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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/01/2016 (2411 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For pop culture fans, 2015 involved a lot of frenzied, fear-of-missing-out feelings. We were pole-axed by Peak TV, surrounded by Star Wars hype, amazed by the omnipresence of Adele’s Hello, transfixed by trendy podcasts, swamped with celebrity shenanigans.
It would be impossible to compress the glorious too-muchness of this year’s pop culture into a systematic list. But here’s a smattering of the good, the bad and the goofy.
IT WAS A BAD YEAR FOR WOMEN:
Several celebs drew attention to gender issues in the movies. Maggie Gyllenhaal revealed she was considered “too old,” at the advanced age of 37, to pair romantically with a 55-year-old man. Jennifer Lawrence authored an angry essay about her experience with wage inequality. (Sony hacks in 2014 revealed she had been paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle.)
Meanwhile, the best female characters in the summer blockbuster Jurassic World were the velociraptors.
IT WAS A GREAT YEAR FOR WOMEN:
On the other hand, we got an unexpectedly feminist Mad Max: Fury Road, with a buzz-cut, engine-oiled Charlize Theron, as well as Disney’s refreshingly princess-free Inside Out. An all-gal Ghostbusters sequel was announced.
The small screen showcased some great female comic-book characters, from the dark Jessica Jones to the sunny Supergirl, while Amy Schumer continued to deliver filthy, funny feminist comedy.
HARD TO CALL:
And then there was Taylor Swift’s #SquadGoals, a kind of supermodel sisterhood version of female empowerment. We’re not sure if it was bad or good for women, but Camille Paglia calling Swift “a Nazi Barbie” was probably an overreaction.
There were traumatizing maybe/maybe-not character deaths on both Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. The fascinating HBO true-crime series The Jinx showed the shark-eyed Robert Durst seemingly confessing to multiple murders on tape, in what had to be one of this year’s most mesmerizing televisual moments.
Oh, and according to Harper Lee‘s new novel Go Set a Watchman, Atticus Finch is now a racist.
NOT A SHOCK:
Several First Nations actors walked off the set of Adam Sandler‘s Netflix “comedy,” The Ridiculous Six. Despite Sandler’s assurance that the movie was not meant to be offensive to indigenous culture and “the intention of the movie is 100 per cent to just make a funny movie,” the finished product ended up being totally offensive. And also not funny.
WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT:
David Simon turned a bureaucratic battle for affordable public housing in Yonkers, N.Y., into exciting TV in Show Me a Hero, while Aidan Turner made shirtless scything hot again on Poldark. And the animated talking animals in Bojack Horseman somehow pulled off the darkest, funniest Hollywood satire in years.
On the disappointing side, True Detective 2 debuted to extravagant expectations, only to descend into a confounding, convoluted, overwrought mess. (And who the hell was Stan?)
Challenging the long-standing separation of church and coffee shop, YouTube ranter Joshua Feuerstein complained that Starbucks’ plain red and green holiday cups constituted a “war on Christmas.” Atheists shot back, as did some Christians, who suggested that if Feuerstein needed his faith validated by a multi-national coffee chain, then maybe Starbucks wasn’t the one with the problem.
English thesp Tom Hiddleston, asked to imagine a showdown between his fans and the devotees of Benedict Cumberbatch — known as “Hiddlestoners” and “Cumberbitches,” respectively — instead pleaded for peace.
Too bad. We were hoping for a West Side Story-type gang rumble over whose idol has sharper cheekbones and paler skin.
MOST REVEALING CONTROVERSY:
Ashley Madison, a dating website for already married people, was hacked, resulting in a scandalous data leak. But the real scandal was the revelation of the male-to-female ratio, which suggested that the amount of real live woman-type people with active accounts was pretty low. “Ashley Madison is a site where tens of millions of men write mail, chat, and spend money for women who aren’t there,” suggested one analyst.
Several golden celebrity couples split in 2015. Actors Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were sundered by NannyGate. Musicians Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani parted ways.
But for true romantics, the most heartbreaking breakup involved Kermit and Miss Piggy, which came “after careful thought, thoughtful consideration and considerable squabbling,” as the green guy said in his public statement.
Jennifer Aniston married longtime love Justin Theroux in August, forcing the panicked tabloids to find a new “tragic barren spinster who traded love for a career and ended up alone” for their front pages.
ADVENTURES IN BABY NAMING:
Forget names like Emma and Liam, which were the most popular baby monikers for norm-loving non-celebrities. Sam Worthington and Lara Bingle went space-age with Rocket Zot. Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel channelled an old-timey 19th-century-weaver vibe with Silas.
And Kanye and Kim just christened their new baby Saint West, handily bypassing that pesky, paperwork-intensive canonization process.
In July, the Huffington Post announced it would cover Donald Trump‘s bid for the Republican leadership not in its politics section but in entertainment, with “the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.”
By December, with The Donald’s depressingly high polling numbers and increasingly unentertaining racism, misogyny and xenophobia, HuffPo sheepishly moved him back to the politics section.
COLOUR OUR WORLD:
In December, Pantone announced its 2016 colour of the year. Attempting to recover from 2015’s Marsala, widely compared to beef liver and arterial blood spray, the colour institute hedged its bets with not one but two entirely harmless hues, Rose Quartz and Serenity.
BEST USE OF TECHNOLOGY:
Last spring saw the launch of a browser extension that replaces the word “Millennials” with the term “snake people.” Unfortunately, and ironically, many older Interweb users will need a snake person to install it for them.
WORST USE OF ARTISANAL CRAFT:
In the year’s tastiest controversy, the Mast brothers, bearded Brooklynites known for pricey artisanal chocolate, were denounced as the “Milli Vanilli” of the chocolate world. Critics suggested the picturesque origin story of their bean-to-bar chocolate-making lacked veracity. Perhaps even more damning, detractors charged that the Masts weren’t even real hipsters, because before they had beards, they didn’t have beards.
This seems a little unfair. I mean, that’s how beards work.
THE LONG GOODBYES:
On late night television, David Letterman made his final sign-off and Jon Stewart called B.S. one last time.
After seven seasons, Mad Men left us with an image of Don Draper sitting on a California cliff, seemingly experiencing some kind of epiphany. Of course, this epiphany involved commodifying the last gasp of 1960s counterculture by turning it into a Coca-Cola commercial, making this landmark series cynical to the last.
But our saddest farewell was probably to Bing Bong, the unsinkable imaginary friend in Inside Out. Richard Fine, the actor who voiced the cotton-candy-coloured character, revealed the filmmakers cut 40 seconds of even sadder footage, presumably to stop audience members from actually dying of heartbreak.
Updated on Saturday, January 2, 2016 11:37 AM CST: Adds video, photos