The Chronicle’s Decade in Review

Closing the door on the past decade, three Chronicle editors take a deep dive into the early 2010s to look into the moments that defined the decade.

 

MOVIES

“Crazy Rich Asians”

Although the Oscars maintained its time-old tradition of being white-male-dominated, some movies in Hollywood finally delivered the diversity audiences have been craving. It’s hard not to point to the 2018 film comedy-drama “Crazy Rich Asians,” starring Constance Wu and Henry Golding, based on a book by Kevin Kwan. The film was made up of an all-Asian cast for the first time in 25 years in Hollywood blockbuster history, and shocked movie executives when the film became wildly popular, grossing $238.5 million in the box office, plus a spin-off film to be shot in 2020. – Alexandra Yetter

“Eighth Grade”

Bo Burnham’s 2018 directorial feature film debut, “Eighth Grade,” was unquestionably the most influential movie of the decade in my eyes. I might be biased because I got to interview Burnham himself before the premiere, but critics seem to agree with me, as the movie has a coveted 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is funny, breathtaking, heartbreaking and beautiful all at once. The score by Anna Meredith is also deeply compelling and emotional with a sharp sense of humor, and as a disproportionate number of movie composers are men, this kind of representation is a subtle but exciting detail. – Miranda Manier

“Get Out”

In his breakout first film, Jordan Peele—beloved “Key & Peele” comedian—smashed both cinematic stereotypes and expectations in “Get Out” (2017). What was so utterly beautiful about the film—save for the cinematography, acting and casting—is that Peele resisted all clichés and stereotypes. When they would arise, such as in the buddy-cop best friend character, portrayed by comedian Lil Rel Howery, they were so over done and apparent that some moments could even be viewed as satire. Peele marinates this aspect with hard-hitting, socio-politically-aware themes that scream at the audience to take notice of them. If any viewer left the theater feeling the same as when they entered, they simply were not watching the film. – Margaret Smith

 

TV SHOWS

“Game of Thrones” 

Looking back at the “best of” lists from 2011 to 2019, a “Game of Thrones” season tops nearly each and every one. Not only did it rake in billions in sales, but it made actors like Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington household names. And when the final season premiered in 2019, more than 44 million people worldwide—myself included—tuned in to see who would finally sit on the iron throne. (Note: “Game of Thrones” also makes my list for most disappointing series endings ever, right next to “How I Met Your Mother.”) – Alexandra Yetter

“Atlanta”

If you don’t know about Donald Glover’s meteoric rise to stardom, you haven’t been paying attention. From his early days writing for “30 Rock” to his lead role on “Community” to his groundbreaking musical alter-ego Childish Gambino to, of course, his role in this summer’s “The Lion King,” Glover has quickly risen in fame. But to me, his largest impact has been on the TV industry through his stunning FX show “Atlanta,” which follows his character’s rise in the rap industry in the city of Atlanta. The show is unlike anything I have ever seen before, and episodes such as season two’s “Teddy Perkins” exemplify the show’s strange, raw and vulnerable tone. – Miranda Manier

“Portlandia”

In an era when comedians and viewers alike say comedy cannot exist without hounding on the same cliché, culturally and socially inappropriate themes—“Portlandia” defied all of that nonsense to create wholesome, too-real sketch comedy. Airing January 2011, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein—co-creators, co-writers and co-stars—peeked into every crevice of Portland, Oregon, and brought it to life. With Brownstein and Armisen both playing recurring characters in roles such as lovers, best friends, small business owners and even goths, the show strikes the real and sometimes dry funny bone in every one of us. With the series premiere and finale all taking place within the decade, it’s safe to say this series stole the hearts and laughs of its cult following. – Margaret Smith

 

SONGS


“Let It Go” (Elsa a.k.a Idina Menzel)

No song, save for “Let It Go,” sung by Idina Menzel as Elsa in the 2013 Disney film “Frozen,” has captured more hearts—or brains annoyed—with its catchiness. The Oscar-winning song has become an anthem for children, the LGBTQ+ community and feminists. – Alexandra Yetter

“Run Away With Me” (the incomparable Carly Rae Jepsen)

Listen, you can’t hear those first few notes of horn at the beginning of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Run Away With Me” and tell me you don’t get the urge to grab the hand of someone you love and sprint off into the night. It’s a toe-tapping, waist-wiggling hit, and I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise. – Miranda Manier

“Aquarium” (Easy Mac)

Many people college age, or slightly older, can look back on one artist and remember him for truly shaping their generation: Mac Miller. Miller was more than a famous musician—his music reached out to people, many of whom were hurting in some way, and spoke to them like a friend or confidant. Before his devastating death in September 2018, Miller crafted numerous albums including “Watching Movies with the Sound Off,” a masterpiece of its time that explores the highs and lows of Miller’s life. The song “Aquarium” from this album speaks to the idea of idealization in current times and how fleeting life can be when we endlessly follow these romanticized ideas. Both a submission to this concept and a warning sign for it, Miller fluidly speaks to his listeners over an easy-going beat. – Margaret Smith

