A Contrarian’s Guide To Hating The Best Of 2014, Winning Friends & Influencing Whatever
The last gasp of 2014 has arrived! Time to gather together with family and friends, to eat, sing “Auld Lang Syne” and share in the things you love — and also to explain why that thing your vapid cousin loved so much this year is pure garbage. Sorry, everyone! To help with your salting technique, Huffington Post editors Victor Brand and Christopher Rosen have stared into the inky-black void of their joyless souls and summoned forth this list of lovable things to hate and why. Because someone has to play the Grinch to those mirthful Whos, the Scrooge to those wide-eyed Dickensians …
Thing to hate: “Birdman”
Why you shouldn’t bother: “Chicago,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Hurt Locker,” “The King’s Speech,” “Argo,” “The Artist”: When was the last time you actually wanted to re-watch any of these Oscar darlings? The answer is probably not one time, not even after they swept through awards season with comically predictable juggernautiness. “Birdman” could join that list, owing to the fact that it’s an insider-y comedy about Hollywood that takes shots at everyone in the industry — including assistants, journalists and critics. It has a gimmick, too (it’s shot to look like a single take). The added appeal of a “comeback” performance from Michael “Jack Frost” Keaton and its pall of cynicism have earned it some good will among pretentious film snobs who hung posters of “Being John Malkovich” in their dorm rooms. (We’re also still a little disappointed it wasn’t a live-action biopic about Harvey Birdman.)
Thing to like instead: “Boyhood”
Thing to hate: “Boyhood”
Why you shouldn’t bother: It took Richard Linklater 12 years to make “Boyhood,” and it’ll feel like you spent almost as long to get through this nearly three-hour Bildungsroman in which practically nothing happens. It’s amazing that an experience this seemingly thorough and endless should also find a way to leave the major milestones of young life — prom, a first kiss, all those inevitable public humiliations — entirely offscreen. The kid just keeps l-i-v-i-n’. It’s so warm and cuddly that Hallmark cards would protest some of the more saccharin moments. A year from now, people will look back at this soft-hearted film and wonder why anyone made such a big deal about what amounts to home movies they wouldn’t even watch of themselves. As an alternative, here’s 10 minutes of paint drying.
Thing to like instead: “Birdman”
Thing to hate: Kale
Why you shouldn’t bother: We were working ourselves up for our own rant here, but we choked on our own rage (tasted like kale). So take it away, Marc Maron —
Thing to like instead: Chard
Thing to hate: “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Why you shouldn’t bother: Popular among the grownups presumably because of its retro soundtrack; popular among the kids because SPACE LASERS. Wildly successful because the popular appetite for superhero movies cannot be sated until the culture has mined each obscure character from every imaginable corner of the illustrated universe(s). Where is “The Unlikely Adventures of Ambush Bug“? Where is the CGI-driven “Cerebus: Long Night Of The Aardvark“? (For the record, we would probably go see both of those.) That said, Chris Pratt is just so … stinkin’ … cuddly. (No, really, we think we’d be friends in real life.)
Thing to like instead: Reruns of “The Tick.”
Thing to hate: Taylor Swift
Why you shouldn’t bother: Anti-streaming crusader, Diet Coke pitchwoman, New York City ambassador, the year’s biggest-selling artist, lonely Starbucks lover — Taylor Swift is crushing mainstream pop culture at the moment. No further reason not to bother is needed.
Thing to like instead: Olivia Benson.
Thing to hate: “Girls” (the TV show)
Why you shouldn’t bother: Lena Dunham is the voice of a generation. She is honest, and unapologetic, and brazen and millennial. More power to her. But just because she writes an unconventional comedy that challenges the genre’s status quo doesn’t mean that it makes for a pleasant experience in front of the television. If we wanted unlikeable people in dysfunctional relationships showcasing their poor decision-making skills, we would stand in front of the mirror naked for an hour.
Thing to like instead: Standing in front of the mirror naked for an hour.
Thing to hate: Jimmy Fallon
Why you shouldn’t bother: Thanks to the forced spontaneity of the viral “bits” Fallon creates on the regular and his “we’re best friends!” interview style, Jimmy Fallon has become the king of late night television (and Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainer of the Year). That’s reason enough to ignore his popularity, but here’s another: David Letterman still exists. Not that it matters to your mom, since she just sent you another Fallon sketch (the one with Emma Stone again.)
Thing to like instead: Night-vision binoculars.
Thing to hate: “Serial”
Why you shouldn’t bother: Assuming we don’t try to suppress memories of pretty much everything that happened this year, 2014 will be known as the year people pretended to care about podcasts. “Serial” is the main reason why: It’s long-form journalism dressed up as a weekly mystery series, like what they did before TV was invented. It’s basically “CSI” for people who like NPR, except maybe more problematic than fake procedural shows because it’s a real case with real-life consequences for true living people. Jerks.
Thing to like instead: Old articles about who shot J.R. on “Dallas.”
Thing to hate: Anticipating the new “Star Wars”
Why you shouldn’t bother: To quote a phrase, “Help us, Obi-Wan, you’re our only hope.” Except that didn’t pan out too great for that atrocity of a prequel trilogy, did it, Jar-Jar? Sure, sure, Han shot first — we’re not suggesting that the original bunch were handed down inviolate to George Lucas by golden-throated angels. It’s just that you got all excited the last time we went down this road, and we ended up with midichlorians and parliamentary procedure in the Galactic Senate passed off as space opera.
Thing to like instead: Our forthcoming spec script for a “THX 1138” sequel. (It’s good.)
Thing to hate: iPhone 6
Why you shouldn’t bother: Apart from the legitimate argument that you do not need a new thing when your old thing still works and is perfectly fine and the new thing isn’t a significant improvement on the old thing anyway?
Thing to like instead: Gold-plated Lamborghini Android phone, because if you’re going to embrace planned obsolescence, go big or go home.
Thing to hate: SkrimRakr
Why you shouldn’t bother: Is this even a thing? (It’s not a thing.) It doesn’t matter. Whatever ridiculous new social viral imaging commentary platform is the rage with the kids these days, you don’t need it. The desiccated husks of a dozen or more social media accounts lie scattered in your digital wake, and this is just another opportunity for you to forget your password and lose your personal information to the stagnant pits of the Interwebs. This was also a thing to hate last year. And the year before that. Pretty much going back to the invention of the steam engine.
For an even higher degree of difficulty, hate yourself for hating new technology because you’re scared of adapting to the new and strange.
Thing to like instead: Forever stamps.
Thing to hate: “True Detective”
Why you shouldn’t bother: The truth will out, and everybody sees. Once the strings are cut, all fall down.
Thing to like instead: Flat circles.
Thing to hate: “Frozen”
Why you shouldn’t bother: To its credit, this animated buddy film does make a feminist feint to undermine the stereotype of princes saving the day, and promotes girl-power and sororial bonds — even if all of the romantic entanglements ultimately resolve on the same narrative landing pad. But really this parable of a Nietzschean superwoman, who sings lustily about her transcendence of the moral order, which allows her to “let it go” and exult in her innate, magical snow-globabilities, and her experience of the conflict between the Apollonian and Dionysian impulses of love and fear … well, basically it teaches little kids that true comeuppance is a punch in the face. If you watch to the end.
Thing to like instead: Nietzsche