Welcome back to the one post a year that focuses neither on Columbia or on student life! We hope this year’s recap on pop culture reminds you of the craziness we as humans have to endure each waking moment of our lives.
Lana Del Rey accepts her award for Artist of the Decade in what appears to be a dress from Shein; Elvira, Mistress of the Dark comes out and reveals her girlfriend of 19 years; Boris Johnson has a fairytale-themed wedding; Paul Rudd is named Sexiest Man Alive just for being an immortal, loveable goofball; Steve from Blue’s Clues makes a video apologizing for leaving the show so suddenly all those years ago…A lot of iconic things happened this year in the beloved realm of pop culture! However, for the second time in history, Bwog asked the question, “What were the most iconic moments in pop culture that happened in 2021?”
Due to personal reasons (we actually went outside this year), we decided to save you from reading 100 paragraphs of wholesome, messy, and/or outright insane pop culture moments. However, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear just yet! To give you one final gift of the year, some of us at Bwog decided to spend our finals season and winter break to sit down, recount, and rank our 75 favorite pop culture moments of 2021.
So, without further ado:
Bwog’s Official Top 75 Most Iconic Pop Culture Moments Of 2021
75. IKEA’s 2021 Pride Couch Collection – For Pride, IKEA debuted a special collection of loveseats designed by LGBTQ+ artists inspired by more than ten flags pertaining to different identities within the community. It was a nice gesture, sure, but the couches had a lot going on. Some were lovely: the trans-rainbow couch looks like a pastel dream, and the pansexual pride couch had a cool, funky pattern I could see in the lounge of an eccentric art collector’s house. The asexual couch took the form of a geode, which, although it looks like it’d stab me in several places if I sat down, looked neat. Other couches were just ugly: the nonbinary couch had either the laziest plaid print I’ve ever seen or just a BDSM harness on a couch, and the progress couch looked like Swamp Thing if he had more fun. However, the star of this weird performance from the Swedish company sustaining the lives of every college student is the bisexual pride couch…which has a LOT to unpack. First, there’s the quotation, “When you change OR to AND, NOBODY BELIEVES YOU” on the two pillows. Yes, “NOBODY BELIEVES YOU” gets its own pillow. Then there are the eldritch horror-like blue, pink, and purple hands that crawl from all parts of the couch, even gripping for dear life on the arm rests. Overall, this was exactly what one would expect from a corporation during Pride: enough effort to get media coverage and praise for the concept, but also enough bad stylistic choices to remind the people that IKEA is still a corporation. Thankfully, none of these couches were for sale, so they will never see the light of day again.
74. British diver Tom Daley knits at the Olympics – Yeah yeah, he won gold. But as a fellow knitter, I’m far more excited about the adorable little pouch he knitted for that medal. You could spot the Brit purling and looping in the stands a few times throughout the diving competition, and I have not felt this seen since that Finnish snowboard coach in 2018. Knitting girlies, rise up—today the Olympics, tomorrow the world.
73. Shrimp? In my cereal? It’s more likely than you think – Podcaster Jensen Karp became an unwitting participant in a culinary experiment when on March 22 he shared with the world his discovery of shrimp tails in his box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The unearthing of the crustacean remnants spawned a flurry of memes, revolting similar stories, and even an investigation involving DNA experts!
72. Penn Badgely and Cardi B are besties now – You’ve heard of Snoop and Martha. You’ve heard of Jennifer Lawrence and Kris Jenner. You’ve heard of Courteney Cox and Ed Sheeran (maybe. Is that one something other people have heard of?) Those friendships—and all past unlikely celebrity friendships, for that matter—pale in comparison to the dynamic duo that is Gossip Girl alum/hot Brooklyn dad Penn Badgley and WAP rapper/hotter Bronx mom Cardi B. The first ember in the flame of this friendship was sparked in 2019, when Penn, promoting his Neftlix series You, spoke in an interview about his admiration for the “authentic relationship” Cardi has built with her fans through social media. However, this iconic relationship really materialized in October 2021, when a Cardi fan account recirculated the interview ahead of the premiere of You’s third season. Cardi came across this clip and immediately tweeted her excitement—in her words, she’d finally made it. In response, Penn, as committed a Cardi stan as ever, shared his own excitement (a succinct “I—”), before changing his Twitter profile pic to one of his recently-discovered twin flame. Cardi followed suit, changing her profile pic to one of Penn. Their profile pics remain swapped to this day, and Bwog is waiting with bated breath to see where this friendship takes them next.
71. Sea Shanties take over the Internet –
(to be sung to the tune of Wellerman)
There once was a trend about the sea
That raged TikTok endlessly
The songs were short and Irish-ish
With minor chords and fish
Summer 2021, we sang some songs and had some fun
Parodies and performances
Of songs called sea shanties
No one knew where they had come from
But this trend grew large with songs on rum
The culture grew, orchestrations too
But all trends drown below
Summer 2021, we sang some songs and had some fun
Parodies and performances
Of songs called sea shanties
70. Rise of the -ifications – So. There’s a global pandemic that’s been going on for almost two years. You’ve been forced to grapple with your inner demons, whether succumbing to them or growing up. Regardless of which path you picked, you changed. But that was a 2020 mentality. In 2021, we decided we’re done with growing up in constructive and conrete ways (unless you’re realizing you’re gay as hell lol, that’s kind of cool). This time, we’re going the superficial route. Became more in tune with your sexual side and a liberated aestehticaed? Yes! Engage in that bimbofication! We’re so happy for you! Blonde looks great on you, or dyed hair. And that lip is so bold and sensual. Or maybe you, or something you were looking at, became more gay and or spicy. That’s yassification, baby! Say a queer or based opinion or also just become more gay and also/therefore better? Yasspilled. This became especially popular at the end of the year as yassify filter became applied to everything—from the executive branch to that one screencap from Hereditary. But really, the addition of -ification everywhere became popular to describe some artificial or superficial character development. I actually do my class reading? Rory Gilmorification. I cut my hand and wash my hand? Pre-medification. Etc. etc. etc. (etcification).
69. Cobra Starship comes back (temporarily) – Might I remind you that in our Top 100 Most Iconic Pop Culture Moments of 2020 article, I begged God and 100 gecs to resurrect Cobra Starship after 3OH!3 finally released music after years of inactivity. Well, even though Laura Les and Dylan Brady didn’t listen, God and Gabe Saporta sure did! After 6 years of being broken up, Gabe Saporta found the Cobra Starship Twitter password, posted a silly video, and announced that Cobra Starship was going to reunite one, final time and release two, never-before-heard singles that were taken out (for the better honestly) of their 2009 album Hot Mess: “Party with You” and “Beautiful Life.” And guess what? They’re absolute bangers and on my Spotify’s heavy rotation! That’s not even all Cobra Starship did before peacing out for good this time: First, they released a parody Hanukkah song inspired by Saporta’s “Club Gabe” themed Bar Mitzvah, as well as the band’s origin in their viral “Hollaback Boy” parody. Then, they performed to a sold out show for the 7th anniversary of Emonite. Then, Gabe did a “Drunk History of Cobra Starship” with Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, which just left me with more questions than answers, but hey! This is more content than My Chemical Romance, who are technically back together, will ever give us. Anyway, Gabe Saporta, if you are reading this, you’re the only motherfucker in this city who can handle me…
68. The Couch Boy controversy on TikTok – If the internet loves anything, it’s a controversy. On September 21, TikToker @laurenzarras posted a video captioned “Robbie had no idea,” featuring her walking into an apartment, luggage in hand, to surprise her long-distance boyfriend. The boyfriend is seen with three other women, on a couch, and is indeed shocked, slowly making his way over to hug his girlfriend. Here is where it gets complicated. With over 50 million views, Tiktokers began analyzing the body language of the boyfriend and the women around him, wondering if something fishy was happening. The word of zoomed-in videos, amateur experts on body language, and internet stalking, began to analyze the video into bits. Did the boy have a ponytail? Did the boy have a phone that he hid? Boy on the couch was a display of the deep-rooted anxieties we all share about being cheated on, and despite both parties’ insistence that nothing was happening, our hearts will never be the same.
67. Kanye and Jeffree Starr (for legal purposes: allegedly) fucked – Even before the KimYe divorce, Kanye had already been living part-time on his luxurious Wyoming ranch. Do you know who else just… happens to live there? That’s right, none other than the most notorious name in the beauty guru game: Jeffree Star. Apparently, that was enough evidence for the entire internet to believe that the two were legitimately fucking, to the point that both Jeffree and the Kardashians had to publicly deny the claims. Go figure.
66. The Dear Evan Hansen movie drama – Musicals are incredibly hard to translate to the silver screen: stories that were often written for a live set with limited space, with distance from the audience, and Broadway-trained artists need heavy reimagining if one wants a movie production of the same quality. However, when has Hollywood ever cared about that! This year, we got the Dear Evan Hansen movie, which was, to put it mildly, a horrendous flop. First, we had the 30 year-old son of the movie’s producer, Ben Platt, reprising his role as the 16 year-old protagonist. Caked in makeup and forcing expressions that can only be seen as “natural” from afar (because, you know, Dear Evan Hansen was meant to be a Broadway production), he certainly looked like everyone’s father while he tried to win the heart of a literal child after lying about her brother’s relationship with him. Then, the writer made a lot of unnecessary changes to the plot, like making Alana more important than Connor, taking out some songs, and making the love interests fall in love much sooner than they should’ve. Next, someone decided that giving Julianne Moore a solo while telling her to violently cry throughout it was a good idea, which it most certainly was not. However, the icing on this egregiously underbaked cake was Platt’s promotion of the film, where his reaction to the simple question, “Why isn’t a younger actor playing Evan?” was that he “created the role and workshopped it for three years,” and that, “were [he] not to do the movie, it probably wouldn’t get made.” Yeah, Ben, you’re right, it wouldn’t have been made without you. But, I think that’s because your father produced the film.
