Every week, since late August this year, I’ve been pitting two of the wildest hot takes on the internet against each other to decide which is worse. "Worst" is obviously subjective, but the aim here has always been to deconstruct the absurd; opinions that are borne from sheer contrarianism, or the most self-serving twists of logic. Because that's the amazing thing about Twitter, online journalism and "take culture" at large: the buffet of reactions. Put simply, there is no angle too acute that someone won’t try to squeeze themselves through it.
Together with my colleague Alex Horne, we've put together some of 2017’s greatest hits. From the UKIP councillor who fancies gorillas to the racists who accused a WWII video game of virtue signalling, it’s been a truly spectacular year for questionable opinions.
50. If you wear fake fur, you are dressing up as an animal killer – Chas Newkey-Burden
49. People arguing that the guy who was violently dragged off a United Airlines flight deserved it for being "a brat".
48. These takes on the Oxford Circus panic:
Tired: The really sad thing about the mistaken incident at Oxford Circus is that it shows how conditioned people are to expect terrorism.
Wired: The really sad thing about the mistaken incident at Oxford Circus is that it drove people away from the high streets and into the arms of online retailers. – Angus
47. Roy Moore defenders arguing that his sexual misconduct with minors was acceptable because "Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter". – Alabama voters.
46. There are too many foreigners in the Premier League – Sam Allardyce, Paul Merson
Plenty of the English Premier League’s old soaks had a whinge about the lack of opportunities for British coaches this year, despite the fact British managers have accounted for 75 percent of all managerial appointments in English leagues over the last six seasons. Also despite the farce that is the indestructible nature of Pardew, Moyes, Hodgson et al’s careers – bouncing from one high-profile failure to another with seemingly no dent on their reputations or employability. Not that this stopped Allardyce from having a proper "drunk dad bonding fiercely with taxi driver" rant on the subject, of course. – Angus
45. " Back from North Korea, sorry, the Labour party conference…" – Nick Cohen
44. Footballers afraid of brain damage should play chess – Roy Keane
Roy Keane could kick the fuck out of any chess set in the world. Roy Keane will batter any poncey bishop you send his way any night of the week. Roy Keane’s skull is so robust he can’t understand why anyone would think twice before sacrificing their lives for the entertainment of others. – Alex
43. Piers Morgan defending the right of white girls everywhere to say the N-word.
42. German DJ Konstantin telling an interviewer he finds it unfair how heavily promoted female DJs are, especially considering they are usually worse than men at DJing.
41. The political editor of The Sun telling the Queen to crawl to the Cenotaph.
Massive, massive shout from the political editor of The Sun , who this year sent for none other than her Majesty the Queen. When it was announced Prince Charles would be carrying the wreath to the Cenotaph instead of her, due to her age, Tom Newton Dunn tweeted “as long as you can still walk, or crawl, honouring the war dead is not a task you can delegate”, thus creating one of 2017’s most powerful images: a 91-year-old Royal crawling through horrifying silence towards the cenotaph on live television. A poignant and fitting tribute to our war-dead, I’m sure you’ll agree. – Angus
40. The Daily Mail describing Theresa May as the "New Iron Lady".
39. "Jacob Rees-Mogg's anti-abortion stance makes him 'authentic'" – Sarah Vine
38. "I say let gay folks get married if they want… But things shouldn't be this complicated… whatever you have between your legs should determine the bathroom that you use." – Kid Rock.
Kid Rock is flirting with politics because we live in the dumbest possible dystopia. These bars were spat during the official (but maybe not official) announcement of his senate run. While his take is unfortunately not uncommon, its spiciness only reveals itself when you realise he launched his career as an underdog who ate Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast from his parents' six acre, $1.2 million home. So, Future Senator Rock, you might want to reconsider before you attack people for choosing how they want to be identified. – Alex
37. Young people should be sent to their rooms for voting for Corbyn – Jeremy Clarkson
36. Rufus Hound's theory that the Manchester attacks were maybe an inside job orchestrated by Theresa May, in order to help her win the general election.
35. "Perhaps safety rules could have saved some residents. But at what cost to others' lives? There's always a trade-off." – Megan McArdle on Grenfell.
34. Richard Hammond just doesn't understand why gay people feel the need to publicly come out!
33. "If it’s not a knighthood they can fuck off” – David Beckham
Is this a hot take? I don’t know. I feel like “if it’s not a knighthood they can fuck off” is sort of a hot take. It’s definitely a “take” on altruism. The take being: charity is a transaction. I put in time and money, and I get out a knighthood. Anyway, great line, that. “If it’s not a knighthood they can fuck off.” Back of the net! – Angus
32. True socialism always ends with the Stasi – Daniel Finkelstein reacting to Laura Pidcock's proclamation that she isn't friends with any Tories.
