If 2018 was year of the scammer, then 2019 was all about making a big f*cking deal out of nothing. Below, ELLE.com reflects on 365 days of being unrelentingly petty: shallow celebrity drama, political schadenfreude, and some delicious master classes in passive aggression. Congrats to everyone below, you did it! You were petty as hell this year! Now go make a New Year’s resolution to do better.
NASA’s first space crime
This summer, NASA investigated the first-ever crime committed in space. Astronaut Anne McClain was accused of inappropriately accessing the bank account of her estranged spouse while on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station. McClain’s wife, former Air Force intelligence officer Summer Worden, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission accusing McClain of identity theft, according to The New York Times. Worden’s family also filed a complaint accusing McClain of a “highly calculated and manipulative campaign” to attempt to win custody over Worden’s 6-year-old son, whom the couple raised when they were still together.
Petty level: Out of this world. Bonus point for making history.
How to get a good seat on a plane
Earlier this month, an American Airlines flight to Miami was reportedly diverted back to Pensacola when a woman threw a literal temper tantrum over her seat size. A spokesman with the Pensacola Police Department told USA Today that the woman tried faking a medical condition to get her way, which prompted the pilot to ground the plane. Back in Pensacola, she reportedly refused to deplane and everyone was forced to evacuate.
Petty level: We’re going to need an oxygen mask, because this amount of petty took our breath away.
Post-divorce billboard boasts
When it comes time to rub a new relationship in your ex’s face, most of us Instagram a “we’re so happy, look at us!” couple pic. But when the exorbitantly wealthy bounce back from heartbreak, they commission a 42-foot-high photo of bae on a New York City skyscraper. Or, at least, that’s what 81-year-old Harry Macklowe did back in March. The unsubtle real estate developer had the photograph hung on a building his ex-wife planned to purchase. Macklowe’s reasoning? It was a “proclamation of love,” he told The New York Times.
Petty level: Macklowe, congrats! You are officially a starting forward on Team Extra.
When Kathyrn Kidd was reported by her neighbors in August for illegally renting out her duplex on Airbnb, she retaliated by painting a zip-lipped emoji with long eyelashes above her front door. Kidd’s neighbor, Susan Wieland, believed it intentionally poked fun of her eyelash extensions. She told Easy Reader News: “It’s definitely directed. I had them done here in Manhattan Beach, and they did them way too big. Now it’s painted on the house.” Kidd denied the claim. The only purpose of the paint job, she told Easy Reader News, was to “send a message to be happy, be colorful, be positive, and enjoy.”
Petty level: No need for the lashes, a woozy emoji would have sufficed.
Avoiding family time at all costs
There are an infinite number of fake excuses to let your parents down easy. But for some reason, this 24-year-old man faked a mass shooting to forgo spending quality time with the folks. According to the Pomona Police Department in California, Erik Villaseñor sent an email to the Los Angeles County Fair association that “someone was planning on doing a mass shooting Sunday at the fairgrounds” and he “just wanted to inform you guys.” Again, this man is 24 years old. Villaseñor later admitted the whole thing was a hoax, a way to avoid hitting the fair with his family. He pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of false report of emergency, according to NBC News, and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years’ probation. The district attorney’s office also said he had to stay away from the fairgrounds for three years.
Petty level: A fake mass shooting? Not cool.
Literally anything Trump does
It’s hard to settle on just one petty moment from our president this year. But perhaps his most egregious act of belittlement was mocking TIME’s person of the year, climate activist extraordinaire Greta Thunberg. Trump has made fun of 16-year-old Thunberg, who has Asperger’s syndrome, to his 67 million Twitter followers not once, but twice.
Thunberg responded by changing her Twitter bio to read: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”
Petty level: Melania! Help! Your husband lost his Be Best handbook!
A petty side hustle
If you don’t have anything nice to say… have Isaiah comment on your ex’s photo. As Vice reported in October, a 32-year-old songwriter from Los Angeles named Isaiah found a way to make money being petty. It’s basically the dream job. Venmo him $5, and he’ll comment “yikes” on a former lover’s selfie.
