Culture Crash 21-01

Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

It’s no secret that 2020 was a year none of us are ever likely to forget. From the pandemic and Black Lives Matters protests to the election and the beginning of vaccination campaigns, it was a year in which very little happened for many of us on a personal scale, but so much happened on the national and international stages.

Yes, I watched and read more news than I probably ever have before in 2020, but a seemingly never-ending lockdown thanks to the pandemic meant I also had more time than ever before to dive into music, movies, books, TV and video games. Thanks to the dire circumstances of the world outside my apartment, in 2020, I frequently found myself wanting to escape into fiction or dive into a book to learn my history and gain perspective on the essential topics of the day.

For all of those reasons, the media of 2020 are likely to hold an odd place in my heart. High-quality movies like The Trial of the Chicago 7 simply popped up on my Netflix page, and great shows like The Queen’s Gambit took the culture by storm. But we also all spent about a month obsessing over Tiger King and my social media pages were often strange Saturday Night Live bits that were sometimes funny but often failed to capture the true oddity happening all around us. 

Music often transports me to a time in my life. I can’t hear Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon album without recalling my days in high school driving around with that CD in my car. Every time I hear Genesis, I think of my dad doing chores around the house when I was a kid, and I’m sure I’ll never be able to hear Taylor Swift’s Folklore or Evermore without recalling 2020.

2021 is upon us and hopefully, things will look a lot better over the coming months, but as it stand, I’m grateful for the books, movies and more that kept me company in 2020, and I hope that when they do transport me back to last year, I can remember the refuge these cultural works offered me in such a trying time.

I’m Evan Rook.