 

INVENTIONS

Impossible burger

Along with climate activism, the 2010s also saw the mainstream rise of veganism, which brought along with it the invention of plant-based substitutes. The Impossible Burger is just one plant-based burger to have graced the markets, and the Impossible Burger 2.0 was even placed on TIME’s 100 best innovations list for 2019. The faux-burger has also made its way to Burger King’s menu, solidifying its reach out to a once-hard-to-find diet. – Alexandra Yetter

Rideshare services

When I was in high school, I would visit Chicago every few months, and my friend and I had no idea how the “L” worked yet, so we would take taxis everywhere. It was awful. Uber was founded a little over ten years ago, in March of 2009, and honestly nothing has been the same since. There are some difficulties with the ride-hailing industry, including mistreatment of drivers and safety concerns for riders, but the convenience it has brought into all of our lives is hard to refute. – Miranda Manier

Patreon

The year is 2013, and up-and-coming artists and creators are hit with something life-altering—a platform that will regulate some of their income. “With a subscription-style payment model, fans pay their favorite creators a monthly amount of [the fans] choice in exchange for exclusive access, extra content, or a closer look into their creative journey,” according to the company’s website. Any type of regulation for a creative is more than enticing. The market of demand is always fluctuating, and knowing you have “fans” there for you, supporting you monthly, affords a little bit of comfort and breathing room. – Margaret Smith

 

FASHION MOMENTS

Handmaid’s dress

Although Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” had been around since 1985, Hulu’s 2017 TV show adaptation of the book spawned a newfound pop culture appreciation for the dystopian drama. With the show’s mainstream popularity came the token red dresses and white bonnets worn by the Handmaids. The feminist ensemble quickly became popular among activists, with demonstrators donning the costumes during protests, including outside the hearings for then-Supreme Court Justice candidate Brett Kavanaugh, solidifying the gown’s place in pop culture and politics. – Alexandra Yetter

Tumblr girl clothes

Remember thigh high socks with Doc Martens and a pleated American Apparel skirt? How about mustard yellow Kanken backpacks shrugged on over a thrifted, oversized sweater? An edgy graphic t-shirt and mom jeans? For all these things, we have the aesthetic of Tumblr girls to thank. These trends borrow heavily from the ’90s, and honestly, I’m here for it. A little bit grungy and a little bit preppy, my high school wardrobe was pretty much copied from the blogs I followed—and looking around campus, I would wager most Columbia students’ wardrobes still are. – Miranda Manier

Fenty Fashion Show

Robyn Rihanna Fenty, renowned musician, actress, businesswoman and, most recently, fashion designer, put on a show the fashion world truly had never seen. The Savage X Fenty Show, held in September of this year, was a lingerie fashion show that was broadcast for all the world’s enjoyment. The kicker to this extravagant display, which featured musicians, dancers and models, is that the show put a spotlight on women, men and gender-nonconforming people of color as well as people of all different body types more than ever before—something that other shows like the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” never dared to do to that extent. Rihanna, an icon in every pursuit of hers, has inclusivity at the forefront of her ventures. To this ever-so-lovely, driven and brilliant creative, we can wait for the music, girl, as long as you keep feeding us this kind of content. – Margaret Smith

FIGURES

Greta Thunberg

In 2018, a teenage girl with Asperger’s syndrome began skipping school every Friday to sit outside the Swedish Parliament to bring awareness to the climate crisis. One year later, Greta Thunberg, at just 16 years old, has jump-started a global youth environmental movement, mass climate strikes across the world and substantive discussions among some political leaders on how to tackle the climate crisis. –Alexandra Yetter

Ryan Murphy

To young, queer people, producer Ryan Murphy has always been a fabled, iconic figure. “Glee” was a hot mess, but it was a hot mess with the first romantic relationship between two teenage girls that I ever saw on-screen, and for that, it will always hold a place in my heart. Since “Glee,” though, Ryan Murphy has turned TV upside down and managed to make less of a mess with each of his new creations. He has produced cultural hit after cultural hit, including “American Horror Story,” “The Politician,” and—my favorite—“Pose.” Through these shows, Murphy has strayed away from the tokenistic characters and themes that were trademarks of “Glee” and has instead created truly nuanced diversity. “Pose” is a show of nearly entirely black and brown trans women and gay men, which is unheard of. Ryan Murphy has helped change the TV game forever. – Miranda Manier

