Pop Culture’s Worst Person of the Year

The worst people of 2015 in popular culture include a 9/11 fabulist, a sadistic dentist, and a sitcom dad accused of serial rape. But one blowhard stood coif and shoulders above the rest.


Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

Bob Dylan, the renowned curmudgeon/wordsmith, once described popular culture as “like the unbroken sea of frost that lay outside the window and you had to have awkward footgear to walk on it.”

Well, for those of us willing to slap on a pair of snowshoes and brave the Taylor Swiftian terrain, there was plenty to praise this year in the arena of pop culture.

Max: Fury Road and Creed thrilled with their grit and grandeur, challenging prejudices about movie “reboots”; Adele shattered the album charts with her operatic ice cream-inducing contralto; and two of our finest late-night cowboys, David Letterman and Jon Stewart, rode off into the sunset. Oh, and lest we forget, this glorious photo of Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer riding a jet ski.

There was also plenty to loathe. Kim Kardashian released a coffee table book full of selfies, precious Chipotle is now more tainted than Lil Wayne’s urine, and, ugh, that goddamn dress. But these were mere peccadilloes compared to the work of the following moral cripples.

10. Walter Palmer

The most sadistic dentist since Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors, this Minnesotan, unhappy with his own shortcomings, paid $50,000 to kill Cecil the Lion—a majestic 13-year-old African lion in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Palmer and his guide lured Cecil, who was being studied by the University of Oxford, out of his sanctuary, wounded him with an arrow, and then, after letting him bleed out for 40 hours, returned to off him with a rifle. Cecil was then skinned and beheaded by the hunting party. The whole grisly ordeal attracted the ire of animal conservationists (and really anyone with a moral compass), inspired a reprehensible Halloween costume, and drew comparisons to the misdeeds of a certain presidential candidate’s douchebag sons.

9. Kilgrave

Kilgrave (real name: Kevin Thompson) is an MRA’s wet dream: a demented, mind-controlling villain who uses his powers to mentally—and physically—rape Jessica Jones. He is an emotionally puerile head case with serious mommy and daddy issues, and the very epitome of male entitlement.

8. College Kids

Infuriating terms like “microaggression” and “safe space” went airborne in 2015, as coddled college kids transformed their once-free campuses into PC hellscapes. From a Yale lecturer being forced to quit over a harmless email about Halloween costumes to Pennsylvania’s Lebanon Valley College fighting to rename its Lynch Memorial Hall simply because it has the word “lynch” in it, this is the year many college kids went too far. Goddamn trustafarians.

7. Steve Rannazzisi

On FXX’s The League he plays Kevin MacArthur, a fantasy football-obsessed lowlife prone to “Fear Boners” who once consumed a friend’s drug cocktail to get an AIDSvantage. In real life, the man who plays him, Steve Rannazzisi, is even worse. You see, for 14 years, Rannazzisi had told a touching, sympathy points-yielding story about how he worked at Merrill Lynch in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and narrowly escaped death on September 11th. Well, when confronted by The New York Times, Rannazzisi admitted he’d been lying all along. He was working at a building in Midtown Manhattan on 9/11, and was never even employed by Merrill. So to make a name for himself in the comedy world, and give himself a compelling backstory, he exploited the tragedy of 9/11. For shame.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

6. Josh Duggar

There’s nothing worse than a self-righteous hypocrite, and as the executive director at the Family Research Council, a faith-based right-wing organization advocating for “traditional family values”—in other words, against LGBT rights, abortion, divorce, and even porn—it seems Lil Joshy was living a double life. Not only had he molested five underage girls when he was a teenager (including four of his own siblings), information which came to light in May of this year, but the Ashley Madison hack also revealed that this good ol’ Christian was desperately trying to treat his martial vows like toilet paper. He later copped to viewing porn and cheating on his wife, and later, porn star Danica Dillon sued Duggar, alleging he sexually assaulted her. All of this madness was enough to earn the scumbag the SVU treatment.

5. Jared from Subway

There was a 24-hour Subway right by our college, and we’d order late-night subs a few times a week. I usually got the sweet onion chicken teriyaki sub. I loved that sub. Now, every time I order that sub I have to think of this pederast.

4. Martin Shrekli

The founder and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals outed himself as evil when he obtained the manufacturing license for Daraprim, a drug used as an anti-malarial and antiparasitic in treating HIV-positive patients, and raised its price overnight by 5,500 percent (from $13.50 to $750 a tablet). The Internet was outraged, and, in an outstanding example of the pot calling the kettle black, Donald Trump branded him a “spoiled brat.” Shkreli promised to lower the price but later reneged, and if that weren’t enough, he also paid $2 million for the Wu-Tang Clan’s one-of-a-kind album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin in order to hoard it for himself. And as we all know, Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nuthing to fuck wit.

3. Bill Cosby

The exposure began in earnest last year, when comedian Hannibal Buress called out the puddin’ pop-lovin’ sitcom dad during a stand-up comedy set, but now, over 50 women have accused Cosby of everything from rape to child sexual abuse to drug-facilitated sexual assault. He has nine pending civil suits against him, and his legacy is forever unclean.

2. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Fuck ISIS.

1. Donald Trump

What can be said about Donald Trump that hasn’t already been retweeted by Donald Trump? In 2015, the bloviating orange man with the cotton candy hair graduated from closet racist real estate tycoon to professionally racist public menace. From the very moment he declared his candidacy for president he made his xenophobic agenda clear, branding Mexican immigrants “rapists” and drug dealers, and it’s only gotten worse from there. He’s lobbed sexist insults at Megyn Kelly (and countless others), callously suggested the victims of the Paris terror attacks would have been “better off” with guns, and invented a story about “thousands” of Muslims celebrating the collapse of the Twin Towers in Jersey on 9/11 (it was Palestine). In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, Trump proposed a ban on all Muslim immigrants to the U.S.—pure fascism that’s alienated the U.S. from all Muslims, including our allied nations. In doing so, he is playing directly into ISIS’s hands, helping to steer America (and by extension the West) into a global war with Islam, lending credence to their false notion of jihad.

Donald Trump is the Great Divider, and without question, the worst person in popular culture of 2015.