The Demon of The Year award is given to, “that person or entity who has terrified more children, raised more blood pressure and/or been more reflexively hated than any other being on our planet over the past year.”
How grounded in reality any of the above may be is not an issue in determining the Demon of The Year; what matters is that the recipient personifies the image of the demon in the collective mind of the public.
Traditionally the demon of the year was created by television’s talking heads, but in more recent years by social media mobs. But whatever the case, the demon of the year is always easy to identify: castigating him, her, them or it generates more knowing head-nods and enthusiastic revulsion than anyone or anything else.
Recent winners of the award were (or would have been, had we given the award):
- 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019: Donald Trump. The Donald won four years in a row, and could quite possibly win it all again. He’s clearly the big dog in this competition, and millions of people still base their social standing upon hating him.
- 2020: “The Virus.” The virus, though only a one-time winner, was awarded that honor because: a), people did in fact die because of it; and b), because the fear factor was off the charts. Certainly CNN and the rest rode (and monetized) human terror as fast and far and it could have been ridden, but the virus won all the same.
- 2021: The Unvaxxed. The unvaxxed, like the virus, were hands-down but one-time winners. No one was more demonized in 2021. The unvaxxed were blamed for killing grandmothers galore and many others. Regardless that people were double, triple and quadruple vaxxed, if they got sick, it was the fault of the unvaxxed, and God help anyone who said otherwise: if they merely lost their job they’d be lucky. Millions of people wished for the death of the unvaxxed, and publicly gloated when one of them did die: that’s tough to beat in this competition. Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine and doctors prescribing them were Honorable Mentions, but the sheer size of the unvaxxed contingent put them over the top.
So, the Demon of The Year has a strong (even if unhealthy) heritage, which leads to some intriguing thoughts. Nonetheless, it’s time for us to move along to this year’s award.
And Now, This Year’s Winner
It’s doubtful anyone will be surprised that this year’s personification of darkness is Vladimir Putin, head of the Russian Federation. No one else, save for perennial contender Donald Trump, was even close. Other recent winners, the virus and the unvaxxed, dropped out of the running: The virus has become just another cold or flu, and most people have stopped taking Covid shots, regardless of their perpetual ad campaigns.
Mr. Putin won, not just because of his actions regarding the Ukraine (people in the know warned for years that NATO was stirring up trouble), but because hundreds of millions of Russians were demonized along with him.
Through long stretches of 2022, Russian people were being treated as enemies of the human race, and had few public defenders. Russian restaurants were boycotted and threatened; their operators had to put “We stand with Ukraine” posters in their windows or risk having bricks thrown through them. Breeds of cats could no longer be called “Russian,” and Russian athletes were barred from competitions. (Not to mention more vulgar things, like referring to Russian people as “orcs.”) That’s a lot of demonization, and nearly all of it was tied, in one way or another, to Vladimir Putin.
And so, the Demon of The Year for 2022 can be no one but Vlad Putin.
Who will it be next year? He, she, they or it will be named in January of 2024.