By Jasmyn M. ’23
The year 2020 will definitely be one to remember. It has been a crazy year unlike any other, and most will associate it with a worldwide pandemic or an important election. But, like everything, there is a silver lining. In fact, 2020 brought us many silver linings. Here are some good things that happened in 2020, ranging from worldwide movements to small acts of kindness.
- Shakira and Jennifer Lopez performed at the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show. The reason behind choosing them was intended to reflect the Latin culture of Miami, the Super Bowl’s location. Shakira and J-Lo were also joined on stage by guests Bad Bunny, J Balvin, and Lopez’s daughter, Emme Muñiz. The performance became the most-watched Super Bowl halftime performance ever on Youtube.
- Parasite won four awards at the 2020 Oscars and made history as the first international feature film to win best picture. It is a South Korean comedy thriller written, directed, and produced by Bong Joon-Ho. The movie was also the first South Korean film that has received Academy Award recognition.
- Billie Eilish swept the Grammys, winning five awards. Eilish won Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, and Best Pop Vocal Album. The first four of those are known as “The Big Four,” all of which Eilish made history in as the youngest winner.
- Drive-in movies made a comeback and drive-in concerts were introduced. Drive-in movies were a big part of American culture in the 1950s, but the craze died out as a result of the convenience of mall society and the flexibility of times and weather around movie theaters. According to the United Drive-In Theatre Owner Association (UDITOA), as of October 2019, only 305 drive-ins remained in the country. But during the pandemic, a resurgence of the activity looked promising and eventually happened due to the appeal of a shared entertainment experience with a socially distant environment. As for the drive-in concerts, at the beginning of the pandemic, artists were trying to perform for their fans using livestreams, but in June, a series of shows called “Live From the Drive-In” sparked a new idea. Drive-in concerts were the closest thing to normality that could be managed for musical performances with safety measures included, and they turned out to be a big success.
- Musical artists had more time on their hands, and many used it to create more music for us. Listing all of the amazing music released would take pages, but here are just some of the albums released. Taylor Swift and Eninem released two surprise albums each in 2020. Dua Lipa released Future Nostalgia, Lady Gaga released Chromatica, The Weeknd released After Hours, Meghan Thee Stallion released Good News, Ariana Grande released Positions, Louis Tomlinson released Walls, Chloe x Halle released Ungodly Hour, Circles by Mac Miller was posthumously released, Niall Horan released Heartbreak Weather, Lil Baby released My Turn, Lil Uzi Vert released Eternal Atake, Bad Bunny released El Último Tour del Mundo, and there are so many more!
- The protein folding problem, a challenge that has stumped scientists for five decades, has been solved. The protein folding problem is the question of how a protein’s three-dimensional atomic structure is dictated by its amino acid sequence. DeepMind, a British AI research laboratory, has devised an AI solution for this challenge that they call AlphaFold. AlphaFold can predict a protein’s 3D structure based solely on its 1D amino acid sequence, with an average of 92.4% accuracy. This important step portends faster success rates in curing diseases and developing new medicines in the future.
- For the first time ever, NASA astronauts launched from American land in a commercially built and operated spacecraft with an American crew on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft, called the SpaceX Crew Dragon, launched on Saturday, May 30, carrying two NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. The successful mission, known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, was a test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system. This will open the doors for certification for regular NASAcrew flights to the ISS.
- The decrease in travel is helping the environment. Because of the lockdown, people are not traveling as much as before, and transport made up nearly a quarter of carbon emissions. In addition, many factories have shut down with the lockdown, and industry made up nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Now, according to BBC’s Future Planet, carbon dioxide emissions are down 5% to 10% in New York and down 25% in China. Emissions of nitrogen dioxide over Italy are fading away. Many cities are measuring the best air quality that they have ever seen. This new lifestyle could actually help the environment in the long-term. Now that so many people are used to working from home, not as many will go back to commuting to work every day, as commuting is simply inconvenient.
- Minorities’ voices are starting to be heard due to quickly growing movements, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter is a movement protesting against events of racially motivated violence against Black people, specifically police brutality. Though BLM has been around since 2013, 2020 was especially pivotal for the movement. Rashad Robinson, president of a civil rights organization called Color of Change, believed that it was the harsh cruelty of the video of George Floyd’s death that captured America’s attention. Other examples of police brutality against black people include the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and the list goes on. The pandemic itself also fueled this realization of inequity; data shows that Black and Latinx communities are being disproportionately devastated by the pandemic. In light of these tragedies, they have awoken the American populace, and we now have no choice but to confront racial inequities and systemic racism in the form of police brutality and consider what we as a country can do to solve this problem. The pandemic brought racial inequalities and minorities’ ongoing fight for survival and basic securities to the forefront of the minds of Americans and made them the subject of discussions. More people questioned systems that have been in place for years, and a general realization that we have to face these issues together emerged. Now that BLM is the subject of more and more conversations, it is a matter of allowing people to broaden their perspectives and come to new understandings with the ultimate goal of changing the experience of minority groups for the better and eradicating social systems which continue to suppress their growth.
