The Five Biggest Pop Culture Stories of the Year

From Hollywood scandals with stars like Kevin Spacey to celebs taking their Trump hate too far, it's been a shocking time

by Zachary Leeman | Updated 02 Jan 2018 at 9:21 AM

This was the year that never slowed down or quieted down — especially in the world of pop culture.

It’s also hard these days for a news story of almost any kind to pass without a reaction from a celebrity in one way or another.

There are arguably more eyes on the entertainment industry than ever before, and the easier access to content and social media bridges the gap between consumer and creator today — so pop culture stories are more widely spread and consumed by Americans now.

Here's a look at the five biggest pop culture stories from 2017, all of which involved prominent people and contained twists and turns.

1.) Harvey Weinstein. The explosive October New Yorker tale about the producer's decades of alleged abuse inside Hollywood kicked off the now fiery #MeToo movement. There were accounts of sexual harassment and assault — and accusers, including high-profile actresses like Ashley Judd, risked a great deal by going on the record.

Numerous women have since come forward with further accusations against Weinstein. Many have claimed he even held back their careers or threatened them when they refused his advances.

The man who was once one of Hollywood's most celebrated producers and discoverers of great new talent (including Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) will now have a reputation forever marred by the alleged predatory activities he tried so hard to keep quiet. The Weinstein stories kicked off what has now become near-daily accusations against high-profile men in the public eye.

Related: Five Great Movies to Watch This New Year's

2.) Kevin Spacey. While many people were accused of sexual misconduct after the original bombshell report on Harvey Weinstein, the celebrity to arguably gain the most attention and face the fiercest professional consequences was Kevin Spacey.

The two-time Academy Award winner was dropped from his popular Netflix series, "House of Cards," and replaced and edited out of the Oscar contender "All the Money in the World," which is in theaters now.

After he was accused of pedophilia and assault by "Star Trek: Discovery" actor Anthony Rapp, Spacey released a statement that inspired very little confidence. Spacey did not completely deny the allegation — and he also used his public response as an opportunity to officially come out as a gay man, a fact many people said had been widely known for years.

It was a clear attempt to manipulate the headlines — and it worked in some corners. But overall, it's far too difficult to hide from accusations like these today.

Many other men have since come forward with stories of alleged sexual misconduct by this same actor. It's safe to say that, like Harvey Weinstein, Spacey has suffered too sharp a fall to make a comeback in a town where reputation is everything.

Related: The 10 Films of 2018 That Should Be on Your Radar

3.) Kathy Griffin. Many critics of President Donald Trump have arguably stepped over certain lines with their digs at the chief executive, but comedian Kathy Griffin went to a place where even fellow liberal friends like Anderson Cooper could not follow.

When behind-the-scenes footage of a photo shoot was posted online showing Griffin posing with what was supposed to be a replica of the president's severed and bloody head, tons of people criticized the comedian for going too far in her creation of an ISIS-style video.

The Secret Service investigated Griffin, and she apologized in a press conference that fell flat, mostly because she had joked the fallout would be so big from what she did that she and the photographer would need to escape the country and live in Mexico.

But when that fallout came, she couldn't handle it. Griffin now tries to stand by the photos, but it only makes her look worse considering the original tearful apology video in which she said she multiple times that she went "too far."

Griffin was dropped as a New Year's Eve host by CNN. She lost a sponsorship deal and has understandably had trouble booking any gigs in the United States.

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4.) Madonna. In a year that was full of ridiculous celebrity statements criticizing the president, the pop singer's comments at the Women's March in Washington, D.C., still manage to stand out.

Madonna told a crowd in January that she'd fantasized about blowing up the White House after Donald Trump was elected president. The comment kicked off a year of kooky celebrity political statements and even led to the "Vogue" singer's investigation by the Secret Service.

5.) Kendall Jenner. Few commercials ever command the attention that Kendall Jenner's April Pepsi ad got. The promo, which depicted Jenner in a generic protest against seemingly violent cops appeased by a Pepsi, immediately went viral when it hit the internet — inspiring endlessly amusing memes and gifs.

The commercial was tone deaf in so, so many ways. Pepsi eventually apologized for the ad and pulled it. Looking back now, one can see it was actually a unifying moment for the country. The commercial was so bad, so air-headed and so wrongly executed that everyone hated it — liberals, conservatives, people in the middle, apolitical people. Rather amazing.

Feel we missed something? Let us know! PopZette editor Zachary Leeman can be reached at [email protected]

(photo credit, article images: Women's March, CC BY 2.0, by S Pakhrin / Ariana Grande, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Emma)

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