(Second Term) Barack Obama

Though former President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, for the sake of this amble through the decade, we will focus on his second term. Usher in the inauguration in January 2013. Hand on the Bible, President Barack Obama looked into the eyes of the country with promise. However, this is not to say that the former commander-in-chief did not have his share of obstacles and downfalls. Pitted against him were events like the government shutdown of 2013; the Flint, Michigan, water crisis; and, of course, the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, which happened just after his reelection. Though, we will never forget all the countless good acts as well: boosting federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 in 2014; attempting to make healthcare more achievable for those without access; and making strides to prepare us for imminent and already onset climate crisis. For these moments and the fond memories we say, and this time without the sarcasm, “Thanks, Obama.” – Margaret Smith

POLITICAL MOMENTS

2018 midterms

In 2018, women broke records when the highest number of women were elected to political office during the midterms, largely in response to President Donald Trump’s 2016 election. More than 100 women were elected to Congress across the nation, including the now-infamous “Squad”—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). – Alexandra Yetter

Dr. Ford testifying

In September of 2018, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford stood in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and recounted her alleged rape at the hands of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Regardless of whether or not you believe her, the evidence is insurmountable that Blasey Ford lost a great deal for telling her story: She had to move four times within one month after her testimony due to death threats against her and her family, and she was unable to return to her job at Palo Alto University. Blasey Ford’s impact on survivors of rape—as well as the impact of those who responded to her with hate and skepticism—could have ripple effects for decades to come. – Miranda Manier

Legalization of gay marriage

To add another notch to the presidential belt of Barack Obama, he did what morally and rightfully had to be done—he federally legalized gay marriage in June of 2015. To the uproar of applause and joy and—on that day—silencing of opposition, the U.S. Supreme Court granted this right to same-sex couples. It was a long, painful and treacherous journey to get to that point and by no means are there equal rights for LGBTQ+ folk, but on this day, people could rejoice in the fact that their government finally recognized them. The push for equality is always uphill, and moments like this are milestones in a winding journey to justice for humanity. – Margaret Smith

SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

#MeToo movement

In 2017, The New York Times published an article detailing decades of sexual harassment and assault by Hollywood kingpin Harvey Weinstein. What followed was unprecedented: people from across industries, income levels and celebrity statuses came forward to say it has happened to “me, too” as part of a social media movement started by activist Tarana Burke to support those who have experienced sexual violence. Although there were many important moments in the 2010s, the #MeToo movement marked the end of a decades-long pattern of silencing victims to start a national conversation. – Alexandra Yetter

Climate crisis movement

Ten years ago, if someone mentioned the climate crisis, most young people would think of the “South Park” depiction of Al Gore and ManBearPig: ridiculous, absurd and obscure, without any real threat to reality. Now, young people are leading the charge in protests and rallies for legislation. The growth that has come from this issue has been deeply influential, creating public support for bills such as the Green New Deal and Illinois’ Clean Energy Jobs Act. – Miranda Manier

Social decriminalization of pot

Can anyone really believe that pot, reefer, the devil’s lettuce has been socially decriminalized come 2020? And more to the point, as of the next decade, it will be legal in a number of states, both medically and recreationally. If you told my hometown high school stoners who would smoke under the bridge during lunch period that they could do so in Illinois legally—though there is some red tape—come this next year, they would’ve thought they were smoking something stronger than just marijuana. It’s incredible the way time and generations alter perception, what was once deemed unimaginable evil is now something anyone over the age of 21 can do just for giggles. – Margaret Smith

WEIRDEST MOMENTS

Russia hacking election


Remember that super weird thing that happened when former Special Counselor Robert Mueller concluded in testimony before Congress that Russia hacked Facebook in order to use political ads to ensure Trump’s election in 2016? Yeah, that was SO awkward for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. – Alexandra Yetter

Fyre Festival

Honestly, I don’t know what’s weirder: Fyre Festival itself, or the documentary war that broke out between Netflix and Hulu as they tried to capitalize on the 2017 failed festival’s story. This was made entirely possible by the nature of social media, and in hindsight, it feels like an episode of “Black Mirror.” The logline: Rich and beautiful influencers get flown out to what’s supposed to be a luxurious, Instagrammable vacation, but ends up almost as bad as “Lord of the Flies.” In January 2019, Netflix and Hulu both released documentaries on the festival flop, with competitive release dates and exclusive interviews. It was basically a follow-up “Black Mirror” episode where the joke isn’t on the rich influencers. Instead, it’s on us, the consumers hungry to read about their humiliation. – Miranda Manier

Ted Cruz sharing Twitter porn

Yes, you did read that correctly. In September 2017, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) “liked” a pornographic tweet on his account. Now, while this is not the same as outright tweeting pornography, “liking” a tweet is enough to have it pop up on someone else’s timeline, showing a certain user interacted with the tweet. After followers were outraged the senator would share such a thing, the tweet was removed from his page and reported to Twitter. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The conservative senator could make as many half-baked claims of it being an accident all he wanted, but Ted, the truth is, we know this was just to distract from you being the Zodiac Killer. – Margaret Smith

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