With 2015 upon us, it’s tempting to look forward at what’s to come. Hopes. Dreams. Delusions. But it’s more fun to look behind at the year that was. Literally behind. Because 2014 was the year of the butt, y’all.
It was the year that Kim Kardashian attempted to break the Internet with hers. Ben Affleck bared his in the shower for David Fincher. Meghan Trainor sang about how we all should be proud of our own, while, with special thanks to Shonda Rhimes and New York magazine, a previously uninitiated segment of the population became wise to the sexual practice of anilingus. Heck, I’m using the word “anilingus” in an article. And it’s not the first time!
Vogue proclaimed it. The New York Times postured on it. And I’m making it official. 2014 was the year of the butt. It was a year the butt was exploited. It was celebrated. It was progressive. It was offensive. It was dumb and it was revolutionary. So let’s take a look “back” (get it?) at the most important moments in the butt’s big year.
Kim Kardashian Breaks the Internet Talking about butts in relation to Kim Kardashian had become tired. So tired, in fact, that by the time the reality mogul appeared on the cover of Paper magazine completely bareassed, people weren’t talking about her and her ass at all. It was Nicki Minaj and “Anaconda,” J. Lo and “Booty”—Kardashian, she of the most famous butt in the world, had left the conversation. Until she mooned her way back into it.
Perhaps desperate and perhaps degrading, Kardashian’s Paper cover was still a remarkable moment in the star’s “career,” if you can call it that. We’ve all known that Kardashian owes explicit sex—in the form of a tape—and her body—specifically her giant ass—for giving her a career. And she’s since shied away from admitting that completely, instead championing herself as a businesswoman, model, and fashion star and going so far as to melt down completely on her E! reality show when a magazine cover shows her too scantily clad.
The Paper magazine cover wasn’t just Kardashian cover reclaiming her booty throne. It was her finally admitting the value of her butt, which is so high that she rightfully claimed baring it would break the Internet. It was shrewd, self-aware, controversial, and gross. It was the epitome of Kim Kardashian, and a fitting summation of the Year of Butt.
Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” Booty Parade Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” video was both highly intelligent and infuriating. Beginning with the endlessly meme-ified single cover in which Minaj’s derriere is proudly on display and continuing with the cheeky, cartoonish, and shameless way the butt is flaunted in the ensuing video and stage performances, Minaj reminded us of the genius point that as sexy as the butt is, it’s also hilarious.
Her video incited a necessary conversation about the sexual empowerment of women, the embracing of all body types, and the tricky balance between exploitation and celebration. That conversation, sadly, failed to reach its full cultural potential when Minaj weirdly refused to talk about those themes in any overt or continued fashion and the din of “LOOK AT DAT ASS” drowned out the nuance of the debate. But give Minaj credit where it’s deserved: for having a butt that also makes you think.
Shonda Rhimes, New York, and the Rise of Anilingus This September, more than 20 million viewers tuned into the premiere of Shonda Rhimes and Pete Nowalk’s wildly popular new legal drama How to Get Away With Murder. That means 20 million people watched one male perform anilingus on another—no doubt the first time that’s ever happened on television. Rhimes deserves as much credit as anyone for pushing forward the portrayals of gay characters on TV, which had hitherto been painted as either archetypes or angels but under Rhimes’s reign are people who are complicated, flawed, sometimes awful, and who, most importantly, have sex. Sex that you can see. More than 20 million people tuned in to a broadcast network drama and saw two gay men have explicit sex. That’s a watershed moment.
But in the grand scheme of the Year of the Butt, that’s just one smaller moment in the big picture of another movement: that, apparently, of “butt play.” In April, a full column on the matter of anal play in the bedroom—the bedroom of both hetero and homosexual couples—appeared in the pages of New York magazine, and also here online. “So is butt stuff a thing we’re all doing now?” the column begins. After nearly 1,500 words of anecdotal and statistical evidence and uncomfortable conversations had by groups of friends who read the piece, the answer appeared to be yes. Maybe.
