2023 recap

2023 recap

Another year has passed but another is approaching. 2023 was a huge year in pop culture. From Barbenheimer memes to Trump getting arrested, this is a recap of some of the big events this year. As Will Smith once said, “It’s rewind time.”

On Jan. 28, a huge balloon from China started flying across North America. When the balloon was first spotted, the Pentagon classified it as a surveillance balloon but the Chinese government claimed it was a weather balloon that simply got off course. 

“I’m a little bit surprised at how long the U.S. let it travel and get that far into the U.S.” stated junior Abishai Merchant.

On February 4, the U.S. government shot down the balloon. Debris from the balloon was recovered and analyzed by the FBI, and it was discovered that the balloon had intelligence-gathering equipment but had yet to send any back to China. This incident increased tension with the U.S. and China. 

Super Bowl LVII took place on Feb 12, 2023, in the State Farm stadium in Arizona. The game was the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. The Chiefs beat the Eagles 38-35. The results of the game were very controversial. Towards the end of the game, the Eagles received a holding call but many viewers disagreed with the call and claimed that the referee was wrong for calling it. If the Eagles didn’t receive this call, they would’ve had a big chance of winning the Super Bowl for a second time.

“It was terrible,” stated junior Robert Lemmers in response to the call the referee made.

On May 6, 2023, King Charles III was crowned at Westminster Abbey. This has been a tradition in England for the last nine centuries and is the first time this ceremony has been held since 1953. This coronation displays royalty and is performed before many world leaders. The ceremony is the culmination of decades of hard work and perseverance from King Charles III.

On June 18, 2023, an OceanGate submarine imploded on a trip to visit the wreckage of the Titanic. OceanGate is a private company that provides submarines for tourism, industry research, and exploration. The submarine that imploded was being used by rich businessmen who wanted to visit the Titanic. The submarine reportedly imploded because of a huge loss of pressure, killing all five passengers. OceanGate suspended all voyages for the rest of 2023 but plans to continue in 2024. This incident spawned a lot of memes because most people thought it was a stupid idea to send commercial submarines to see the Titanic, and the internet joked about the Titanic beating humanity a second time.

“I think it was a real shame. It was kind of a weird thing to be doing in the first place, but there was a surprising lack of empathy for them after they died because they’re rich,” Merchant stated.

This year marked the 52nd birthday of Grimace, the loveable purple mascot of McDonald’s. This year McDonald’s decided to celebrate Grimace’s birthday by releasing a special limited edition Grimace shake. The Grimace shake was berry flavored and released June 12 and would last until July 9. 

“It was a purple masterpiece,” said Lemmers.

This shake became insanely popular after a TikTok trend called “#grimaceshake.” This trend would feature someone trying the grimace shake and then ending up in peculiar situations. An example of this trend would be someone reviewing the Grimace shake but when they take a sip it cuts to them lying down on the ground with a puddle of purple liquid around them. This trend was so popular even celebrities like Courtney Cox made their own videos. The Grimace shake trend boosted Grimace shake sales and also Grimace’s popularity.

Junior Grant Swayngim says the memes got “pretty boring after a while and thankfully they’re gone now.”

On July 21, 2023, two hugely anticipated movies were released, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.” These two movies were anticipated but for two very different reasons. “Barbie” is based on one of the most popular toys in the world and has an all-star cast including Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, Will Ferrell, Michael Cera, and America Ferrara. 

“Oppenheimer” is directed by one of the greatest directors of our generation, Christopher Nolan. Nolan has directed critically acclaimed movies such as “The Dark Knight,” “Inception,” “Interstellar,” “Dunkirk,” and “Memento.” Besides Nolan directing it, “Oppenheimer” was anticipated for its all-star cast including Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Robert Downey Jr., and Matt Damon. In addition to the cast and crew, “Oppenheimer” was a biopic of Robert J. Oppenheimer, creator of the atomic bomb. 

These two films releasing on the same day was a big deal because many thought they would hurt each other at the box office. However, these two films were hugely anticipated, but they are also very different films. It became a meme to do a double feature with “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” back to back. This became the “Barbenheimer” double feature. Part of the meme was dressing up wearing pink to see “Oppenheimer” while wearing black clothes to see “Barbie.” 

“I had a lot of fun being able to experience both movies on the same day. Seeing crowds of people in pink in Oppenheimer, and groups of people cosplaying 1940s scientists walking out of a Barbie show was like nothing I’d seen before,” said senior Noah Dawley.

These memes became very popular and even the cast and crew acknowledged it. Both films succeeded at box office expectations. “Barbie” was expected to make $90-$120 million but made $162 million in its domestic opening weekend, and “Oppenheimer” was expected to make $45-$50 million but made $82.4 million in its domestic opening weekend.

“Since I work at a movie theater, I saw a couple people come and go for ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ and it was kinda funny how their outfits contradicted each other,” said junior Brayden Bolger.

 “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” led the July 21–23 weekend and together grossed $310.8 million, making it the fourth-largest combined domestic weekend ever. “Barbie” would continue to make $1.442 billion worldwide and “Oppenheimer” made $953.3 million.

“Movie fans really won that day, getting to experience two really great original films kind of rejuvenated the movie industry in my eyes,” said Dawley.

Four indictments were filed against Donald Trump in 2023. Two of those indictments were state charges while the other two were federal charges. The March indictment in New York included 34 criminal charges of faking business records in the first degree. The June indictment in Florida included 40 criminal charges alleging mishandling of sensitive documents and conspiracy to obstruct the government. The August indictment in Washington D.C. included four criminal charges of conspiring to defraud the government. The August indictment in Georgia included 13 criminal charges related to alleged attempts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. The trials for the indictments are scheduled for March 25, May 10, and March 4, 2024. The Georgia indictment is yet to have a date for the trial. Due to the indictments, on August 14’ the Grand Jury of Fulton County, Georgia, issued an arrest warrant against Trump. Trump surrendered himself to the authorities and was taken to Fulton County jail. He received a mug shot there that went viral online.

