Best and Worst Pop Culture Moments of 2014
Fifteen minutes of fame used to sound too short. But now -- with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a thousand other ways to get news instantly -- fame is more fleeting than ever. One minute you're watching the world take the Ice Bucket Challenge, and the next minute, it's all about that bass.
But media moments matter. They shape the culture, signal trends, and influence how kids view the world. Whether they're wonderful, weird, or just plain awful, media moments are an opportunity to connect with our kids, put things in context, and share our values. Looking back over the past year, we highlight some of the best and worst media moments of 2014.
Best of 2014
February 27, 2014 Lupita Nyong'o delivers speech at Essence Black Women in Hollywood event.
The actress's poignant words about being African-American and feeling beautiful became an important contribution to the global discussion about race and beauty.
With the help of the Humane Society International, skier Kenworthy brought Sochi's stray-dog situation to light during the winter Olympics, matching many stray dogs with adoptive families back in the States.
April 14, 2014 Pharrell's "Happy" takes over the world.
The optimistic, clap-happy, family-friendly song dominated the radio and YouTube in the spring and summer of 2014, with the talented Pharrell soaking in his good fortune with humility.
May 7, 2014 First Lady Michelle Obama tweets #BringBackOurGirls in response to the April 14 kidnapping of 230 girls from a Nigerian school by militant group Boko Haram.
The first lady added her support to an international effort to rescue a group of girls targeted for seeking an education in a highly conservative region, bringing media attention to a human rights crisis that was otherwise overshadowed by Jay-Z and Solange Knowles' elevator fight.
May 12, 2014 Michael Sam receives news that he's an NFL draft pick.
Sam became the first openly gay NFL draft pick, and his celebration with his boyfriend and friends went viral, opening doors for a more inclusive professional sports community.
June – July 2014 FIFA World Cup dominates television and social media.
The international sporting competition garnered intense attention across the world, momentarily unifying countries and fans behind a love for the sport of soccer/football.
The former Olympian stunned TV viewers with her amazing strength and inspired the Twitter hashtag "#MightyKacy."
July – August 2014 The ALS Ice Bucket challenge goes viral.
Regular folks and famous people such as Justin Bieber, Bill Gates, and George W. Bush dumped ice-cold water on their heads and shared their videos on social media, raising more than $100 million for charities related to fighting ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
July 8, 2014 Colbie Caillat releases "Try" video.
The music video, which shows a variety of women removing their wigs and makeup over the course of the song, promotes the value of natural beauty. The video amassed more than 27 million views during the two months after its release.
August 1, 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy premieres in theaters to wide acclaim.
The lighthearted tone and irreverent humor of Guardians made this Marvel release stand out for families as well as hard-core fans.
Activists and news organizations used social media to react to and report on the police shooting of Brown and the police attempts to quell unrest, stirring a national debate about race and the militarization of local police departments.
August 25, 2014 Mo'ne Davis appears on cover of Sports Illustrated.
At 13, pitching powerhouse Davis, only one of two girls in the National Little League, became the first Little League player to appear on the cover of the magazine.
The Harry Potter actress spoke out in favor of women's rights and the need for men to participate in the movement toward equality.
October 10, 2014 Malala Yousafzai is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Yousafzai, who survived being targeted and shot by the Taliban, went on to appear on shows such as The Daily Show to discuss her fight for education for all children. She became the youngest Peace Prize honoree at 17.
December 3, 2014 #BlackLivesMatter heats up the global Twittersphere.
Right after the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer involved in killing Eric Garner in New York City, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter joined #ICantBreathe and #HandsUpDontShoot in mobilizing activists and concerned people -- including teens -- to join protests against police brutality and to demand improvement to relations between the police and communities of color. Some vandalism and violence marred some of the public's reaction to these protests.
Worst of 2014
Throughout 2014 Selfie-improvement apps gain popularity.
As more people young and old used their phones to snap and share photos of themselves, an industry arose to "fix" any flaws in selfies before posting to social media, adding to our collective anxiety about our appearances.
March 2, 2014 John Travolta flubs Idina Menzel’s name while introducing her song at the 2014 Academy Awards.
The movie star called the singer "wickedly talented" but then called her "Adele Dazeem."
May 31, 2014 Two 12-year-old girls stab another girl, allegedly due to allegiance to Internet horror persona "Slenderman."
The victim survived, and the incident encouraged discussion about negative media influence on kids.
June 9, 2014 DinnerTime app launches.
Although we can get behind the concept of parental controls on digital devices, the idea that parents would need an app to tear kids away from their iPads at dinnertime is a sad commentary on the state of parenting and digital life.
Weird, awkward, and notably unsexy despite plenty of bobbing and moaning, West's music video further objectified his wife and made the rest of us shake our heads in disbelief (but then James Franco and Seth Rogan spoofed the video, and we felt better again).
The reality star's mobile app -- where players spend money to move up the ranks from E-lister to A-lister by attending parties and wearing expensive clothes -- became one of the most popular and top-grossing apps in the iTunes store.
August 11 – 13, 2014 Beloved movie star Robin Williams commits suicide; news helicopters surround his house; daughter Zelda is harassed on Twitter and Instagram.
In the hours and days after the world lost a great comedian and actor, the news media and users on social media unleashed their worst, turning a sad event into a travesty. Thankfully, the simultaneous outpouring of support became the bigger news.
In an extreme breach of privacy, Internet hackers released naked pictures of female celebs stolen from their iCloud accounts. Naked pics of other celebs continued to trickle out over the next few months.
September 8, 2014 TMZ releases full video of Ray Rice hitting then-fiancée Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator.
The public had previously seen only video of Rice dragging Palmer's unconscious body from the elevator, and the full footage brought about increased criticism of the NFL's handling of the incident and Rice's punishment.
Sarkeesian's canceled talk became the latest and most public incident in #Gamergate, which is related to the controversy about misogyny in the video game industry.
The Internet remained intact, but once again the reality TV star made waves by showing off her significant assets for no deeper reason than getting attention.