POP CULTURE IN (UGH) 2020, FROM THE BIZARRE TO THE SUBLIME
AppleMagazine|AppleMagazine #477
And now, for our annual look at the year in pop culture…. Oh, wait. This was 2020. The year everything stopped cold.

Well, not really. Truth is, people turned to culture of all kinds in 2020 — highbrow and lowbrow — to satisfy varied and sometimes conflicting needs: Distraction, inspiration, consolation, escapism, hope. And those needs evolved: If we began lockdown in March by addictively binge-watching the darkly bizarre “Tiger King,” by early winter we were transfixed by a different sort of animal: the graceful octopod of “My Octopus Teacher,” extending her tentacles to make connections that seemed achingly poignant in a time when mere hugs between humans are taboo.

And while live entertainment was tragically curtailed due to the raging pandemic, performers often found their own stages, in endlessly creative ways. A Broadway star serenaded health workers from his apartment window, and ballet dancers performed “Swan Lake” from their bathtubs. There were Zoom proms, drive-in concerts and a host of cast reunions.

And then there was the TikTok guy on the skateboard. Drinking Ocean Spray from the bottle. Singing Fleetwood Mac. For all of us.

A totally selective, appropriately scatterbrained journey through some cultural moments of 2020:

JANUARY:

The year starts like any other ... as if! At the GOLDEN GLOBES, RICKY GERVAIS hosts for the fifth time and seems eager to get home. MICHELLE WILLIAMS speaks passionately of a woman’s right to choose, PATRICIA ARQUETTE about voting, and JOAQUIN PHOENIX about … something. The world mourns the sudden loss of KOBE BRYANT, and ponders a royal first when HARRY and MEGHAN step back from their duties. What will it all mean?

FEBRUARY:

And the Oscar goes to ... was that THIS year? Yep, it was only months ago that “PARASITE” swept the Academy Awards, a historic moment for South Korea and director BONG JOON HO, clearly adored in Hollywood. (If not by PRESIDENT TRUMP, who asks supporters at a rally: “What the hell was that all about?”)

MARCH:

In a landmark moment for the #MeToo movement, HARVEY WEINSTEIN is sentenced to 23 years in prison for sex crimes, the once-powerful mogul led away in handcuffs for what could be the rest of his life. Days later, the coronavirus shuts down much of life as we know it. Binge-watching reaches new heights. “TIGER KING” on Netflix, a story of very big cats and very strange people, becomes the thing everyone can’t look away from.

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