Most WTF Stories of 2016 - Rolling Stone
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13 Most WTF Stories of 2016

From clowns to conspiracies to a very popular gorilla, this year got weird

This year was so terrible it actually forced us to look over our shoulders and pray every bizarre incident was just the third reboot of Punk'd – we'd even take Ashton Kutcher over the reality of 2016. It was the year that made Ken Bone a national hero and the antichrist within the same week, got Chewbacca Mom an invitation to Facebook's headquarters from Mark Zuckerberg, George W. Bush found a little joy during the Battle Hymn of the Republic and Mike Pence made it even more difficult to get Hamilton tickets. Surreal beat fascism for Merriam-Webster's word of the year – we only hoped fascism would be beat in the presidential election as well. And given this last week, we're more inclined to call this year for what it is: a shitshow. So here, after a year of off-the-rails events, we whittled down the 13 most WTF stories in 2016.

The Washington Post/Getty

Fake News Instigated Something Called Pizzagate

This year was not great for Hillary Rodham Clinton – not only because she lost her bid for president to a punchline, but because a story surfaced that she allegedly operated a child sex ring in the basement of Comet Pizza in Washington, D.C. After reading about Clinton's supposed ties to international human smuggling, a man named Edgar Welch was inspired to drive from North Carolina to Washington D.C., armed with an assault rifle, to save enslaved children from the hidden chambers beneath Comet Pizza. Only one problem – there was neither a sex ring nor underground caverns with shackles of former slaves. What we came to know as Pizzagate solidified our hate-hate relationship with fake news – which became all too real when customers of Comet Pizza met Welch's rifle. In one of the few upsides of 2016, no one was injured. 

Larry Busacca/Getty

Kim and Kanye Feuded With Taylor

Remember when Kanye West was going to let Taylor Swift finish? Well, he once again got the last word. Using her VMA acceptance speech to undercut West's "Famous" claim that he "made that bitch famous," she said, "There are going to be people along the way who will try to…take credit for…your fame. If you just focus on the work…someday when you get where you're going." Months later, Kim Kardashian took to Snapchat, putting the bad blood on blast. A series of videos exposed that Taylor allegedly knew and approved of the song lyrics before it was released. Swift's response to the ordeal became our motto for the rest of the year: "I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of."

Katy Perry Was Outed as Grown-Up JonBenet Ramsey

This year was full of conspiracy identity theories, including the revived 2013 theory that Ted Cruz is the real Zodiac Killer and Donald Trump's strange insinuation that Cruz's father killed JFK. But despite having been started in 2014, the suggestion that Katy Perry is actually JonBenét Ramsey held its own all year, as the 20th anniversary of Ramsey's Christmas death reignited the story. Ramsey's still-unsolved murder spurred cover stories in People and a CBS special The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey, over which the victim's brother is suing for $750 million. A seven-minute YouTube video posits that Perry's resemblance to the pageant star supports the theory that Ramsey was actually kidnapped, probably by the Illuminati. The theory spirals out of control when it uses Perry's eyebrows as the link to her true identity. Katy Perry, a full decade older than Ramsey, has so far made no comment to dispute the theory.

Tom Pennington/Getty

Ryan Lochte Told Some Very Strange Lies

Swimmer Ryan Lochte was the first unnaturally coiffed American to spark an international incident this year when he falsely reported that he and some fellow swimmers were robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro while there competing in the Olympic games. But the Brazilians had the goods to prove otherwise. After Lochte fled the country, Brazilian officials released videos of the gas station that he and his friends drunkenly tore through, belongings in tact. (We wish we could say the same for Lochte’s career.) But the international scandal didn't end there. Not only did Lochte's self-described "over-exaggeration" take away from the achievements of gold medalists Usain Bolt and Gabby Douglas, he lost four major sponsorships and forced himself on defenseless Dancing With The Stars fans before finally being voted off the show.

Corey Feldman Was Back in the Spotlight

Child star Corey Feldman proved he's come a long way from his childhood stardom when he graced the world with song on the Today Show this fall, promoting his latest album "Angelic 2 the Core." The good-versus-evil performance by a devilishly cloaked Feldman and his band of scantily-clad angels came at a time when America badly needed feel-it-in-your-bones laughter – but that wasn't exactly what he was going for. The bizarre performances were met with harsh criticism, but that didn't stop Feldman from performing on the show a month later because Goonies never say die."I'm not letting the bullies get to us," he remarked on the show. "We are at a time right now where the world needs to focus really on peace and love and tolerance." That, obviously, did not happen. Please bring back the halcyon days of 2013 when Feldman was just hosting private orgies, instead. 

