2018 has been an incredible year for memes and a nostalgic pop culture resurgence. Here are my picks for the best of the year, month by month.
If you’re not familiar with Twitter’s top meme of the week, allow me to paint you a picture. Imagine a photo of a grape with it’s skin delicately peeled back and tiny surgical instruments hovering above its surface. In the bottom right corner of the image is the text, “They did surgery on a grape.” A Facebook caption runs along the bottom of the image, reading, “They did surgery on a grape.” Superimposed over the photo is a Snapchat caption, stating — well, you get the idea.
"She-Ra and the Princesses of Power" is one of the best cartoons of 2018. A reboot of the original 1985 series, the new "She-Ra" (headed up by "Nimona" creator Noelle Stevenson) updates the show’s familiar themes of heroism, friendship and empowerment to the present day. There’s magic, charming characters, innovative technology and a really cool sword, which frankly is all I need to bite on a series.
I have lived in a lot of places. In the past year and a half, I’ve spent no more than four consecutive months in one location, and as a result, there’s a small set of cities to which I feel personally connected. I lived in Los Angeles for three months and then spent a semester in Minneapolis. I studied abroad in southern France for a semester and then moved to New York City for the summer. Visits to my hometown have been sprinkled in the transitional periods.
On Nov. 1, the official Burger King account tweeted the following exchange: “him: it’s only a month / waifu: ………..” followed by the sobbing emoji. I had to reread the tweet a few times before I realized Burger King had ostensibly tweeted about No-Nut November. I have some feelings about it: confusion, resignation and awestruck rapture. In that particular order.
TikTok is a Vine-adjacent video platform that allows users to film themselves lip-syncing to songs in short, 15-second clips, which can be shared with other users. Although the app launched in 2016, it only came into its heyday after TikTok’s parent company, the Beijing-based Bytedance, acquired Musical.ly, another app that allowed users to share lip-sync videos. However, along with the merger came Musical.ly’s largely female, U.S.-based teenage user base.
Last week, The New York Times broke news of a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services. In the memo, the department argued in favor of a unilateral definition of gender determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The department furthered in the memo that individuals would be defined as strictly male or female, gender would be determined by “immutable biological traits” (i.e., genitalia and other sex characteristics), and gender was unchangeable unless proven otherwise by genetic evidence.
This past week, I undertook what was probably the most ridiculous project of my burgeoning journalism career. After having my interest piqued by the Lime and Bird scooters littered across campus, I rode exclusively electric scooters to and from campus for an entire week.
The University of Minnesota College Republican’s bridge panel was vandalized this past Friday night or Saturday morning for the third year in a row. As a seasoned paint the bridge veteran and senior at the University, I am exactly the opposite of surprised. In the past three years — from basically the 2016 elections that made President Donald Trump the head of state onward — UMNCR has filled its panels with generally incendiary rhetoric.
Last Wednesday, I stood in a packed arena, my skin becoming sticky with sweat as I yelled my voice hoarse. My roommate, a friend and I had driven six hours that day from Minneapolis to catch BTS, the biggest boy band in the world, on the second day of its Chicago tour stop.