20 Major Pop Culture Moments From This Year You’ve Already Forgotten About
Because recalling all of 2018's headlines from memory is an impossible ask
Unless you rented under a rock, there’s no doubt your newsfeed this year was stuffed like a turducken with attention-grabbing headlines. So many, in fact, that no mere human could keep up—let alone remember them all. It’s shame, because, moment for moment, 2018 might have been the most ridiculous year on record—especially on the pop culture front. To refresh your memory, here are the wildest, zaniest, most mind-bogglingly bonkers headlines that dominated pop culture this year.
This year saw its fair share of scam artists, but the story of how Anna Delvey conned her way through New York City’s elite social scene was by far the most fascinating. Delvey, née Anna Sorokin, did what most of New York’s party crowd does: elaborate personal details to give an impression that they’re more important than they really are. However, Delvey’s methods of climbing the social ranks extended far beyond your average narcissist.
Posing as a German heiress, the Russian-born con artist swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars out of wealthy “friends” and business acquaintances while enjoying elongated (unpaid) stays at luxury hotels, crashing exclusive celebrity soirees, and embarking on lavish shopping sprees. Delvey is currently awaiting trial for six charges of grand larceny, where she could face up to 15 years behind bars if convicted, but her infamy remains legendary: Netflix is reportedly developing, in partnership with Shonda Rhimes, a story based on her exploits.
Logan Paul’s Infamous Video
YouTube star Logan Paul received some serious backlash earlier this year after posting a video featuring the dead body of a suicide victim while touring through Japan’s Aokigahara forest, a destination notorious for its high suicide rate. Paul was criticized for his juvenile insensitivity towards the matter, and several petitions were made urging YouTube to delete his account.
As a result, Paul was removed from YouTube’s Google Preferred ad program and several of his video series were cancelled. Paul has since made several apology videos as an attempt to salvage his career and reputation, but a waning interest from advertisers and fans suggest that his internet fame may soon be coming to an end.
Fyre Festival’s Billy McFarland Sentenced to Jail
Fyre Festival was the ultimate scandal of 2017. The celebrity-endorsed music getaway—which promised a weekend of fine dining and swanky parties in the Bahamas—was instead met with lost luggage, unsatisfactory housing accommodations, styrofoam box dinners, and an artist lineup of approximately zero people.
The mastermind behind the scam, Billy McFarland, plead guilty to two counts of wire fraud in March, but an additional charge was tacked on in June after he was caught running a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme while out on bail. Though his lawyers requested leniency due to McFarland’s alleged “mental illness,” the court wasn’t having any of it, sentencing the serial fraudster to six years in federal prison.
Beauty Vlogger Racism Scandal
Even if you’re not a follower of beauty vlogs, there was no escaping the drama that enrobed YouTube’s cosmetic-obsessed community earlier this summer. After several popular beauty influencers came after vlogger Jeffree Starr on social media for his alleged racist sentiments, fans of Starr unearthed several dated tweets posted by the accusing influencers that evidenced their own racism.
The incriminating tweets resulted in a sharp follower decline for the vloggers—including Laura Lee, Gabriel Zamora, Manny MUA, and Nikita Dragun—which, in YouTube language, means a loss in currency. A series of crocodile-teared apology videos were issued after the stings of justice were harshly felt, but many of the vloggers weren’t able to recover from the damage that had been done.
Nicki Minaj vs. The World
The hip-hop community is no stranger to feuds, but rapper Nicki Minaj is involved in them so frequently, it’s almost like she provokes them for sport. A few highlights of Minaj’s many squabbles that occurred this year were with rapper Travis Scott, whom she accused of sabotaging her album Queen’s billboard success, and shoe designer Steve Madden, after a debate over an alleged brand partnership that she claims to have turned down.
The biggest altercation, however, took place at a Harper’s Bazaar party during New York Fashion Week in September, where Minaj and fellow female rapper Cardi B engaged in a very heated argument that resulted in the latter being escorted from the premises.
