Clockwise from top right: That terrifying Lucille Ball statue, The Fat Jew, Jared Fogle, George Lucas, the Confederate flag, Martin Shkreli, and Hulk Hogan (Illustration by Meredith Kachel,

Jon Stewart no longer sits behind the Daily Show anchor’s desk, stoners can get McDonald’s breakfast whenever they want, and if anyone is going to give a monologue about cats and dogs living together, it’s not going to be Bill Murray. David Lynch wanted to leave Twin Peaks, and we (almost) lost the voice of Mr. Burns. The world was a terrifyingly unstable place in 2015, as its residents were forced to contend with such existential threats as ISIS and girls liking Star Wars.


But there’s one thing that brought us all together this year, and that’s being mad at stuff. We weren’t always mad at the same stuff, and sometimes people were mad about other people not being mad about stuff, or being mad about the wrong stuff, or mad but not sufficiently so. We took to different platforms to express our vitriol (although mostly just Twitter), and it manifested itself in different forms (although mostly just Donald Trump). But at some point, we all gave in to fear and hate, making this the year we collectively turned to the dark side. Here’s how it happened:

1. American Sniper

The firestorm around American Sniper started off so innocently: praise for Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, acknowledgement of director Clint Eastwood’s skill, a few murmurings about the movie’s politics. Then, some more murmurings. Then full-blown shouting, as the three faces of the American psyche—Seth Rogen, Kid Rock, and Michael Moore—waged open war over the question of Kyle’s troubled legacy, and the film’s complicity in it. First, Rogen compared the movie to a sniper scene from the fake Nazi propaganda film in Inglourious Basterds, and then spent the rest of his Martin Luther King Jr. Day trying to stop people from burning him in effigy for what he’d said. (Moore, meanwhile, just implied that Kyle was a coward, because Moore stopped caring about getting tossed on the bonfire, like, 4 million effigies ago.) Then the Bawitdaba Bandit himself descended on the conversation, with Kid Rock calling Moore a piece of shit and suggesting that Rogen had been sexually assaulted by his uncle. Then Rogen joked that Kid Rock was his uncle. Then a steakhouse got involved. Then it was February, and we could all stop talking about Kid Rock for at least another decade. (On a less amusing and/or steak-based note, meanwhile, the guy who actually killed Kyle was convicted of his murder in February, while Arab-American groups reported an uptick in anti-Arab threats after the movie’s premiere.) [William Hughes]


2. Too many women

These days, women are everywhere. (They’re even letting them into comic-cons now.) And in this gynofascist regime where women oppress men simply by doing things other than braid each other’s hair and have sex with Dilbert creator Scott Adams, not even that most traditionally testosterone-laden of cinematic genres, action movies, is safe from the anti-male agenda. But no more. MRA blog Return Of Kings was the first to stand up to this misandrist erasure, when writer Aaron Clarey, after viewing the trailer to Mad Max: Fury Road—because he’s not going to willingly turn over his robust male currency to the enemy, he’s no fool—declared the film “feminist propaganda.” Clarey also urged his brothers not to be tricked into seeing Fury Road by the promise of explosions and a male name on the poster, which could be read as an admission that men are feeble-minded, fragile creatures, but that’s none of our business. Next on the agenda: Reclaiming menstrual-pad commercials from the forces that would establish the monthly rhythms of a woman’s reproductive cycle as an exclusively female concern, because then women might start using their periods as an excuse to go to the bathroom in groups, and who knows what kind of insidious plots they’re hatching in there. You can’t take the “men” out of “menstruation,” feminazis. It’s right there in the name. [Katie Rife]

3. Not enough women

Women may be everywhere, according to self-proclaimed “meninists,” but one place they still aren’t is on toy shelves. Despite prominent roles in Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Jurassic World this year, female figures were suspiciously absent from the marketing for said films. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow has consistently been one of the bright spots in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but her character continues to go without a stand-alone film or even an action figure (HULK TWEET!). Even more baffling, Hasbro decided to eschew continuity (and common sense) and retconned the sex of its Jurassic World dinosaurs, releasing a line of all-male dinosaur toys. As for the people writing about these movies, Meryl Streep did a little digging around Rotten Tomatoes and found that only a quarter of the critics on the site are women, which raised questions about the disproportionate influence of male critics on moviegoing audiences. But on the (relatively) bright side, this year women helped make a federal case out of their underrepresentation in filmmaking and TV production, after a study confirmed said underrepresentation. [Danette Chavez]


