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Top 10 Defining Pop Culture Moments of 2017


Script written by Q.V. Hough

In 2017, these events sparked intense pop culture discussions. From the rise and fall of Jake Paul, to “Despacito” taking the world by storm, to Game of Thrones setting our expectations on literal fire, these are some of the defining moments that shaped our year. WatchMojo counts down ten defining pop culture moments of 2017.

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Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 Defining Pop Culture Moments of 2017

In 2017, these events sparked intense pop culture discussions. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Defining Pop Culture Moments of 2017.
For this list, we’re focusing on the most unforgettable pop culture moments that people were talking about in 2017.

#10: Taylor Swift’s New Album and Persona

In 2017, Taylor Swift once again re-shaped pop culture. First, she released her “Reputation” album cover, a polarizing portrait that immediately inspired internet memes. But when Taylor dropped her new single and video, “Look What You Made Me Do,” she gave the world even more to gossip about, most notably her sexier image and electro-infused sound. If you weren’t sure that a new Taylor had emerged, she makes it blatantly clear with the spoken lyric: "I'm sorry, the old Taylor can't come to the phone right now / Why? / Oh, 'cause she's dead!. Then, she literally stripped down for “ . . . Ready For It?” Were we?

#9: The Rise and Fall of Jake Paul

With over 10 million YouTube followers, Jake Paul has some major internet pull. But he wasn’t always trending for the right reasons. His West Hollywood neighbors weren’t feeling his signature stunts in 2017, although it was clear that Jake and his Team 10 crew were having the time of their lives. There are consequences for such bullying behavior, though, and Jake’s bosses at Disney axed him from his “Bizaardvark” role. It was all fun and games when he was dropping diss videos, but now it’s former Team 10 members, like the Martinez brothers, that are dropping some knowledge on Jake Paul.

#8: “Despacito” Re-Mixes the World

Sometimes we all need to spice up our lives. Early in 2017, Luis Fonsi released the instant Latin classic, “Despacito,” which has now been seen on Youtube about, oh, 70 zillion times. This Daddy Yankee collaboration became an even hotter topic when Justin Bieber appeared on the remix; and even if you don’t understand the Spanish lyrics, chances are that you’ve subconsciously memorized them. “Despacito” remains an ultra-catchy pop culture sensation with a catchy intro and hook and is clearly the signature song of the year. Will they follow it up with another smash in 2018?

#7: “Game of Thrones” Ups the Ante

If you’re not watching “Game of Thrones,” then you need to explain yourself. That’s the common attitude of loyal fans, and even casual viewers, too, as this HBO series continues to scale new heights, both cinematically and thematically. (Although, there are always dissenters, of course.) There are some hella powerful male characters on the show, but it’s the strong female characters like Daenerys, Sansa and Cersei who have the most juice, at least heading into the last season. “Game of Thrones” is a pop culture juggernaut that will destroy ratings when it returns for its final season. Hot take: it’s of the best television series ever produced, if not THE best.

#6: “Moonlight” or “La La Land”?

At the 2017 Academy Awards, the Best Picture category was anything but a lock. The clear favorite was Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” a romantic Hollywood musical which self-consciously evokes classic Hollywood productions. Oscar voters love that kind of thing, right? The answer is yes. But many moviegoers were rooting for Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” with its examination of race, sexuality and identity. For a brief moment, it seemed like a fairytale ending for “La La Land.” But the night ultimately belonged to “Moonlight” – a pivotal achievement for African-American actors, writers and directors. Even the momental mix-up for the ages, with its wrong envelope drama, couldn’t obscure that.

#5: Stephen King’s Cultural Re-Re-Emergence

It was a good year to be a Stephen King fan (then again, it always is, isn’t it?) For months, pop culture was buzzing about the upcoming adaptation of his novel “It.” But while we knew that Pennywise looked scary, we didn’t know how the film would translate to mainstream viewers. The film ultimately killed (so to speak) at the box office and proved that horror has come a long way. It’s no longer about the jump scares, it’s about the psychology of it all – a theme that weaves through Netflix’s other recent King adaptations, “Gerald’s Game” and “1922.” And did we mention “The Dark Tower”? (On second thought, maybe we shouldn’t).

#4: “Get Out” Crushes

Comedian Jordan Peele’s 2017 film “Get Out” is loaded with subtext. A deer is not just a deer, and a dream is not just a dream. With its “sunken place” premise and subtle plot twists, “Get Out” is both thrilling and challenging, a film where horror meets humor. “Get Out” is a movie that sparked not just discussions about the modern horror genre, but about racial politics in America. It’s a groundbreaking film; one that transcends labels and cinematic norms; and it also made bank doing so. Even the Golden Globes nominators got flustered, too, by categorizing Peele’s production as a “comedy.” Yeah, but it’s so much more.

#3: Nostalgia for You

In 2017, movie and TV executives were big on marketing memories. And the 1980s were a prime target. “Stranger Things” once again took viewers back to the era of acid-washed jeans and Ewoks, mixing timely themes of our current era with childhood nostalgia. It was also a year when “Will & Grace” got rebooted after years and years of hibernation, and a year in which “Blade Runner” was given an amazing sequel. Yes, viewers got swept up in a giant wave of nostalgia in 2017, and it was quite the ride, especially if you experienced David Lynch’s long-awaited return to network television.

#2: Wonder Woman and Her Cultural Effect

As usual, superheroes were a very big deal in 2017. But while many blockbuster films affect pop culture trends (and merchandising), “Wonder Woman” took it to a new level. Hollywood’s casting of Israeli actress Gal Gadot was groundbreaking, and she lived up to the hype with a spectacular performance. Just as horror movies raise questions about culture and society, “Wonder Woman” raised questions about a positive heroine’s role in international pop culture. Gal Gadot didn’t just entertain – she inspired a world of movie fans, both young and old. And kicked ass, of course.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Fidget Spinners

Beyoncé’s Pregnancy Announcement

#1: Harvey Weinstein Scandal

Hollywood and the entertainment industry were exposed in 2017. The first domino fell when “The New York Times” published a shocking article about Weinstein’s long history of sexual harassment. From there, multiple victims of the movie mogul came forward with allegations, unafraid to finally speak out. “The New Yorker” also published another damning article, at which point the Hollywood industry forever changed. Day after day after day, a new story broke, as industry secrets were revealed and celebrities like Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Jeremy Piven and many others were called to account. Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot, made a forceful statement, as she refused to work with Brett Ratner. 2017 was the beginning.

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