65. Amy Adams in her flop era – Amy just could not win this year. I started getting worried around the time Hillbilly Elegy dropped to no acclaim last year, and man do I hate being right. No one saw The Woman in the Window (can we also pour one out for Joe Wright while we’re here), and no one should have seen Dear Evan Hansen. I’m not optimistic about the future either—one of her projects currently in pre-production is called Nightbitch, in which “a stay-at-home mom begins to worry that she may be turning into a dog.” Amy, we miss you. Fire your agent and come back to the light.
64. Aaron Tveit wins his first Tony by default – Much to everyone’s surprise, Broadway performer (and resident hot man) Aaron Tveit was nominated for a Tony for the first time in his career for his performance as Christian in the production of Moulin Rouge! Should he have been nominated years ago for Next to Normal? Yes, but everyone makes (unforgivable) mistakes. Not getting a nomination for a Tony despite being a permanent Broadway fixture had become a meme for fans of Tveit (the equivalent of Leo not getting an Oscar), but this year, we finally got to see him win one! However, because the universe is cruel, Tveit only won the Tony for Best Actor in an Original Musical because no one else was in the running. Yes, he won, but only by default. At least we can now say that in 2021 there were no male performers in existence except for Aaron Tveit… as it should be, honestly!
63. Marvel wins the year with Wandavision, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and more – The MCU got even bigger this year with films and limited series spanning across the multiverse. Wandavision premiered on Disney Plus, and Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany made the Vision and Scarlet Witch our favorite couple ever. Stuck in a classic sitcom, the pair travel through decades of American television in an entertaining, heart-wrenching mystery. Falcon also came to the streaming service, revolving around a post-Endgame world questioning what it means to have borders, resources, and equality. Hawkeye and Black Widow also finally got solo projects—the first with a Christmas-themed series and the second with a film that created a feud between the Mickey Mouse giant and ScarJo.
Simu Liu also starred in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings—the franchise’s first Asian American-led project—and looked fantastic while doing it. Eternals also came out, which no one really noticed because we were all obsessing over No Way Home. If you’re in line to see No Way Home, stay in line! If you’re not, GET IN LINE!
The third Tom Holland spidey film was the best we’ve seen in a while—and it was the first film to crush the box office during the pandemic. The only titles with greater box office revenue were Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Endgame. Nuff said.
62. Big Time Rush makes A Big Time Comeback – Big Time Rush is back and better than ever! This year, the band announced two live concerts that happened in Chicago and New York this December—seven years after their last tour. While there are no plans for a reboot à la iCarly, Big Time Rush did release a new single entitled “Call It Like I See It.” Admittedly, it’s no “Til’ I Forget About You” but the song is still catchy and brings back the perfect pop boy band music that all us Rushers fell in love with way back when. Their resurgence proves that we are all craving a little nostalgia, and there’s nothing like living out your childhood dreams as an adult.
61. Lady Gaga made Chromatica Oreos – They were pink. And green. And reportedly, pretty good! (You can’t find them in stores anymore, but if you want to brave eBay…) As far as album promotion goes, it’s a weird choice, but then again, what else did you expect from Mother Monster? It’s hardly the strangest thing she did this year—more on that later.
60. Vaccine tribalism – Remember when the vaccines first came out and everyone was just excited to get one? The world was simpler then, more peaceful. Now, along with your horoscope and MBTI, you were #teampfizer, #teammoderna, or #teamj&j. How far we’ve come in a year.
59. Gorilla Glue girl – A girl. A bottle of some of the strongest chemical spray adhesive available for purchase. Murphy’s Law. For a good hot minute, this poor young woman and her glued-down hair had the internet in a chokehold, with a perfect mix of genuine concern but also a healthy dose of “what the fuck, man”. Apparently she got the glue off, with a 12k plastic surgery. I’m glad it all worked out in the end, I guess?
58. Timothée Chalamet and Adam Driver are everywhere now – Both of these dudes had three projects come out this year, and as such, they were inescapable. For Timmy, we had The French Dispatch, Dune, and Don’t Look Up. Driver had Annette (which I noped out of around when he growled “tickling time” to Marion Cotillard following singing a duet while eating her out—cinema is BACK!), The Last Duel, and House of Gucci (where he’s the most normal one in a cast of Mario and Luigi’s long lost cousins). This year, you had to actively look for movies without one of these two. Part of it was because a ton of their projects had gotten pushed back because of COVID-19, concentrating almost all of them in October-December. But COVID-19 or no, Hollywood just cannot get enough of these two. We’ll see how long it lasts.
57. The McDonald’s BTS Meal – In 2021, McDonalds collaborated with BTS to release a meal featuring some of McDonalds best offerings, a 10 piece chicken McNuggets, medium fries, a Coke, and limited time cajun and sweet chili sauce packets. What makes the BTS meal significant for frequent McDonalds visitors is the additions of the sauces which are not normally available in American franchises. McDonalds has claimed that the BTS meal and the new chicken sandwich have led to increased sales throughout 2021. Its been a wild year for McDonalds and we are all for it.
56. An asleep Anthony Hopkins beats Chadwick Boseman for Best Actor at the Oscars – Picture this: you’re at the 93rd Academy Awards. Glenn Close has just done “Da Butt” on live television. You want to go home so bad, but there’s still one category left—that of Best Actor, which most pundits thought was being saved for last because the late Chadwick Boseman would probably win posthumously, in a nice and sentimental way to close out the ceremony. A visibly doesn’t-want-to-be-there vegan ascends to the stage, your bed awaits, but before you know it Joaquin Phoenix is saying something about how Anthony Hopkins isn’t at the ceremony to accept his award but it’ll get to him eventually. And just like that, the ceremony is over. Wait, what? Yeah, after everyone thought Boseman would win for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the award instead went to Hopkins for The Father—and he wasn’t even there to accept it because he had gone to bed early, ending the ceremony with an awkward “that’s all folks!” instead of the sentimentality the Academy obviously hoped for. At least we got to discuss that thot headshot for a few days afterward.
55. Phoebe Bridgers immediately sells out after Punisher – So, imagine it’s the 2021 Grammys, and your sophomore album gets you nominated for a lot of awards, including Best Alternative album (sorry, I know we’re supposed to say “F**k the Grammys, but Fetch the Bolt Cutters DESERVED the win), Best Rock Performance (again, a Fiona Apple deserve), and Best New Artist (even though you already had some hits and a whole ass album under your belt) to name a few. What’s next for your bright future? Immediately sell out, of course! This year, Phoebe lended her voice (and soul) to pretty much everyone; so, as Corny Collins would say, R-R-R-ROLL CALL! This year we got: “Silk Chiffon” with MUNA, “Runaway Horses” with the Killers, the backup vocals on Lorde’s Solar Power the cover and several viral performances of Bo Burnham’s “That Funny Feeling” (a huge moment for annoying people!), a whole verse and feature in Taylor Swift’s Red rerelease, a feature on the Metallica album, three remixes of “Kyoto,” more Christmas music (?) (yes, making Christmas music is selling out), and probably more. She also got into her first kind-of celebrity beef with Snail Mail, who vaguely called out Phoebe’s very public relationship with celebrity Paul Mescal by posting on her Instagram story, “Women who write about women solely for profit post a pic of your boyfriend tag! Go!” Was this messy? Yes. But was it funny? Oh, absolutely. Oh, and I also count dating a celebrity as selling out—the Normal People guy isn’t going to date a nobody, after all. At least not publicly.
54. Scarlett Johansson sues Disney – This summer, ScarJo attempted a takedown of the Mouse as she alleged that Disney breached her contract by releasing her film Black Widow on Disney+ when Johansson was promised a theatrical (exclusive to theaters) release, thus allegedly depriving her of earnings. By releasing on Disney+, Disney is able to increase subscriber count, but that could also mean fewer people may be making the trip to the theaters, potentially decreasing box-office profits. Disney stated that releasing on Disney+ gave ScarJo additional compensation, supplementing the existing 20 million she has already received. Fans were divided; on one hand, Disney is exploitative and successfully suing the company would set a clear precedent and warning. On the other hand, what’s another few million to someone who is already making 20 million, especially during the pandemic? However, others pointed out that the money isn’t the point; Disney needs to be held accountable. Either way, it seems that another Black Widow movie with Scarlett would be…unlikely. In October, Disney and Johansson came to a “mutual agreement” regarding the lawsuit, but the details have yet to be disclosed. Relatedly, Black Widow was a nice film.
53. Matt Damon’s daughter told him to stop saying slurs – Society if men didn’t constantly overshare. This year, Matt Damon gave the interview no one wanted, where, in his own words: “I made a joke, months ago, and got a treatise from my daughter. She left the table. I said, ‘Come on, that’s a joke! I say it in the movie Stuck on You!’ She went to her room and wrote a very long, beautiful treatise on how that word is dangerous. I said, ‘I retire the f-slur!’ I understood.” Who wanted to hear this? Who wanted this at all? Realizing the mistake too late, he later clarified that “I have never called anyone ‘f****t’ in my personal life and this conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening. I do not use slurs of any kind.” Taking an L is one thing, it happens to all of us, but you don’t need to shoot yourself in the foot this bad when no one asked you to. On an entirely unrelated topic, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a good movie.
52. Minecraft reaches so many milestones – For the past 2 years Minecraft has been having a huge resurgence in popularity and that continued throughout 2021 with 2 major updates. In 2021, Mojang released the 1.17 and 1.18 updates which introduced sweeping changes to the cave and biome generation systems in Minecraft and completely transformed what mining is like. Caves that were once lacking luster and empty have become sprawling systems with underground biomes hidden within them and mountains and valleys have turned into huge landmarks for any world. At Minecraft Live 2021, Mojang announced its next update for Minecraft, The Wild Update, which will reform the swamp biome and add new friendly mobs. In December, Minecraft was the first game to reach one trillion views on Youtube. Also, there are now axolotls in the game and they are amazing.
