We do a lot of thinking about people here. It is our job, to ponder the people and their actions and the words that they say. Because of this, we are uniquely able to discern who is worthy of being shortlisted for the official VICE Person of the Year award – for which there is no actual award, just a shortlist.
So without further ado, here it is: VICE Person of the Year 2016.
He is the man who captured our hearts making eyes at yung Claire Danes through a fish tank. He is the premium actor who has never been in a bad movie his whole career – a couple of moderate films but that statement is fact; IMDB it. He sort-of adopted a South African baby girl and sends her monthly pay checks and speaks to her on the phone. He openly supports and donates to the non-evil politicians that we like.
This year has been the year of Leonardo DiCaprio. Until this year the world loved Leo and he loved the world – bar one thing. It would not allow him an Oscar. Finally, in 2016, he was blessed this gift. For learning a language, having his character be mauled by a bear, tortured repeatedly and almost killed numerous times for 196 on-screen minutes, it was his.
After thanking everyone in that ponderous, repellently modest way famous people do when they win, he used his speech to talk about climate change, which resulted in serious engagement with the issue across the globe. Throughout the rest of the year, Leo has continued to achieve gains for the planet by proving himself to be the man with the greatest conservationist influence on the planet. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation awarded the largest portfolio of grants in its history – a total of $15.6 million to wildlife and habitat conservation, ocean conservation, to protect indigenous rights and to combat climate change. He released his climate change documentary Before the Flood in association with National Geographic and had it on YouTube so people without subscriptions could watch it. And because he is truly heaven sent, a few weeks ago he met with Trump, the terrifying climate change denier, to convince him that climate change is real and America needs to pull its weight. If anyone won 2016 it was Leo, and if anyone can save 2017 it is Leo.
– Hannah Ewens
HONEY BUN BABY
Have you ever seen something so pure that it makes you scream? Not the thing where people write "S C R E A M I N G" in response to a friend's WhatsApp when they're actually sat at their desk in total silence. I mean a strangled cry, or even one of those in-your-throat squeals. I mean the sort of scream I let out when I first saw Honey Bun Baby. For those of you who don't know black people on Twitter, Honey Bun Baby – born Ashton Howell – is the smirking 22-month-old boy in a beanie whose photograph became the reaction meme this year needed. The original photo was taken by his 18-year-old uncle without Ashton's mum's knowledge – for which she seems to have forgiven her brother – and inexplicably made the rounds online in late November. And so Honey Bun Baby is my person of the year, for being one of the only images of a human being that's made me happy in the latter half of 2016. He's stupidly adorable, like a 2016 version of 2012's "famous cute cats on the internet" trope. This year has practically turned into an adjective, shorthand for incredibly shite – "that's so 2016" etc – but Honey Bun Baby's pulled through. And this beats screaming in frustration any day.
– Tshepo Mokoena
THOSE TWO SESH GREMLINS WHO WROTE THE MESSAGE IN THE BOTTLE
Known only as the "sesh gremlins", or "Dan" and "Dan" to their mums, they were the Will Smith and Bruce Willis of the apocalypse movie that was this year, sent to save us from ourselves with wit, ingenuity and a fucking load of gak. Their saga (specifically that they got unreasonably on it and decided to write a message in a bottle, which was later found by a kid convinced it came from pirates but who quickly had his dreams destroyed) has everything. It's a tale of intrigue, humour and a child's crushed innocence – but it's also something of a bigger picture achievement in the context of 2016. The story broke on the 7th of October: just enough time after the hot, restless summer of Brexit had cooled to a greying, apathetic autumn, and almost exactly a month before the US election. Punctuating the hellish events of this year, the heartening moral at the centre of all this – that no matter how bad the world gets, there will always, always be two lads named Dan who are well up for just having the banter – spoke to young people like no politician ever could, in a true testament to the human predilection towards responding to multiple crises by getting mashed. May we all follow the example of Dan and Dan, patron saints of the sesh, and be out our nuts in 2017.
– Lauren O'Neill
LAURA JANE GRACE
Thank god for Laura Jane Grace, lead singer of punk band Against Me! and trans rights activist. Since she announced her transition in 2012, Laura Jane Grace has been outspoken, defiant and vocal about living as a trans woman: "However fierce our band was in the past, imagine me, six-foot-two, in heels, fucking screaming into someone's face," she said at the time.
