2013 in pop culture: an educated guess

I largely ignore pop culture. It’s not that I hate everything other people like—video games is the one medium-wide exception to my general ignorance, and I’ll sometimes swoop into a TV show entering its final season on time to finish with everyone else or just lag one season behind to watch it all at once—t’s just that I’ve usually got other shit to do.

But what this means is that I typically only experience what everyone else is seeing first-hand through the lens of tweets and Facebook statuses. So here’s what I can remember about what I learned this year.

In music, David Bowie released an album around about March, and more to the point, he’s actually good again.

After that, there was a song at some point called Blurred Lines that some people found really rapey. Whether it was objectively rapey or not, Robin Thicke launched a feminist revolution, and radio stations played the shit out of it anyway.

Some time later, at an awards show, Miley Cyrus had sex with Beetlejuice on stage, and people started falling over themselves to condemn or praise her for it. Sinead O’Connor and Amanda Palmer started writing letters to her. Also she released an album about the demolition industry.

And you might be racist if you support her dancing.

Throughout this era, I think, Kanye West released an album about being Jesus. You might be racist if you don’t like it or him. There was also a video with horses, motorcycles, and nude Seth Rogan fucking Kim Kardashian.

I know who Seth Rogan is because I saw some movies with him in once, but I’m still unclear on who Kim Kardashian is. I’m sure she’s immensely talented, however, judging by the number of times I saw her name. It was usually associated with Kanye West and not, so far as I can tell, any movie, book, album, or other work of art that she herself created, but there’s surely something I just missed.

Anyway, Kanye West’s album redefined the music industry and involved such topics as racism, slavery, and being a god.

Justin Timberlake released something too, which I know because the clerk at HMV told me, with a half-smile that admitted I wouldn’t be interested but that he had to ask anyway, that because I spent whatever amount buying blu-rays of 2012’s Game of Thrones season I could get it at some discount. I didn’t hear much about it besides that, so I’m assuming it was average to bad.

Maybe about here, there was the apparently annual novelty song about what a fox says.

And then I think there was an album by The Arcade Fire that can only be fully appreciated while in costume or formal wear. Seems a little pretentious to me.

I think something happened with Katy Perry? I don’t know, she probably wore too few clothes or said something that offended someone.

Anyway, R Kelly released an album about underwear, and everybody suddenly remembered he’s a sex offender who goes after teenagers after apparently having looked the other way for the past decade. Hands were wrung over whether it’s “okay” to like his music even if the person himself is obviously a terrible human being.

And then Beyonce surprise-released an album with no notice or traditional marketing which was revolutionary (even though plenty of smaller acts have done the same thing) and which also had a video for every song (now you’re just showing off). One song was about giving a blowjob, I think. She was simultaneously praised as the greater woman-empowerer on the planet and Platinum Tier Feminist, and What’s Killing Feminism  depending on who you talk to.

That’s it for music.

As for TV, to get it out of the way, I did keep up with The Walking Dead and finished Breaking Bad with everyone else, so I’ll not mention those.

Otherwise, the year saw Dexter end, and almost nobody was happy with it. From this, I’m going to assume that he wasn’t caught or killed, because that would be the only really satisfying ending. So I’m guessing he took his boat out to international waters with Deb where they finally consummated their love and he lives as a fisherman, trading fish for boat gas in South America.

A lot of political hacks and wannabe-political hacks loved House of Cards, as they all imagined themselves working for the U.S. government and shitting all over democracy because politics is fun.

Orange is the New Black is a show on Netflix about women in prison having a lot of sex with each other. Girls is a show about “real” women having a lot of sex. There was one episode that a lot of people found a little rapey and over the line, but others thought it was portrayed well. Both of these shows have done very well this year.

Game of Thrones finally aired the Red Wedding, which as I gather, shocked and shattered the dreams of those who hadn’t read the Song of Ice and Fire books enough to know that George R. R. Martin kills your best friends. On a related note, A Dance with Dragons was finally released on paperback this year, allowing me to start catching up with the series I’d last seen clear on the other side of my degree.

I imagine Mad Men kept chugging along, but I could never get through the first season, after which I’ve been told it gets much better. As far as I know, the show is still about drinking whisky and selling cigarettes.

From what I have heard, Downton Abbey is about the probably risque and naughty adventures of the servant crew of a 19th Century British country estate. I’d bet there’s an episode where the cheeky chambermaid and a foul-mouthed but lovable cook are having sex in the bedroom of the manor’s Lord, and have to hide in a closet as he enters with a woman who is not his wife, and then worry about what they do with the information given that revealing it might jeopardize their own secret relationship.

And that’s about as much as I can remember for music. So finally, movies.

