Singer Miley Cyrus performs during the celebration for the new year at Times Square Dec. 31. Credit: Courtesy of MCT.

Singer Miley Cyrus performs during the celebration for the new year at Times Square Dec. 31. Credit: Courtesy of MCT.

“Zooming In” is a weekly series in which Photo editor Shelby Lum provides her insight on pop culture.           

As people, we have come to love and adore lists. They are nice and easy ways to organize life, and, really, BuzzFeed has probably done wonders for the obsessives out there who love lists almost as much as they love hand sanitizer.

But January is a month with too many lists. It’s January, and I’m bombarded with about a million and a half “bests of 2013.” The best photos, the best stories, the best trends, the best foods, the best whatever. It seems appropriate to combat this excess with one more list: things the world shouldn’t be okay with in 2014. Let’s be serious — not everything about 2013 was all that great.

The government shutdown and the infamous panda cam

The debt ceiling, the budget, government spending. A lot of words were thrown around when the government shut down Oct. 1, and most people quite frankly didn’t understand most of it (because the mass majority of us don’t have time to read through thousands of pages of government documents on the budget). Here’s the net of it: The government literally shut down for 16 days. It was a media heyday and the soap opera drama that was C-SPAN probably had more viewers than it ever will again. Amidst the serious implications of the shutdown, including more than 800,000 furloughed workers and other doomsday preachers, one serious atrocity stood alone: the panda cam.

Yes, because the Smithsonian National Zoo was closed during the shutdown, its panda cam went out. Gasp. Millions of people couldn’t watch giant panda Mei Xiang eat bamboo at any hour of the day. Let’s not let this happen again. Clearly, the people need their panda fix. And oh, those workers who were temporarily out of work, that was also probably an inconvenience as well as the bickering politicians. But seriously, the panda cam.


Let’s all hope that the Twitter gods won’t allow this to happen in the fresh and innocent 2014. Racism isn’t cool. It wasn’t cool last year and it’s not cool now. When #StopBlackGirls2013 began trending on Twitter with obscene comparisons of black women to things like gorillas, couches, baked turkeys, hippos and more, one would like to think there would’ve been massive social outcry. Pictures were included with these comparisons, and yet somehow quite a few jumped onto the racist bandwagon of the year. The women in the pictures were mocked for a myriad of apparently socially unacceptable hair styles, body types, clothing and more.

To whoever started #StopBlackGirls2013, that’s just ignorant.


Just because it dispenses harmless vapor does not mean you can smoke it in my house. E-cigarettes aren’t this profoundly healthy alternative. Are they marginally less destructive than actual cigarettes? Sure. But it’s not like they are meant to be a bridge toward quitting. A lot of experts are saying that smokers will simply get hooked on “vaping” rather than smoking, because who knew it, but nicotine is addictive. Really, all e-cigs have done is widen the number companies who can deliver ridiculously addictive nicotine straight to your lungs and allowing annoying know-it-alls a way to “smoke” indoors.

Miley Cyrus/ twerking/ The Twerk Team

I don’t have a problem with Miley, her short hair or even her excessive tongue wagging. Do I find it odd? Sure. Entertaining? You bet. But the time has come to put an end to the Miley obsession. It’s enough. If she wants to shed her innocent tween roots and put to rest the “Hannah Montana” image, then so be it. I just don’t feel the need to endlessly discuss her style choices, her strange love of Arizona tea, that foam finger, or why she likes licking hammers.

Annoying viral videos     

What did the fox say? Ylvis, I am nearly certain that isn’t what the fox said.

My qualm with viral videos is in the name: They go viral. As much as I didn’t want to see “The Fox (What Does The Fox Say),” I did. I know the words, and I know the silly little dance, and I know how creepy his fox mask looks.

In 2014, I feel like there is better (and more entertaining) YouTube content than these awkward and annoying viral videos. “Malala Yousafzai leaves Jon Stewart speechless” when she talked about women’s rights, education, and spoke out against the Taliban rule should have over 300 million views like Ylvis, but somehow we are still infatuated with what that fox said.

Keep wasting time on YouTube, people, but let’s watch something with at least slightly more worth.

Part II, III, and more movies

The makers of “The Hangover,” “Grownups,” “GI Joe,” “Red” and “Kick Ass” all felt the need to continue a franchise that probably should have ended with the first. Please stop. The world needs original content, not slightly redos. 2013 was lousy with sequels, and bad ones at that. I don’t want to watch more awkward moments with Zach Galifianakis, as funny as the first ones were.


2013 was quite possibly the worst year in regard to steroid use because of one key man: Lance Armstrong. In a telling interview with Oprah Winfrey last January, the cycling legend admitted to doping. Sigh. Of all people Lance, why you? You were the face of cycling, you were the hope to those suffering with cancer to carry on, you lived strong — except you didn’t. While the allegations had been slung at him for years, he defended his honor and glory, until his interview with Oprah opened everything up. He didn’t even seem sorry (with the exception of how he was going to tell his kids).