This year, not only has she written a book and released another record, she took her activism to the next level in one of the most punk rock acts ever committed to film. Protesting North Carolina's transphobic bathroom law, which requires trans people to use the bathroom that matches the assigned gender on their birth certificate, Grace took out her birth certificate on stage and burned it. Just set that shit on fire.
"As if a birth certificate is some kind of eternally binding document," she said on Twitter. "I never had any say in what was put on it. No one asked me." Or, more succinctly, in the words she used when she took a lighter to her birth certificate: "Goodbye, gender."
– Emile Reynolds
As this planet moves to resemble a substantial collection of shit, its oceans depleted of livestock and important looking sea anemones, its crust packed with decaying plastic bags and split condoms, its sidewalks replete with immovable concrete and the shoes of self-serving narcissists who walk upon it, I am certain the future is something I do not want to be in. Then I remember the 15 stages of hell preceding my arrival into this world. Despite what the brain and its memories may tell us, mums think, feel, and do things just like the rest of us. Ultimately, though, a vast portion of them put themselves through hell to give us life.
I am proud of my mum for growing old with grace, for dealing with life and all the little piles of sick I would leave on the floor, for going through this world and inspiring me to do it too. Your mother may also be great, she may be like a character in an HBO show who only ever gets referenced by name. Whatever the case: we're here because of them and we should at the least probably aspire to become something better or else the whole process was useless.
The mother is the person of the year, every year. Without them, every celebrity on this list would be little more than a non-existent thought process in the computer simulation Elon Musk has decreed to be life. Fuck you, 2016, but also thank you to all the mothers.
- Ryan Bassil
I guess my heroes are always old Jews, and this has been a big year for the top three old Jews of all time. In third place, Larry David spent his year pretending to be Bernie Sanders on SNL, which basically involved him just being Larry David. In second place, a disturbingly handsome Jon Stewart came back and did the only good jokes of the US election. In first place, Leonard Cohen, who released his best albums in years, did a moving and honest New Yorker interview and then died, which obviously wasn't great news, but I think he was old and had lived the best life he could have lived. Also I think he'll really like it in the afterlife (Olam Ha-Ba), there's probably a lot of religious imagery there, of which he was a fan.
– Sam Wolfson
Zac Goldsmith wasn't the Tory we needed this year, but he was the one we deserved. As 2016 choked-out our concepts of decency and democracy, Goldsmith was there with us, pummelling his own face like a trust-fund Tyson Fury. When it seemed like any coiffured cunt could ride our worst impulses to power, Goldsmith straddled a racist horse and rode it straight into the rails. His main problem, aside from running an Islamophobic campaign in multicultural London, was that he didn't know who he was. Was he pansexual? No. Was he a fan of Bollywood films? Nah. Was he a person who could drink a pint like a normal human with opposable thumbs? Oh, most certainly not. So what was Zac Goldsmith? Frank Zacharias Robin Goldsmith was the only person in 2016 to face the consequences of being a piece of shit. For that reason, he is my Person of the Year.
– Alex Horne
SORRY, NO ONE
Nobody gets to be Person of the Year this year, sorry. No. We have all been appalling. None of us are without sin. There were moments, this year, that undulated dangerously close to being Actually Good – Frank Ocean did a 24-hour live feed of him making a fucking big desk, delaying the much-anticipated launch of the album of the year with the most agonising act of trolling in human history, millions of people, myself included, keeping an occasionally motionless videofeed of him doing it live in an extra browser window, just watching, waiting, and for making me do that, for that alone, Frank almost gets the nod.
Those kids out of Stranger Things were quite good; the Chicken Connoisseur, that perfect beacon of pure and innocent chicken wing love, is almost PotY worthy, but then like so many memes this year (Damn Daniel happened this year! Chewbacca Mom was this year! Harambe only happened seven months ago!) I am waiting with half-nervousness for it to turn out Chicken Connoisseur is Actually Bad, and am wary that maybe I am just grabbing on with two firm hopeful hands to arguably the only good thing to come out of 2016 just because it is good, and I am startled by the alien-ness of that, and so don't want to commit to a PotY nom. Sorry everyone, but no. Nobody was good this year. Let's all please try harder in 2017.