2015 in review through pop-culture

Abby Patterson, Arts and Entertainment Editor

If Marty and Doc would have time traveled into our version of 2015 instead of the version in Back to the Future, they would definitely still have been surprised, but in a different way. Instead of flying hoverboards, self-tying shoes, and hologram ads, they would have found touchscreen watches, selfies, and hoverboards that are pretty much segways without a handle. They would see people with their noses buried in smartphones, and the movie would turn from an action packed comedy of Marty trying to fight against Biff to a movie about Doc and Marty trying to figure out how social media works and what the best angle to take a selfie is.

2015 overall had its ups and downs, as all years do, and had a large focus on pop culture due to the constant rise of the internet that helped spread information faster. People had a lot to say about everything, and there was always tons of things to have an opinion about.

Media wise, many movies, tv shows, music artists and albums, and video games gained a lot of hype throughout the months of 2015.  As always, there were movies heavily covered by the media, and more under the radar movies that were just as good, if not better. For example, Fantastic Four was a widely discussed and hyped up movie, but generally was thought of as a flop. On the other hand, movies such as Ex Machina and The Gift weren’t as known yet received high praise from all audiences. Not all hyped up movies ended up being bad, though. Mad Max, which came out in summer of 2015, gained a ton of attention and ended up blowing away many people’s expectations.

A lot of movies this past year had focused more on technology and its advancements. Ex Machina focused on artificial intelligence and the dangers of it, The Martian involved space exploration and futuristic technology, and horror movies such as Unfriended were based around modern social media such as Skype. The advancements of technology in movies has been interesting to see, whether it’s physically being used on screen or it’s seeing the huge improvements on special effects. Honestly, watching a cheesy horror or action movie from the 80s and laughing at how horrible the special effects are is now the normal way to watch an old movie, considering how realistic-looking the effects on movies are now. It’s crazy to think about how much effects are going to continue to improve and I can’t imagine what’s in store for future movies.

Focusing on horror movies, 2015 was disappointing for the genre. Many scary movies had their sequels come out this past year, most of which were pretty horrorible. Sinister 2 was more boring than scary, Insidious 3 was a bit hard to follow, and the newest Paranormal Activity sequel was forgettable. Of course, the year ended off with an M. Night Shyamalan horror flick, which did poorly as usual. The movie ended with a twist, but the negative reviews were definitely not one.

Overall, 2015 was a solid year for movies. Movies like Inside Out, Trainwreck, Avengers, Jurassic World, and Star Wars not only proved themselves to be great movies, but allowed for a wide spread of genres for the year.

Many teenagers this year started a trend of staying in being the norm instead of going out. It was cool to tweet about things like staying home on a Friday night, and to take pictures of a tv screen on Netflix and post it to Instagram. This caused Netflix to gain tons of popularity in 2015 and many new tv shows to start off strong and quickly rise the rankings. Along with this, many other tv shows continued on with new seasons that got amazing reviews.

For new series, a show named Mr. Robot debuted in late June and is currently one of the top rated shows on IMDB. The show focuses on a socially anxious man who gets recruited by a mysterious source to hack into things. Marvel started a new series as well, putting out a new superhero show called Daredevil, which made its debut right on netflix and features a blind lawyer who ends up fighting crime. Another new series, Sense8, also made its debut on netflix. The show focuses on a group of people from around the world who unexpectedly become mentally linked to each other. Netflix also announced the fact that it would be starting a series called “Fuller House”, a continuation of the popular 80s tv show, Full House. I’m pretty salty about the fact that they can make a continuation of Full House but not make a modern Seinfeld, but I digress.

When it comes to shows with returning seasons, Louie’s newest season came out great, and it had more comedy than drama, which was a major complaint about its previous season. Louis C.K. also came out with another stand up this year, Louis C.K.: Live at the Comedy Store. I’ve already watched it a few times since it’s so hilarious. If anything Louis just keeps getting funnier and raunchier as the years go by.

Comedy central was firing out some amazing new show seasons in 2015- in addition to Louie, Broad City, Key and Peele, Workaholics, Nathan For You, Review, and more all had new seasons this year with great reviews. Most if not all of the tv shows on the station have already been approved for more seasons. In addition to this, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which aired on FX, started its 10th season, with its 11th season beginning in January 2016.  The show has been going strong for ten years now, and this past season has been rated as one of the best seasons yet, which is an impressive feat for such a long-going show. The season was just as offensive as all the other seasons, if not more, and showed the gang getting into some new situations, such as starring on the game show “Family Fight”, which was an absolute trainwreck.

Other tv series showed their final seasons this year. Two of the most known shows that ended were Mad Men and Parks and Recreation. Park’s last season was set in the year 2017, and showed where the characters were at in their lives at that point. Mad Men’s finale wrapped up most loose ends of the show. I myself didn’t watch the show, but the final episode has mixed reviews since the final moments are very up to interpretation. Obviously tons of other tv shows were aired this year, but the ones talked about in this section were the most talked about during 2015.

Going along with popular assorted media of 2015, thousands of new songs came out throughout the year. Some artists blew up the charts, and some just as talented artists stayed under the radar. Adele came out with her new album, Zayn left one direction, Justin Bieber went from a teen heartthrob to a serious artist enjoyed by many, and Taylor Swift sued a lot of people. In all honesty, there was as much drama in the industry as there was music coming out.

For popular music, it was pretty much the same as every other year. There were the usual catchy pop songs that would be amazing at first, but get overplayed by the radio and eventually just be extremely annoying. A decent amount of Taylor Swift songs were on the charts, along with Adele and Justin Bieber songs as well.

