Dear Santa: My 2021 Pop Culture Christmas Wish List

Dear Santa: My 2021 Pop Culture Christmas Wish List

I’ve always been split on the concept of composing a wish list for Christmas.

On the one hand there’s no arguing against the ruthless efficiency of the practice; the guarantee against Christmas morning hopes being dashed through the snow. For the gift-giver, having a list to adhere to eliminates all kinds of stressful second guessing and streamlines the shopping process— in that sense, writing out a list of presents one yearns to receive could almost be viewed as an act of Christmas charity.

But something about the exercise has always struck me as vaguely mercenary, something that too starkly reveals the commercialized and capitalist bones of what is supposed to be a warmhearted exchange of goodwill. Sure, your expectations are met, but there is something lost in having set expectations at all, in reducing your loved ones to the role of glorified Amazon delivery worker.

As a child, I negotiated this paradox by rarely asking my parents for anything specific— trusting instead that my strong personal branding would guide them in the right direction, namely towards books and Barbies— but always helpfully itemizing things for Santa, who, I reasoned, had the added burden of a billion or so extra children to keep track of. I did always add the incredibly Canadian caveat that I would be happy with whatever Santa chose to bring me if, for any reason, he was unable to fulfill my wishes, which I hope my mother appreciated while committing her recidivist acts of mail fraud.

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The 8 Best Pop Culture Moments of 2020 (A Midterm Report Card)

The 8 Best Pop Culture Moments of 2020 (A Midterm Report Card)

I’ve never complained about writer’s block in my life. I haven’t always loved the jumbled rhythm of words that sometimes result from halfheartedly stabbing at my keyboard, but the point is that the words have nevertheless consistently come out. Like a scratch card game where everyone’s a winner, even if sometimes “winning” just means one or two dollars. 

Since embarking on my journey as a blogger, however, I have discovered that I am prone to severe cases of poster’s block. The words might be there, but the necessary assurance that they’re worth reading is often not; particularly in this upside down year, with all its chaos and scrapped plans and upheaval. Words sometimes don’t seem to be enough. 

To that end, I’ve found myself more on the receiving end of content these days, which has meant a lot of listening, and a lot of watching. Towards the end of last year, I naively wrote about pop culture being our last unifying force, and the important bonds we could forge from these shared experiences. I think we can all agree that 2020 has given us a greater number of experiences to share than anybody ever wanted– particularly since they’ve tended to involve more video conference calls and anxiety attacks than blockbuster movie premieres. Still, in the absence of plenty of life’s other trappings, this year pop culture has taken on an outsized role in how we have connected with each other, and I believe many of these pop culture moments will be what stand out, decades from now, when we can finally bring ourselves to reflect upon 2020. I thought maybe that made them worth writing about, worth reading about, worth remembering. 

{A couple of caveats: though I titled this piece “The Best Pop Culture Moments of 2020”, I have made zero attempts to be thorough or objective in my choices. In fact, some of this year’s most memeable content– Tiger King, for instance, or Animal Crossing– are items I haven’t gotten around to quite yet. So you may find the experience of perusing this list to be akin to being shown around Rome by a tour guide who neglects to take you to the Colosseum or The Vatican. 

Or, considering we’re dealing with 2020, a tour guide fashioned after the Charlize Theron character in Mad Max: Fury Road, if instead of ferrying women to safety she chose to use her war rig for sightseeing. “Look at this desert wasteland!” I cry, rapturously pointing out sandstorms and salt flats while ignoring the din of war drums growing louder. “Isn’t the apocalypse grand?”}     

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