As we start to make plans for the year ahead, we, the team at MediaCat Magazine, had a think about some of the standout cultural moments we’ve witnessed this year — because it’s been quite the year in that regard… from the collapse of the hyped crypto and NFT markets to watching celebrities meltdown on live TV, all the way through to NASA reminding us how small we are in this universe.
There’s been too many moments to list, so we’ve picked out some we thought were the most interesting and significant. What have yours been?
Elon Musk buys Twitter and causes chaos
The tech world hasn’t been short of drama since Musk first announced his intention to buy Twitter. Musk’s eventual takeover of Twitter for $44bn in October led to many banned accounts getting reinstated (largely those of far right individuals). As a result over half of Twitter’s top advertisers left the platform. Musk also went on a firing frenzy and dismantled several prominent departments (including the PR team).
Will Smith’s slap at the Oscars
Will Smith won the overreaction moment of the year when he jumped on stage to slap the host, Chris Rock, after Rock made a small joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. Rock quickly recovered, but the moment overshadowed the event. In terms of fallout, The Academy banned Smith for ten years and the actor saw a drop in his popularity, including losing out on roles he would easily have gotten beforehand.
Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard
The televised defamation trial between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard brought out the worst in people on the internet this year. Depp had sued Heard over a Washington Post op-ed, in which she implied she had been a victim of domestic violence during their marriage. We saw ample online misogyny directed at Heard throughout this case, with videos and clips being picked apart by the internet’s various vultures — making it difficult to understand the narrative of either party.
In the end, the jury sided with Depp, and Heard was ordered to pay $15m (£12m) in damages. Heard agreed to a settlement of $1m (£820,000) — although Heard has since filed an appeal against Depp’s libel win.
Stranger Things S4 leads to a Kate Bush renaissance
When the long-awaited season 4 of Stranger Things dropped in June, it exploded in popularity and became the most-watched Netflix English language series in its first 28 days on the platform, racking up a total of 1.35 billion hours viewed.
The show used ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)’ by Kate Bush for one of the season’s standout scenes involving the bad guy pursuing Max (played by Sadie Sink). After which the song started charting around the world again. So almost 40 years after its release it re-entered the UK chart at No 8, with Kate Bush saying ‘the whole world had gone mad.‘
Liz Truss vs. The Lettuce
We made an effort to keep this list fairly light-hearted, with a focus on pop culture rather than anything too dire (aside from Musk and Twitter and Depp vs. Heard), but we had to mention this moment. Shortly after the September mini-budget was released in the UK, The Economist published an article comparing Prime Minister Liz Truss’ days in power to the shelf-life of a lettuce. The Daily Star decided to test this theory and launched a live stream of a lettuce next to a photo of Truss.
Lo and behold the lettuce was victorious, when Truss resigned as PM roughly a week later. Channel 4, in a moment of genius, aired a montage of Truss scored to Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ following the news. Truss also became the shortest serving PM in UK history, lasting just 44 days.
The rise of BeReal
Although BeReal was launched in 2020, this year saw the mainstream adoption of the social media app. BeReal allows users to post a single unfiltered photo a day, taken with both sides of the camera at a random time during the day. Because the app highlights authenticity, it’s become a major hit among Gen Z, with other social media platforms rushing to copy BeReal’s feature. Now brands are increasingly moving to BeReal, launching exclusive deals, promotions and partnerships.
Welcome to Wordle
Wordle’s developer, Josh Wardle, created the game for his partner who enjoys word games. By January, the game had over 2 million players and was increasing in popularity until The New York Times Company bought it for a sum in ‘the low seven figures‘. Since then the game has remained free, as the New York Times Company had promised. When The New York Times staff decided to stage the biggest strike the company has seen in 40 years, Wordle players showed solidarity by quitting the game for a day and sacrificing their Wordle streaks.
Louis Theroux’s Jiggle Jiggle
During an interview documentarian Louis Theroux was asked if he remembered any of the raps he wrote earlier in his career. He responded by rapping ‘Jiggle Jiggle’, which he originally performed on Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends. A TikTok remix of this rap went viral and the song was released as a single in May, gaining popularity to the point where Shakira performed it on The Tonight Show.
NASA share a beautiful photo of our universe
James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched into space in December 2021, reached its post and began sharing beautifully captivating photos of our galaxy and universe. In July, NASA shared what has come to be regarded as the ‘most detailed photo of our universe‘ — reminding us how small we are in the eyes of the infinite.
Featured image: Stranger Things Seasons 4 / Netflix