“People are selling feet pics on Twitter,” Isaiah told the outlet. “I was like – I’ll give you a yikes for five bucks. I thought it was funny but I was actually serious. Turns out, other people were serious about it too.”
“Some are calling it a bully service but I feel I am offering a sense of closure,” he added. “Three people have told me their ex messaged them in the spirit of amends after I yikes’d their pic—not knowing where the yikes came from, of course.”
Petty level: Do you need an assistant, Isaiah?
“Good luck, Gwyneth”
The three most important words of 2019. They were uttered by Martha Stewart on Alex Rodriguez’s podcast, The Corp, back in August. “How would you describe what Gwyneth Paltrow is doing today versus what Martha Stewart created years ago?” she was asked. “I don’t follow Goop,” Stewart replied. “Sometimes I look at products that she’s selling … I wish every young entrepreneur well and I hope that there are many, many, many different kinds of entrepreneurs … if they’re movie stars or hardworking women like I am, who are not movie stars. If they have a good idea, I want them to be able to succeed. So, good luck, Gwyneth.”
“SO, GOOD LUCK, GWYNETH.” Should we stop this list right now? Did Martha Stewart just win petty icon of the year?
There’s nothing more deliciously petty than a long-standing feud, and Stewart’s with Goop goddess Gwyneth Paltrow dates back to 2013 when TMZ asked who was the better lifestyle coach. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, you have to live to be a coach!” she said with an exasperated sigh. Since then, Stewart has made many very public digs akin to “So, good luck, Gwyneth,” because, there’s only room for one Lifestyle Queen.
Petty level: It’s been over ten years since Goop debuted, it might be time to drop the beef already.
The worst kind of tourists
An English family visiting New Zealand was issued deportation notices after wreaking petty havoc all over the country. According to The New York Times, they “dumped chips on someone’s beach blanket” and “reportedly stole a Christmas tree from a gas station.” The Daily Mail Australia reports the family also stole items from hotels and left their rooms in “complete disarray, with spaghetti dropped all over the floor, red bull cans littered around the room and the smell of ‘kids poo’ permeating the space.”
The straw that broke the camel’s back was a disturbance at a local Burger King involving local authorities. Barbara Doran, one of the tourists, told The Daily Mail her family had been “tortured” by native New Zealanders and they were “very, very frightened.” The family, Doran insisted, had done nothing wrong.
Petty level: Getting kicked out of New Zealand for leaving poo in your hotel room? Petty beyond belief.
Counting down James Charles
If you aren’t familiar with the James Charles vs. Tati Westbrook drama of 2019, here’s the full backstory. While the back and forth was predictably petty as hell, the best thing to come of it was this live stream count down (not up) of Charles followers on YouTube posted by “Tea4Real.” You see, after Charles publicly shaded Westbrook, he started losing followers and fast. Westbrook, however, gained followers like crazy. It’s unclear who “Tea4Real” is or why they uploaded the livestream—but they also included their own live subscriber count. You have to respect the hustle.
Petty level: Kudos to “Tea4Real” on this very subtle sub-sect of YouTube petty.
Tell me I’m pretty… or face the consequences
In April, a 20-year-old Texas woman allegedly attacked her husband after asking him if she looked pretty. The husband claims he didn’t hear her and when he didn’t respond, she hit him. The woman says he initiated the physical altercation. According to The Laredo Morning Times, she was arrested and charged with two counts of assault and family violence.
Petty level: Relatable.
Throwing shade without saying a word
Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian might be the most supportive husband, maybe ever? When Serena Williams took on nemesis Maria Sharapova in August, Ohanian was spotted in the stands wearing a D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) shirt. This was not even a passive attempt to taunt his wife’s enemy, who was banned from playing tennis in 2016 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Petty level: Just the right amount of shade.