The World Met the Worst-Ever Coke Smugglers

This year the world was introduced to the world's worst drug smugglers. Two Canadians in their twenties documented on Instagram their $11,000+ cruise around the world which ended in Australia's biggest-ever seizure of drugs coming through a passenger boat or airport. The details of the bust led us to believe these girls clearly never watched Narcos: $23 million in cocaine was indiscreetly shoved in plastic bags, directly in the girls’ and another Canadian passenger's suitcases, making it particularly easy for authorities to find. The traffickers face life in prison, during which their vacation tans will surely fade.

Creepy Clowns Were on the Loose

Halloween came early in 2016 as hoards of "creepy clowns" swept through the Carolinas, Pennsylvania and, yes, even Florida. The clowns started off as what appeared to be a child's prank but soon, real people began throwing on clown costumes and lurking in the darkness just for kicks, appearing on the sides of highways and in the bushes. Naturally, every craze has a counter-movement and, after kids-party Bozos started getting attacked in public, this one sparked Clown Lives Matter, a protest led by real clowns whose livelihood was threatened by the menacing bozos.

‘Becky with the Good Hair’ Intrigued Internet Sleuths

Beyoncé’s Lemonade release reignited rumors of Hova’s infidelity, and now the year is almost over and we're still not clear on who Becky is. After the visual album debuted, listeners scrutinized the lines "He only want me when I'm not on there / He better call Becky with the good hair," and internet conspiracy theorists jumped to action. Both Rachel Roy, ex-wife of Damon Dash, and Rachel Ray, innocent bystander, were bombarded via social media – yet there's still no resolution. Both women clapped back, and we're left wondering what kind of 30-minute meal Ray would cook for for Jay. 

Pokemon Go

Saneer Al-Doumy/Getty

America Couldn’t Get Enough ‘Pokemon Go’

This summer gave us a new platform on which to be anti-social. PokémonGo, an app game that tapped into both our collective Nineties nostalgia and our love for letting smartphones lead the way, brought nerds out of the closet and into parks, museums and even the middle of traffic. But in trying to catch Pokémon, these amateur sleuths got more than they bargained for: A Wyoming woman was led to a dead body near a river, while in San Diego, three players also stumbled upon a corpse in Marian Bear Memorial Park. One police officer's reaction? "That’s not part of the game."

Walter Michot/Miami Herald/TNS/Getty

Florida Found a New Drug Called Flakka

No, this isn't a new viral dance – but it may make you move like one. Flakka is the designer-drug cousin of bath salts, because clearly we needed another drug that induces cannibalism. The drug, which causes psychosis and paranoia, is a wallet-friendly combination of cocaine and methamphetamines – and at $3 to 5 a hit it's far less expensive. 

Hulk Hogan Brought Down Gawker

Hulk Hogan's wrestling career may be long over, but he still found a way to defeat Gawker Media this summer. The bleach-addled aging WWE icon brought a privacy and emotional distress lawsuit against the company for publishing a sex tape, of which he claimed he had no knowledge. The twist came when it was revealed that the $100 million lawsuit had been secretly financed by now-Trump crony Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who had been outed as gay by the media website way back in 2007. Many were shocked that a more sordid story from the outspoken outlet did not bring them down – instead it was a tape of two adults having consensual sex. The company filed for bankruptcy in August and so was the end of a beautiful era in IDAF media.

John Sommers II/Getty

A Gorilla Named Harambe Captivated (Some of) the Nation

In May, a three-year-old boy hopped a fence at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and fell into the moat where Harambe, a 17-year old silverback gorilla, was taking in the crisp spring air. Things got complicated when the gorilla, either protecting or threatening, dragged the boy across the water before propping him up to sit. Witnesses believed the gorilla posed no imminent danger but rather than tranquilize the primate, zoo officials shot and killed him. The viral video of the incident sparked outrage, blaming the child’s parents for negligence and the zoo for overreacting. But the gorilla's death was not in vain. It sparked a year’s worth of memes that started with mostly-joking conspiracy theories like "Bush Did Harambe" and ended with his name pencilled in on election ballots.

John Moore/Getty

Donald Trump Wins Presidency

As for the most WTF story of the most WTF year? Reality TV star and failed steak salesman Donald Trump accomplished the impossible on November 8th when he was elected President of the United States of America. Despite polls showing the unlikelihood of a Trump win, his major conflicts of interest, his announcement of having a big dick during a presidential debate, his request for Russia to hack his opponent's email, his many bankruptcies, his inability to articulate a single policy of his beyond it's greatness, his willingness to grab unwilling women "by the pussy," his mocking of a disabled reporter, his incoherent 3 a.m. tweets, his endorsement by the Ku Klux Klan and former Grand Wizard David Duke, his real-estate racism and his opponent’s impressive qualifications, Donald J. Trump will be the 45th U.S. President. And possibly the last.

In This Article: Election 2016

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