Azealia Banks vs. Elon Musk and Grimes
Like Nicki Minaj, Harlem-bred emcee Azealia Banks is famous for baiting controversy in the media, but her strangest debacle to date occurred during a stay at Tesla founder Elon Musk’s mansion this summer. Banks was invited to Musk’s house by the singer Grimes, Musk’s then-girlfriend, in what was meant to be a weekend of collaborative track recordings between the two artists. After Grimes ended up being a no show, a disgruntled Banks started spewing intimate details about the singer’s relationship with Musk, including alleged drug abuse and shady investment plans. Banks has since apologized to Musk for dragging him into the feud, but as to what really went down that weekend, still, no one can really say for sure.
The Oscars “Most Popular” Category
A few months back, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a new category for the 2019 Oscar ceremony: “Most Popular Film.” The award was intended to honor outstanding achievements in popular cinema, but the board members didn’t provide any insight on how the films would be selected or voted upon. After a furor of controversy, the board decided to postpone the category, with no confirmed plans of introducing it in future ceremonies.
Since its inception in 2009, Bitcoin had received moderate popularity among financially savvy investors and cryptocurrency enthusiasts. But the e-cash entity became a household name by December 2017 after its price reached an all-time high of almost $20,000 USD.
In early 2018, Bitcoin dominated the global media, inspiring numerous discussion boards, conference panels, op-eds, TV shows, and even clothing lines. Eventually, the widespread mania died down once Bitcoin’s value began to decrease, leaving many amateur investors disappointed and uninterested.
Tide Pod Challenge
The Tide Pod Challenge takes the cake as quite possibly the most absurd of all internet challenges we’ve witnessed over the last few years. The challenge stemmed from a meme poking fun at forum discussions about people consuming Tide Pods due to their candy-like appearance. The meme’s popularity inspired many teens to start filming themselves eating the detergent pods and then daring others to do the same. The challenge eventually subdued after YouTube and Facebook started removing videos that depicted people consuming Tide Pods.
Toys “R” Us Shuts Down
Following its $7.9 billion bankruptcy filing in September 2017, former toy and game mecca Toys “R” Us finally shuttered all of its 800 stores across the country this summer. In addition to over 30,000 layoffs, the announcement ignited a wave of mourning from consumers who recalled fond childhood memories of attending the store. But like the closing of other formerly significant American retailers during the ’80s and ’90s such as Blockbuster, Circuit City, and RadioShack, people were relatively quick to recover (i.e., continue shopping for toys on Amazon).
Aziz Ansari Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Amid the many shocking accusations that sprang up during the #Moo movement, the ones pinned against actor Aziz Ansari in January sparked particularly polarized responses. An article published on website Babe quoted a 23-year-old woman who claimed Ansari coerced her into having sex with him after a dinner date, to which he denied, claiming that the interaction was mutually consensual.
Some sympathized with the unnamed woman’s story. Some, like Bari Weiss, at the New York Times, stood up for Ansari, claiming that he’s not a “mind reader.” While others still criticized Babe‘s reporting as “amateurish.” (According to a CNN report, Babe reporters approached the woman at the story’s center, not the other way around.) For the majority of the year, Ansari kept a low profile—but he recently announced the plans of a loaded standup tour in 2019.
The Rise and Fall of Roseanne Barr
Foul-mouthed comedian Roseanne Barr made what everyone thought was her big comeback this year. After a two-decade hiatus, her eponymous hit ’90s sitcom returned to ABC with stellar ratings back in March. Yet everything came crashing down after Barr tweeted a racist remark about former Barack Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett, which she blamed on weary side effects caused by sleeping pills she had taken. The network quickly yanked the TV show from the air and Barr subsequently faded into obscurity. They have since, however, reinstated a spinoff/continuation starring the same characters from the same plot and timeline, sans Barr, called The Connors.
Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods Album Cover
In January, pop sensation Justin Timberlake revealed the title of his fifth studio album, Man of the Woods, accompanied by a promotional photo of him standing against a horse-laden mountainous backdrop. Humored by the album’s Paul Bunyan-tinged art direction, the internet fired up a plethora of snickering memes complete with several “goes into the woods once” references. It turns out the Pharrell Williams-produced album was inspired by Timberlake’s family and rural upbringing, but that didn’t stop the blogosphere from having a go at their own (hilarious, snarky) interpretations.
McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce Returns
Back in 1998, McDonald’s introduced a limited-edition Szechuan-flavored condiment to promote the Disney animated movie Mulan. More than 19 years later, after it had been discontinued and all but forgotten, the sauce was jokingly mentioned in cult TV show Rick and Morty, causing an uproar in requests for the fast food chain to bring back the dipping sauce. On October 2017, the chain complied—but as a one-day-only promotion at select restaurants, resulting in mass hysteria where demand far outweighed the supply.
In an effort to assuage angry fans, the restaurant shipped more than 20 million packets of Szechuan Sauce to all of its locations back in February. For those who were still unsuccessful in getting their hands on the sauce the second time around, several packets are currently being resold on eBay (with prices ranging from $10 to $15,000).
IHOP Changed Name to IHOb
Restaurant chain IHOP, which you know and love as the International House of Pancakes, caused quite a commotion this summer after revealing it would be changing its name to “IHOb” in promotion of a new burger menu. (International House of Burgers—get it?) Reactions were met with confusion and mockery, and a bevy of memes poking fun at the seemingly unnecessary name change ensued. The restaurant changed its name back to IHOP in July, revealing that the brief PR stunt helped double its burger sales.
Nickelodeon announced this year that beloved ’90s cartoon show Rugrats would be getting a reboot. The network revealed that both a 26-episode season and a live-action movie are in store for 2020, with all main characters scheduled to be featured. Fans of the show rejoiced the news, but it’s unclear whether the newer generation of Nickelodeon TV watchers, most of whom didn’t grow up watching the cartoon, will tune in.
Walmart Yodeling Kid
A viral internet video can make someone’s career just as quickly as it can break it. In the case of 12-year-old Illinois native Mason Ramsey, it’s the former. After a video of the tween yodeling in a Walmart amassed millions of views online in March, Ramsey became a mainstream internet celebrity literally overnight, appearing on talk shows, performing at Coachella, and landing a record deal with a major label.
Drake’s “God’s Plan” Video
Every video Drake releases is certified meme gold. (Who could forget the countless internet parodies that “Hotline Bling” spawned?) And this year certainly had its fill of Drake-related news, but between the widespread acclaim of his fifth studio album Scorpion and his heated feud with rapper Pusha T this summer, the buzz around his “God’s Plan” music video has long been overshadowed.
The near million-dollar video shows Drake doing a series of generous deeds for random residents throughout Miami, donating more than $175,000 of his own money. Fans are always quick to poke fun at Drake’s softy tendencies (and you’d best believe they didn’t hesitate to do so with this video), but at least the rapper put his self-promoting “nice guy” charm to good use.
That Pete and Ariana Photo
No, not the one above. It’s unclear who spotted it (a photo of Ariana Grande licking a lollipop and gazing longingly at her then-fiancé Pete Davidson) first, but we know who popularized the resulting term: The Cut quickly published a screed describing the energy Davidson exudes as “BDE.” (If you don’t remember what that stands for, sorry, no, we won’t be telling you. Google it.) Naturally, the internet went ablaze with the term, singling out celebrities and personal acquaintances whom they felt emanated BDE—and those diagnosed with the opposite, “LDE” (another term we regrettably won’t be describing).
Chloe Kim Wins Big
Yeah, yeah, Sean White won a gold medal in snowboard halfpipe yet again. What’s this? His fiftieth? The truly huge story concerning U.S. Olympian snowboarders in 2018 was that of Chloe Kim, the 17-year-old, back-to-back-1080-busting daughter of immigrants who rode her way to gold in her very first Olympic showing.
Kim’s totally down-to-earth personality, plus the fact that her story was among the year’s most heartwarming stories—her father, who quit his day job to home-school her and take her to snowboard lessons, stood at the bottom of the course, holding a laminated “Go Chloe!” sign—instantly turned her victory into viral news.
Of course, the Winter Olympics are every four years, so only diehard followers of winter action sports are paying heed to her competitions and cinematographic exploits. But mark our words: Once Beijing 2022 rolls around, you’ll be seeing Kim everywhere. And for more feel-good stories from the year that was, here are The 30 Most Heartwarming Random Acts of Kindness from 2018.
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