4. Predatory pitchmen

True, Subway sandwiches and 19 Kids And Counting were gross going in to 2015, but the events of the year have given both a new, nauseating set of connotations. First, in what would have been an embarrassment to TLC and the Republican Party—were it possible at this point to embarrass TLC or the Republican Party—reality star, Republican campaign prop, and ostensible man of God Josh Duggar resigned from his post as moralizer-in-chief (a.k.a. executive director) at the conservative Family Research Council after it was revealed that he had no right to criticize anyone’s morals, particularly when it comes to family. See, back when he was a teenager, Josh made some mistakes, which is Duggarese for “molested several young girls, including his own sisters.” Even more shocking, his parents appear to have done their best to cover up the whole thing. Despite all this, it took TLC two months to cancel 19 Kids And Counting, pressuring sisters Jill and Jessa to discuss their childhood trauma on TV in the name of “education” in the meantime. Thus—marking one of the few times when Subway is the more palatable of two options—the sandwich chain looked downright classy when it rushed to drop spokesman Jared Fogle after the FBI raided his home in connection to a child pornography investigation. Fogle ended up being sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of possession of child pornography and paying for sex with minors; his defense claimed that Fogle’s dramatic weight loss as a result of his Subway diet made the former pitchman “hypersexual,” possibly pointing to the beleaguered fast-food company’s next slogan. [Katie Rife]

5. Martin Shkreli

Look at this asshole. Seriously, just look at him. This weasel-faced symbol of Wall Street decadence made a name for himself in September by purposefully jacking up the price of Daraprim—a popular medication used to treat AIDS and cancer patients—more than 5,000 percent, basically because he could. He needed the money, presumably, to help fund the pop-punk label in which he was a silent partner. But then the label dropped him as soon as they found out what an asshole he is, leaving Shkreli with all this dirty money and nothing to spend it on. So he bought that infamous one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan record for $2 million, but RZA didn’t want his money either, and is giving the profits to charity. The only people who don’t mind being seen with Shkreli, apparently, are the federal authorities, leading to his sweet, schadenfreude-laden arrest for securities fraud last week. [Katie Rife]


6. The Fat Jew

If Donald Trump is the manifestation of every poorly fact-checked chain letter American conservatives have forwarded over the past decade, then The Fat Jew is a golem formed from Drake GIFs, emoji, and a box of Pizza Rat T-shirts some poor schmuck is currently trying to unload on a street corner in Williamsburg. See, Josh “Fat Jew” Ostrovsky is a child of the internet, and as such concepts like “sourcing” are just way too much adulting and he literally can’t even. Ostrovsky got in trouble for this over the summer, when comedian Davon Magwood pointed out that Ostrovsky’s “The Fat Jewish” Instagram account, which boasts millions of followers, had taken one of his jokes and re-posted it without attribution. Turns out Ostrovsky, a self-proclaimed “performance artist” and social-media “personality,” had been doing this for years, but people didn’t really start getting pissed about it until he got signed by a major talent agency for his skill in cropping out other peoples’ names. In the shitstorm that followed, Comedy Central confirmed that it had dropped the show it was developing with Ostrovsky several months prior, and he became a persona non grata among New York’s ramen community as well as comedy scenes nationwide. It was too late to stop the publication of his memoir, Money Pizza Respect, but the internet got its revenge by scanning its pages and posting it in its entirety online. Aggregation is fair play, it seems. [Katie Rife]

7. The Confederate flag

After more than a century of not really paying that much attention, this summer a majority of Americans finally, collectively realized that the Confederate flag was a racist symbol, prompting protests that eventually forced officials in South Carolina to remove it from the state’s capitol building. Of course, even a symbolic omelet has to break a few eggs, so not only did this end up offending self-proclaimed “rebels” who claim the flag represents Southern pride, but TV Land decided to pull reruns of The Dukes Of Hazzard. For some people, this was a small price to pay for a little bit of racial sensitivity. For others, mainly Kid Rock and the cast of Dukes Of Hazzard, this was tantamount to shredding the Constitution itself. Eventually Tom Petty—who displayed the flag during shows and on his album covers back in the ’80s—stepped in, called the flag “stupid,” and all of America’s problems were solved. [Sam Barsanti]


