See 2014’s Good, Bad, And Ugly Cultural Moments In Giant Illustrated Poster Form

2014 has been kind of a downer year, but when you look at it all at once, you get a little bit of perspective.

Let’s be real: In a big-picture sense, 2014 wasn’t the best year of all time. It was a good year for pop culture–Boyhood, True Detective, an Oscar for Lupita Nyong’o, smart kids’ movies, an Emmy nomination for Laverne Cox, Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” Serial, etc–and a bad year for, well, a bunch of other stuff. The phrase “conscious uncoupling” was forced into our awareness; stories of police violence reached a critical mass; female celebrities had their phones hacked and their private photos distributed by jackasses all over the Internet; #Gamergate happened, as did #BringBackOurGirls; The Interview got yanked from theaters after terrorists threatened to blow them up; etc, etc, etc.


In other words, if Billy Joel were to rewrite “We Didn’t Start The Fire” so that it focused exclusively on the events of the past 12 months, there’d be a lot for him to sing about.

The Piano Man didn’t revisit his misunderstood masterpiece for 2014, but the cultural influence of the year inspired one piece of comprehensive art. This illustrated post from Beutler Ink rightly celebrates the pop-culture glory of 2014 (the entire image essentially takes place in the Grand Budapest Hotel), while placing the less “pop” events alongside them. It may seem crass, but that’s how we actually live a year. In various turns, we were obsessed with LeBron returning to the Cavs and Derek Jeter’s retirement; with the horrible circumstances that led to the events in Ferguson; with Groot and Serial; with the fear of Ebola and ISIS; with mourning Robin Williams and Maya Angelou; with the rise of, and war between, Uber and Lyft; with the girls abducted from a Nigerian classroom by Boko Haram; with Scottish independence and Putin in Crimea and protests in Hong Kong; with #BreakTheInternet and #AlexFromTarget and #Gamergate and #ConsciousUncoupling.

That’s how a year works: The big things and the little things, the small victories of seeing a beautiful movie or a song that gets stuck in your head for months at a time, all occupy the same space as the “real world” events that require serious attention. Give the designers at Beutler Ink who made the poster credit for recognizing that, in the end, a year is all of those things right next to each other, and for capturing that with something worth looking at.


Here is a full list of items included in the collage. How many can you identify?

  • The Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The LEGO Movie
  • Gone Girl
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Boyhood
  • The Fault In Our Stars
  • Interstellar
  • Godzilla
  • South Park mocks Lorde’s ubiquity
  • Ellen’s Oscar selfie
  • Lupita Nyong’o wins Oscar
  • Taylor Swift has first platinum album of the year
  • Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX [“Fancy”]
  • Pharrell Williams
  • New U2 album goes to 500 million iTunes accounts
  • Meghan Trainor [“All About That Bass”]
  • Sam Smith
  • Nicki Minaj [“Anaconda”]
  • Radiohead’s Thom Yorke releases $6 album on BitTorrent
  • Health Goth style
  • Basic Bitch style
  • Normcore style
  • The Simpsons turns 25
  • True Detective
  • The Walking Dead
  • How I Met Your Mother series finale
  • Pretty Little Liars 100th episode
  • True Blood series finale
  • Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon
  • Last Week Tonight
  • Laverne Cox becomes the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy and to appear on the cover of Time Magazine
  • Game of Thrones Season Five
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey with Neil Degrasse Tyson
  • Gilmore Girls released on Netflix
  • Germany wins World Cup
  • Seahawks win the Super Bowl
  • LeBron James goes home to Cleveland
  • Spurs win the NBA championship
  • Winter Olympics in Sochi
  • Derek Jeter retires
  • Steve Ballmer becomes owner of the Los Angeles Clippers franchise
  • Roger Goodell is criticized; Bill Simmons is censored
  • Madison Bumgarner leads the San Francisco Giants to World Series victory
  • LA Kings win the Stanley Cup
  • ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
  • Kim Kardashian’s Paper Magazine cover
  • Jaden and Willow Smith transcend reality
  • Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin “consciously uncouple”
  • Hacked celebrity nudes leak on Reddit
  • Ariana Grande is a diva
  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie wed in secret ceremony
  • Jay-Z is involved in elevator altercation with Solange
  • George Clooney marries Amal Alamuddin
  • Scottish independence referendum
  • Two Supreme Court rulings bolster marriage equality
  • GOP owns the midterms
  • Nik Wallenda’s blindfold tightrope walk
  • Polar vortex
  • MH370 goes missing
  • Ebola outbreak
  • Ferguson and Eric Garner protests
  • Bring Back Our Girls
  • Hong Kong protests
  • Putin ferments unrest in Crimea
  • iPhone 6
  • #GamerGate
  • Emojis are everywhere
  • Verizon vs. FCC
  • Uber vs. Lyft
  • Google glass
  • Apple Watch
  • Newsweek’s “The Face Behind Bitcoin” story
  • HBO Go slated to be released to the masses
  • Alex from Target
  • Apparently Kid
  • Slender Man
  • Too Many Cooks
  • Big Hero 6
  • The Broad City girls
  • The Interview film is pulled from theaters
  • Sarah Koenig from Serial Podcast
  • RIP Robin Williams
  • RIP Maya Angelou
  • RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • RIP Joan Rivers
  • RIP Shirley Temple
  • RIP Harold Ramis
  • RIP Casey Kasem
  • RIP James Garner
  • RIP Flappy Bird
  • Bonus easter egg: Bill Beutler, founder of Beutler Ink
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About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club