51. Disney’s Luca was the Call Me By Your Name we deserved – Guess what? The fish are gay. And I’m not just saying that because I am gay. They are. I swear. Luca did what Call Me By Your Name couldn’t: be a good movie with no alleged cannibals in the cast. Luca and Alberto get into mischief in Italy with their new friend Giulia, living the kind of summer you can only dream of, now that you are in college. And they are gay.
50. Ted Lasso, innit – Ted Lasso is often characterized as a feel-good, heartwarming show that reminds you that good people do exist. Jason Sudeikis shines in this role, playing a lovable football (soccer) coach in England. Of course, the AppleTV+ show also deals with real subject matter like anxiety, death, relationships, and heartbreak, providing a counterpoint to critics who argue the show is mostly fluff. It’s no wonder the program swept the Emmys, winning seven total, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series (Jason Sudeikis). The cast shines as well, with diverse representation throughout the series. The show may be a sign of the times: we need uplifting content because we are living through a pandemic, and it’s nice to escape once in a while. And, yet, the show does not live within its 2021 world and will remain touching and something to crawl back to when seeking comfort even as the years pass by. And, hey, at the very least, the show is a welcome reminder to make (or buy) some biscuits enclosed in a pink box!
49. Chrissy Teigen? More like Messy Teigen – In the grand tradition of once-beloved, “relatable” celebrities crossing the line into overexposure, this year marked Chrissy Teigen’s public transition from Girlboss Who Makes Jokes on Twitter to Girlboss Who Publicly Bullies Children. In March, she abruptly announced her hiatus from Twitter, the platform that first launched her into relatable girl stardom. It was the Zayn leaving One Direction of rich straight women who make jokes for other rich straight women. While she was only gone for a matter of weeks, this hiatus turned out to be the harbinger of a Shakespearean fall from grace. By May, reality star Courtney Stodden had revealed that throughout the early 2010s, Teigen had made them the target of regular online harassment. A quick look at Chrissy’s 2011 Twitter history revealed the tweets in question involved repeatedly detailing her fantasies about a 16-year-old Stodden’s violent death, and Stodden later revealed this wasn’t the end of the bullying—Chrissy regularly DMed them (again, a 16-year-old child) with similar threats. Chrissy quickly released a public apology, in which she claimed she’d been “trying to reach out to Courtney in private” (which Stodden denied), but a divine chain of events had already been set in motion. Almost immediately, Twitter sleuths revealed that Courtney Stodden was far from Teigen’s only target—throughout the early 2010s, just before Chrissy’s explosion to fame, she had regularly joined the pop culture pile-on for celebrities like Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham, Lindsay Lohan, and even 9-year-old Annie star Quvenzhané Wallis (Google that one for yourself). Chrissy tried apologizing again, this time in a way-too-long, Cady Heron-esque Medium article in which she iconically admitted to being an “insecure, attention-seeking troll” (without directly apologizing to any of the other children she harassed)—but by then, was anyone still listening? Then, as quickly as she had emerged in the openly-misogynistic 2010s, she was gone… for like, a month. She reemerged in June to give her seminal insights on life in the “cancel club,” then again in November to host a delightfully tone-deaf Squid Game themed party. We (not me, but someone) may have lost our relatable culinary queen to the tides of cancel culture, but she left us with an important lesson: you either die a hero (live your obscenely rich life unbothered and resist the urge to share unsolicited bad takes) or live long enough to see yourself become the villain (publicly harass a smorgasbord of children in the public eye).
48. Anthony Ramos gets caught cheating from a stripper’s TikTok video – It was the scandal that had what felt like the entire internet screaming “A white woman? NO!” In many ways, TikTok creator @dearjane1 is the Bob Woodward of our generation. I firmly believe that come February, theaters could show the mystery thriller that was her singular TikTok instead of Death on the Nile. In case you missed the investigative journalistic event of the century, here’s a quick recap: in 2015, incredibly hot actors Anthony Ramos and Jasmine Cephas-Jones began dating during rehearsals for Hamilton, and quickly became Broadway’s favorite romance. The beloved couple announced their engagement in 2018, and as recently as June, Anthony was gushing about Jasmine to People Magazine, calling her his “rock.” That was, until about a month ago. On November 29, Dear Jane, who works at an L.A. strip club, posted a now-deleted TikTok implicating Ramos in a cheating scandal that immediately rocked the Latinx former theater kid/current Bwog Staff community (we would appreciate privacy during this time). In the video, Dear Jane claimed that during her shift, Ramos arrived with a woman—decidedly not Jasmine—and they spent the night “all over each other.” While Dear Jane was careful not to name Anthony outright, in a Hercule Poirot-esque twist, she paused her Peabody-worthy narrative storytelling on a shot of none other than that same People article, in which Ramos gushed about his relationship with Jasmine. Within a matter of hours, the TikTok hit over a million views. By the next day, Anthony had been wiped from Jasmine’s social media, and E! News was reporting the couple had called off their engagement. In just 24 hours, Anthony Ramos had gone from The People’s Princess to what Lin-Manuel would call “the villain in our history.” I had never been so bamboozled in my life. While I doubt this is the last time Bwog’s annual pop culture roundup will include men disappointing literally the hottest women in history, that doesn’t make it hurt any less.
47. Bennifer is back – BenAna, which we covered last year, met its tragic end in mid-January, as did J-Rod in March. That meant Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, the two halves of the iconic “Bennifer” of the early 2000s, were single again… but were they ready to mingle? Things were quiet on the western front for about a month or so, until nosy people and internet sleuths started to realize they had been spending quite a bit of time together and making out a lot more than people who are “just friends” would. Finally, it was confirmed in late July that Bennifer, like the early 2000s and the coronavirus, is BACK baby! Much luck to the happy couple.
46. One Piece reaches its 1000th episode and 1000th chapter – Just before its 25th anniversary, One Piece reached its 1000th serialized chapter in Shonen Jump and 1000th aired episode on Japanese Television in 2021. Over the past 25 years, Eiichiro Oda, the creator of One Piece, has crafted one of the largest and most creative fictional worlds in pop culture. Oda turns 47 on January 1st, 2022, meaning that he has been building the world of One Piece for over half of his life now. One Piece also remains the best-selling manga in history. To celebrate these milestones, Toei Animations reanimated some of the iconic scenes throughout the series history and released a live-action music video showing the significance of One Piece to people. The 1000th episode featured a reimagining of the first opening with the modern art style and flashbacks to the introduction of every main character. One Piece was also featured at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan with athletes from around the world recreating poses made by main characters in the series.
45. Keeping Up With the Kardashians ends – After 20 seasons and more than a decade of hilariously trashy yet occasionally touching content, the Kardashians decided to put this undoubtedly critical part of their celebrity empire to an end. Keeping Up With the Kardashians spawned hundreds of gifs and images that are so versatile meme-wise that they will likely live on for decades after you or I are gone. Famous clips from the show, ranging from Kim’s infamous meltdown over her lost diamond earring to Kim and Kourtney’s catfight over the timing of a photoshoot, are comedic leviathans in and of themselves. But the show was more significant than its shameless and shallow comedy. Keeping Up With the Kardashians pioneered—nay, invented—reality TV as we know it today. The show retooled the very concept of celebrity and taught a generation that you can, indeed, be famous for being famous. Although the show was almost universally panned by critics, it got renewed year after year, and the Kardashian brood only got more and more successful. Maybe they just got tired of the tradeoff between making money and never having privacy. Oh, wait… they already signed a contract with Hulu. Never mind.
44. Daft Punk broke up – It was a cold, crisp February afternoon. A day fresh with promise, with excitement. What could possibly go wrong, we thought. But then, suddenly, the rug was whipped out from under us with a simple little video “Epilogue”. The ending of an era, the closing of a chapter, every cliche ending metaphor, the world rang with devastation. RIP to the musical act that defined a generation and invented a genre.
43. #PhantomIsBack, or the return of Broadway – What’s the sign that a pandemic is “over?” Well, the re-opening of one of America’s most iconic industries! Yes, after over a year of being closed, the theaters finally opened their doors again, and actors began to perform Broadway shows for the public again. Some shows didn’t survive the wait (I’m seething that I’ll never see Jagged Little Pill), but others like Six came back booming (and 10x more expensive). The classics like Book of Mormon, Wicked, and The Lion King still stand in their proper theaters, so Times Square is almost back to exactly how it was in February 2020. Most excited of all for Broadway’s return, however, was Andrew Lloyd Webber, who threw an entire rave after the re-opening of Phantom of the Opera and acted as “DJ Webz” all night, playing club remixes of all his greatest hits. Unfortunately, Webber’s DJing debut performance may be his last, but at least we have one of the best videos of all time because of it!
42. Emily in Paris receives a Golden Globe Nomination but then got caught in a cheating scandal – It’s the bitter dark of fall 2020. Vaccines aren’t out and we’re all on our last, fraying nerve—and here comes Emily in Paris to prove we still have room in our hearts to hate. While the phenomenon that was Emily in Paris season 1 and its ensuant fallout was a 2020 staple, the fantasy world of Emily in Paris was not about to let 2021 pass unscathed by its presence. Sure, that could be about the fact that season 2 dropped on December 22, just in time for Christmas—and, having unfortunately already seen half the season, I can guarantee it’s just as bad, but at least there’s more real French speaking in it—but no, Emily in Paris worked its way back into our psyches (that is, if it ever left) in 2021 with the fact that the Emmys and Golden Globes, paragons of television critics they are, both graced the show with their equivalents of “Best Comedy” nominations. That in and of itself is just shy of meriting some kind of criminal charge, but once the Golden Globes nomination news hit, it became even worse. Turns out, members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association were flown out to Emily in Paris set and wined and dined, like you do when trying to earn critical acclaim in a normal, non-bribed way. Perhaps this is fitting, however, for Emily in Paris and its centerpiece, white and mediocre Emily: despite doing absolutely everything wrong and also probably unethically, she earned praise, suffered minimal consequences, and now we’re all watching her again. Leave these glamorous French people alone, Emily!!