31. This woman telling the Irish they'll have to "lump" a hard border if Brexit requires it.
30. Kellyanne Conway's now legendary suggestion that Trump wasn't lying, but merely providing "alternative facts".
29. Turkey, a year after the attempted coup, is defending democratic values – Erdoğan himself.
Terms like "Orwellian" and "it’s like 1984" get thrown around a lot these days. As do the phrases "what the fucking fuck?" and "this can not possibly be real". Here we have the strongman leader of the country that jails more journalists than any other wanking himself off in a respected paper about confidence in Turkey’s public institutions and democratic resilience. It’s like bloody Oceania up in here. – Alex
28. "Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my tits!" – Julia Hartley-Brewer on Emma Watson.
27. Don't blame government cuts for schools closing early, blame "thick as mince" lazy teachers who want to finish after lunch – Rod Liddle
Sheriff Clarke’s brain is mostly filled with lust for badges and guilt over the death of babies in his jails, so it’s perhaps unfair to waste too much time scrutinising his mental effusions. Nevertheless, his attack on the Floridian House of Reps member for looking like a buffoon in a cowboy hat has to take the biscuit for least self-aware statement of the year. – Alex
25. "They have got a brilliant vision to turn Sirte into the next Dubai… The only thing they have got to do is clear the dead bodies away." – Boris Johnson
Respect to Nigel, a man who loves fags so much he is prepared to call the World Health Organisation out in their defence. – Angus
21. The UKIP MEP who reckons Henry VIII should lead the Brexit negotiations.
20. "Depression isn't real." – Kickboxer Andrew Tate.
19. "I’m very sad that people have lost their homes, but there are a lot of people here who have bought flats and will now see the values drop." – Resident of the luxury development in Kensington, in which Grenfell families were due to be rehoused.
18. Theresa May’s conference speech was a sign of her resolve – Quentin Letts.
Professional odd little bloke Quentin Letts is here to deliver a combo of backhanded compliments worthy of a Tekken tag tournament. Somehow in his quest to lick a little bit of May’s boot he manages to call her the “old girl” with a “beak”, compares her to a “carthorse” and says her speech was the first time “Mrs May was not boring”. He tops it all off with a truly spectacular finisher, claiming because she did a shit speech with a cough, “Brexit should be a cinch.” Breathtaking. – Alex
17. Techno producer Scuba outlining a "solution to the world's problems" that sounded an awful lot like eugenics.
This year's scary DJ outburst came from Hotflush man Scuba, who decided to tweet a series of increasingly concerning statements suggesting a “solution” to the world’s problems. The solution involved a test for the entire population, after which the bottom 50 percent would be destroyed. When a lot of people pointed out this sounded quite a lot like population cleansing, the DJ responded saying it was all inspiration for a series of dystopian EPs he was working on. Strangely, the EPs still haven’t surfaced. – Angus
16. "It is almost certainly the case that by increasing participation in the workforce, including far higher levels of participation by marginal groups and very high levels of engagement in the workforce, for example of disabled people – something we should be extremely proud of – may have had an impact on overall productivity measurements." – Phillip Hammond.
14. "Britain First: A Monster of the Left's Own Making" – Brendan O'Neill
Brendan O’Neill only has one opinion pin-balling around his skull: political correctness is literally fascism . Semi-regularly his mental flippers fail to operate and a take like this comes rattling out. When the Earth is scorched to ashes, Brendan O’Neill will be stood on the remains shrieking “freeee speeeech!!!” at the poisoned sky. – Alex
13. This legend:
This charming guy pulled off one of the biggest self-bodyings of the year when he tried to argue that the BBC were biased because they only ever let stupid people talk about Brexit. The fact that he was, himself, talking about Brexit on the BBC flew straight over his bow-tied head. –Angus
2016 Political Commentator of the Year Dan Hodges coming through with a Möbius strip of a bad take. The more you run your finger around its singular flat side the less sense it makes. Gaze upon it and listen to the sound of your brain crunching against itself like a faulty gearbox. Stare deep into Hodges’ soul and behold the embodiment of Britain’s intellectually bankrupt commentariat. – Alex
11. The alt-right arguing Wolfenstein II – a game about killing Nazis – is racist to white people.
Smug white person Camilla Long criticises film directed by a black man for being made for smug white people. Bit of a paradox, that, but hey, no one expects tedious contrarians to be coherent or insightful. – Alex
