Patton Oswalt’s Year in Culture

The comedian, screenplay doctor, and former animated rat on what made 2014 great – and not.

Patton Oswalt is a polymath trapped in a comic’s body. In the years since he broke into the mainstream – after a decade of dominating the minorstream – as the voice of a rodent gourmand in Pixar’s 2007 Ratatouille, the 45-year-old stand-up has published countless essays, authored two books – one a New York Times bestseller, the other soon to be released – and proven himself a skilled and versatile actor. But, despite his talents and pop-culture scholarship, Oswalt’s true love is comedy, namely, the weird stuff. And that is why he returned this week as Hurlan Heartshe in Season 3 of Adult Swim’s surrealist Southern Gothic comedy The Heart, She Hollers. Add that to roles in 22 Jump Street, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Modern Family and you start to get a sense of how fullOswalt’s dance card was in 2014.

Maxim asked Oswalt to take a moment and look back on the year. This is what happened next: Oswalt’s dissection of everything that’s about to be outdated.

Worst Title for 2014: Year of the Booty

Well, I guess it makes sense, in terms of visibility, but it shouldn’t be a positive declaration, because it’s like, “look how regressive and sad we’ve gotten.” It’s such infantile sexuality. Why can’t we get the “Year of the Cunt?” That’s going to mean that we’re actually mature and grownup, instead of, “look at that booty, hehehe.”  That’s what preschoolers say. I want the “Year of the Cunt and the Cock”…. That’s when we know we’re progressing. Wait, did people really declare this the “Year of the Booty”?! That’s depressing. All is forgiven, Osama Bin Laden, all is forgiven.

I’m kidding.   

Most Horrifying Trend: Nineties Nostalgia

Any kind of nostalgia is a rejection of living your present-day life. The best year to be alive is 2014. The only year that will ever beat it is 2015. Nostalgia is artificially cherry picking shit from when you were young and healthy because you’re not that young and healthy anymore. I think it’s dangerous and sad. It’s the aughts, goddammit! Let’s live in this for a while and make the aughts worth being nostalgic about later on down the road.

Worst Corporate Trend: CEOs with Beards

This is nothing new. CEOs in the early seventies were doing this post-hippy longhair shit. In the eighties, they went all post-new wave, and started gelling their hair. They’re always doing what is “non-corporate” a year later, ironically, as a symbol of their own power. It’s like, “I’m acting like this unemployed hipster trust-fund Brooklynite even though I own a company and vote Republican.”

Best Social Media Trend: People Using Less Social Media

I was very heartened to see a lot of people turning away from social media – even if it was just temporary – and going, “Oh, this should enhance your life, not be your life.” I think that was good for the overall health of the nation.

Most Promising Up-and-Coming Comedy Act(s): Sleepaway Camp and Put Your Hands Together

These are two shows in downtown LA, both on Tuesday nights. I think they are going to become the new Largo, the launching ground for whatever the next generation of comics is going to be. I’ve seen so many acts at these shows that were just incredible: sketch, standup, short films. You see people who you know are going to go on to do something amazing.

Best Movie: Boyhood

Holy shit, this movie is so good. If you haven’t seen it yet, and you get to watch for the first time, I’m genuinely jealous. I thought Birdman was amazing, but this, Jesus Christ,it’s amazing because not only do you see the kid grow up, which is incredible, but the two main actors, Ethan and Patricia, who age just as startlingly and just as beautifully. One thing I hope that comes out of this movie, especially for actors and actresses, is that aging is really cool. Embrace the process for the wisdom and make the mileage look good. Don’t do this, “I want to look fifty forever!” Don’t do that. It looks creepy.

Best New Book: Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich 

It’s a collection of humorous essays that were – oh, wait, that’s not true. They aren’t humorous. They are fucking hilarious.

Greatest TV Moment: That Steadicam Shot in Episode 6 of True Detective.

This is not only the best TV moment, it is the best scene you’re going to watch this year! It’s that fucking good.

Woman of the Year: Natasha Leggero

As a comedian, my big hero right now is Natasha Leggero because she tweeted out something that people got offended at and tried to get her to apologize for and she said, “No, I’m not apologizing. It’s a fucking joke, so fuck you.”

General Mood of 2014: Tense

It’s been very tense. Tense in real life – diseases, attacks, stuff like that. Tense in virtual life – am I going to say some thing that someone is going to make a hashtag activist thing about, and force me to apologize, and brand me as something I’m not? It’s like any false move is fatal. It used to be that you’d fuck up and go, “oh boy, that was stupid.” Now you make a false move and people want your life to be over, which is just silly.

Best Mindless Activity: GemCraft Chasing Shadows

It’s my sad, middle-age heroin. I wasted so much fucking time on this thing. Just mindless! Am I going to give it up? Probably not.

Man of the Year: Hannibal Buress

I’m happy, and also a little sick, because it wasn’t until a man said something about the Cosby scandal that anyone took it seriously. That’s shitty, but, hey, I’ll take it at this point.

Best New TV Drama: Fargo

I didn’t have high hopes for this show. My film buff snobbery was really dug in against it, but it turned out to be fucking great.

Best New TV Comedy: Broad City

I’m all for stuff being innovative and new, but on top of all that stuff this show was just fucking hilarious. It genuinely made me laugh out loud. The fact that they were able to pull off that hat trick really meant something to me. People tried to compare it to


which shows you how limited people are, like, “there’s already a show about girls, why would I watch this?” There are a million shows about superheroes and men, and you watch all of those! How about you just watch shit that’s funny? Nobody says, “Well, I already watched

The Chappelle Show

, so no need to watch

Key and Peele.

Worst Sociopolitical Trend: Liberal Thought Policing 

I don’t like the fact that my side – the progressives, the liberals – are now the


, and the scolders, and the “hey, turn it down,” and the “hey, don’t say that,” and the “oh my gosh, I’m so shocked!” We’re not supposed to be the ones clutching our pearls! We are not supposed to be the



; we’re supposed to be the



Photos by Cartoon Network