19 December 2023

The 10 biggest pop culture moments of 2023

Our review of the biggest, best, and most viral events from a very messy year.

Congratulations! You’ve made it through one more year on our good old spinning rock. To say it’s been a hell of a ride and pretty turbulent at times would be an understatement..

In the UK, we’ve had another terrible year of the Tories. Notable moments include but are not limited to: Suella Braverman finally being sacked, David Cameron returning to politics and Rishi Sunak pretending to be a podcast bro and interviewing Elon Musk for his socials? Beyond our shores, we saw the writers’ strikes stall the production of our favourite shows and the world’s largest iceberg broke free from Antarctica.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, and we have some big pop culture moments to thank for that. The Lionesses made it to the World Cup final, Stormzy and Maya Jama officially got back together and the Beckhams dropped a Netflix doc to remind everyone of their eternal ‘it’ couple status.

We know. It can be hard to remember what happened yesterday, let alone the last 12 months when all you do is scroll scroll scroll, so let us run you through the biggest pop culture moments of 2023.

Barbenheimer 

It was arguably the biggest event of 2023. A surprising cultural phenomenon emerged around the simultaneous release of the Barbie movie and Oppenheimer. There were back-to-back cinema viewings, specially-made outfits and most importantly, memes. Both films exceeded box-office expectations and Ryan Gosling stole the show with his performance as ‘Ken’.

The time the Titanic tour submersible went missing 

In June, a submersible vessel went missing with five people on board during a deep dive to the Titanic, triggering a frantic search for the ship in a race against time. Sadly, this story ended in a way that no one wanted and the vessel was reported to have imploded. OceanGate’s CEO (the company behind the Titanic tours) Stockton Rush, French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet, British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his teenage son Suleman Dawood were all victims of the tragedy.

The rise and rise of Bryan Johnson

Some of us were forced to learn about Bryan Johnson against our own will because his emaciated face has been absolutely everywhere. The tech billionaire spends two million dollars a year to look young because he’s hell-bent on living forever. This year, he announced that he was swapping blood with his 17-year-old son. According to Time, he outsources every decision to a team of doctors and downs 111 pills every day, wears a hat that shoots red light on his scalp, collects his own stool samples and sleeps with a tiny jet pack attached to his penis to monitor nighttime erections. He thinks any act of accelerating his age, like eating a cookie, is an “act of violence”. Time to clear out the snack cupboard we guess.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s iconic ski trial

In March, a Utah jury unanimously ruled that Gwyneth Paltrow wasn’t at fault in a ski collision more than seven years ago. She was sued $300,000 by retired optometrist Terry Sanderson. Paltrow countersued for $1 and legal fees, insisting she wasn’t guilty. As she left the courthouse, she touched Sanderson’s shoulder and told him, “I wish you well”. A phrase for the ages.

Prince Harry’s all-revealing memoir

In January, Prince Harry’s long-awaited memoir Spare was finally released. The reviews were mixed and revelations were plenty. We found out about how Harry lost his virginity in a field, his tense relationship with his brother and his reflections on his mother’s shocking death. If you’re yet to read it, expect a lot of uncomfortable confessions about his time in the army and comments about his “todger”.

The Met Gala cockroach

There were striking looks at the Met Gala this year, but no one stole the show like the cockroach that ran up the stairs. You might have wished to be the cockroach that night; we sure did. Yet sadly, it was stepped on shortly after. May its soul live long in internet virality.

Sam Smith’s inflatable latex costume

There’s not much to really say about this one. Just look at it. It’s extreme in every sense of the word.

Fitzroy garage sesh x boys at the pub

It first happened in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia; a group of young guys filmed themselves having fun at a party in a garage for a couple of TikTok videos. Pretty innocent but incredibly cringe. Then, the cringe travelled all the way to England, where a different group of lads filmed themselves chatting, laughing and drinking pints outside a pub in Soho. Both incidents caused social media outrage because of their contrived “coolness”, with people roasting the boys with comments like “nightmare blunt rotation” and “one of the hardest watches of the year”. Ouch.

 

The Tube Girl 

Talking of TikTok, the Tube Girl, aka. Sabrina Bahsoon, made a real name for herself by filming her journeys on the London Underground. Instead of desperately avoiding people’s eye contacts like most people on their commute, she filmed herself dancing, with the windows acting as wind machines. Her videos racked up millions of views and people have loved her confidence and authenticity.

@sabrinabahsoon

Personally i think I’m slaying and trusssttt nobody cares #tubegirl shoutout to all the people who say hi while i made the videos - you make my day 🥰 #tubegirleffect

♬ sexy ass cars - frʌns

Stormzy and Maya Jama getting back together

Stormzy and Maya Jama initially broke up in 2019 after being together for five years, he spent what felt like an eternity grovelling, and they’re finally back together. Fans pieced things together months before they officially announced it, stitching together pictures of their summer holidays and figuring out they were staying in the same villa. Who doesn’t love love?

  • Writer Chris Saunders
  • Banner Image Credit Warner Bros. / Barbie

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