They did what?! The top twits of 2014

2014 saw no shortage of dingbats and ne'er-do-wells

  • Peter Kramer/Getty Images

    Peter Kramer/Getty Images

  • SEAN AVERY: Known for being a pest on the ice, the former New York Ranger caused even more headaches two nights before his off-Broadway acting debut when he reportedly quit in an angry tirade after an assistant offered him a slice of pizza. The author of the aptly named play Negative Is Positive told media: “He’s a playwright’s worst nightmare.” The native of Pickering, Ont., was replaced by his understudy and the production said it wouldn’t welcome Avery, even if he wanted to return. The NHL has long felt the same way.
  • Mat Hayward/Getty Images

    Mat Hayward/Getty Images

  • AVRIL LAVIGNE: Sake. Sushi. Robotic background dancers. Candy-coloured outfits. Random Japanese words. In the music video for her new track, Hello Kitty, the 29-year-old pop star from Napanee, Ont., left no stereotype behind. The song, she said, is “genuinely about my love for Hello Kitty!” Jezebel called it “sonically appalling,” “visually humiliating,” and “offensive on absolutely every level.” Faced with charges of racism, Lavigne responded by saying it was shot in Japan for her Japanese fans, using Japanese choreographers and a Japanese director. (She didn’t mention that the co-writer of Hello Kitty was not Japanese; it was her husband, Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger.)
  • Screen grab of controversial shirt from Zara. No Credit.
  • ZARA: The Spanish clothing giant just wanted to make a kids’ shirt inspired by the days of the Wild West. Instead, the blue-and-white striped shirt with a gold star on the crest looked unnervingly similar to the clothes Jews were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps. Zara was quick to apologize for what many said looked like the “Holocaust uniform.” This isn’t their first anti-Semitic blunder. In 2007, a line of Zara handbags was taken off shelves when a customer noticed swastikas embroidered in the design.
  • ELLA-ANNE BIRCHENOUGH: Every parent who says kids today are too attached to their cellphones can now point to Birchenough as living proof. When the 16-year-old British girl accidentally dropped her iPhone down a grate, she opted to lift the drain cover and go fetch it. Then she got stuck. Photos of the ordeal were posted by her mother, of all people; they quickly went viral, as the teenager needed rescuing by local firemen. To her credit, Birchenough laughed it all off, doing a spot on British daytime TV and even returning to the drain for photo ops. Her iPhone 5S, sadly, was never found.
  • Roger Askew/REX

    Roger Askew/REX

  • RICHARD DAWKINS: The British author and poster boy for atheism made it his part-time job this year to upset critics and supporters alike via Twitter. On sex assault, he wrote: “If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.” He held forth on Down’s syndrome and abortion, and tried to teach logic by invoking sex abuse: “Mild pedophilia is bad. Violent pedophilia is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of mild pedophilia, go away and learn how to think.” Here’s a thought in 140 characters: Why is a scientist and Oxford intellectual baiting people on Twitter instead of sticking to making serious, nuanced philosophical arguments?
  • J.P. Moczulski

    J.P. Moczulski

  • DIMITRI SOUDAS AND EVE ADAMS: Borrowing their friend’s dogs for a photo op was a nice touch. Embroiled in a political scandal that was dubbed “LoveGate,” Soudas was forced out from his role as executive director of the federal Conservative party amid allegations that he used party resources to help his fiancée Eve Adams’s nomination battle for a riding in Oakville, Ont. “I will breach any contract that says I can’t help my family,” Soudas told the CBC. “I chose to give my loyalty to the woman that I love.” Adams eventually dropped out of the race, but at least they still have each other.
  • unc
  • UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA: They were by far the easiest classes UNC students had to take, because they didn’t exist. An investigation found approximately 3,100 people over 17 years of age were enrolled in “paper classes.” Students never met and only wrote one final paper at the end—most of which were plagiarized or poorly written, but still awarded an “A” or “B” to boost grades. Nearly half of those enrolled were on varsity teams. Some might call them cheaters. UNC called them “student athletes.”
  • Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

    Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

  • NAOMI CAMPBELL: When Malala Yousafzai won her Nobel Peace Prize, Campbell was quick to send out this epic fail via Instagram: “Congratulations malaria on your #noblepeaceprize #2014 #Respect #joy #ithalljuststarted.” The supermodel meant well and it was likely just her phone autocorrecting the name of the young Pakistani activist to an infectious disease. But, putting that aside, Campbell misspelled “Nobel,” too.
  • David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier/CP

    David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier/CP

  • JEREMIAH HEATON: At some point in almost every father’s life, his daughter will say she wants to be a princess. This dad from Virginia took that wish to heart when he claimed a 2,000-sq.-km desert in North Africa as his “kingdom.” Heaton travelled to Bir Tawil, a region bordering Egypt and Sudan, which included 14 hours via caravan, and planted in the ground a family flag with the crest designed by his daughters. Sure, he doesn’t have legal recognition from the neighbouring countries, the UN or even groups with political control of the land, but “Princess” Emily doesn’t have to know that.
  • googlemapslondon
  • BARONESS O’CATHAIN: Baroness O’Cathain isn’t someone you’d call tech-savvy. In a House of Lords subcommittee meeting concerning the rise of citizen-owned small drones, the baroness said: “I was horrified the other day when I was given a certain website to look at. I could see the roses in my garden. It was on a Google map or something, and I have no idea how it was taken.” While she noted the photos of her flowers posted online did not fill her with a sense of security, it also did not give the British public much comfort that a member of the digital skills committee had never heard of Google Maps. Imagine her reaction when she finds out there’s something called a “face book,” where people voluntarily post pictures of their daily lives.

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