In honor of the last day of 2014, a look back at the objects that shaped the year.
It’s not clear why so many famous people this year didn’t realize most elevators are equipped with surveillance cameras, but for whatever reason, two big stories this year came from footage captured inside these handy people-movers.
The first elevator incident involved Ray Rice, who was at the time a running back for the Baltimore Ravens. Footage from a security camera outside an Atlantic City casino surfaced in February, showing Rice dragging his unconscious fianceé Janay Palmer (who has since become his wife) out of an elevator after he allegedly attacked her. Rice was suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season as a result, but when TMZ released another video on September 8 showing Rice punching his wife in the face inside the elevator, the NFL suspended him indefinitely and the Ravens cut Rice from the team.
There’s speculation that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had seen the second video of the actual assault before TMZ released it. Goodell denies that, though he has since said that he “didn’t get it right’’ when it came to Rice’s initial punishment.
Bill Simmons, Editor-in-Chief of the ESPN-owned website Grantland, wasn’t buying Goodell’s pronouncement of innocence, and called Goodell a liar on one of his podcasts, daring ESPN to take him to task for it. ESPN did, suspending Simmons for three weeks.
The second elevator fiasco involved the king and queen of hip hop, nay, of American pop culture: Beyoncé and Jay Z. On May 5, another pesky elevator security camera captured Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s sister, swinging wildly at her brother-in-law.
The video, posted so graciously by TMZ, provided a crack in the dam of their seemingly perfect marriage through which divorce rumors and whispers of infidelity poured. Were the royal couple no longer “Crazy in Love?’’ Was Bey no longer the Bonnie to Jay’s Clyde, despite the fact that they spent all summer performing on their “On the Run’’ tour together?
As of now, Mr. and Mrs. Carter seem to be back on track, and Ray Rice, while no longer with the Ravens, hasn’t been banned from the NFL. It just goes to show that when it comes to domestic abuse and family discord, what goes down in an elevator can always come back up.
It was a bad year for jets from Malaysia and Indonesia. The disasters began on March 8, when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared. Just vanished, seemingly into thin air. There were no distress signals and no reports to air traffic control of bad weather. All we know for sure is that the flight deviated from its scheduled path. Even though the missing plane with the 289 people on board has been the subject of one of the most extensive and expensive searches in recent history (which continues today with a comprehensive search of the ocean floor), not a shred of the Boeing 777 has been found.
You’d think this would be the worst thing that could happen to a Malaysia Airlines plane. And in any other year you’d be right; how often does a plane not piloted by Amelia Earhart fall off the face of the earth (or out of the sky, in this case)? But not in 2014. On July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in Ukraine. All 298 people on the flight were killed, making it the deadliest airline shootdown in the history of aviation.
And then, as if things weren’t bad enough, this past Sunday, December 28, Malasia-based AirAsia Flight 8501, carrying 162 people, disappeared from radar screens. This time, however, there was some closure: Rescue teams have found debris from the flight off the coast of Southwestern Borneo.
The Ebola crisis dominated much of the news in 2014, appearing at first to be more the stuff of science fiction horror movies than a real-life health crisis. At one point, Bostonians freaked out when a man was tested for the disease at Massachusetts General Hospital (the results were negative). When a woman showed up at the airport in a hazmat suit it was clear just how full blown the hysteria had become.
From the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO at the hand of policeman Darren Wilson, to policeman Daniel Pantaleo’s deadly choking of Eric Garner in Staten Island, to Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s killing of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn, violence involving cops and civilians has dominated the news this year.
The failure of grand juries to indict Wilson and Pantaleo in the deaths of Brown and Garner set off protests around the country, demonstrations like the ones in Boston that those wearing badges were called in to control, despite being part of what protesters saw as the problem. Race relations (Brown and Garner were black, Wilson and Pantaleo are not; Brinsley was black, Ramos and Liu were not) have suffered; in a December 16 NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll found that 57 percent of Americans believe race relations are “bad.’’
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio was booed at the New York Police Department graduation recently, as tensions continue to rise in NYC. Many officers feel he’s failed to protect the police force following the anti-cop sentiment that the results of the grand juries set off around the country.
Pumpkin Spice Flavored Anything
This was the year that “pumpkin spice’’ finally got the disdain it deserves. While Starbucks has been rolling out the Pumpkin Spice Latte for years now, experts (read: the author of this article) pin this year’s backlash to the fact that Starbucks, grocery stores, and other purveyors of flavored things started hawking these decidedly fall-y food items in August. Seriously? August? It still incites anger.
2014 was also the year that Pumpkin Spice reached new levels of absurdity. Pumpkin spice lasagna noodles? Get over it.
Pumpkin Spice controversy can also be seen as giving birth to the phrase “basic bitch.’’ Being “basic’’ basically (sorry) means you like what everyone else likes and you follow trends unironically, and you Instagram your PSL everytime you drink one. But it’s also pretty problematic: “’’The Cut’’ ran a great explainer on the cultural implications of calling someone a basic bitch, and why you maybe shouldn’t.
2014 was the year philanthropy went viral, as people emptied ice-cold buckets of water onto their heads and then challenged their friends to do the same or donate money to ALS research. The Ice Bucket Challenge was started in 2013, but it caught on like wildfire this past summer, kickstarted by friends and family of Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player diagnosed with ALS in 2012.
Seemingly everyone, from your best friend’s mom to Bill Gates to Matt Damon (who used toilet water to promote saving H20), participated. The movement raised $115 million, which will go towards researching a treatment and cure for the degenerative disease.
You wouldn’t think 2014 would be the year a podcast would capture the imagination of the American public, given that it’s not World War II and most people aren’t listening to radio soap operas anymore. But WBEZ changed the game with Serial, a new program they launched in the form of one story told in multiple episodes over the course of a season.
Sarah Koenig, one of the producers of This American Life, narrated the podcast, a journalistic investigation into a murder that took place in 1999. Without giving away anything, a payphone, supposedly in a Best Buy parking lot, features prominently in the story.
2014: The year radio series and payphones were once again relevant.
Sexual assault is as old as (probably older, sadly) as Greek myths—The Rape of Europa, anyone? But the simmering anger, frustration, and pain bubbled over and dominated the news this year to an unprecedented extent, beginning with Dylan Farrow’s allegations against her adopted father Woody Allen, continuing with the seemingly endless number of women who’ve come forward accusing Bill Cosby of assault, moving on to the “Rolling Stone’’ article about a student who claimed to be gang-raped at the University of Virginia (and the subsequent controversy), and all the the other less high-profile but still important allegations and stories that came to light once the floodgates opened.
The mattress became a symbol for the victims of sexual assault thanks to the Columbia University student who, for her senior thesis, carried one with her everywhere she went. It’s hard to push aside a rape case when someone carries the scene of the crime with them to class.
We’re still in the golden age of television, and of strong female characters. And two of the best boss ladies, Olivia Pope of Scandal and Alicia Florrick of The Good Wife, both love their red wine. While their careers and love lives may spin out of control, the beverage is a steady constant for both characters, always waiting for them in their immaculate apartments.
The Good Wife had a hell of a year in 2014; after losing a main character the season before in a shocking twist that left some viewers more heartbroken than they’d care to talk about in public, the show came up with fresh new storylines and catapulted to new levels of greatness. The cliff-hanger they ended the mid-season finale on has those same viewers wishing they could fast-forward life to find out what will happen next.
As for Scandal, the biggest plot twist will forever be how Olivia drinks red wine on a white couch in a white cashmere sweater and never spills a drop.