41. Jojo Siwa is cool (again) – 2021 was the year of Jojo Siwa, and it started with a simple “heyeveryoneitsjojowelcomebacktomyoutubechanneleverysinglewednesday.” Jojo Siwa has long been an object of cultural obsession. And how could she not? She’s bright, colorful, and, above all, a Dance Moms survivor. But Jojo Siwa’s fame and icon status reached new heights when she came out—first in a TikTok, then in a tweet, and finally in an interview. The gays are truly winning. With a proud declaration of her queer identity, twitter quickly flooded Jojo Siwa with support. Over the course of the year, Jojo Siwa has been a consistent source of media attention as she pushes beyond her signature look—giving her hairline a break from the tightest ponytail on the planet—pushes boundaries, and enters relationships. Her all-black look for the 2021 American Music Awards epitomizes this as she presents an evolved version of herself both aesthetically and conversationally but doesn’t depart from the lovable and sugary character that caught our eye in the first place. And the icon behavior just kept coming. Most notably, Jojo Siwa shook the television screens in September as she and Jenna Johnson became the first same-sex couple on Dancing With the Stars, rallying immense support to a respectable and robbed runner-up placement. Honestly, if you aren’t a Siwanator in the 2021st year of our lord J.C. (Jojo Siwa [C-wa]), you lack taste.
40. The Shawnmilla Split: Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello broke up – The relationship between Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello was always confusing. I just didn’t get it. But both had long been the inspiration for a variety of viral jokes—most notably, persistent memes about Shawn Mendes secretly being gay (which prompted a CNN article to dispel). Perhaps that’s what made them perfect for each other. Shawnmilla entered the mainstream in the summer of 2019. There was a lot of subtle teasing and videos of the couple doing insane nasty stuff (like this sloppy makeout). But in my opinion, the couple didn’t enter the mainstream until they became the people’s pandemic pairing. The thing that skyrocketed them to infamy was the video of their pandemic walk and the equally absurd Spongebob edit. And from that moment, they lived rent-free in our heads. Shawnmilla entered 2021 by continuing the comment on the passionate development of their emotions towards one another. Hell, they even dropped hints that they might get engaged. With a few other moments blipping the radar, what really caught the monocultural attention also revived the hidden homosexuality rumors as the two gave Cher. lol. Sadly, Shawnmilla didn’t last much longer. A little less than two months later, the couple announced their breakup. The couple, a source of sardonic constant in the lives of those terminally twittering, was gone. People went wild as both the two celebrities but also their many followers struggled to move forward without the connection in their lives. It’s hard, so hard. Honestly, life’s a bitch. But then you keep on living, I guess, living in hopes they get back together so you have something to make fun of.
39. House of Gucci is out of control – Signore e Signora Gucci… e Bugs. The hype for this wild ride started building in March when Adam Driver came for the Knives Out sweater (which is not easy to knit by yourself, fun fact), more importantly with his hand around Lady Gaga’s shoulder. And things only got weirder from there—once the trailers started dropping, there were memes aplenty about how Lady Gaga may not be the most eth-i-cal per-son, but she is fair. The press tour revealed just how method she got, including how she “lived as” Patrizia Reggiani, accent included, for months and months. The movie itself was, in this Bwogger’s opinion, fun but way too long, though I will take Jeremy Irons being a bitch any time I can get it. Apparently, some guy named Jared is also there saying “Boof!” and snorting a lot of arrabbiata sauce, but I sure didn’t recognize him.
38. Måneskin is Italian, cool, and hot – The 2021 Eurovision Song Contest was competitive. After the cancellation of the 2020 contest, Europe came back swinging and singing with many iconic performances. Most iconic of all was this year’s winner, Måneskin. The Italian rock band’s song “Zitti e buoni” became the favorite to win mere days before the contest occurred, but it’s obvious to see why. Måneskin brought fresh energy to the contest. They were bringing rock back to the main stage. Their music is energizing, catchy, and gritty. And, of course, the band members are hot as hell. After clinching their win, the release of their album Teatro d’ira Vol. I brought them global fame with multiple tracks entering Billboard Global charts. And this was only helped by Tik Tok trends using “Zitti e buoni,” their cover of “Beggin,” and “I Wanna Be Your Slave.” Beyond their music, users were charmed by the playful and grounded demeanor of the band members. They balanced their grungy atmosphere with effervescent messages of love and acceptance. They’re gems.
37. David Dobrik gets CANCELLED – David Dobrik was basically the guy every annoying boy in high school wanted to be: loud, “funny,” and receiving unlimited amounts of attention without doing anything relevant. However, like self-driving Teslas (Dobrik’s favorite car to not give away to fans), Dobrik’s career exploded in 2021 when it was revealed that he helped his friend and fellow crew member to avoid sexual abuse allegations, and when he almost killed Jeff Wittek in a makeshift rope swing on a construction crane accident, member of the Vlog Squad and host of Jeff’s Barbershop on YouTube. The whole thing was drawn out for a month (mostly by Trisha Paytas on the Frenemies Podcast, who often recounted her history with the Vlog Squad and the shitty members of it), and Dobrik did not return to YouTube until late fall. The worst part? No one got their fucking Tesla.
36. We got subjected to Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox – Granted, this couple first tongued their way into the public consciousness in 2020, but this year, they were everywhere. Whether you love their love or hate how much you’ve learned about them against your will, there was no escaping the heat of these twin flames in 2021 (Literally. They released more content as I was writing this paragraph). From their unlimited supply of bizarre red carpet looks to their beautifully unhinged joint GQ cover to openly hating the movie in which they co-starred to their unprompted Kravis crossover content, MGKegan made their way into every crevice of the pop culture sphere. The cultural impact of “I am weed” cannot be overstated. I may still be asking myself what a “tantric night terror” is, but I’ve truly never said “at least she’s happy” more.
Featuring: feverish obsession, guns, addiction, shamans, lots of blood, general mayhem, therapy, tantric night terrors, binding rituals, chakra sound baths, psychedelic hallucinations, organic smoothies, and the kind of overwhelming PDA that made no one else in Bwog want to cover this couple.
35. Messi finally wins an international soccer tournament under the Argentine flag – For people like my dad, this would probably be at #1. However, for you non-soccer people out there, let me tell you why this moment in 2021 is incredibly important. Argentine, 5’7 king Lionel Messi, as pretty much everyone knows, is statistically and technically the best soccer player in the world, and probably one of the greatest of all time. He has been playing with the Argentine national team since 2005, winning several Ballon d’Ors, an Olympic gold medal, and everything listed in this Wikipedia page dedicated to all his awards and achievements. However, until this July, Messi had never one a single international tournament final under the Argentine flag, which critics often used as an excuse to argue that he’s not that good of a player (but when has Ronaldo ever brought Portugal to the finals of any international tournament?). This July, Messi and the Argentine Team absolutely KILLED the Copa América, and they finally won, keeping their title as the South American country with the most wins in the tournament! Messi cried, my dad cried, all my family cried—it was such a sweet moment for all Argentines to see our star player’s one dream come true (and in Brazil, which makes it all the sweeter >:) ). Vamos Messi!
34. Pete Davidson’s New York – Kim Kardashian hosted SNL on October 9 this year which featured a sketch with a kiss between her and our beloved Pete Davidson. My reaction to this was something along the lines of, “haha, but they would never!” Oh, but they would. On November 1, Page Six tweeted the breaking news: “Kim Kardashian arrives in Pete Davidson’s native NYC after holding hands.” There are many things to unpack about this entire story, but firstly, Pete Davidson’s New York? I really enjoy the idea of forgetting about anyone else who grew up in NYC (he’s from Staten Island btw) and only acknowledging a 28-year old comedian. Twitter saw an opportunity and ran with it, of course, starting yet another format that got old a bit quickly. The second thing to unpack is fucking Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson being a thing? Frankly, I never bought it for a second and will always say it was a PR stunt. Maybe I’m overprotective over Pete, maybe I’m not over the KimYe divorce, maybe it’s both. (Hint: it’s both.)
33. Princess Diana hype – It all started with the fourth season of The Crown, where the writers of this high-budget historical drama decided to say “Fuck Prince Charles specifically” and portray Princess Diana (played wonderfully by Emma Corrin) as a sweet, innocent, yet daring young woman. The audience, like the public in the 1990s, was immediately charmed by the “Princess of the People,” and we wanted more! Well, the media took that to heart and are now riding that hype train, giving us the Spencer A24 movie with Kirsten Stewart (objectively meh), the Diana Broadway musical (objectively terrible), and even the name of Meghan and Harry’s baby girl (objectively funny). Also, Lady Di is now a certified style icon and Girl Boss, showing how the public fell in love with her all over again.
