Ah, 2012. The long-dreaded year that the world would end. Linsanity was taking over, Will and Kate were pregnant, and veteran Korean superstar PSY had the whole world dancing to Gangnam Style.
It’s hard to believe about ten years have gone by since these iconic cultural cornerstones, but if you want to feel a little old, or just need to put things into perspective about how much the world (and yourself) has changed, here’s a few things that turn ten years old this year.
The big screen
The Avengers premiered in April of 2012, and essentially tied the first big knot in what would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s web. In fact, trilogies were starting and ending all around— aside from the Avengers, the first Hunger Games movie premiered in March, and we said goodbye to Christian Bale as Batman in July through Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. We also bid farewell to the Twilight Saga, Madagascar series, and Andrew Garfield’s iteration of Spider-Man.
Movie musicals like Les Miserables, Pitch Perfect and Rock of Ages hit the screen, with the first even copping a few Academy Awards for Sound Mixing and Makeup. The Oscars’ Best Picture nominees of films from 2012 also included Ben Affleck’s Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained and Life of Pi.
2012 in film was a hodgepodge of mainstream blockbusters and niche genre flicks, and reflects a time in cinema where movies were coming out left and right in theaters, and not on streaming platforms.
While we all love to put on some Netflix, there’s something to be said about the fact that most limited series or films coming out on streaming services these days would have had wide theatrical releases ten years ago.
Perhaps it’s just the evolution of filmmaking in the face of the pandemic, but I think it’s safe to say we all hope we can experience regularly seeing movies in theaters again.
The year started with Series 2 of BBC’s Sherlock— when I first realized it, I wasn’t that surprised. “Yeah, 2012, that sounds about right.” Then I found out a few days later that Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place aired its final episode a few days later, and I was stunned for a moment.
2012 in TV was an interesting transition for me personally: shows from my childhood like Wizards, Gossip Girl, iCarly and House, M.D. were ending, and some of my new “grown up” picks were starting to gain traction. Aside from Sherlock, TV also saw the season two return of Game of Thrones and American Horror Story, proving that just because you don’t hit a sophomore slump, doesn’t mean your show is safe from going downhill in later seasons. (I kid. Sort of.)
Back in the days where people actually liked watching televised fashion shows, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber and Rihanna (God, we miss her) performed at Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, where Alessandra Ambrosio wore the fantasy bra.
Tunes from 2012
The rise of the Tumblr Girl also led to alternative music seeping into the mainstream– Neon Trees’s Picture Show, Lana del Rey’s Born to Die, and Passion Pit’s Gossamer are just some of the indie albums that were somehow getting radio airplay in Cebu in 2012.
In pop music, Carly Rae Jepsen topped the charts with “Call Me Maybe”, and probably had just as much people singing and dancing to it as “Gangnam Style.” Icona Pop’s “I Love It” and Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” were also constantly on the radio, almost infuriatingly providing the soundtrack to so many car rides to and from school.
Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” was playing in all the clubs, where you could probably hear Avicii’s “Silhouettes” and “Calling” by Alesso & Sebastian Ingrosso at one point during the night.
Hip-hop history was made in 2012 when Kendrick Lamar made his debut with a major label with good kid, m.A.A.d city. Pretty much every track was a hit, with “Swimming Pools (Drank)” even earning a Grammy nom for Best Rap Performance nearly two years later.
Listening to music is arguably a much more visceral experience than watching films, so it’s no surprise that some of these old tracks had a greater nostalgic effect than movies from ten years ago.
Ten years is a long time, but I’m sure everybody would agree that the years have quite literally just flown by. I bragged about my perfect memory in my adolescence, and grew up thinking that I was going to remember everything that was happening around me. Growing older, coupled with the mental exhaustion and time-warping of the pandemic, made it so much easier to forget things easily. (Sometimes it made it preferable, too.)
Taking a look back at what life was like ten years ago is an interesting look into the life thirteen-year-old me was living. I can barely remember a lot of the things that happened, or conversations I swore I wouldn’t forget, or nights I thought I’d remember forever. But I can remember the music I had on repeat then, the movies I used to go see, the breaking news I would see on Twitter and Facebook.
People like to rag on the whole nostalgia thing, but as I’ve gotten older, I found that looking back doesn’t have to be a sappy, they-don’t-make-’em-like-this-anymore experience. Sometimes it’s just nice to remember what it was like the first time you saw or heard something, and remember how things were, and how they’ve changed. If 2012 really was going to be the end of the world, I think it’s safe to say we were trying to go out with a bang.