The first one I remember hearing about was Olympus Has Fallen, in which judging from the poster, America assumedly mistakes its seat of executive power for the mountain that the Greek gods live on and then burns it. Morgan Freeman plays the president and gives a rousing speech to Gerard Butler who plays a gritty secret service agent who will stop at nothing to defeat the terrorists. Meanwhile, Aaron Eckhart plays a bureaucratic type or intelligence analyst who has to contribute to the cause with his mind. Charisma, strength, and intelligence. The classic role-playing game trio of characters, these three are ready for any challenge.

No female characters are important enough to be on the poster, so I’m also assuming that the wives or girlfriends of Eckhart and Butler play a token largely off-screen role, and that Morgan Freeman plays the first openly gay president and has a crush on Butler.

With the phenomenal Twilight series over, Stephenie Meyer’s masterpiece The Host was released. Nobody cared.

People did care about Iron Man 3, however. As the third movie, it probably wrapped up all the important plot threads and themes, while leaving one or two minor things open “just in case.” Robert Downey Jr. said some amusing things and fought some dudes. At some point he almost died but was saved at the last moment and came back to win the day.

Star Trek: Into Darkness came out, during which the Enterprise went on another adventure. Kirk swaggered, Spock battled with not having emotions and Bones complained about being a doctor, not being other professions. JJ Abrams probably dialled back all those god damn lens flares after everyone told him that yes, actually, it was annoying. Beyond that, all I can say about the rest of it is that Benedict Cumberbatch took off his clothes and those whose sexual orientations cause them to find men attractive became extremely aroused.

Someone decided it would be a good idea to film a big budget version of The Great Gatsby. The reaction was mixed, so the movie probably didn’t totally shit on the original, but fell far from really putting forward its message. Either way, a lot of people failed to get the message so much that they actually held parties in the style of Gatsby.

In The Fast and the Furious 6, one gang of street racers challenges another to a car duel. The winner would earn the rights to street race throughout whichever city it’s set in, while the losing gang would be reduced to a shameful life of doing drugs and putting car drugs in their cars to make them go faster—but also furiouser.

Also an actor from the series died in real life. The Fast and the Furious 7 will take a detour and will be a cautionary tale about the dangers of going too fast and being too furious.

The Hangover 3 was inexplicably released, which features a collection of handsome rich men waking up the day after a party in an expensive hotel room with no memory of what happened. They will try to figure out what happened the previous night, which involves first being chased out of the hotel by an exotic cat. Somebody will get captured by drug lords, while another will find that they somehow got married to an ugly stripper. They will also comically stumble around and vomit on each other for the first half hour because they’re still basically drunk.

It’s fucking hilarious.

Man of Steel was okay.

White House Down was Olympus Has Fallen all over again, only the president is younger, and they cut out the Eckhart character to focus on the blossoming relationship between Channing Tatum’s character and Jamie Foxx’s president.

The Lone Ranger wasn’t very good. Johnny Depp plays the Native American version of quirky Johnny Depp, and you might be racist if you’re okay with that.

Adam Sandler felt like one Grown Ups movie wasn’t enough, so he and a who’s who of lazy comedy play a bunch of grown men acting like children while their wives watch, put their hands on their hips, and sigh. There’s a heartwarming lesson in there that you probably should have learned about before you made it to seven, but hey, never too late—especially if you want to learn heartwarming lessons accompanied by gross things.

Sometime after Gravity tore everyone a new mindhole, Ender’s Game made it out of development hell. They probably took out the naked shower fight scene, and the twist was given away early. Harrison Ford was gruff and old. Most people who enjoyed the book found out what a dickhole Orson Scott Card was afterward and felt too dirty to see the movie. Other people probably got bored of watching a kid play a video game.

There was a new Carrie movie because kids can’t be trusted to watch old things.

Someone started work on a Mandela movie when they heard he was getting sick a while ago, and struck gold with the timing. It probably made a lot of money. Relatedly, we also found out this year that every country besides South Africa itself always opposed apartheid and always supported Mandela. It’s a goddamn mystery how it lasted so long and why he spent almost three decades in prison given this new information, but it is what it is.

Anyway, The Hunger Games had a new movie that was probably a pretty okay adaptation of the books, while Peter Jackson submitted to audiences a magnificently long piece of New Zealand masturbation, the second part of a trilogy formed from a single children’s book. In a few more years, he’ll probably ask to be allowed to refilm The Lord of the Rings trilogy, making the point that if he can squeeze a trilogy out of the Hobbit and have people pay for it, he could probably get (at least) a trilogy out of each of the three Lord of the Rings books now that he really thinks about it, and needs a project to keep him busy literally until he dies.

And that’s it. That’s what I think happened this year.

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