32. An artist collective bought an original Andy Warhol sketch, made 999 forgeries, and sold them all at an equal price – Early in November, one art collective named MSCHF (Get it? “Mischief”? haha) embarked on a lucrative yet anti-establishment project: after buying Andy Warhol’s Fairies (1954) for $8,125 in 2016, the artists programmed a robotic arm to make 999 forgeries, aged all the papers to make them impossible to date, and listed all 1,000 for a price of $250. The twist? The original Warhol sketch is now currently valued at $20,000, so the person who buys one of these prints either gets the biggest discount ever or loses $250. This event caused a huge buzz in the art world, forcing all pretentious art collectors to reckon with the fact that the “value” of art is really something arbitrary. This was also somehow a metaphor for NFTs, which care more about the certificate of owning an image than the actual art itself; in this case, buying one of the sketches somehow proves that people care more about telling others they own an Andy Warhol painting than actually having a nice painting. Bottom line: there are only three lessons from this. First, even though I hate to say this, I know for a fact that Mr. Warhol is skipping gleefully in his grave, knowing finally someone understood his annoying rants and perspectives on art and the art industry. Second, the sketch is crude and lazy, which is probably why it’s the subject of this forgery project. Third, I still hate Andy Warhol.
31. Facebook turns into Meta – In another step towards
eventual world domination cementing its presence in the realms of online engagement and communication, Facebook rebranded itself as “Meta” in October. Meta is now the umbrella company that unites social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram as well as platforms such as the Oculus series of VR headsets. The name change has been slammed by critics of the company, who claim that Facebook is merely attempting to pivot attention from its recent PR crises. Whether these motivations hold true or not, the new branding signals yet another manifestation of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s intentions for the company: He has long espoused his beliefs that the ‘metaverse’—a virtual reality world in which humans can interact as they would in the real world—is the “successor to the mobile internet.” Here’s hoping this isn’t the beginning of humanity’s descent into a Matrix-adjacent dystopian existence!
30. Jack Antonoff gets passed around like a blunt – Gosh, what DIDN’T Jack Antonoff produce this year? From Lorde’s Solar Power, to both Taylor Swift’s rereleases, to Clairo’s Sling, to St. Vincent’s Daddy’s Home, to Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club and Blue Banisters, to his own Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night, it seemed like everyone wanted the milk out of Jackie Boy’s cow! However, Antonoff working like a senior in college the night before their thesis is due brought up some controversy in the indie-pop community. First, there was the discourse that the chorus in Lorde’s “Stoned at the Nail Salon” was an exact copy of Lana Del Rey’s in “Hope is a Dangerous Thing…” accusing Jack of recycling Norman Fucking Rockwell! for other indie-pop sad girlies (even though production has nothing to do with songwriting). Then, people started blaming him personally for some of these albums getting mixed reviews, not taking into account that women artists can, indeed, flop sometimes. And of course, because the music industry (like everything else) is extremely sexist, any praise for any of the albums went straight to him instead of the women who actually WROTE the albums. Anyway, the lesson we learned this year was that Jack Antonoff doesn’t guarantee a hit, and that most of the creativity and heart in all of these albums comes from the (already very talented) artists themselves. He’s still a legend, though!
29. Bo Burnham’s Inside – Bo Burnham has revealed that he used to get panic attacks both before and during his standup performances, which resulted in a long break in his comedy career and led him to directing. In May, however, he released a comedic masterpiece, both in writing and production, that showcased his growth over the last ten years and his personal feelings of stagnation over the last year. Inside was completely created by Bo—the writing, the lighting, the filming—all in one room. He perfectly captured the restlessness and the pain that the pandemic brought within each of us which arrived at a time where we saw light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine rollout. Immediately, viewers were drawn to this special which reflected back to us that which we had already experienced, but in a medium that felt both cathartic and humorous—feelings that I did not feel going through the pandemic on my own. He discussed his deteriorating mental health in songs like “That Funny Feeling” and “Look Who’s Inside Again,” the corruption of politicians and the wealthy in “How the World Works,” and sexting in, well, “Sexting.” The special’s relatability, creativity, and overall Genius resulted in Bo Burnham being a three-time Emmy Award winner and me having Bo as my second most-listened to artist in 2021. Stream Inside!
28. TV hates rich people, but rich people LOVE TV – As down with the youth and what’s cool in the culture expert Kendall Roy would tell you, being an enlightened anti-capitalist is the only way to be worthy of fame and praise, Twitter or otherwise. Creators like Mike White and Jesse Armstrong took that message to heart this year with actually kickass shows about the gilded cages rich (white) people have built for themselves, all while airing on those rich people networks (sure, HBO isn’t the bourgeoisie, but it’s not not). Succession, The White Lotus, Squid Game, Nine Perfect Strangers (if you want to give Masha that much credit)—we can’t stop telling stories about the rich and powerful, but in 2021, at least it was about how deeply corrupted and warped they are, even in their moments of humanity. We can’t stop telling those stories, and we—more often than not, the well-off, liberal, white “we”—can’t stop loving the shit out of them, often in the weirdest ways possible. Stop by #succession on Twitter and you’ll get what I mean. Class may separate us from them, but being unhinged is for everyone.
27. Inauguration antics – The Inauguration. So. much happened. First and foremost, we have to talk about Ella Emhoff’s plaid coat, featuring rhinestones to the Gods and an exaggerated waistline, granting her the title of the first lady of Greenwich. Her whole look landed her on fashion magazines everywhere and a space in the limelight, which she has synced used to display her artistic vision and political opinions. On a historic day for women, the coats on that stage rose to the occasion, and the bright jackets did not leave a crumb. Speaking of game changing women, we need to talk about “The Hill We Climb,” the game changing free verse poem about the future of America was written by the national youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman. With powerful imagery and a message that stuck, celebrities, politicians and all of social media were fawning over the poem, dressing their kids up like Gormon, and igniting a conversation about slam poetry. But young people weren’t the only ones making a statement at the inauguration. True to form, Bernie Sanders showed up in a giant, practical coat, mittens made by a constituent, and perpetual “disgruntled old man” face, and memes were abound. Bernie, photographed with arms crossed on a plastic foldout chair, was the moment, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the gloves that stopped America.
26. Olympic athletes practice self-care – This was the year Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles took control of their own mental health. First, Osaka announced she would opt out of the media sessions at the French Open, citing how much they exacerbated her anxiety. She got hit with a $15,000 fine for that, then she dropped out of the French Open entirely and announced she would “take some time away from the court.” Later, she lit the Olympic Flame in the Tokyo Olympics, in a poetic and full-circle moment. In those same Olympics, elite gymnast Simone Biles dropped out of the team gymnastics final after stumbling on the vault, citing mental health and a case of “the twisties,” a condition that makes a gymnast lose track of where they are in the air—aka pretty dangerous for a sport with a lot of flipping and twisting. She sat out the all-around, vault, and floor finals as well, events in which she was heavily favored to win gold. But she came back for the last apparatus final: the beam, which poetically requires the most mental toughness out of all the events. Her bronze there might as well have been gold: there’s nothing mentally tougher than recognizing when you need to take a step back for yourself. Here’s to taking that energy into 2022.
25. Grimes and Elon Musk broke up (finally) – If 2020 was Grimes’ year, 2021 was…not. From releasing not-so-good music after the masterpiece of Miss Anthropocene, to her “proposition for the communists,” to self-labeling herself as the “Marie Antoinette of the 21st Century,” her image definitely took some tolls. However, if there is ANYTHING that can be considered a “win” for her this year, it’s that she FINALLY BROKE UP WITH ELON MUSK! Yes, the worst couple ever (that still somehow makes complete sense) have finally split up due to personal differences, and I could NOT be any happier. No, really, when I got the news on September 24, I ran laps around campus. However, the breakup was not really messy or clear at all: they still live in the same mansion and equally take care of the next crowned alien prince of the House of Atreides, X AE A-XII. The whole moment produced three noteworthy results. First, we had Azaelia Banks tag Grimes in an iconic Instagram story with the caption, “Ok girl, can we finally make those darn songs now that Apartheid Clyde is out of the way?” We were really supposed to eat these bitches up.” (It’s true, I’m ‘bitches.’) Then, we got Grimes’ “Player of Games” single, which is four minutes of EDM-inspired cringey lament over being in love with “the greatest gamer /But he’ll always love the game /More than he loves [Grimes].” Not even I can defend those lyrics, and I am a Grimes apologist above all else. Lastly, we got the moment where Grimes called the paparazzi to take photos of her in full costume reading The Communist Manifesto in public. Say what you will about this stunt, but Grimes said “Hot Girl Era” after her breakup with Apartheid Clyde, and I listened!!!!
24. Nobody understood the theme at this year’s Met Gala – This year, the first Met Gala after the pandemic asked the celebrity guests to dress in whatever they believed to represent the 2021 theme, “America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” Now, that theme was incredibly vague and had a lot of room for experimentation, as America’s fashion history is virtually all-encompassing. However, with a theme as nebulous as this one, there was A LOT that went wrong. We can’t cover everything, but here were some standout flops: Camila Cabello’s first salsa dancing costume that is apparently “giving Cher,” Cara Delavigne’s “PEG THE PATRIARCHY” vest (this wasn’t the serve she thought she gave), and Elliot Page’s ill-fitting prom suit. Also, Frank Ocean fully brought Baby Shrek as his +1; we do not talk about this enough. Where was “America” in any of this?!?! However, thankfully some people DID get the theme and looked great: Debbie Harry went full-on Americana and stole the show with her denim blazer and red, white, and blue hoop skirt. Even though it pains me to say this, Ben Platt’s homage to 70’s cowboys really worked! Lastly, some people did not stick to the theme but still looked great, so I gave them a pass. Grimes, for example, looked hot with her Dune-inspired bodycon dress, book, and SWORD. Lil Nas X was a glammed up C-3PO. Kim Kardashian was serving ringwraith chic with her all-black look. What about these looks was particularly “American?” Who cares! Grimes had a sword made out of melted AK-47s!