8. Jared Leto’s Joker

Comic-book fans are notoriously picky when it comes to how their beloved characters are represented in movies, but even a normal person probably felt a weird twinge of anxiety when they heard that Jared Leto would be playing The Joker in Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad movie. Optimists were quick to remind everyone that there was a big backlash against Heath Ledger being cast as The Clown Prince Of Crime before The Dark Knight came out, so there was reason to give Leto the benefit of the doubt—at least until director David Ayer revealed the first full look at Leto’s Joker. He had the green hair and penchant for purple clothing, but he was also covered in cheesy tattoos that would’ve even looked excessive at the Gathering Of The Juggalos. We tried to fool ourselves with set photos that made it look like the ink wasn’t real, but the first Suicide Squad trailer officially dashed those hopes. Maybe forehead tattoos will be cool by the time the movie comes out? [Sam Barsanti]

9. Food-related celebrity tantrums

Celebrities are not “us.” They are their own, exalted class of people, and we love and hate them for this in equal measure. Thus, when celebrities start acting weird because they’re not beholden to the same mores as the rest of society, we jump all over them, because we wish we were rich and important enough to do whatever we wanted, too. This phenomenon manifested itself in two separate, food-related incidents this year, first when Jack White got upset after a college newspaper published his tour rider, which included some revealing-yet-boring information about how he likes his vegetables (plain) and his guacamole (also pretty plain). White later said he resented the implication that he was being a diva, but Ariana Grande had no such excuse when she was caught on camera licking entire trays of donuts while muttering, “I hate Americans,” which is classic diva behavior. (Maria Callas used to proclaim her hatred for Canadians while squeezing the cream out of eclairs.) Apologies were issued, America’s obesity crisis was invoked, and the local sheriff’s office got involved, presumably as a gesture of goodwill toward our nation’s late-night joke writers. Ultimately, the bakery declined to press charges—probably after discovering how much a freshly licked Ariana Grande doughnut could fetch on eBay—and Grande went back to her normal routine of being carried around like a baby. And we were fine with that, because moving as little as possible is the American way. [Katie Rife]


10. Tall tales of survival

2015 was a banner year for White Guys Who Said Something Dangerous Happened To Them, But Then We Found Out It Didn’t, And Boy, Did We Get Mad. The poster boy for this exciting new trend was NBC’s Brian Williams, who in February was caught in a lie he’d told many times before, about being shot down while traveling in a helicopter in Iraq. (Presumably, Williams started telling the story in social situations where “lead anchor of a national network news broadcast” wasn’t sufficiently impressive.) Williams—who was actually in a helicopter following the one that was damaged—spent the next six months getting raked over the coals for his deception, losing his anchor position, and being banished to the wilds of MSNBC. His fellow prominent WGWSSDHTTBTWFOIDABDWGM, meanwhile—The League star Steve Rannazzisi—got off with a much lighter sentence in the court of public opinion, despite lying about an objectively much bigger deal: being in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Besides being forced to say he was sorry, Rannazzisi was pretty much let off with a smack on the wrist, some worries about his Comedy Central special (which still aired), and the loss of a Buffalo Wild Wings spokesman gig. Although the absence of the chain’s tangy, savory spicy garlic sauce probably stung pretty badly as he contemplated his rapidly advancing, League-less future as America’s second-favorite celebrity teller of tall tales. [William Hughes]

11. Disrespect toward Native Americans

Whether they were accused of curses or being depicted in an Adam Sandler movie, 2015 was a rough year for Native Americans in movies. Who could have predicted that Sandler’s Western spoof, The Ridiculous 6, would mix its racist stereotypes with its sexist jokes, naming Apache women in the film “Beaver’s Breath” and “No Bra”? That’s a rhetorical question, of course—it would have been virtually impossible for Sandler to avoid that toxic combination, which prompted Native American actors to walk off the set in April. And no sooner had they wrested their culture from Sandler’s hands than they were demanding the return of artifacts from the cast of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, who bragged about stealing them from the film’s New Mexico location. To add insult to larceny, series star Dylan O’Brien attributed a rash of illnesses among the cast to some kind of curse in retaliation for “keeping some things” from the “Indian burial ground” on which he believes the movie was filmed. (It wasn’t a burial ground.) To recap: gross misrepresentation, robbery, and defamation. Oh, how far we’ve come. [Danette Chavez]


