The Best Of 2012
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 20:01
In a few short weeks, the ball will once again drop in Times Square, ushering in the New Year and with it a new slate of pop culture phenomena. But before the past 12 months are forever confined to memory, The Scene takes a look back at the music, movies, television, events, trends, and people that shaped this year. From a surprise South Korean K-pop sensation to the strange technological fad of Snapchat, from the intimate personal vision of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom to Christopher Nolan’s massive franchise-closing epic The Dark Knight Rises, and from the folk-rap stylings of the UK’s Ed Sheeran to the R&B innovations of our very own Frank Ocean, 2012 provided a plethora of memorable pop culture items. No one knows what 2013 will bring, but we can at least be grateful for this past year’s offerings. And if the Mayans are right and the world comes to an end in a few weeks, well, it’s the end of the world as we know it and we feel fine.
Bringing the country together with a sense of national unity, this year’s summer Olympics, held in London, became an integral aspect of pop culture life, turning formerly unknown American athletes into national heroes practically overnight. Take Ryan Lochte, for example. After his recent successes, Lochte is now one of the most well known swimmers in the world, right beside Michael Phelps. Or, consider the sparkling women’s gymnastics team of the U.S., known as the “Fab Five.” Though it was this past summer that Ali Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Weiber, Kyla Ross, and McKayla Maroney tumbled into the hearts of Americans across the country, their prolonged presence in the media made them a landed fixture in 2012’s popular culture. In addition to other noteworthy events, the girls have appeared on MTV’s VMA’s as well as Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this past year. Bearing in mind their endearing characters and fierce athleticism, it seems obvious how this summer’s Olympians became such a central, loved facet of American identity.
Girl Meets World
A beloved ’90s classic that ran until 2000, Boy Meets World captured the hearts of a generation with its fun, light-hearted, 25 minute-long life-lessons. This year, though, came the welcome announcement that Disney would be producing a sequel to the comedy, titling it, instead, Girl Meets World. The reboot is planned to pick up where the original series left off, after Corey and Topanga married, and center on the life of their young daughter. Both Ben Savage and Daniel Fishel have recently been confirmed as returning parts of the cast, and who knows, maybe Mr. Feeney will even make a cameo. Casting for Riley, the 13 year-old star of the show, is still underway, but a pilot will definitely be in the works soon. One of the most surprising TV announcements of the year, Girl Meets World will have to live up to not only its timeless original, but also, to the high expectations a generation of fans are currently setting.
Although the Saturday Night Live circuit felt considerably dry compared to 2008’s Palin-bashing glory a la Tina Fey, 2012 saw no shortage of the pop culture glory synonymous with the democratic process. College Humor seemingly struck gold with “Mitt Romney Style”—the 3-minute parody depicting Romney dancing through stables and croquet matches, racked up 26 million views on YouTube. Former MADtv stars Key and Peele also won over the YouTube crowd, with a series of Obama satires, making pokes at the president’s self-important rhetoric. Artists took a particularly large role in the election. At the Republican National Convention, director Clint Eastwood made an entire speech directed at an empty chair, symbolic of Obama’s job performance. He later called the president “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z, two of the most prominent faces in music, were the opening act for Obama at several campaign stops. At a rally in Columbus, Ohio, Jay-Z even put a political spin on one of his classics: “I got 99 problems but Mitt ain’t one.”
Founded in 2010 by Stanford graduate Kevin Systrom, the photo-sharing network Instagram made big headlines this year when Facebook bought it for $1 billion this April. Since then, it has grown by 100 million users, thanks to a large part to the extreme popularization of the iPhone this year. Unlike comparable social networks, Instagram’s full features are only accessible via smartphone. The application offers 15 photo filters, transforming images of seemingly mundane Starbucks coffee orders into vintage masterpieces. All photos taken with the app are captured with a 1:1 aspect ratio, a constraint its parent company Facebook has since placed on profile pictures. Meanwhile, another team of Stanford folk launched Snapchat, the “disappearing” photo app. If Instagram is arguably pretentious, Snapchat is strikingly bizarre, granting users the ability to send each other photos, only to have them disappear within 10 seconds of opening. Its creators have assured the press it “isn’t about sexting,” although parents everywhere aren’t quite so sure.