23. Meltdown at Facebook – Sometimes sites go down. It happens. We at Bwog, of all places, can’t be too critical of a website failure or two. But when media conglomerate Facebook (ahem, sorry, Meta) was down for over 5 hours on a random October day, stopping web traffic for millions of people, and losing Zuckerberg $6 billion, it was a little funny. Facebook employees were literally locked out of the Facebook building because their systems were all down. Maybe the end of the world doesn’t come with a bang, but rather with one stupid crashed server.
22. Kanye and Drake are finally friends after years of beefing – I remember all of you shitting on “Lift Yourself” when it came out in April of 2018. For those who didn’t know, Kanye’s iconic “poopty scoopty whoop” verse was used so that Drake couldn’t use the same beat on his then-upcoming album Scorpion. Tell me that’s not one of the best disses a musician could release—just snatching this sample from Drake’s tiny little hands! Anyway, also in 2018, the Pusha T and Drake beef escalated where we found out he has a son on “The Story of Adidon,” and Pusha threw more shots on his album DAYTONA which was produced by Kanye under G.O.O.D. Music. Three years later in November of 2021, the two legends of the rap industry randomly posted a video together laughing and smiling—personally, I felt a shift in the universe at this moment. To cement the squashing of their beef, the two performed together at the Free Larry Hoover concert they held on December 9 in LA. I need to make sure you all understand how huge this was—the two of them have not been on tour in years (2016 for both—Saint Pablo and Summer Sixteen) and Kanye has not performed his own music at all since then, focusing on his Sunday Service concerts. At the Free Larry Hoover benefit, the two even performed each other’s songs (!!!), with a video of Drake crying while Kanye performs “Runaway” making its rounds online. He’s just like me fr.
21. The rise and fall of the Frenemies Podcast – The Frenemies podcast actually started in mid-2020, but it absolutely boomed in popularity in 2021. YouTuber Ethan Klein (you might know him from H3H3) and internet phenomenon Trisha Paytas came together to show the world that anyone can overcome their differences and just get along…or so we thought. There were twists and turns, but on a random June afternoon, Trisha dramatically ended the podcast, and began an internet war between her and Ethan. The two are still not on speaking terms, but who knows what 2022 will bring, right?
20. NFTs…exist. Yeah…
19. Nicki Minaj blames the COVID-19 vaccine for her cousin’s best friend’s balls swelling, which is just…not true – Who would have thought that the ultimate Barbz Struggle Tweet would come from Barb herself. Unfortunately, in the name of comprehensive journalism, we have to tell you that this whole deal would eventually be christened “Ballgate.” In the tweet heard ‘round the world and by two governments, Nicki Minaj claimed that “My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding.” Putting aside how said friend must feel about his orchitis being broadcast to the entire internet, there is no evidence at all to support this actually happening. Indeed, it was a dark time for Barbz everywhere, and we’re not sure if they ever recovered.
18. Everything about Dune – (Disclaimer: The author of this entry has not read Frank Herbert’s original novel, nor has she seen any of the other adaptations of Dune. She does not care to. Please be normal about it.) One of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune offers surprise after surprise. First off, Timothée Chalamet plays the main character, a decision surpassed in weirdness only by the fact that said character’s name is Paul—to be fair, though, that’s more Frank Herbert’s fault than Villeneuve’s. Twitter critics also accused the film of Zendaya-baiting, and rightfully so. While the actress was featured prominently in advertising, she enjoyed mayyyyybe seven minutes of screentime and about twenty spoken lines. The biggest shock, one that the film’s marketing campaign almost completely eluded, was that the film is actually a two-parter! The reveal served as a meaningful consolation for Dune Part 1’s almost exhaustingly slow pacing. Despite its shortcomings and absurdities, however, the film was more than enjoyable. Dune was one of the most immersive films of 2021, which is particularly high praise given that Sci-Fi is arguably one of the worst-suited genres to serious audience immersion. Hans Zimmer’s haunting, echoing score is perfect for the seemingly interminable desert landscape that is Arrakis, a land foreign to Paul and the rest of the Atreides family. Speaking of, the name Atreides is a reference to the cursed family from the Iliad, Odyssey, Oresteia, and probably lots of other Ancient Greek texts, so be sure to bring that up to your LitHum professor for some brownie points. All of the supporting actors do stellar jobs, especially Stellan Skarsgård as the monstrous, curdled-looking Baron Harkonnen. And Oscar Isaac is basically naked in his last scene. What else could you want?
17. Lorde makes a comeback with Solar Power – After critical acclaim for both her first album, Pure Heroine, and sophomore album, Melodrama, Lorde seemingly vanished off the face of the planet. Fans wondered if, like Lorde claimed in “Liability,” they were “gonna watch [her] disappear into the sun.” Lorde kept silent. That is, until rumors of L3 began in 2019. But with the passing of Lorde’s dog, COVID-19, and rumors of complete reworking, fans began to lose hope. This wasn’t helped by the fact that Ella unplugged herself from the internet, leaving the main form of communication as fan-run twitter accounts broadcasting Lorde news from “reliable insiders.” Occasionally, Lorde would send emails that would shoot Lorde to the top of Twitter’s trending topics for the day—her power—only to vanish once more. Well, until June 10th. In an email rich with radiant prose, Lorde announced the start of her new era by announcing her third album, Solar Power, and releasing the titular single “Solar Power” the same day. The complete album would drop towards the end of the Northern summer on August 20th. Lorde describes Solar Power best in her own terms: “The album is a celebration of the natural world, an attempt at immortalising the deep, transcendent feelings I have when I’m outdoors. In times of heartache, grief, deep love, or confusion, I look to the natural world for answers. I’ve learnt to breathe out, and tune in. This is what came through.” The album received mixed reviews amongst fans and critics. Some lamented the stark sonic and thematic departure from her previous repertoire. Others commended the creative development of Lorde’s artistry and the inauguration of a new sound. The pieces are produced lightly, departing from earlier synth-pop and dance pieces and instead projecting a more acoustic tone. Solar Power explores a more optimistic side of maturing but often in melancholic tones. Moreover, the album explores nature’s nurturing connection to life. In addition to Solar Power, Lorde released Te Ao Mārama, a companion album consisting of five Māori versions of songs from Solar Power. Whether critiqued or not, Lorde’s return to the music scene and public life brings with it a thoughtful and bursting philosophy and a focus on the little intimacies of appreciating the world around us.
16. John Mulaney and Anna Tendler divorced – They were the symbol of true love for so many of us. Majority of John Mulaney’s jokes involved Anna, and the way he talked about her was refreshing and beautiful to hear. She even gained her own fan base through her artwork. Rumors that they were getting divorced began in November 2020 when she seemingly unfollowed him on Instagram. I didn’t buy it—things like this happen all the time. Mulaney went into rehab at the end of December for 60 days. Shortly after he got out, the divorce was publicized and something in the air shifted. However, the story went deeper than this as it was revealed two weeks later that John Mulaney and Olivia Munn were dating. Shockwaves were felt across Mulaney fans everywhere, with some even casting strong hatred against the comedian. Yet, it’s easy to build a parasocial relationship with people we don’t genuinely know; the timeline of the divorce and Mulaney/Munn is not one we actually know, only when media outlets found out. The plot thickened when Olivia Munn announced her pregnancy in September. The same people angry about their relationship’s timeline were even angrier with this update, citing Mulaney’s The Comeback Kid special where he discusses how he and Anna don’t want kids. Gossip continued as people remained surprised that the John Mulaney they knew and loved wasn’t who they thought he was—you know, the person they never met before and only saw on screen? Nonetheless, the pair welcomed Malcolm Hiệp Mulaney in November and the new family seems very happy together. I’m sending them all of my love!
15. The entire buildup to Kanye’s Donda – It is not biased to say this was one of, if not the greatest album rollout of all time. The first listening party happened in July, and broke the Apple Music livestream record. The Mercedes-Benz stadium was sold out and fans anxiously awaited the drop of the album that was supposed to be released in 2017 (hey, Yandhi…) To be frank, this was a messy show—we waited over an hour for it to start, and the album did feel very unfinished. However, it was made clear very quickly that this was precisely Kanye’s point; his fans were able to give feedback on the album which he ended up changing multiple times before its official release. Before the second listening party, Kanye quite literally moved into the Mercedes-Benz stadium where he made more revisions and welcomed artists that would later be featured on hit tracks. More Apple Music records were broken and the stadium was sold out again, and the album sounded more complete. This performance even featured Kanye being lifted up towards the sky, metaphorically towards his mother, during “No Child Left Behind.” Chills. The third listening party at Chicago’s Soldier Field in his hometown was certainly the most controversial as he had DaBaby and Marilyn Manson join him on stage, two features that were not present in the previous versions. He also recreated his childhood home for this performance, and lit himself on fire inside of it during “Come to Life” (one of the most moving songs on the album). The fact that this album release ended up being a multi-ticketed event—nay, experience—with hype that lasted honestly about four years is something that I’d say no other artist can accomplish. On top of that, the emotional significance behind the album makes this rollout even more special, as Kanye continues to spread positivity under his mother’s name on her behalf. For my actual review of the album and the artistic significance of its contents, scroll to the bottom of Bwog’s Albums That Defined Our Semester 8. No one does it like Kanye.
