The Pop Culture of 2012

By Siobhan Harper

So, 2012. Plenty happened, didn’t it? Now the year’s almost over, let’s wrap up all of the notable pop culture events of the year before we get stuck into that turkey:

Movie Events

This year saw the release of the final installment of the Twilight Saga, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2. Twilight fans came out in force to see their favourite franchise off in style, taking $227.4 million in its first ten days in cinemas.

When one franchise ends, another begins (this time with a much more resourceful heroine): The Hunger Games opened on March 23rd and took $230 million in its first week.  More bow and arrow action was to be had in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, which took over $1 billion worldwide. No wonder DC are now pushing a Justice League movie into production.

Pop Music

How can I even mention pop music without mentioning Gangnam Style? South Korean star Psy seemingly exploded from nowhere and became an overnight sensation on YouTube, thanks to the distinctive Gangnam Style video and accompanying dance. You know you all did it at your office Christmas shindigs.

In other music news, Carly Rae Jepson and Gotye both shot to number one with their breakout hits, ‘Call Me Maybe’ and ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ respectively. All three songs have spawned countless parody versions online (Walk off the Earth’s Gotye cover possibly being the most notable version), and ‘Call Me Maybe’ and ‘Gangnam Style’ were both used in Youtube’s Rewind 2012 video.



2012 was the year that the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James exploded, selling over 65 million copies worldwide. The books have caused the largest love it/hate it divide since, well, the Twilight books that inspired them.  Also they inspired some rather horrendous unofficial merch. I won’t come out and say what side of the fence I’m on, but I will say that I put the books on my Kindle, which then gave up on life. I’m just saying.

J.K. Rowling released her first post Harry Potter offering, The Casual Vacancy. It became the fastest selling book in three years in the UK, and has already been picked up for a BBC drama to be released in 2014. Not bad going, eh?


The biggest event this year was surely the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. Despite the lacklustre UK reception to the news we’d be hosting the event, once we started competing nearly everybody was glued to their TVs cheering on our brilliant homegrown British athletes. The games created stars out of Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis and Ellie Simmonds, just to name a few. The games were also notable for having the first ever female athletes from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Brunei, as well as including women’s boxing for the first time.

In, er, slightly different news, we also saw the premiere of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, following the lives of Alana ‘Honey Boo Boo’ Thompson and her ‘dysfunctional’ family. The show caused division worldwide, with some such as The Hollywood Reporter calling the show exploitation and a ‘car crash’, with others such as the Guardian pointing out that all the female participants in the show appear to be happy in their appearance and circumstances, and in their strong family bonds. Either way, the show has certainly caused a stir.


The Internet

The internet, as always, was a cacophony of memes and reactions to the news this year. There was Grumpy CatUnimpressed McKayla, and Angelina Jolie’s Leg. There were also the more worrying memes, such as Overly Attached Girlfriend and the Ikea Monkey.

One of the biggest events on the net was the Mars Curiosity rover landing back in August. Viewers of the live stream became rather attached to Bobak Ferdowski, the flight director of the mission who quickly became known as NASA Mohawk Guy. Also, several parody Twitter accounts were set up, including the @SarcasticRover, who tweets thing such as, ‘Just analyzed a rock. It was hard. Can I come home now?’

Then there was the whole Binders Full of Women phenomenon. During the second presidential debate, both US candidates were questioned about pay inequality for women. Mitt Romney’s attempt to show he was all for equal opportunities with his slightly bizarre ‘binders full of women’ comment spawned countless pictures, parody reviews of binders on online shopping sites and even Halloween costumes.

Finally, there’s the 21/12/2012 End of the World meme. Because of the way the Mayan calendar has ended, some have come to the conclusion that the world will end on the 21st of December. I for one hope it doesn’t, mostly because this post will probably go up on Friday and if it does end, I’ll have put all this work in for nothing.

Fri, 28 Dec 2012 15:00 (GMT+00)
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