12. Spider-Man

A perennial favorite, and the gold standard of nerd rage. You think people got mad about the all-female Ghostbusters? That’s nothing compared to the reaction that the mere suggestion of changing the template for the cinematic webslinger produces in a certain subset of fans. (Just ask my Twitter notifications.) Of course, Sony probably isn’t helping by repeating his origin story over and over; it’s like a nightmare about going back to high school, except you don’t deliver a book report in your underwear, you get bit by a radioactive spider and your uncle dies. That would put anyone on edge. At least he gets to hang out in the MCU now, freeing him from the ouroboros of familial tragedy and pop quizzes that makes his life on other continuities so miserable. [Katie Rife]

13. Ashley Madison

Appealing to a particularly literal-minded section of the unhappily married population—joining any dating site without your spouse’s knowledge is unethical, but it takes a special kind of cheater to sign up for the adultery-specific one—“married dating” site Ashley Madison preys on users’ naïveté by “guaranteeing” affairs to those willing to shell out cash. Which would work, were the site not 86 percent male, with only a small number of those seeking same-sex encounters. So either the women on Ashley Madison all have very full social calendars, or most of these dummies are just throwing money down a hole. Still, intent is the same as action in the court of social-media justice, and when hackers broke into the site in July, exposing the account information of millions of users and informing them of the breach with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” the online hordes rushed to condemn those named in the leak. Yes, some of them turned out to be hypocritical douchebags (See No. 4), but others were just regular people blinded by extramarital lust. Then several people committed suicide as a result of the hack and subsequent public shaming, and we all felt kind of bad—for a minute. [Katie Rife]


14. That horrifying Lucille Ball statue

“Vitameatave—get it out of here!” is presumably what the residents of Celoron, New York said when they decided they’d been sufficiently traumatized by Dave Poulin’s Bronze Abomination, Or: A Statue Of Lucille Ball. “Scary Lucy,” as the ghastly monument is known in New England folklore, has leered menacingly from the park commemorating the comedian lo, these many (six) years. Then the terrified locals, who probably met in sanctified spaces and only in the daytime, finally mustered up the courage to start a Facebook page to eject or recast the statue. Their cries did not go unheard, as even Poulin admitted to being “heartsick” over his Goya painting brought to life. Sadly, the townspeople’s nightmares came true, as Scary Lucy came to life in October. [Danette Chavez]

15. NBC canceling Hannibal

Seriously, NBC? You couldn’t let us have this one? Look, we all understand that Bryan Fuller’s gloriously gothic paean to man-on-serial-killer love and violence drew ratings roughly equivalent to those of your average scat porn. And sure, networks have to make money by whatever means necessary, even if that means airing what seems like 17 hours a week of Adam Levine thinking he’s earned the right to critique other people’s musical abilities. But you had already moved the show to Saturdays, where a half-dozen retirees falling asleep in front of the TV equals solid numbers for any programming. And more importantly, we loved this series. The internet doesn’t forget, NBC, so look forward to the ultimate punishment: Tumblr posts where people say “I miss Hannibal!” and then post 20-some GIFs of Will and Hannibal embracing. [Alex McCown]


16. Trevor Noah’s Twitter

These days, an employee background check has expanded into the nooks and crannies of their online presence, which is why it’s hard to believe that Trevor Noah didn’t do a better job of scrubbing his Twitter account of potentially offensive material when he landed the Daily Show hosting gig earlier this year. But Noah—who’s been doing comedy for about 10 years now—left his hacky joke-riddled feed for all the world to see, and the world proceed to flip the fuck out over it. There were accusations of bigotry, as well as mealymouthed defense of the jokes in Noah’s back catalog of tweets that didn’t land. But because the objectionable material was mostly trite observational humor about butts and unenthusiastic blowjobs from several years ago, Comedy Central stood by the host and kindly asked people to consider that comedy can evolve, and oh, yes, please try to find their chill somewhere. For his part, Noah issued a non-apology before just telling people not to judge the content of his character by those ill-advised 140 characters. [Danette Chavez]