Ben Affleck Reveals His Superhero Ass Think pieces galore were written about the Rosamund Pike’s transfixing portrayal of housewife-gone-berserk Amy Dunne in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, one of the year’s highest grossing and most talked about films. Like any R-rated Hollywood blockbuster, the film’s actresses, including and not limited to Pike, are sexualized and appear nude in several scenes, occasionally gratuitously. In a refreshing change of pace, though, it’s the nude scene of the leading actor, Ben Affleck, that’s warranted breathless buzz in post-screening chatter—not to mention incessant rewinding when the film arrives on DVD.
So much is great about this. The unabashed, vanity free hint of penis. The refreshing sexualization of the dude, for once. The revelation that, at age 42, Ben Affleck has one hell of an ass. And that .GIF.
Meghan Trainor “All About That Bass” It’s a cutesy, often grating, but irresistible song about loving your body, curves and all. It’s basically “Anaconda” without the rapping and the cursing and talk about tossing one’s salad. It’s also implausibly popular, given that body positive anthems don’t typically storm radio and sit on top of the Billboard charts for eight straight weeks. “All About That Bass” might be the least aggressive celebration of the ass on this list, but its sheer popularity makes it all the more important. “Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top,” Meghan Trainor sings, with a vocal fry so mediocre that we can all croon along feeling like we’re nailing each note. In the age of sing-alongs and the age of the butt, that’s a very important, self-affirming thing to be able to do.
J. Lo's Still Got a Great "Booty"
Whereas “All About That Bass” was all about subtle empowerment, Jennifer Lopez’s ode to her own ass was all about shameless obviousness. The song is basically just the word “booty” repeated over and over again, and the accompanying music video is a proper illustration of just that. The whole thing is as silly as you’d want a song titled “Booty” to be, if it wasn’t also just a little bit sad, coming after the deafening roar of conversation that accompanied Nicki Minaj’s release. There’s something unapologetically fun about “Booty,” though, that harkens back to ridiculous and easy-to-love songs like “Bootylicious” and “Back Dat Ass Up.” Also, Jennifer Lopez’s legendary derriere looks better than ever. That alone is worth celebrating.
Beyoncé ‘s Butt Is “On the Run” “Beyoncé” has always and will always be synonymous with “class.” And you can’t spell “class” without “ass.” (Hey-o!) Queen B proved that music’s royalty should feel no qualms about reigning over its kingdom ass-out, if the ass is hot enough. Such was the case when Beyoncé and Jay Z opened their On the Run concert series this summer in Miami and Bey performed “Partition” with her cheeks on full display, much to the titillation and delight of the millions of fans who watched the Sexiest Woman Alive perform throughout the summer.
The Mindy Project “Slipped” “Wait, Danny, Danny, that doesn’t go there!” Mindy Kaling’s Mindy Lahiri yelps mid-coitus. Chris Messina’s (Danny) defense: “I slipped.” Thus begins an episode of The Mindy Project centered around a guy trying to have butt sex with his girlfriend. The episode was, as you might expect, controversial. But as is her way, Kaling defended why the episode was not only funny, but necessary. “There are nine of us in the writers room and if something is making us debate issues or we are scared by it, a lot of times that means we should do it,” she said. “Although it’s taboo, it was so relatable to everybody in the room. We wanted to acknowledge that everybody deals with this but nobody wants to talk about it.”
Matt Bomer’s The Normal Heart Sex Scene Have you ever wondered what a perfect butt looks like? Here it is. More, it’s shown during a gay sex scene that is as steamy and erotic and essential to the characters’ love story as any “straight” sex scene, and it wasn’t shown in some marginalized independent “queer film.” It was in a major, mainstream star-studded HBO TV movie. Because a perfect ass deserves such an important platform.
Jason DeRulo Releases the Year’s Dumbest/Best Song “You know what to do with that big fat butt,” Jason DeRulo sings. “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.” This was a Top 5 song in America in 2014, a fact that is both shameful and spectacular.
Honorable Mentions More perfect asses revealed include Hugh Jackman’s in X-Men: Days of Future Past and Scarlett Johansson’s in Under the Skin. Sports Illustrated swapped boobs for butts on its annual Swimsuit Issue. Chelsea Handler made political statements with hers on Instagram. Tweens fast-tracked their own puberty by geeking out to the band members of 5 Seconds of Summer’s constant disrobing, Amber Rose wore this monstrosity on a red carpet, and 2014 was pretty much summed up by this twerking Corgi: