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Katy Perry vs. Taylor Swift vs. Diplo vs. Lorde
Whew! Let us begin at the beginning: In 2013, three of Swift’s backup dancers jumped ship mid-Red-tour to Katy Perry’s Prismatic tour. Swift, naturally, wrote a song about it. “Bad Blood,” rumored to be about Perry, sasses: “Did you think we’d be fine? / Still got scars on my back from your knife.” Perry later grumped on Twitter. Elsewhere on Twitter, Diplo, the DJ and Perry’s presumed paramour, joked about starting a fundraiser to get Taylor Swift a larger posterior. Swift’s friend Lorde then retorted that he should also do something about his “tiny penis.” Testy!
Over the summer, a controversy emerged over allegations that videogame developer Zoe Quinn’s romantic involvement with a Kotaku journalist led to his positive review of her game. The allegation turned out to be false, but the dust up escalated into an all out flame war, with battle lines between #Gamergate activists and Quinn’s defenders, many of them feminist women, who said they were harassed and attacked by misogynistic Gamergaters. The fiasco mushroomed into a multi-front culture war over feminism, gamer culture and the videogame as a medium itself.
Bill Maher vs. Ben Affleck
Black Hats vs. White Hats
Computer hackers wear many hats. Well, they wear two. There are the white hats, who use their computer prowess to protect networks and guard against theft and intrusion, and the black hats, the thieves and nefarious agents of the Internet. In 2014 the White Hat-Black Hat throwdown reached new heights, and not, seemingly, in the White Hats’ favor. Target, Home Depot, and the White House were among the victims.
Nate Silver vs. Sam Wang
In 2014, a full-on spat broke out between Nate Silver, the popular poll analyst who made it big at the New York Times before setting out alone this year, and Sam Wang, a Princeton professor who puts on a similar project on a university site. The nerd-on-nerd crime commenced when Silver in September slammed Wang’s polls-only model, which gave the Democrats better-than-even odds of holding the Senate. (Silver had forecasted a GOP takeover.) The dispute even turned a little personal when Silver called Wang’s model “wrong” and the man himself “deceptive.” But Silver — along with the other forecasters doubting the Democrats — got the last laugh with the Republicans’ November rout.
Glenn Greenwald vs. Julian Assange
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, now of The Intercept, late of Salon and the Guardian, was once a fierce defender of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Both crusaded for greater transparency in government and going to great lengths to achieve it. But when Greenwald’s new outlet opted to withhold the name of one of five countries under U.S. voice-interception surveillance at the government’s request, WikiLeaks gave no quarter. The site condemned that decision on Twitter and vowed to publish the name of the country anyway. John Cook, the Intercept’s then-editor, called Wikileaks’ reading of matters “willfully stupid.”
Rand Paul vs. The Ghost of Ron Paul
Running for President is hard enough without your dad mucking around in your business. As Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul prepares for a likely presidential run, old questions have resurfaced about positions taken by his libertarian lightning-rod father, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, including decades-old racist newsletters from the elder Paul’s camp and his public opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (It’s not like discussion of that law hasn’t given Rand his own challenges, either.) Stay tuned: Ron seems to have no plans for a quiet retirement.
Snoop Dogg vs. Iggy Azalea
Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion? Snoop Doggy Dogg?) delivered an unprovoked shot across the bow at fellow rapper Iggy Azalea, who he said on Instagram looked like one of the dressed-in-drag-and-whiteface Wayans brothers from White Chicks. Azalea fired back, and Snoop eventually apologized, after Azalea’s mentor T.I. convinced him to stand down on a phone call. Azalea sealed the truce with humor when she dressed up as a White Chicks character for Halloween.
Gwyneth Paltrow vs. Martha Stewart
Why sling mud when you can sling goop? The lifestyle-maven-turned-TIME-contributor got defensive when the actress-turned-lifestyle-maven’s Goop website seemingly encroached on her space. “She’s a movie star. If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn’t be trying to be Martha Stewart,” Stewart said of Paltrow. Paltrow publicly took the high road at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women summit and said, “If I’m really honest, I’m so psyched that she sees us as competition. I really am.” Later, she hired a former CEO of Stewart’s company, with designs on adding advertising to her site. Keep an eye on this one in 2015.
Madeleine Albright vs. Conan O'Brien
Conan O’Brien learned the hard way not to tangle with former Secretaries of State. In October, the funnyman tweeted that for Halloween he was dressing up as a “Slutty Madeleine Albright.” The social-media-savvy ex-diplomat tweeted in reply: “I’m considering going as hunky Conan O’Brien — but that might be too far fetched.” O’Brien conceded defeat that very day.