17. Whitewashed casting

Not since Mel Gibson decided Jesus Of Nazareth was a white guy from the Pacific Northwest has there been a year with such overt examples of movie-star whitewashing. First out of the gate was Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods And Kings, in which famous Welsh and Australian guys Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton played those famous non-Welsh or Australian guys Moses and Ramses, and Rupert Murdoch defended it by saying all the Egyptians he knows are white guys. But no occurrence was quite as much fun as the casting of lily-white Emma Stone as a woman of Chinese and Hawaiian heritage in Aloha. Stone herself was quick to acknowledge the mistake—specifically, the part where writer-director Cameron Crowe though it was a good idea in the first place. In the meantime, you can see Ridley Scott’s The Martian, co-starring white actor Mackenzie Davis as Mindy Park, identified in the book as a Korean-American. Not that the struggle continues or anything. [Alex McCown]


18. Characters dying, or maybe not

When it’s actually feasible to have the news equivalent of a form letter prepared—namely, one that says that “despite all filmed evidence to the contrary, the character of [REDACTED] on [insert television show name here] isn’t a goner”—there’s a problem. We did it for Game Of Thrones. We did it for The Walking Dead. And while one of those was clearly more egregious than the other (mindless zombies sure are precise about only reaching for specific parts of the body when it serves narrative convenience!), we’re looking forward to pulling out that same script again soon. Perhaps when the season finale of The Big Bang Theory features Sheldon being violently mauled by a pack of angry wildebeests, only to have CBS begin a new post-show recap series, Talking Theoretically, on which the showrunner explains how it’s possible to survive such an attack by transferring the brain into an identical clone body. [Alex McCown]

19. Quentin Tarantino vs. the police

Boy, nothing caps off a year marked by increasing tensions between police and the public like a showdown between the boys and girls in blue and a high-profile director who dared to speak out against violent excesses committed by some of those among their ranks. And in the case of Quentin Tarantino, we’re talking about a guy who knows his way around a violent excess or two. Tarantino appeared at an anti-police brutality rally back in October, telling a reporter, “[I]f you believe there’s murder going on then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I’m here to say I’m on the side of the murdered.” Police unions around the country took umbrage at Tarantino’s anti-murder rhetoric, organizing boycotts of his upcoming film The Hateful Eight and refusing to work on any of his future, presumably murder-heavy projects. Things took a turn for the scary when Fraternal Order Of Police director Jim Pasco started hinting—in a manner not necessarily befitting a spokesperson for people whose job it is to make Americans feel safe—that further actions were being planned to disrupt the film’s Christmas release date. “Tarantino has made a good living out of violence and surprise,” Pasco said, presumably speaking over the soundtrack from some obscure ’70s kung-fu flick, like a bad guy from one of the director’s movies. “Our officers make a living trying to stop violence, but surprise is not out of the question.” Just a few weeks out from the film’s premiere, no further actions have been forthcoming, despite Tarantino’s refusal to recant his earlier statements. Fingers crossed that this doesn’t end with anything except some wholesome, cabin-based, SAG-sanctioned violence. [William Hughes]


20. Kim Kardashian

The queen of the Kardashians had a pretty good 2015; she had a baby, named it something dumb (in grand celebrity tradition), and wrote a book (for a given value of “written,” anyway, given that Selfie is one of those tomes you probably shouldn’t feel bad about judging by its glossy, cleavage-baring cover). But while Kim K. managed to get through the year without breaking the internet (again), she did scramble the brains of stuffy NPR listeners, sending them into doily-clad fits of polysyllabic apoplexy. Her crime? Appearing on the public radio network’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! comedy quiz to promote her book. Listeners were apparently so outraged by this invasion of their protected garret of Paula Poundstone jokes that they wrote into the NPR ombudsman to complain, employing the full force of their crossword-puzzle-and-Amherst-honed intellects. “Vapid, talentless, and shallow individuals who have not earned fame or fortune through an ounce of hard work have no place on a show of such caliber,” one listener thesaurused wildly, laying it on a little thick for a show that devotes a healthy portion of its weekly run time to Mo Rocca trying to guess the final word of a pithy, news-related limerick. [William Hughes]

