Taylor Swift was up. Elon Musk was in, out, in and maybe out again. Tom Cruise was back. BTS stepped aside, and so did Serena Williams.
But the slap? The slap was everywhere.
OK, so maybe it was not on the level of a moon landing, or the 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?” Even in the room itself there was a sense everyone had imagined it, which helps explain why things went on as normal, for a bit.
The pandemic was over, phew! Well, of course it was not. But live entertainment pushed forward in 2022, with mask mandates dropping and people rushing to buy things like, oh, Taylor Swift tickets!
We will take any segue to mention Swift, who already had a big year in 2021, but just got bigger – heck, she broke Billboard records and then she broke Ticketmaster.
It was a year of celebrity #MeToo cases, featuring the likes of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein (again), singer R Kelly (again), actor Kevin Spacey, screenwriter Paul Haggis and actor Danny Masterson. And every excruciating turn of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial was captured on television.
Then there was Cruise, turning 60 in ’22, swooping into Cannes in France with his most successful movie and showing that when they tell you “The end is inevitable”, as they do in Top Gun: Maverick, you can always reply: “Maybe so, sir, but not today.”
Will audiences one day find Cruise too wrinkled and past the sell-by date? Maybe so, but not this year.
Our annual, totally selective journey through a year in pop culture:
It is Golden Globes time. But is a Globes with no telecast, boozy celebs or red carpet a Globes at all? The embattled Hollywood Foreign Press Association, reeling from stunning failures over diversity, holds a private event and plans a comeback next year.
Quick, who wins Oscars this month? Well, Coda does, a feel-good drama with a largely deaf cast, and Troy Kotsur becomes the first male deaf actor to win an acting Oscar. Alas, all anyone can talk about is – you know who.
In films, Top Gun: Maverick opens, making the highest-grossing domestic debut in Cruise’s career and his first to surpass US$100 million on opening weekend. Harry Styles fans rejoice: his album, Harry’s House, is here.
Days after the anniversary, that same Netflix series will pause production as a mark of respect for Queen Elizabeth as Britain – and the world – mourns the beloved monarch, who dies at age 96 after more than 70 years on the throne.
At the Emmys, behold Sheryl Lee Ralph, who wins for Abbott Elementary and schools the crowd on the power of dreams and self-belief.
Millions of eager Taylor Swift fans crowd a presale for her much-awaited Eras Tour, resulting in crashes and endless waits. Ticketmaster cancels the general sale, citing insufficient stock. Multiple US state attorneys general announce investigations.
At cinemas, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever meets the double challenge of following up one of the biggest blockbusters in history and losing its biggest star.