bizarre (although now unoriginal) situations. The Life Imitating Art Award for 2015 goes to David Cameron’s penis and an unnamed pig’s mouth which allegedly became intimate at a party one evening in Oxford. The story was recounted in a book by former Conservative Party Chairman Lord Ashcroft. The veracity of the claims is uncertain and it is widely acknowledged that Ashcroft has had a grudge against Cameron ever since the Cabinet post he expected to buy with his millions failed to materialise. But the Prime Minister and his dick are now forever associated with the pig-fucking episode in Charlie Brooker’s uncomfortable satire Black Mirror.
George Osborne: The Chancellor performed his tribute act to an old Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch in scenes that need no explanation beyond the video embedded below.
James T. Kirk: The captain of the USS Enterprise was banned from flying this year when it turned out that he was the alter ego of former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. Kirk had been set to boldly go where no SNP members had gone before – third largest party status at Westminster. But with Salmond no longer needing the pseudonym for “security reasons” he was pulled up on his sci-fi alias and he now flies to London under his own name.
In any competition there are winners, there are losers and then there are those who might have been better off not even taking part. This year’s Also-Ran Award goes to Nigel Farage, who in 2015 failed to become an MP at the seventh time of trying, despite a painstaking search for a safe seat. Farage made good on his promise to resign as UKIP leader and then in scenes which were in no way farcical or an indication of the personality cult he runs, his resignation was rejected by the UKIP executive committee. Renewed calls for him to resign earlier this month by sole remaining MP Douglas Carswell were rebuffed with statements about the majority of UKIP members being happy with his leadership. Which when you think about it is probably the main problem.
José Aldo: Aldo had been the UFC featherweight champion since 2010 but the manner in which he lost the title this year may stick in people’s minds much longer. After pulling out of a title fight with challenger Conor McGregor earlier in the year due to a rib injury, the fight was rescheduled for December. Any UFC fans who went to grab a last minute beer probably wished they hadn’t when McGregor took just 13 seconds to win by a knockout, the fastest in UFC history.
Actions often have knock-on effects that lead to unforeseen consequences, but rarely is a lack of understanding of cause and effect so easily exposed as in this year’s Head in the Sand Award. The award goes to David Cameron for writing to the leader of his local Council, Ian Hudspeth, claiming to be “disappointed” about the prospect of “significant cuts to frontline services”, cuts which have been enforced by his own slashing of the local government budget. The response letter included a methodical take-down of the Prime Minister’s incorrect assertions, revealing both the extreme pressure on local councils to balance budgets and the Prime Minister’s ignorance of the consequences of the spending cuts his government has implemented. To top it all off, Cameron offered the services of staff at 10 Downing Street to the Council to help them resolve the issue, leading to accusations of a breach of ministerial code.
Men in Science and on the Internet: The scientific method uses evidence to establish truths, but men don’t seem to have got the memo. Despite no genetic difference in the scientific potential of men and women (we refuse to supply a link here), when presented with evidence that sexism is rife in the scientific field (plenty of evidence of that here, here and here), a study found that men trivialise sexism and deny its existence. Sadly unsurprising though.
There was a crowded field of contenders, but in a year where “religious” controversy loomed large in the form of ISIS, one (aero)dynamic man stood head and hat above the rest. This year’s award for hypocrisy goes to Pope Francis for warning against ideology while on an official trip to Cuba. The 79-year-old former nightclub bouncer (yes, you read that right) intended the statement as a subtle rebuke of the communist system in place in Cuba, seemingly forgetting his position as the leader of an ideology that courts a considerable amount of controversy.
Donald Trump: The Republican presidential candid
ate is determined to “make America great again”, while also believing it to be the greatest country in the world. Trump cannot remember where he saw the video of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating on 9/11, but claimed the event did occur because he has “the world’s greatest memory”.