2018 Pop Culture in Review

GRACE KNUTSEN

As we welcome 2019, it seems appropriate to reflect upon the significant pop culture events of 2018 that highlighted our year.

By definition, pop culture is associated with mainstream media commonly accessible to the public. It influences the lifestyle of the masses through sources such as television and film, the internet, social media, and music. It embodies the tastes, customs, and behaviors embraced by the public at any given moment.

The most common pop culture categories include entertainment (film and music), social media trends, and news (celebrity and political).

On the silver screen, both Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians embodied the ideals of cultural representation by creating an opportunity to honor diversity and inclusion amongst underrepresented groups. In contrast, Hollywood championed the 70’s in a big way, re-introducing ABBA’s hits in the sequel meets prequel, Mamma Mia – Here We Go Again, while also illuminating the rise of Queen and the life of Freddie Mercury à la Bohemian Rhapsody.  

Disproving the theory that the music video industry is dead, singer-songwriter Ariana Grande found a way to pay homage to the ex that makes every woman stronger in her “Thank U, Next” music video, while also giving nod to strong female protagonists from rom-coms of the early 2000’s.

Bridging music with social media, this summer’s “In My Feelings” dance challenge had individuals around the world jumping from moving vehicles to Drake’s hit song,  reenacting the dance originally performed by Instagram comedian Shiggy (@theshiggyshow).

As if jumping out of moving cars didn’t question the credibility of adolescents, the Tide Pod Challenge certainly did. January’s toxic trend left more than a few questioning whether social media challenges were spiraling out of control.

In celebrity news, the world incurred a major loss, when physicist and scientific visionary, Stephen Hawking, passed away at age 76, as a result of complications resulting from ALS. Later in the spring, royal watchers had their eyes on news out of the United Kingdom, as the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William welcomed baby number three, and then, just weeks later, American actress Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tied the knot for all the world to see.

The year 2018 was also a time to pay respects and say farewell to Marvel Comics creator, Stan Lee, and to Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Conversely, we smiled and shed a tear as Paul McCartney teamed up with James Corden in The Late Late Show’s carpool karaoke tour around The Beatles’ favorite Liverpool haunts.

Under the Trump Administration, lines between political culture and pop culture were blurred. This included Hawaii’s frightening ballistic missile false alarm, Michelle Wolf’s GOP-roasting speech at the annual Correspondents’ Dinner, Brett Kavanaugh’s combative testimony contrasting the measured words of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, and finally, the Presidential emergency text alert system which sent texts to 225 million American cell phone users.

Overall, pop culture helps unite us through our shared experiences, while at the same time, it allows us to foster a sense of self-perception and understand our own moment in history, and 2018 was no exception.

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