Eight Over-the-Top Pop Culture Moments of 2021
By Emme Larkins, Contributor
It has been a long year. The COVID-19 chaos from 2020 only seemed to have heightened in 2021 as bad news continued to flood our screens. With the transition to online classes or remote work and disconnection from friends and family affecting so many of us, it was easy for everything to feel bleak. But pop culture is always there to distract us! Sometimes the thing that best sparks joy? Some trashy celebrity gossip. So, let’s get into it.
1. A chipper check-in from Steve when we all needed it most
Steve from Blues Clues re-entered the hearts of Gen Z and millennials after too many years apart. He reminds us of our days with Blue, talking to Mr. Salt and finding clues as he apologises for leaving us so abruptly to attend college. Like a warm hug, Steve reminds all of us how much we’ve changed and accomplished since he left us. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
2. We all found out that Armie Hammer might be a cannibal
It feels like this news broke years ago, but nope. Just the news we all needed in the height of a pandemic – this acclaimed actor did indeed have cannibalistic tendencies. Hammer headed to rehab after multiple women accused him of sexual violence and cannibalism. This took the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements to another level.
3. Olivia Rodrigo was the moment
This not-yet 19-year-old smashed records in 2021, comforting bitter hearts and singing what we’ve all been feeling through our pandemic depression. According to Billboard, Rodrigo broke the record previously held by idol Taylor Swift for most songs in their Top 10 charts . The artist’s debut album, Sour, took over radio stations.
4. Nicki Minaj gets the title for “Most Ridiculous Excuse for Not Being Vaccinated”
Minaj’s snit over her cousin’s friend’s inflated balls had eyes rolling. Yep, she made international headlines when she tweeted that vaccines led to impotence, swollen testicles and broken engagements. Yikes!
5. Meghan and Harry wave buh-bye to the British Royal Fam while granting favour to Queen Oprah
Boomers across the land were horrified while their younger counterparts rejoiced at the decision of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, to bash the norms of the Royal Family. More pearl-clutching ensued when they chose to air the family’s dirty laundry during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in her talk show. Harry says he took a stand, making sure history wouldn’t repeat itself, referring to his mother whose life was littered with problems caused by the Royal Family.
6. Even though we’ve been on a break, we’re still in love with Friends
Nostalgia was a tonic for many when the beloved Friends cast reunited. We joyfully screamed “Pivot!,” yelled “seven” countless times along with Monica, and wondered what they had been feeding the smelly cat. The visit to the set and intimate journey through the show’s history brought the feels. Many of us found such comfort in knowing our friends were still there.
7. Bernie Sanders wins best-dressed at President Joe Biden’s 2021 Inauguration.
It was classic Bernie at the chilly outdoor event. Sanders showed up looking like the Vermont grandpa he is, sporting lawn chair, legs crossed, brown puffer jacket and hand-knit mittens. Images of him quickly littered the internet. This viral moment became the meme to beat in 2021.
8. Lastly, 2021 was the year of the unexpected, chaotic and adored couplings
• Kim Kardashian & Pete Davidson
Whether a publicity stunt or not, this couple took over headlines from the time they first kissed as Aladdin and Jasmine on Saturday Night Live through the beginning of the new year.
• Kourtney Kardashian & Travis Barker
Speaking of Kardashians getting with edgy, tattooed, alternative boys, Kim’s big sis Kourtney started the trend with now fiancé Barker.
• Jennifer Lopez & Ben Affleck
Long-time pop culture enthusiasts rejoiced when photos of Bennifer broke, but the internet sided with the other Jennifer when Ben got too mouthy on Howard Stern.
• Harry Styles & Olivia Wilde
Jason Sudeikis and Harry Styles fans must’ve taken this one pretty hard. I guess we’ll see if this couple makes it in a post-Love-On-Tour world.
• John Mulaney & Olivia Munn
Two Olivias in one list? Crazy! This one was a doozy. We enter 2021 learning that Mulaney is in rehab. This was news enough, let alone what followed. He splits from our beloved Anna Marie Tendler and is then linked with Munn. They announce a pregnancy, followed by a breakup, which is then followed by the birth of their son.
Well, with all of this behind us, let’s hope the entertainment scene stays busy through 2022 to distract us yet again from the drudgery of our world. This isn’t to say I’d like to see more celebrities emerge as anti-vaxxers or cannibals, let’s leave that in the past. But, a little bit of relationship drama never hurt anyone. Cheers to the new year!