14. Just…everything about euro 2020 – The UEFA European Football Championship (Euro 2020) was a tournament decided by own goals, penalty shoot-outs, and controversial moves made by referees. The tournament started off tragically, as one of the first few matches saw Danish player Christian Eriksen collapse on the pitch due to cardiac arrest in a match against Finland. Fortunately, Eriksen has since resumed training with his club team. As the knockout rounds began, we started to see the importance of VAR as a VAR-overturned Austria goal kept Italy level going into extra time, allowing them to later advance to quarters. Then came June 28. A day in which the two World Cup 2018 finalists were knocked out; a day when 14 total goals were scored. Spain netted five goals against Croatia while Croatia managed to score two goals, but netted an overall three goals against Spain thanks to a Spanish own goal. That same day, France (generally seen as the team to beat, or, at the very least, a team expected to beat Switzerland) lost in penalties to the Swiss. Their loss in penalties was the catalyst that set off an insane chain reaction of penalty shootouts. Not long after, Switzerland lost in penalties to Spain. Of course, Spain then lost in penalties to Italy, who went on to enter the finals. Meanwhile, England had not yet gone to penalties, but had successfully navigated their way into reaching the finals. Their path was not without controversy, however, as their semifinal game against Denmark saw a penalty awarded to England due to a foul made in the penalty box on English player Raheem Sterling. Many pundits and vocal Twitter users accused Sterling of diving and vehemently disagreed with the referee’s decision—also checked by VAR—to award England a penalty, as it effectively decided the outcome of the match. England Captain Harry Kane took the penalty, and ultimately was refused, but scored on the rebound, securing England a spot in the finals. Compared to the rest of the tournament, the final match itself wasn’t terribly exciting. But, like many matches this summer, it did go to penalties as both England and Italy were level at one goal each. Alas, in a tournament filled with an unprecedented 11 own goals, numerous penalty shootouts, and controversial referee plays, Euro 2020 ended with Italy bringing home the trophy for the first time since 1968. Forza Italia!
13. Jeopardy! drama – This one hurt. Icon Alex Trebek passed away in November of 2020, and since then, the show has been cycling through a barrage of guest hosts while they find his permanent replacement. There was a big groundswell of support for LeVar Burton, which even got him a New York Times Magazine profile to make his case. Ken Jennings was an obvious candidate, and Mayim Bialik stood out in a crowded field that included Anderson Cooper, the later-revealed-to-be-a-fucking-asshole Aaron Rodgers, Sanjay Gupta, and Katie Couric. So with that ostensible big three locked in, imagine people’s surprise when Jeopardy! announced Trebek’s successor… and it was some guy named Mike Richards. No, not just some guy, executive producer of the show Mike Richards. This totally didn’t look suspicious at all, in no way did it look like he gave himself the job, and everyone thought this completely checked out, totally. Then The Ringer published an exposé bringing his history of creepery to light, and it was all over for some guy named Mike. In the coda to all of this, Burton decided he didn’t want to deal with this shit, Bialik had to fight off anti-vaxxer allegations, and as of right now it’s Ken Jennings at the host podium. (He and Bialik are going to share hosting duties for the foreseeable future.) What a goddamn mess.
12. Prince Philip died, and England was in shambles – April 9th, 2021 was influential for a lot of reasons. For one, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was released. And, believe it or not, this connects to the major event that day: the Death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edninburgh. Non-medical experts believe the sheer magnitude and power of the album drop was the cause of death for Prince Philip. Besides being the longest-serving royal consort ever (the #malewife blueprint), the 99-year-old’s passing was expected as photos of him tracked his slow approach to death’s door. When the news finally dropped, the world questioned whether or not this really just happened—like, you can be honest, the British Royal Family. We won’t be shocked if this was a Weekend at Bernie’s situation. Alas, no confirmation was given. As this death coincided with a budding royal fever that had 2021 in chokehold, social media users across the globe transformed Prince Philip’s passing into the far extremes of humor, believing it to be a distraction from internal strife. Alternatively, groups mercilessly joked around, evoking strong anti-imperialist sentiment while others attempted to salvage support for the old prince and their crown-licking views.
11. Redditors take on Wall Street: the Gamestop saga – Even casual Redditors know about the absurd subreddit that is r/wallstreetbets. Users of the subreddit urge each other to spend as much money as possible with as little research as possible on meme stocks in the hopes that some lucky “autists” will strike gold and reap their “chicken tendies.” The community is anything but politically correct and often seems to veer conservative, which is why it came as a surprise that these Redditors dealt one of the largest blows to hedge funds and other high-rung capitalists in recent history. Here’s the long and short of it (a pun you will understand in a few sentences): In March 2020, Gamestop found itself on a decline that tanked its stock to the terrifyingly low value of $2.80. There were only minor fluctuations in this price month after month, and it looked as though the brick-and-mortar based company was going to be the next victim of technological advancement and digitization. However, around August, users of r/wallstreetbets noticed that hedge funds, mainly a company called Melvin Capital, were short-selling (or shorting) Gamestop stock. Once the Redditors noticed that such a staggering amount of Gamestop shares were being shorted, they figured that they would make these short sellers’ lives harder by buying up all of the cheap Gamestop stock they could. The result: Gamestop stock rises in price until it reaches an intraday high of $483.00 in late January 2021. For context, this is more than 170 times the $3.00 price it fetched merely months before. One now mildly-famous Redditor, /u/DeepFuckingValue, made millions of dollars at the peak of the stock’s rapid ascent. He was one of many users of r/wallstreetbets to make unthinkable sums off of what many once considered an objectively bad investment. Users of r/wallstreetbets lambasted what they saw as market manipulation meant to bail out the short sellers, such as many companies’ decisions to prevent the purchase of Gamestop stock. The situation soon came to symbolize the battle between everyday retail investors and elite Wall Street traders, or the proverbial 99% and 1%, respectively. I’d suggest observers of this unexpected Occupy Wall Street redux come away with two lessons: Don’t count the little guy out, and don’t bet on assets you don’t have.
10. Divorced Girl Summer – It wasn’t just the Mulaneys or the Wests. Kacey Musgraves and Adele released thee divorce albums star-crossed and 30, and Jason Sudeikis talked about the ultimate L of being left for a former boybander last November to GQ. In 2021, the girls called it quits. It was a huge bummer for any superfan of these couples—as we covered earlier, the Mulaney divorce hit the internet pretty hard. But Divorced Girl Summer isn’t a summer or even a season, it’s a state of mind, and as Kacey said, “there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Here’s to divorced girls everywhere of all professions, celebrity levels, and genders: enjoy the freedom, and keep an eye out for Harry Styles next time.
9. Armie Hamm-ibal Lecter – Warning: This entry is not for the faint of heart. We all vaguely remember the beginning of the year; accusations that Call Me by Your Name actor Armie Hammer was a cannibal certainly happened. This year, Hammer’s private Instagram DMs were leaked to the public by a woman accusing him of numerous things (most of which we do not want to get into because they are a serious matter), including the fact that this man has both a body mutilation and cannibalism fetish. In these messages (again, we will save you from the detail because they are horrid), Hammer professes his love for drinking blood, breaking bones, vegetables (and doing unspeakable things to vegetables), toes, eating hearts, and just some good ol’ fashioned hardcore sex. Yeah. The allegations and leaked messages basically killed his career (pun absolutely intended), leading to his stepping away from a Rom-Com project with Jennifer Lopez, and his general disappearance from social media and the press. More importantly, the cannibalism accusations allowed me to pay homage to Silence of the Lambs (or NBC’s Hannibal, for all you Tumblrinas out there), and it makes the foot massage scene in Call Me by Your Name all the more creepier. However, the question still remains, Does Armie actually eat toes?
8. Harry and Meghan talk to Oprah – In 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down from their royal duties, but in March 2021, they really spilled the tea. In a CBS special titled “Oprah with Meghan and Harry,” the couple revealed motivations behind their decision to leave the monarchy, including mental health, racism, and the safety of their then-unborn child. Meghan said that when she was pregnant with Archie some royals were concerned about “how dark his skin” would be. The couple was also told that their baby would not receive a title nor be given any sort of protection—treatment much unlike that of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s children. Harry and Meghan then decided it would be best for Archie if they left the British monarchy and the country. Meghan’s mental health also factored into their decision. The former Suits star shared that she suffered depression and thoughts of suicide as a working member of the family, yet when she asked for help she was told it “wouldn’t be good for the institution” of the monarchy. Harry expressed concern for Meghan’s illness as he reflected on how his mother, Princess Diana of Whales, also battled depression. Harry and Meghan now happily reside in California and have stated that The Queen has supported their decision, even as it strained Harry’s relationships with his brother William and father Prince Charles. Several moments from the interview—including when Oprah asked Harry and Meghan if they “were silent or were silenced”—became popular memes.
7. From indie bops to country nostalgia to sad girl autumn, Taylor Swift is the music industry – 2021 was a banner year for Taylor. And she knows this all too well. Taylor started the year off proving her strength to critics as she took home her third Grammy for Album of the Year (folklore), making her the first female artist to do so. But the time for indie music had passed, and Taylor re-entered her country era. We all knew that Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was coming in 2021, but we did not expect Taylor to release a literal vault full of clues and codes that would help superfans crack the bonus track titles. After releasing two bonus tracks prior to the release of the album, we finally received Fearless (TV) in its entirety and boy did it deliver. “Mr. Perfectly Fine” (a vault track) expressed the best amount of teenage angst mixed with raw heartbreak that had us screaming lyrics into our hairbrush again. The album itself was golden and glorious and reverted us into a state of childhood nostalgia as we were enveloped in hugs to the tune of “You Belong With Me (TV)” whilst crying to songs like “White Horse (TV)” and “You’re Not Sorry (TV).” Flash forward from the naive, wide-eyed spring to the cold, heart-broken autumn as Swifties everywhere patiently awaited the release of Red (Taylor’s Version). But before we could get our scarves out, Taylor released her version of “Wildest Dreams (TV),” leading fans to speculate that 1989 (Taylor’s Version) might be coming. In fact, Taylor had released a snippet of this song back in spring as part of a trailer for an upcoming movie featuring Jake Gyllenhaal himself. But we’ll get back to him later. 1989 (TV) has yet to come, but Taylor did release the vault full of Red (TV) bonus and vault tracks. Red (TV) was eventually released, and it was well worth the wait. Of course, the most anticipated song came in the form of All Too Well (10 Minute Version). All Too Well, a song widely believed to be about Jake Gyllenhaal, became a cult classic among fans given the tragic, lyrical words, coupled with Swift’s harrowing performance of the song at the 2014 Grammy’s. But none of us were prepared to hear the first lyrics that deviated from the original as she sang “fuck the patriarchy,” among other things. A short film also came along with the song, starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, that provided insight into what the relationship described in the song was actually like. Overall, Taylor had us in a loop for the majority of 2021, as she celebrated her indie album’s Grammy win, then gave us time to bop to childhood favorites, and then comforted us as we cried in a park, clutching a scarf, listening to all the torment of Red (TV). I wouldn’t have it any other way.
