We Stared at the Worm: Pop Culture Moments in 2022

A 12-month look back at what got us buzzing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 31, 2022 2:40 PM CST
The Year of the Slap, the Worm: Pop Culture Moments in 2022
Heidi Klum attends her 21st annual Halloween party on Oct. 31, 2022, in New York.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Taylor Swift was up. Elon Musk was in, out, in, and maybe out again. Tom Cruise was back. Serena Williams stepped aside, and Tom Brady too—oops, scratch that. But the slap? The slap was everywhere. OK, so maybe it wasn’t on the level of a moon landing, or selection of a pope. But henceforth all you need say is "the slap" and people will know what you mean—that moment Will Smith smacked Chris Rock at the Oscars and a global audience said, "Wait, did that happen?" Here, pop-culture standout moments in 2022, as reported by the AP:

  • January: The New York Times buys Wordle, and we’re all thinking in five-letter words (though W-O-R-D-L-E is six, just saying). Meanwhile, it's a month of loss, heading off a year of loss: pioneering Black actor, director and activist Sidney Poitier dies at 94.
  • February: Rihanna is pregnant! Brady retires!
  • March: It's the month of the slap (and Troy Kotsur becomes the first deaf actor to win an acting Oscar). Kim Kardashian is declared legally single again in her ongoing divorce with Ye. And Brady, retired for 40 days, says, "Never mind!"
  • April: It's Grammy time, and Jon Batiste wins big, taking five statuettes. Musk begins his acquisition of Twitter this month.
  • May: Kim K makes a splash at the Met Gala, appearing on the arm of boyfriend Pete Davidson, wearing the same sequined, skintight gown Marilyn Monroe wore to sing "Happy Birthday" to JFK in 1962. Top Gun: Maverick opens, the highest-grossing domestic debut in Cruise's career. Harry Styles fans rejoice: His album, Harry’s House, is here.
  • June: A Virginia jury hands Johnny Depp a victory in his very messy libel case over allegations of domestic abuse, finding that former wife Amber Heard defamed him in a 2018 op-ed. Britney Spears gets married.

  • July: Jennifer Lopez directs fans to her newsletter where she shares pics of her quickie Vegas wedding to Ben Affleck. "Love is beautiful," she writes. "And it turns out love is patient." Speaking of patience, fans of Beyonce are rewarded for theirs with the release of her long-awaited Renaissance, her first solo album in six years.
  • August: Bennifer’s second wedding, on Affleck’s compound in Georgia, is bigger and fancier. One wedding, one split: Kardashian and Davidson are no longer. Queen Elizabeth II dies at age 96 after more than 70 years on the throne.
  • September: Mounting political intrigue in Europe, and by that we mean, did spit fly at the Venice premiere of Don’t Worry Darling? At the Emmys, Sheryl Lee Ralph wins for Abbott Elementary and schools the crowd on the power of dreams and self-belief. Williams says she's stepping aside from tennis, because "something’s got to give."
  • October: Adidas drops Ye, part of a cascade of companies that will sever ties with the rapper over his antisemitic comments. The Musk era begins at Twitter as the world’s richest man carries a sink into the office, to "let that sink in.” Heidi Klum’s Halloween costume is a slimy, glistening rain worm. Taylor Swift drops her new album, Midnights (Spotify's most-streamed album in a single day). Brady and Gisele Bundchen split.
  • November: Did we say last month was Taylor Swift month? Well now, millions of eager fans crowd a Ticketmaster presale for her much-awaited Eras Tour, resulting in crashes and endless waits.
  • December: Love 'em or hate 'em, here come Harry and Meghan again, with a Netflix documentary watched very closely by royalty across the pond. Over at Twitter, Musk says he'll step down as CEO after polling users. James Cameron’s Avatar sequel finally appears, 13 years after the original broke records. Smith emerges to promote his new film, Emancipation, hoping people will forget about ... what was it? ... at least enough to check out the movie.
(Read up on many more 2022 standout moments here.)

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