Some of us will be welcoming the new year more than others—namely those of us for whom 2014 was a complete bust. It was a very bad year if you couldn’t stop “accidentally” saying racist stuff, if you had the misfortune of being stopped by the police or if you traveled to a country with Ebola.
Here are those that lost out in 2014:
Back when Robin Thicke was a second-tier R&B artist with primarily black fans, he sure was a lot more likable. This new, crossover pop artist Robin Thicke, who the white mainstream “discovered” in 2013, is not as cool as the old Robin Thicke. This new, 2014-edition Robin Thicke cheated on Paula Patton, faced divorce and put out a gross, self-serving and poorly received album about their failed love. One of the music videos for the album, which he named for Patton, was criticized for its stalker-ish, domestic violence undertones. Flop, in 2014, thy name is Thicke.
It’s not illegal to be a racist, but it does get pretty creepy when you’re in the business of buying and selling black NBA players. Donald Sterling found himself on the outs with the NBA after recordings surfaced of the then-Los Angeles Clippers owner saying he didn’t want his girlfriend to hang out with NBA legend Magic Johnson because Johnson is black. But do you know who’s black? 76.3 percent of all NBA players. And those players were pretty much like, “He’s got to go.” And so he went, as the NBA stripped Sterling of his team, forcing a sale to another owner. But don’t feel bad for a bigot; Sterling still has his money to keep him company. He is a billionaire, after all.
Lifetime’s Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B
No one ever has high hopes for a Lifetime movie—it’s the same network that cast Lindsay Lohan to play icon Elizabeth Taylor. But there was a flicker of hope that the network would try to do right by gone-too-soon singer Aaliyah. There were problems from the get-go, however: The first actress cast as Aaliyah was criticized for being too light to play the part and backed out of the film. Then it got out that Lifetime couldn’t use any of Aaliyah’s original music. Then came the end result, a boring script with terrible casting—not one actor looked a thing like the celebrity she or he was playing. This sparked the hilarious Lifetime casting meme #LifetimeBeLike, the only good thing to come out of the film.
Americans Freaking Out Over Ebola
The coast of West Africa is still fighting the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Thousands of people have died, and holiday festivities were canceled in Sierra Leone. But like all things in the United States, the crisis didn’t get much play in the press until Americans who’d visited Ebola-stricken countries returned home. There were three cases of Ebola in the United States, with one death, spawning a full-blown panic of quarantines and freak-outs. Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Michel du Cille was disinvited by Syracuse University because he’d visited Liberia three weeks before he was scheduled to speak.
He may have created several TV classics. He may be a comedic genius. He may have donated a small fortune to education, but the reputation of Bill Cosby went to the dogs in 2014 amid allegations of sexual assault, spanning decades, that resurfaced big time in October after comedian Hannibal Buress made a joke. Multiple women, including fashion icon Beverly Johnson, showed up telling similar stories of drugged drinks and a darker side of a man once called “America’s Dad.” But with no criminal charges pending and the statute of limitations up on many of the cases, Cosby is unlikely to face a day in court, though that probably won’t matter in the court of public opinion.
Police Officers Who Shot or Killed Unarmed Black Men
Things that could get you shot or killed by police in 2014 if you were a black man—stolen cigarillos, allegedly selling “loosies,” getting your license after an officer asked you to, playing with or holding toy guns, standing in a stairwell, taking your medication, cosplay. This year, like every year, was not a good year to do anything while black because “blackness” was viewed as being complicit in crimes, real and imagined, that were punishable by death. And though we’re calling the police officers “losers”—as in those who failed at their jobs in the worst way imaginable—it’s the unarmed black men and their families who suffered losses that were unimaginable.
The Secret Service
The people tasked with protecting President Barack Obama, a president who’s been under the threat of terrorists and crazies alike since he was candidate Obama, struggled to do their jobs in 2014. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned after a series of embarrassing, potentially life-threatening mistakes made by distracted agents. There was the White House fence jumper who managed to make it inside with a knife, the other White House fence jumper who punched a service dog, and the time it got out that someone fired shots at the White House in 2011 and the Secret Service assumed that it was gangbangers. It wasn’t a good look for the service, which was still getting over previous scandals involving drunken agents and prostitutes.
The Cast of VH1’s Sorority Sisters
Hell hath no fury like a soror scorned. Black Greeks collectively lost it when they learned that a show claiming to demonstrate the real lives of black sorority members was going to air on the same network that has ruined hip-hop in three different cities. The show that aired was far from the scholarship, service and model-citizen views the orgs espouse. It was just more black women screaming, but now they had college degrees and Greek letters. #BlackTwitter already went for the show’s sponsors, but what of the stars? TV One’s Roland Martin tweeted, “Dear every woman on #SororitySisters, y’all might wanna skip the national convention/boule. Most Wanted posters will feature all of y’all!” Considering the backlash, he’s probably not far off from reality.
Ray and Janay Rice, Roger Goodell and the NFL
There were no winners in the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal that played out in 2014. No winner in Ray Rice, who found himself out of a job after videos surfaced of him knocking his then-fiancee, now-wife, Janay Rice unconscious in an elevator. No winner in Janay Rice, who found her pain mocked on social media and choices judged. Not for Roger Goodell, who initially suspended Ray Rice for only two games for the incident but then pulled a double jeopardy and tried to have Rice thrown out of football completely. It didn’t work. Rice sued to have his eligibility reinstated and won. Rice has since said publicly that he made a “horrible mistake.” Goodell, on the other hand, is trying to save face with changes in how the league deals with domestic violence cases.
The Affordable Care Act, controversial from the get-go, continued to be attacked in 2014. When House Republicans weren’t threatening to repeal it and suing President Obama over it, they were bashing and beating up on it to drum up votes ahead of the midterm elections. There were accusations that the government had inflated enrollment numbers. And there was this whole mess with the ACA’s architect, Jonathan Gruber, when he said the health care law passed thanks to “the stupidity of the American voter.”