- Anthony Fauci reassures everyone that Santa Claus is immune to COVID-19. Fauci told USA Today that “Santa is exempt from [the virus] because Santa, of all the good qualities, has a lot of good innate immunity. So, Santa is not going to be spreading any infections to anybody.”
- Seven-year-old Curtis Rogers’ nanny was missing her senior prom, so he threw one for her on his own. Rogers surprised his nanny, Rachel Chapman, to a promposal for a socially distanced prom in his own backyard. He dressed himself up in a tuxedo vest, ordered her favorite Chick-Fil-A meal, and set up music for them to dance to.
- 100-year old World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore raised nearly £33 million ($40 million) for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) by walking laps in his backyard. It started when his daughter suggested he challenge himself to exercise and raise funds following a partial hip replacement. His initial goal was to raise £1,000 by walking 100 laps around his yard, but this initial amount was raised within 24 hours and, according to Moore, “it seemed to get bigger, and bigger, and bigger.” Queen Elizabeth II knighted Moore after Prime Minister Boris Johnson nominated him.
- After a windstorm wreaked havoc in Iowa, twelve-year-old Tommy Rhomberg raised thousands of dollars for his community. Rhomberg whittled and sanded nearly 115 baseball bats out of branches that fell during the derecho. He originally only made one as a birthday gift for his friend, after ten hours and a lot of blisters. But once Rhomberg began receiving more orders, he had the idea to help people in his area with the damage the storm did.
- With hospitals running out of resources, homebound Americans are using their own resources to help out. Thousands of people are dusting off their sewing machines and finding scraps of fabric to make masks, or using 3D printers to make face shields. These homemade masks free up the N95 and surgical masks for healthcare workers who need to use them every day.
- Nathan Apodaca created a viral TikTok video that made him go from living in an RV with no running water to being able to purchase a five bedroom house. The TikTok was of Apodaca skateboarding while drinking from a large bottle of cranberry juice and lipsyncing to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Once his fans learned of his living conditions, they started a GoFundMe that raised over $10,000. In addition, the video caused “Dreams” to hit the top of the charts for the first time in a while, so Fleetwood Mac’s drummer surprised Apodaca during a BBC interview to thank him.
- Crayola launched a new pack of 24 crayons called “Colors of the World.” CEO of Crayola, Rich Wuerthele, stated, “With the world growing more diverse than ever before, Crayola hopes our new Colors of the World crayons will increase representation and foster a greater sense of belonging and acceptance. We want the new Colors of the World crayons to advance inclusion within creativity and impact how kids express themselves.” To create this pack, Crayola teamed with Victor Casale, CEO of MOB Beauty, and together they figured out how to represent forty different skin tones around the world.
- Family time is no longer the last priority. Before the pandemic hit, it seemed like there was always some excuse: “I have too much homework; can I have dinner in my room?” or “I can’t play with you; I have practice early tomorrow morning and I have to go to bed.” The list goes on. But now, with canceled or virtual extracurricular activities, families have more time to spend together. Siblings can play card games with each other, families can watch multiple movies a week together using streaming platforms, and parents do not have to feel like their child’s chauffeur. Family meals are going from a luxury to the norm, which re-establishes important connections allowing people to just talk to each other and know what is going on in each other’s lives.
- People are getting sick of the news and focusing more on what makes them happy. One example of this is the Instagram account @goodnews_movement that reports wholesome videos and pictures with inspiring captions. Actor John Krasinski also started a YouTube channel titled SomeGoodNews, a segment that reports good and wholesome things that are happening around the world and brings in celebrities for interviews. We are lucky enough to have our own version of this at Crystal; in April, freshmen Isabel Jiang, Maya Wohl, Emme Wolf, Reeya Duvvuri, Skylar Tang, and Alison Schieber decided to do their own take on the segment and report Crystal community and local good news.
- The Playstation 5 was released on November 12th. The PS5 console sold out within seconds after its release. It was nearly the same mania that the Cabbage Patch Kids saw in 1983 (a craze that generated two billion dollars in that year alone), but online. Devoted gamers spammed the order button on websites as they waited for the console to be released.
- Because of the travel ban, people are exploring more local destinations to fill their vacations. According to a survey by GasBuddy, 31% of Americans said they plan to go on a summer road trip. According to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association, 68% of travelers “continue to feel safest when traveling by personal vehicle and when visiting outdoor destinations” and nearly half of travelers said they are likely to travel more by car. Gas prices are the lowest they have been in five years, at less than two dollars per gallon in forty states (although sadly, California is not one of these). With limited air travel, many travelers are deciding to go on road trips and enjoy the scenery around them instead of flying right over it.
- Pet adoptions and fostering soar as more people want a companion. According to The Washington Post, 20% of survey respondents in July adopted one or more dogs or cats between March and June, up from less than 5% from the same time in 2019. SPCALA president Madeline Bernstein says, “The animal shelters have been emptied of adoptable animals through either adoptions or fosters, because of what a good time it is, when families are home together during lockdown, to work with a new pet. And it’s also a hedge against loneliness.”
All this shows that if we just stay positive and action-oriented, we can make the best out of anything. Two thousand twenty-one will surely have its ups and downs, as every year does, but we can remember the year as a better one as long as we focus on the upsides. Have a very happy new year!