21. Hulk Hogan

Men who wear bandannas always have secrets, as any former contestant on Rock Of Love can presumably attest. This year, we found out what Hulk Hogan was hiding under his. As it turns out, neither the sight of Hogan and a friend’s wife dripping spray tanner all over each other nor Hogan’s climactic cries of “Oh, brother!” were the most shocking part of a sex tape leaked by Gawker back in 2012. No, the truly gross bit comes after the grunting, veiny act itself, as Hogan repeatedly drops racial slurs while complaining to his married lover about his daughter Brooke’s African-American boyfriend. When audio of Hogan’s rant—previously sealed as part of an FBI extortion investigation—reached his bosses at the WWE, they acted quickly, firing him from the organization and removing him from their Hall Of Fame. Hogan later sincerely apologized for the whole thing and explained that he’s not a real racist, he’s just from Florida, an explanation that the world seems to have collectively accepted. [Katie Rife]


22. Everything George Lucas says or does

As the release date of The Force Awakens crept closer, every move George Lucas made somehow became way more interesting than it ever was when he was actually in charge of Star Wars. Reaching all the way back to January, Lucas was complaining about how modern movies lacked “substance,” but the frequency of stories about George Lucas doing something/anything really picked up in the fall. First, the city of Chicago agreed to build his weird museum, and then he gave an interview in which he exposed the beating heart beneath his flannel shirt and explained that everyone’s mean criticisms actually convinced him to stop making Star Wars movies. However, the really delicious stuff came when Lucas announced that he still stands by Greedo shooting first, even though that change is objectively terrible. Finally, at the beginning of December, Lucas attended a screening of The Force Awakens and said that he “really liked” the movie, at which point he disappeared and was able to live the rest of his life in peace. Probably.[Sam Barsanti]

23. The ghosts of outrage past

While the 21st century news cycle has proven itself to have the long-term memory of a goldfish who smoked way too much pot in college, allowing some of 2015’s social-media villains to eventually return to their normal lives (see No. 21), other stories just keep coming back. First there’s the ongoing saga of Bill Cosby, who actually suffered some career consequences this year for the allegations leveled against him last fall, namely losing his agent, the publisher of his biography, and his statue at Disney World. He still doesn’t seem to have been humbled by the experience, though, as last week he countersued seven (of the more than 50) women who have accused him of sexual assault, claiming essentially that being accused of traumatizing people was quite traumatizing for him, so who’s the real victim here? Then there’s Paula Deen. Any potential lessons from her 2013 racism scandal seem to have just slipped right out of that butter-slick brain of hers, as earlier this year she took her #ThrowbackThursday all the way back to the early 20th century by tweeting a picture of her son in brownface playing Desi Arnaz as part of a mother/son couple’s costume. And Jerry Seinfeld stirred up controversy this year by asking what the deal is with political correctness, reigniting a debate that continues to be—like many of comedy’s more behind-the-scenes elements—endlessly fascinating to comedians and utterly exhausting to everyone else. [Katie Rife]


24. …And one good thing

The upside to all this dyspeptic fury is that sometimes, when channeled into something productive, the online hive mind can make fun, exciting things happen. The petition to add Outkast to a Confederate monument in Georgia has yet to pay off, but this year saw successful campaigns to fund new albums by TLC and De La Soul, a Ghostbusters board game, a Blu-ray release of Don Hertzfeldt’s first movie, a Super Troopers sequel, and a little show called Mystery Science Theater 3000, which earlier this month broke the record set by the Veronica Mars movie to become the most successful Kickstarter campaign for a video project of all time. And if none of those things piques your interest even a little bit, then you’re probably reading the wrong website. True, most of this positive action seems to lead simply to the production of more popular entertainment to consume and maybe get angry about, but at least we’ll have familiar friends to help us escape from whatever infuriating nonsense 2016 decides to throw our way. [Katie Rife]