8 things that broke the internet in 2014

1. Solange kicks ass twice

Beyoncé’s little sister, Solange Knowles, tore up the internet this year. Guns blazing, the singer and fashionista’s fame went from mild to hot when images of her recent marriage circulated on the net months after a video of her assault of brother-in-law rapper Jay Z went viral. In May, surveillance footage of the star physically attacking Jay Z, while Beyoncé watched, went public and the internet almost came to a complete stop.

From Vines, to memes and Twitter hashtags, the online space became solely dedicated to speculation around what caused the assault.

Six months later, after the family released a statement about the incident, Solo brought the internet to a standstill again. But this time it was for a more harmonious event: her nuptials with long-term partner music video director Alan Ferguson. With her crown-like fro and gorgeous gown by Humberto Leon for Kenzo, Solange’s wedding day images had so many people talking, with some even re-enacting the scenes from the marriage.

Post  by Misee Harris.

2. Boity’s bums

Summer 2014 was hotter thanks to Marie Claire featuring celebrity Boitumelo Thulo’s posterior in its annual Naked Issue. When the image of the model, TV presenter and actor, with her behind out, went viral in February, #BoityReaction trended all over the internet.

Not only did it entice meme creations and praise of her body, the nude photo of the star also prompted debate around issues of black identity in the media, with some comparing the gaze on Thulo’s behind to the treatment of Sarah Baartman – a black South African woman who was exhibited as part of a freak show in Europe during the 19th century.

3. Sony leaks 

Things got slightly awkward when a group hacked into Sony’s internal computer system, spilling some industry secrets the internet was just not ready for.

From revealing emails about movie scripts and Hollywood salaries, as well as scathing words about actors, the leaks ended the year on a cringey note. Hacking group, Guardians of Peace, has claimed responsibility for the Sony leaks. 

From female actors like Jennifer Lawrence receiving less money than their male counterparts, to Hollywood executives warning that black American actor Denzel Washington should not be cast in certain roles because of his race, things got pretty ugly in December.

The Sony leaks – about Obama, JLaw, Denzel – prove that those in power do think about race & gender all the  time

Things got so bad that cinema outlets and Sony cancelled the December 25 United States release of the film following threats from the group. But later Sony uncancelled it.

READ: Everything That’s Happened in the Sony Leak Scandal

4. Senzo’s father 

The internet is a place where chill (read: sympathy) is rarely found. So when it turned a tragic event into a meme, it was no surprise. This time internet users spoofed an image of the father of Senzo Meyiwa, the deceased Bafana Bafana captain. The photo of Samuel Meyiwa at his son’s funeral in November, with his torso reaching out of a car and greeting a sea of Senzo mourners at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, was cause for much meme-ature.

5. US killings of black men

The treatment of black Americans has raised alarm internationally; specifically the killing of three black people at the hands of white police officers. The internet has been protest ground for the killings of the three men and the general state of race and economic relations in America. From the killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy who was shot by police in a park, to the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a father of six, who police suspected of selling counterfeit cigarette, and the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, people expressed their outrage online and also took to the streets in anger. 

6. Thandile Sunduza

The internet went in on MP Thandile Sunduza when she appeared on the red carpet at the State of the Nation address at Parliament in a bright yellow ensemble.

The heavily pregnant ANC MP broke Instagram and Twitter, whose users accused her of making a fashion faux pas.

Sunduza took to Facebook to address her detractors: “Morning SA. He he, I see I made headlines … I’m not sure about comments about my stomach that I’m Oros’s wife. 

“Oh thanks to the designer who let me down at last minute, the dress was torn, cloth falling, had to cut it in the office. It was a disaster. A pregnant woman can’t just walk to a shop and buy a new dress. I won’t be surprised if I get (sic) a miscarriage.”

7. Bill Cosby

News centred on comedian Bill Cosby’s every move is breaking the internet … badly. Things took a turn for the worse for the Cosby Show creator when comedian Hannibal Buress called Cosby a rapist on his set in October.

After that a stream of women alleged that the 77-year-old drugged and sexually assaulted them. But Cosby went on to rub salt in his own wounds when he posted a tweet inviting tweeters to meme him. Twitter users took the opportunity to call Cosby out on the allegations with the hashtag #Cosbymeme

And when stars like former models Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson reported similar claims of getting drugged and sexually assaulted, Cosby’s notoriety skyrocketed.

8. Oscar Pistorius 

Since the death of model Reeva Steenkamp on February 14 2013, internet users have been obsessively following the trial of Oscar Pistorius – who shot and killed her on that day in his Pretoria house. 

Breaking for lunch… The media & #paparazzi are relentless! #court

A photo posted by OZ (@legopistorius)  on

But when the verdict was handed down in October and the Paralympian/Olympian was giving a five-year sentence, the internet exploded, with many feeling the sentence was too lenient. 

Post  by Jamila Rizvi.

And more recently, all eyes were glued to the interwebs when Judge Thokozile Masipa, granted the state’s application to appeal Pistorius’s conviction. 

However, according to Sapa, the judge dismissed the state’s application to appeal his sentence. “In the result in respect of the application … the following order is granted. One, the application for leave to appeal against sentence is dismissed,” she said.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Arts Desk
Guest Author

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Bomb scare at parliament

The bag suspected of containing a bomb belonged to a parliamentary staff member and was harmless

The slings and arrows of advocate Malesela Teffo’s outrageous fortunes

Now that he has withdrawn from the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, will the promise of justice for the Meyiwa family be kept?

Digital ‘disruptor’ eats jobs at SA banks amid unemployment crisis

With fewer people visiting branches, opting to seek services online, something has to give

London’s changed – including the climate

The local shops have been replaced by chain stores, the skyline has new features, the digital age stops communication and the green parks are dry and brown

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…