6. Billionaires go to space – It was the summer of Galactic Virgin Branson v. Bald Boy Bezos. Bezos announced his flight to the stars on July 20, and then Branson ironically did the absolute Chad move of doing a surprise launch nine days earlier, claiming the title of first rich guy in space. Bezos then one-upped him by inviting his brother to accompany him, as well as a random (rich) 18-year-old and Wally Funk, who trained for years to become an astronaut, and is now the oldest woman in space. Bezos still lost though, because NASA stepped in almost immediately after he came back to change the definition of “astronaut” to emphasize the fact that Bezos didn’t do shit to become an astronaut (something, something, “Girlboss, gaslight, gatekeep!”). No word on Elon Musk joining the gang, but he does want to die on Mars. Anyway, now normal people can go to space if you’re rich enough! Please don’t be like Bezos and wear a stupid cowboy hat, though.
5. The Kimye Divorce – (Writer’s note: play “Wouldn’t Leave” while you read this entry.)
This is not something I actually thought would happen. Especially after the 2018 drama and rumors of potential divorce, Kim and Kanye seemingly got out of it fine. However, the pieces do add up—in 2018, Kanye moved to Wyoming for more solitude both to produce several albums with G.O.O.D. Music and for his mental health. It’s also known that Kanye was never a fan of being on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, as he made minimal appearances on the show throughout his relationship with Kim. Of course, Kim has shown her frustration with some of Kanye’s statements over the years but offered her support; she still continues to do so as the divorce did seem amicable. Their four children remain their connection as Kanye continues to see them frequently—they can be seen at the Sunday Service performances Kanye livestreams on his Instagram every Sunday. Kim and Kanye themselves still made public appearances after their divorce, most notably at the third Donda listening party (see entry 15) where she wore a wedding dress and had a fake wedding to Kanye, representing love as a healing power. Of course, since then there has been even more drama with Kim supposedly being with Pete Davidson (see entry 34) and Kanye being accused of recreating the show You in real life by moving into a home close to Kim—as if he isn’t the father of their four children. Anyway, as much as I loved the two of them together, I do hope that they’re able to peacefully co-parent the ones they both love the most and find happiness within themselves. TTYL as I watch the Bound 2 music video and cry!
4. Olivia Rodrigo is THE It Girl of 2021 – This may have been the year of Britney, the year of Lil Nas X, and maybe even the year of the impending apocalypse, but it was also definitively the year of Olivia Rodrigo. Literally—she had a major accomplishment every single month of this year. In January, the current star of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and former star of Bizaardvark feat. Jake Paul dropped driver’s license—her debut non-Disney single—and the world immediately burst into flames. If Bwog tried to adequately sum up the cultural impact this song left on 2021, the article would be 5x as long. In February, the driver’s license-fuelled cultural obsession with the love triangle that was Olivia, her ex-boyfriend/High School Musical co-star Joshua Bassett, and fellow Disney teen Sabrina Carpenter reached its peak—to the point that it became the center of an iconic SNL skit. In March, she announced a second single, deja vu, effectively kicking off the Sour era, and TikTok would never be the same. In April, she released a third single, good 4 u, cementing the renaissance of Angry Girl MusicTM. In May, after making her own SNL debut, she released her long-awaited debut album, Sour, which I am unilaterally naming one of the best debuts and most perfect pop albums of the century. In June, Sour brought us Sour Prom, the brilliant, adorable, and yes—prom-themed concert film experience featuring celebrity cameos like Iris Apatow and Conan Gray. In July, she flexed her status as the People’s President when she visited Joe Biden’s White House to encourage young people across the country to get vaccinated. While August 2021 did see her facing some hiccups—accusations of plagiarism arose when people forgot that songs sometimes kind of sound vaguely like other songs—it also saw her covering Variety’s Power of Young Hollywood issue and releasing the music video for Angry Girl Anthem #2, brutal. In September, she was back on top, making her Met Gala debut, winning 3 VMAs, covering Vogue Singapore, and wearing this fucking iconic dress to the Academy Museum opening. In October, the covers kept coming with Teen Vogue and the Rolling Stone Musicians on Musicians issue with Alanis Morissette, before her surprise release of the music video for Sad Girl Anthem traitor. In November, she won what could be described as a fuckton more awards, and despite the fact that Bwog famously hates the Grammys, we couldn’t help but celebrate her 7 nominations. Finally, she wrapped up the year with an iconic Tiny Desk Concert (set in an actual DMV!!), before announcing a tour (for which somehow both everyone in the country and no one you know secured tickets), and being named Time’s Entertainer of the Year. In short, Olivia may have gone into 2021 a relatively-unknown heartbroken Disney teen, but she is leaving it as one of the best known and most impactful performers—and heartbroken Disney teens—of the decade. I could write a senior thesis on Sour and the artistic phenomenon that is allowing teenage girls to unapologetically fucking feel things, but if you’ve been awake this year, you already know what I’m talking about.
3. Lil Nas X absolutely killed it this year – How much do we even need to explain this one? LNX came roaring back in March with “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” at the end of March, and it was a fucking doozy. He gave Satan a lap dance! He pole-danced into hell!! Remember that shit? It feels so long ago because that was truly only the beginning. There was the Satan blood shoes debacle. He ripped his pants on live television. He made out with two dudes also on live television. (Range.) He went to court, sort of. He was an Industry Baby in his gay little prison with Jack Harlow. He had a baby/album. He had his heart broken in the “That’s What I Want” video. He covered “Jolene.” Now he has three Grammy nominations just for this year, including for Record and Song of the Year for “Montero (CMBYN)” and Album of the Year for MONTERO. And through it all, he made the right people really, really, really, mad. (And there are too many Twitter clapbacks for this Bwogger to go through them all.)
It’s been said time and time again, but Lil Nas X is a marketing genius, able to expertly twist meme and clapback culture to make sure he never falls out of the conversation when he’s on a roll. So when MONTERO dropped, I was a bit concerned that it would all fall apart, and that the glamour of Lil Nas X would fall away. I needn’t have worried. MONTERO ended up being one of the best pop albums of the year, and it wasn’t just the buoyant singles that carried it. “SCOOP” has one of my favorite Doja Cat verses (it makes no goddamn sense, compels me though), I’ve played “DEAD RIGHT NOW” and “DON’T WANT IT” so many times, and “LIFE AFTER SALEM” has enough grunge and drama to set it apart from the rest of the album.
It’s been a long, long time since we’ve seen raw star power like that of Lil Nas X—a star that refuses to be ignored or counted out. God help us when his next album starts gearing up, but I cannot wait to see what he cooks up next. In Montero we trust.
2. The #FreeBritney Movement and Britney Spears’ freedom from her conservatorship –
After a years-long battle with her father Jamie Spears and his associates, Britney Spears was freed from her conservatorship in November 2021. The conservatorship started in 2008, in which Jamie was granted financial and physical control of Britney’s life. The “Free Britney” movement became popular in 2019, when a podcast released that Britney was placed in psychiatric care against her will and that the conservatorship was supposed to end a decade ago. The movement was reignited in September of this year when both Netflix and Hulu released respective documentaries on the popstar’s case, revealing details like how Britney has not been allowed to have her own IUD removed to have children nor have unsupervised contact with the outside world. Britney also appeared to diss her younger sister and Zoey 101 star Jamie Lynn Spears on Instagram for not showing support for her against their father’s abuse. We’re so happy Britney’s free—and that she can do whatever the f*ck she wants!!!
1. That Boat gets stuck in the Suez Canal – She is the moment. She is bold, beautiful, boat. She is the top thing that has ever happened ever. On March 24th, one of the largest shipping container ships in the world, the Ever Given, got stuck in one of the narrowest, and most important, shipping routes in the world. The Suez Canal was effectively blocked, slowing international trade routes everywhere, sending economists into a panic and memers into fits of glee. Most comically, photographs showed the world’s most minuscule bulldozer was sent to solve the problem independently, appearing like a toy car in comparison to the massive boat. The metaphor could not be more clear. It is also critical to me to mention that this magical event on the coast of Egypt occurred at perfect timing, on the holiday of Passover, which celebrates Biblical Israelites traveling through a parted sea to escape Egypt. The memes were plentiful, the anxious joy was palpable, and that little bulldozer was all of us. This event was chosen as number one not just because it was hilarious, but because it *was* 2021. Problems that led to buildup of further anxieties and problems, boats trying to get through narrow passageways and just getting stuck, one piece of construction equipment, trying desperately to solve problems of unimaginable magnitude. It’s been a fucking year.
But that’s not all! Since we didn’t write a whole 100 entries, we’ve decided to give you one, last gift. So, here’s a bonus entry–one that was not that iconic but still absurd–for your edification:
Andrew Yang publicly announces that he likes Times Square – We’re not going to explain further because anyone who lives in New York knows this is fucking appalling. How can you try to act like you’re “just like us,” and then go on record to say the 42nd Street subway station is your favorite? Gross.
A special thank you to everyone who took the time over finals and winter break to write each entry for our second edition of this weird, weird series. May 2022 be even weirder!
Pure, Unfiltered Brain Rot V2 via Solomia Dzhaman