9. Richard Madeley suggesting everyone should boo at trains.
Madeley is the sort of man who likes to make things happen. I respect this about Madeley. He is a man who will click his fingers at injustice and tell it to "Shift! Oi, shift!" The sort of bloke who says “oh just bin the lot” on a regular basis. The type of man who grabs the world by the scruff of its neck and forces it to explain itself. This year, while doing some stand-in hosting on The Wright Stuff , he literally said that Southern Rail were running such a bad service, people should start booing their trains. That’ll do it. – Angus
8. "Both Momentum and Britain First are extremist political sects" – Toby Young
It doesn’t need to be pointed out that Britain First want to ban Islam and agree with Young that racism is an invention of the left. This – from the genius brain that brought you “Friendship doesn’t exist because no one came to my stag do” – is little more than a frothing cup of hysteria rivalled only by three or four of the other dog shit right-wing opinions on this list. – Alex
7. "When I go to a zoo and I see a gorilla my hormones go absolutely crazy." – UKIP candidate Gisela Allen
So, yeah, this UKIP candidate for Glasgow council this year said, during an interview with the Sunday Herald : “I am not anti-gay – but how can you call that a community? Sex life is everybody's private affair… Do you think I am going all over the city and saying my idea of a sexually-attractive creature is a gorilla? When I go to a zoo and I see a gorilla my hormones go absolutely crazy. I find a gorilla very attractive." Which, let's be honest, is the worst attempt at homophobia possibly… ever? What starts out as an attempt to deliver a very standard “if you must be gay, do it behind closed doors” take quickly derails into a “I really want to shag a gorilla” take. Sensational. – Angus
6. "If Hillary had won we’d be at brunch now…" – Women's March placard.
Firstly, before we get into this nauseating placard that was spotted at the Women's March in January, it must be said that brunch is just delayed breakfast and people need to shut up about it. Secondly, if Hillary had won we’d be at war right now and actually oppressed people would still be totally fucked, even if the owner of this sign would be tucking into an egg lunch while it was happening. – Alex
5. Stop buying avocado toast if you want to buy a house – Everyone aged 45+
This take will likely continue to surface under different guises for many years to come, but this year it really peaked. It’s very “Talk Radio”, this opinion. The sort of paper-thin logic that gets nods of jowl-wobbling agreement from meaty men who bought houses for a tenner in 1978. This take is also an excellent example of how realised the imagined Millennial has become this year: gorging on avocado toast, downing fancy coffee and a complete failing at every turn to buy a fucking house. It’s not that hard! – Angus
4. "MPs should not let Big Ben fall silent…" – Nick Ferrari
There’s something almost quaint about gammon men getting irate about health and safety laws. It harks back to a time before we all lived with a vague grey dread in our stomachs. But this diatribe goes beyond the usual red tape rage and actually becomes an argument against repairing the clock at all. Quite a feat to graduate from despising safety precautions to refuting the concept of entropy. It’s not a magic clock you know, Nick. It’s just a fucking clock, mate. –Alex
3. Australian MP Bob Katter on the gay marriage bill.
Lord, thank you for bringing Bob Katter into my life this year. It’s been a long one, tiring at times, but clicking that link and listening to his plummy Aussie voice chucking about “sexual proclivities”… bliss. I can think of nothing finer. Yes, his hot take is terrible – let’s not debate gay marriage, because: crocodiles – but when it’s delivered with such lovable volatility, who can argue with it. Let a thousand blossoms bloom indeed! – Angus
2. Paul Joseph Watson on SOY BOYS!
Paul Joseph Watson lives in a bunker somewhere in Sheffield safe from the tyranny of multiculturalism, feminism and sunlight. From there he teaches his followers about the dangerous emasculating properties of soy. He also educates his incel fans about Brain Force Plus, a nootropic supplement that provides a “sustained burst of energy”. What he fails to inform his audience is that their favourite mind pills contain, wait for it, soy! – Alex
1. "I Don't Care What My Son Becomes… As Long As He Isn't Overweight" – Giles Coren
During the long, strange year, there have been some terrible takes. Yet none of them came close in absurdity to the Contrarian King himself, Giles Coren, who bowled all of us away last month by fat-shaming his infant son for a few hundred words. The piece manages to insult no less than: overweight people, the mentally ill, Vanessa Feltz, James Corden, Diane Abbott, Christopher Biggins, Russell Grant, Paul Hollywood, Wagner, the middle-class, the working-class, the entire LGBTQI community, God, Americans, nuclear physicists and his son. His poor son.
And just like that, with the words, “I'd best get the chubby fucker's jaw wired before he's old enough to stop me,” he won this years Worst Hot Take of the Year. See you in therapy, dad! – Angus
Top image – Jeremy Corbyn: Chris McAndrew / CC By 3.0; Piers Morgan: Cow Pr / CC By 2.0; Kid rock: US Air Force; David Beckham: US Embassy; Kellyanne Conway: Michael Vadon / CC By 2.0; Avocado toast: Nan Palmero / CC By 2.0