We’ve always been fascinated with celebrities, and 2016 has been no different.
These charismatic figures give us the arts that we spend so much of our time on—our film, music, and—if you want to call it an art—intriguing personal dramas that rival Greek tragedy. They are, for better and for worse, the set of luminous faces that we look to for inspiration and entertainment in the otherwise unexciting day-to-day grind of everyday life.
Like us, though, celebrities are affected by what’s going on in the world, and because of their enormous platforms, those reactions reach millions, making us laugh, tear up, scratch our heads, and sometimes all three at once. And with 2016 being such a tumultuous year, there’s been no shortage of celebrity thoughts and opinions to go around.
So, in celebration of this, let’s relive some of those moments with a look at what celebrities had to say in 2016 that captured the spirit of the year!
Whether she’s portraying a shape-shifting mutant, leading a rebellion in Panem, or talking about how much work it is to have to put on pants in the morning, Jennifer Lawrence is adored by her multitude of fans. Where most celebrities carefully curate their public personas, Lawrence is known for her honesty and candor—she says what comes to her mind, and this habit has endeared her to the public. On the evening of the 2016 Golden Globes, she directed that candor at a reporter.
When faced with the questioning reporter, who held up his phone in front of his face in order to film Lawrence at the 2016 Golden Globes, her smile vanished, and she dryly—and infamously—replied with this.
“You can’t live your whole life behind your phone, bro. You gotta live your life.”
While Jennifer caught some flak for being a bit aggressive with the poor, stuttering reporter that evening, her frustration highlighted an important truth. More than ever, we’re looking at the world through a lens, taking videos and photos where we should be experiencing life. Technology can sometimes act as a barrier between us and our lives if we let it—a lesson we shouldn’t soon forget.
That poor reporter certainly won’t.
Her influence going far beyond her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, Emma Watson has long been a champion of equality, focusing most of her efforts on the societal status of women, even going on to be appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014.
If nothing else, 2016 has been the year of activism when it comes to gender issues, and Watson, as the most recognizable—and intelligent—faces in quest for egalitarianism, has had some very insightful things to say to the public.
Watson took the podium at the launch celebration of HeForShe Arts Week, channeling Maya Angelou as she spoke about gender equality.
“We have to do more than help people see the logic with their minds,” she said. “It’s also about making them feel it in their bones. Viscerally. Emotionally. This is what changes us; this is what makes us act.”
Watson doesn’t go in for the confrontational brand of feminism, but advocates, rather, for cooperation amongst the sexes—a collaboration that is mutually beneficial. And what’s more, she recognizes the need to generate empathy—to make people feel for one another.
Professor Lupin was right; Watson really is one of the cleverest of her age.
If ever there existed an eternal font of bizarre quotes, it’s Kanye West. Whether you regard him as a creative genius or an egotistical mess, the entertainer enthralls millions with his sound and words.
Love him or hate him, though, no one denies that West says some downright ridiculous things. Things such as this gem, which erupted during a rant following a dispute on the set of Saturday Night Live.
“Whoa by 50 percent[I am more influential than], Stanley Kubrick, Picasso, Apostle Paul, **** Picasso and Escobar . By 50 percent, more influential than any other human being. Don’t **** with me. Don’t ****with me. Don’t ****with me. By 50 percent dead or alive, by 50 percent for the next 1,000 years. Stanley Kubrick, Ye.”
From the oddly specific numerical figures, to the declaration of superiority over the Apostle Paul, to the profound conclusion, “Ye,” West’s rant is destined to become a classic.
There really isn’t much more to say. Ye.
Justin Bieber may make more sense than Kanye, but that doesn’t exactly mean he’s down-to-earth.
In a 2016 interview with GQ, the pop star talked about the 2013 confiscation of his pet monkey, OG Mally, by German custom officials, dropping several memorable lines.
“I’m not gonna bring him to Germany or travel with it anymore. People are always like, ‘Why did you get a monkey?’ If you could get a monkey, well, you would get a monkey, too! Monkeys are awesome.”
And there we have it—Justin Bieber’s contribution to 2016. Monkeys are awesome.
Phelps made history when he finished his final Olympic event in 2016, leaving the sport with a total of 23 Olympic gold medals—a world record. Officially “retiring” after the Rio Olympics, the swimmer had this to say of his career.
“This is how I wanted to finish my career. Being able to cap it off with these Games is just the perfect way to finish.”
With this historic line ending his tenure as the greatest swimmer in the world, it’s safe to say that his legions of fans felt Phelps’s satisfaction along with him, even if it was tinged with a hint of sadness at the end of a legendary career that may not be matched for generations to come.
Enjoy your retirement, Phelps. You’ve earned it.
2016 has been an especially divisive year marked by an increasingly bitter culture war, infighting among once-unified groups, and political battles on a national scale.
Author J.K. Rowling, however, has this to say to her fans.
“Rage is to righteousness as certainty is to wisdom. Constantly mistaken for each other, they're hardly ever in the same room.”
Rowling, with her words, highlights the fact that while rage might feel righteous, and certainty may appear to be wisdom, both destructive forces. What we need now, especially after the prolonged drama of the 2016 presidential election, is constructive force.
Well—that, and a little magic. Fortunately, Rowling is well-versed in both.
Of course, this list of celebrity quotes of 2016 can’t end without revisiting the moment when Justin Timberlake, who, in NSYNC’s 2000 music video, “It’s Gonna Be Me,” famously sounds like he’s singing, “It’s gonna be May,” finally acknowledged what everyone has been talking about for the past 16 years.
In a Tweet on April 29th, he dropped this bomb, and the internet went mad.
“Everybody... It is ACTUALLY GONNA BE MAY!”
That’s it. The sound of 16 years of puns finally paying off.
The End of a Contentious Year
2016 has, for many people, been an all-out brawl of a year, and with the stress of a presidential election wholly dominating the scene, we’ve taken special enjoyment in the moments that make us laugh or bring a smile to our faces.
In the end, though, the essence of the year has been one of division—but no division is incurable. In his first speech after the results of the 2016 election, President Obama—who has become a celebrity in his own right—said this of his party’s loss.
"Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we're actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We're not Democrats first, we're not Republicans first. We're Americans.”
And that, above all, is the quote that should take us roaring into 2017—a message of hope and unity.
Enjoy reminiscing over 2016—the weird, the wise and the hopeful.