“It was a pretty good mugshot,” said Swayngim.

“Fortnite” was one of the most popular games of 2017 and 2018, becoming a staple in pop culture. But as the years went by, “Fortnite” was slowly dying. People stopped playing “Fortnite” because they kept updating the game and adding new features that very few people liked. Chapter Four was this year, and it was an all-time low for “Fortnite.” The company kept adding new features to try and get players back to the game, but it wasn’t working. Chapter Four only lasted four seasons, ending Nov. 3. 

Lemmers said Chapter Four was “pretty bad.”

Epic Games was desperate to try and get their players back to the game, so after Chapter Four, they did something fans have been begging to do for a long time. They brought back the map from Fortnite’s early prime. Fans have wanted Epic Games to bring back the OG map for a long time, the OG map was nostalgic to many, and seeing it return would bring a lot of happy memories. The return to the OG “Fortnite” map was in addition to an OG miniseason that included an OG battle pass. This OG season lasted from Nov. 3 to Dec. 2. “Fortnite OG” was met with a massive positive response. The Saturday it came out had 44.7 million players playing. This was the largest number of players since the early days of “Fortnite.” 

“OG season revived ‘Fortnite,’ it made it one of the best games of all time,” stated Lemmers.

The end of “Fortnite OG” included a live event that would transition into Chapter Five. So many players were trying to go into the live event at the same time, so the servers crashed and only a few players were able to play it. In response to this incident, Epic Games announced that they will be replaying the live event so everyone will have the opportunity to experience it. Chapter Five launched on Dec. 3, many thought that “Fortnite” would fall off again after “Fortnite OG,” but they were quickly proven wrong. Chapter Five, season one introduced a train going around the map, a Peter Griffin skin, a Lego game mode, a new racing mode, and a Guitar Hero mode. 

Lemmers thinks this new season is “pretty good.”

The launch of this new season reached 44.7 million players, the same as “Fortnite OG.” The future of “Fortnite” has never looked brighter.

On Oct. 7 a group from Palestine known as Hamas led an attack on Israel that killed over 1,200 people and 240 were taken hostage. Israel responded to this attack by declaring war against Palestine and aggressively attacked. Over 18,000 Palestinians have died since Israel’s attack and the war is still ongoing. This war is in response to over 100 years of conflict between Israel and Palestine starting with the Balfour Declaration. The Balfour Declaration made Israel a national home for the Jewish people, the only problem was it was going to give some of Palestinians’ land to Israel. Palestine inhabited that land for over 100 years, so naturally the citizens were upset with the declaration, but Israel thought that they rightfully deserved the land. So for the last 100 years, there has been an ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. So far, there is no end in sight for the war, but many are hoping to call a ceasefire. 

“Skibidi Toilet” is a series of videos on YouTube made by Alexey Gerasimov. This series follows Skibidi Toilets, toilets with human heads inside of them, in a war with humans that have cameras and radios as heads. This series got popular because of how crazy and unpredictable it is. 

“It’s so creative on a whole other level,” said Lemmers. 

The show also has a very unique style of animation that some compare to a mobile game. “Skibidi Toilet” has also received a lot of backlash due to people not watching the show and just making fun of it for its animation and humor. 

On Nov. 30, 2022, ChatGPT was launched, and ever since that day, the world hasn’t been the same since. Even though ChatGPT was released in 2022, it only started gaining popularity in 2023 during the Spring semester. ChatGPT is an AI that can write anything you tell it to. This has been a big problem for schools because students started to use ChatGPT for their schoolwork. 

“I use ChatGPT, but not for my schoolwork,” said Swayngim.

AI has gotten so massive that President Biden issued an executive order to limit the development of AI. A lot of big companies are looking to use AI to its full advantage, many wanting to replace workers. Writers and actors went on strike for this very reason. Big Hollywood studios were looking to use AI to write movie scripts and use AI to generate actor’s faces. The studios met both the actors’ and writers’ demands after 100 days and put restrictions on AI usage during production. Many still fear the development of AI because AI gets more powerful every day, and every day is more likely to take someone’s job.

On Mar. 17, 2023, Taylor Swift began her Eras Tour. The Eras Tour would go through Swift’s different albums as her eras and lasted until Dec. 8, 2024. Tickets sold out almost immediately and went for over $5,000 each. Swifties were going crazy over this tour and were willing to kill for a ticket.

“It was a really good experience; I have no complaints. It was worth the $600 it cost to go there,” said sophomore Brianne Jones, who got the opportunity to go on the tour.

The tour was a huge success for Swift, so much so, that it garnered a feature-length film to release. “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” was released in theaters on Oct. 13, 2023. This film used footage from her concerts so viewers who weren’t able to go to the concert could experience it. This movie was a huge success, grossing over $200 million worldwide.

“There were a ton of Swifties, and all the bracelets and stuff were interesting, there were just hoards of Swifties that burst in as soon as it opened,” said Bolger. 

At the same time as the Eras Tour, Swift started dating football player Travis Kelce. This brought a lot of popularity to Swift because the NFL started to advertise Swift’s appearance at the games. This brought Swift to an entirely new audience, and also introduced football to people who might not have followed the sport before.

Overall, 2023 was a year that was packed with events that everyone heard about. From the Grimace shake to the Chinese weather balloon, 2023 made a huge impression on pop culture.

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    RileyJan 10, 2024 at 9:25 am

    A masterpiece