Last week, Panama Jackson asked which Bad Boy song was the most quintessentially Bad Boy. Not the best or most important song from that label and that era, but the one that best encapsulated Bad Boy’s general ethos and spirit. I disagreed with his top choice (he chose “Mo Money, Mo Problems”—I would have chosen “It’s All About the Benjamins”), but I couldn’t argue with his methodology.
It’s a fun game to play. Because while asking whether something is the “best” or “most important” also contains an inherent subjectivity, there are reasonably objective measures used to find that answer. For instance, if the piece had asked for the “most important” Bad Boy song, he could have just named their first chart-topping hit. Or their biggest one.
Most Bad Boy, however, is solely dependent on his interpretation of their distinct sound and the zeitgeist it existed in (and created). It’s ultimately asking, if aliens landed on Earth, which song would you play for them to give them the best idea of what Bad Boy meant in the ’90s? (Also, if aliens landed on Earth tomorrow and the first thing you wanted them to do is listen to some Mase and Lil’ Kim, I have some questions for you, too.)
In three weeks, 2017—the weirdest and wackiest and most absurd year of my lifetime—will be over. It’s a year where there have been so many OMFG! news stories that we’ve already forgotten about shit that would have been a defining story most other years. For instance, a brain-damaged former star NFL player, convicted of one murder and a prime suspect in two others, killed himself in his jail cell days after he was acquitted of double murder. This is an INSANE fucking story involving multiple murders, America’s most popular sport, a billion-dollar corporation’s cover-up of the life-threatening injuries its product causes and an extremely suspicious suicide.
But in 2017, it’s a footnote of a footnote. Or how about how Anthony “the Situation” Scaramucci, the freakin’ White House press secretary, got fired before he even got sworn in because of an on-the-record phone call in which he articulated the peculiar sexual proclivities of the president’s chief adviser? Again, this is a story that would be a BIG-ASS FUCKING DEAL for the entire year any other year. But it’s parsley on the 2017 ribeye.
Anyway, all things considered—and also acknowledging the fact that there are far bigger and far more important stories this year—the story about bullied Tennessee boy Keaton Jones has to be the most 2017 story of 2017, right? It contains every element that has made 2017 2017.
A viral video about a hot-button topic? Check!
The nation’s sympathy elicited despite no one really having all of the details? Check!
Working-class white people? Check!
Working-class white people receiving sympathy and financial support that people of color in similar circumstances have gone without? Check!
A parent shamelessly recording and publishing a child’s most vulnerable moment for likes and retweets? Check!
A somewhat shady GoFundMe come up? Check!
A not-even-all-that-thorough vet revealing some pretty blatant racism? Check!
A national “conversation” about whether it’s right to ignore the needs and concerns of a working-class white person who clearly needs help because that working-class white person also maybe happens to be racist as fuck? Check!
An initial spotlight on a legitimate serious issue stretched, in less than 48 hours, to a white woman on Good Morning America explaining away her ironic racism? Check!
Of course, the year isn’t over yet, so coining this the 2017-est story of 2017 might be premature. For all we know, next week we might learn that Kevin Spacey is starring in a Harvey Weinstein-funded biopic of Kim Jong Un called Kneeling for the Flag, which will only be released on Twitter’s new streaming service—a collaboration with Big Baller Brand called Tall Twitter Tales. Of course, this sounds ridiculous. But this is 2017. And “2017” is Swahili for “Hold my beer,” so we’ll see.