2015 in review: The most cringe-worthy pop culture moments of the year

The year of 2015 brought with it many amazing things—Adele’s new album, Wine Ice Cream, Missy Elliot’s comeback, a baby panda named Bei Bei. However, every rose has its thorn, and for every pop culture event that we were thrilled to say Hello to (get it?) there are many, many more that we determinedly leave behind. So raise your pint carton of red wine, crank When We Were Young a little louder, and bid your cheers to leaving these atrocities in the past.

1. When Nicki Minaj’s wax figure had to get its own security
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, like taxidermy or the circus, is one of those confusing relics from the past that seems more bizarre than useful and yet, for better or for worse, just keeps staying in business. In the case of the debut of the Nicki Minaj “Anaconda”-inspired statue this past summer, things definitely skewed toward the “for worse” category. It soon became apparent that some of the museum’s fans who get so psyched about up taking photos next to human candles got a little too psyched about Minaj, getting up close and personal with her wax twin in ways that weren’t very respectful or PG. Thanks to this reminder that no, we can’t have nice things, the museum now has “booty guards” keeping an eye on Minaj’s countenance to ensure no further damage is done—too bad no guard can erase the image of this guy from my memory. Thanks, 2015.

2. The invention of Tidal
As if we needed another hoop to jump through to listen to new music—god, I miss CDs—2015 brought about the introduction of Tidal, a new music streaming service via Jay-Z. To get access to all Tidal promises, including high fidelity sound, users have to pay a steep $20.00 a month as compared to Spotify’s $4.99 or $10. And Jay-Z’s following of high-profile artists often release content exclusively to the service, denying the rest of us 24/7 full access to the creative genius that is Beyoncé. It’s understandable that musicians are looking for a way to earn their living now that the traditionally buying model for music is no longer in play, but Tidal feels less like innovation and more like a weird exclusive club you don’t even want to join.

3. Bryce Dallas Howard’s character in Jurassic World
Jurassic World, which made over a billion dollars worldwide when it opened this past June, brought with it the priceless character of Claire. While the concept behind the theme-park style world of Jurassic World was new, the Claire’s characters clichéd quirks were not. The serious, stressed park manager opens the film demonstrating a no-nonsense, single-minded attitude towards her career that causes her to overlook both her family and Chris Pratt—but never fear, by the end of the movie, after surviving a Dinosaur apocalypse without ever taking off a high heel, Claire realizes that family and love are what matters most.

USA Today called the film “aggressively sexist,” the Daily Beast wrote that it’s plot could be better described as “about a woman’s ‘evolution’ from an icy-cold, selfish corporate shill into a considerate wife and mother.” While it’s not surprising that a giant action franchise depicted a complex female character inelegantly, it’s still disappointing, and hopefully the backlash will make directors try a little harder going forward.

4. When Ariana Grande licked a doughnut
To be specific, the low point about this incident was not that little Ariana Grande had decided to lick a bunch of donuts and complain about America but rather that America really, really cared. The press coverage of this event was endless, forcing Grande to come forward saying that her words were taken out of context, and what she meant by “I hate America” was really more like “I hate obesity.” To which I say: let the children live. We’ve all wanted to covertly lick a donut at some point in our youth (or adulthood)—they’re just so damn tasty. And let’s try to cover something—anything—more newsworthy with such vigor in 2016.

5. When Steve Harvey announced the wrong Miss Universe
Slipping in right before the year is finished, Steve Harvey took the cake for worst (but also most hilarious) pop culture moments of 2015 last night when he mistakenly named Miss Colombia as the new Miss Universe instead of Miss Philippines—whose name was actually on the card. The title “first runner up” confused Harvey, who, once he realized his mistake, addressed the stadium full of people: “Folks, I have to apologize,” he said, to everyone’s mass confusion, the crown already on poor Miss Colombia’s head. He then showed the card to the camera, which clearly showed the information at hand, and then the awkward re-crowning process began, ending the ceremony—and 2015—with a bang.

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