The world of rap and hip hop was much more interesting. Fetty Wap went from totally unknown to a popular and loved artist who got hit by car and still continued making music. Even after this untimely accident he still has the drive to produce and better himself. Drake came out with his new album, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which of course was amazing, as always. He also became an accidental meme when he released his music video for Hotline Bling. His dancing was ridiculous and amazing and honestly he deserved all the jokes he got from it. Drake also got into some beef with Meek Mill, which was all over twitter for a week or two. Remember Meek, it’s 2016 now. Let this year be your tour not your girl’s tour.

There were some other hip hop artist fights, but those fights happen all the time and every year. Of all the drama and amazing music produced from the genre, though, I think the most important thing that came from hip hop this year was the rise of DJ Khaled. His keys to success are extremely important and he is an inspiration for many. A close second to Khaled’s importance, though, was everything about Kanye West. Yeezus announced that he would be running for president in 2020 and I honestly could not be happier. To wrap all things rap up, a lot came out of the genre this year and a lot of memes were made because of it.

In 2015, the alternative genre ended up making up a lot of the popular music on radios. A ton of previously little known artists got their shot at being in the top charts. Twenty One Pilots used to be pretty obscure, but now their song “Stressed Out” is played on radio stations all the time. Tove Lo and Halsey, two female artists, got their big breaks this past year and are now loved by tons of people. WALK THE MOON, a band which used to be hardly known at all, are now almost as huge as bands like one direction. To me, they were definitely better when they were little known and had only their first album out, but the band is still producing great music. This year really seemed like a great one for alternative music. It makes sense, though, since ‘grunge’ culture is coming back so it’s getting more popular to like unpopular bands and music. It’s great for the alternative artists, too, since they finally get their chance to be heard. A lot of great songs came out this year, and it’ll be exciting to see what songs and artists get popular in 2016.

In 2015, all the promises of amazing new video games finally came about. Game designers, producers, and hardware manufacturers had promised for years that we would be getting great games consistently, but for nearly two years there was a drought of software that had failed to impress critics and passionate gamers. With games like Fallout 4, Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, and Grand Theft Auto 5, console gamers finally got some solid games to play and were given an excuse to waste all of their money on video games.

Fallout 4, the 6th installment in the critically acclaimed post apocalypse originally created by Interplay then adopted by Bethesda , centers around a character of your choice, male or female, who is cryogenically frozen and sent into the future hundreds of years in search for your son, who was stolen from your spouse at gunpoint during your period of deep freeze. Fallout 4 proved its celebrated spot in gaming history by astounding gamers for continuous months after its release with its hundreds of hours of discovery, crafting, and head-cutting-off, body-gone-in-a-flash-of-lasers action packed adventure.

In classic clockwork fashion, yet another Call of Duty was released, this time set even further in the future, and titled Black Ops 3. This title was actually received by the community as a revival to the series, as it stuck to its roots of a strong single player campaign, with a side of classic zombie action, and a vast array of exciting new multiplayer maps and game modes like Uplink, a sports like game where teams must throw a ball (drone) into their team’s Uplink to receive points, with the team scoring the most goals winning. This new game mode has let the world of competitive call of duty have an exciting game to watch for all spectators. There were hundreds of video games released throughout the year, some amazing, and some not-so-amazing. With the advancements of technology, the games were more realistic than ever before and overall the year was a great one for video games.

Since it’s a thing for pop culture to kind of repeat itself through the years, it makes sense that 2015 had a lot of grunge culture. And legwarmers. We’ve been taking our fashion sense straight from the 80s and 90s. Overalls came back in style for a bit, fuzzy socks with boots are what most girls wear on a daily basis (also because of the fact that it’s so comfortable), and flannels straight from 90s grunge era are extremely popular along with ripped jeans, converse and dark makeup. A lot of people laugh at styles from the past, but honestly we just end up making those styles popular again. We laugh at people who had mullets in the 80s, but some popular hairstyles now will probably be laughed at the same way (manbuns?). Pretty soon, we’re all gonna look like characters from Seinfeld since their clothing was the definition of 90s fashion.

One huge pop culture subject this year that didn’t repeat from past years, but actually just really gained traction in 2015, was memes. The word “memes”, though, has many different definitions and is a completely different idea between people. To moms on facebook, it’s motivational quotes placed next to images of minions from Despicable Me. To most people on twitter, it’s roasting people and making “starter packs” for things. To people outside of social media, it can be anything from pictures of Tim Allen to Spongebob animation frames to referencing Seinfeld in everything. Lots of things were made into memes this year, such as Donald Trump, John Cena, Shia Labeouf, and even Kanye. As always though, the memes became soon overused and started on their way into obscurity. But, memes were very important this year, as they should be, and will continue to rise in popularity.

Pop culture not only shows what happened throughout the year, but it also does a great job of portraying how people think. In 2015, pop culture and social media provided a way for people to talk about anything and everything. Not only did it become popular for people to strongly voice their opinions all over the place, but it was also a year where people really wanted to relate to each other. A lot of posts on twitter and such would say things such as “#growingupwithstrictparents” or “like if you’ve felt like this before” just mostly a lot of posts where the point was to relate to each other. Although this year was also known as the year where people got offended really easily, you can really see our generation trying to relate and bond with each other and it’s refreshing to see.

A lot of major events and ideas came about this year. There was always a plethora of subjects to discuss with heated debate and in turn there was never a dull moment. Hopefully 2016 will be just as great if not even better, with its own new memes, songs, movies, games, and all of the media we enjoy whether it be celebrities embarrassing themselves or the next presidential candidate saying the most scandalous gaff yet (looking at you, Trump). This new year will see a lot of change. We have a more divisive country, a harsher global landscape, and a new world leader coming into play. These outside forces will keep us on edge and even more involved with the world through our interaction with the global community. 2015 allowed us to be the young generation with the loudest voice in history, setting the stage for 2016 being the year we show our power as a group.