Bonafide chills were few and far between in 2014. Subtle fraudulence belied even the most promising candidates, with perennial chills like Chris Pratt and Bill Cosby falling prey to corporate subjugation and being a rapist, respectively. At a frequency almost too fast to process, borderline cases that once looked chill revealed themselves as outright frauds. Ayelet Waldman discredited matriarchal apathy. Sammy Sosa bleached himself unrecognizable. Taylor Swift moved to New York City and people who live in New York City allowed her to do it. Compiling a list of five honorable mention chills from the past 12 months was like metal detecting for gold on a beach of boiling shit with a broken metal detector. Here are the few pieces of gold I found buried beneath all that shit.
The 2014 BPoFD Chill of the Year: Honorable Mentions
Azealia Banks, Musician
After decades of production, Azealia Banks’s Broke With Expensive Taste offered three great songs and little else. Her Twitter personality, however, was a shining beacon of chill light in an endless night of fraud darkness. Over the course of her social media career, Banks has warred with Kreayshawn, T.I., Nicki Minaj, and Lil Kim, among others, but none of these skirmishes measure up to her ongoing war with the vile cultural appropriationist Iggy Azalea. Banks justifiably accused “Iggy Iggz” of being “down to ride black dick,” while not being “down with black issues.” Later, Banks fantasized about dumping a jar of urine and mayonnaise on Iggy Iggz’s head, capturing pretty much every chill’s thoughts about Iggy Azalea. If her recent comments about Kendrick Lamar’s backwards thoughts on Ferguson are any indicator, Banks is looking to become all the more chill in 2015.
Miles Teller, Actor
Miles Teller starred in four vastly different movies in 2014: Whiplash, That Awkward Moment, Two Night Stand, and Divergent. Two of the movies were unequivocally horrible (Divergent and Two Night Stand), one was much better than it had any right to be (That Awkward Moment), and Whiplash was potentially the best film released in the calendar year. Regardless of the overall quality of the film in question, Teller demonstrated a keen ability both to elevate subpar material and rise to (and sometimes exceed) the demands of actual art. He should be–and likely won’t be–nominated for an Oscar. Miles also receives bonus points for being one of the five white people in America who aren’t racist.
Don Hertzfeldt, Artist
Fifteen years after Rejected established Don Hertzfeldt as the vanguard of alternative animation, a bellwether for everything from Family Guy to Adventure Time, the artist produced what may be 2014’s most moving piece of pop culture: the above Simpsons couch gag. By deconstructing the Springfield that The Simpsons writers have spent 25 years building, Hertzfeldt laid bare the enduring, fundamental draws of the show (martial devotion, familial connection, a cherished unforgettability) while questioning the scary notions of its commodification and entropy. His opening is a love letter to a show that’s become increasingly difficult to love. True romance is a Marge Simpson alien slapping a Homer Simpson alien with her pseudopod and monotoning, “Still love you Homar.” It’s a moment whose impact is born entirely from the quarter century of moments that precede it, and it is a moment that proves how great creativity can make old ideas anew. Consume it. Consume it now. Rub it on your flippers.
Bill Burr, Comedian
Following the lead of stand-up comedian turned podcaster Marc Maron, Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast sets itself apart from the comedy podcast crowd by virtue of Burr’s conflicted progressivism and plague advocation. Listening to Bill Burr attempt to reconcile his Bostonian backwardness with his newfound LA liberalism makes for great radio, but it’s when the comedian calls for a plague to wipe out 80% of humanity that his monologues truly shine. Burr has other enjoyably quirky obsessions–helicopter piloting, the construction on the first floor of his house, the NFL’s extra point–but nothing summons forth his vitriolic rage quite like plagues. And he’s right. 80% of people just have to go. Watch the first 30 minutes of his Netflix special, I’m Sorry You Feel That Way, if you want to see the art of stand-up performed at its highest level.
No public figure came close to capturing the collective frustration with humanity’s utter lack of progress quite like Snarf did. As the hand-puppet star of the viral video “Too Many Cooks,” Snarf suffered an ironically distant introductory barrage of fellow Cooks, Cooks who increased surreally in number and permutations until Snarf was left beaten and barely alive, crawling toward a button that would reset the horrifying post-modern nightmare he had been damned to inhabit. If only our reality had such a button.