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Illustration by Heidi Berton

If you haven’t been paying careful attention to pop culture this year, hey, we understand. But now is the perfect time for The Globe and Mail to help you catch up on the 2022 moments that left us feeling confused, entertained, disgusted, enthralled and, on occasion, joyful.

Love triangles, feuds and … spit? Oh my

If one viral video clip were to define this year’s absurdity, it would be the snippet from the Don’t Worry Darling premiere this September that prompted the question to end all questions: Did Harry Styles spit on co-star Chris Pine? Let’s back up. This possibility is not as ridiculous (although still quite ridiculous) as it first seems, when you consider the storm of speculation and behind-the scenes-drama swirling around the film: everything from director Olivia Wilde’s now concluded relationship with star Styles, to her reported fallout with leading lady Florence Pugh, to the serving of custody papers to Wilde on stage while promoting the movie. But the film made it out alive – with pretty good box office numbers to boot. ARUNA DUTT

Ryan Reynolds has his eyes on the Stanley Cup

Actor Ryan Reynolds waves as he is recognized during a break in the play as the Ottawa Senators take on the Vancouver Canucks in Ottawa, on Nov. 8.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Canadian hockey got some late-night TV hype when the Deadpool star announced his interest in buying the Ottawa Senators. Reynolds, who spent part of his youth in Ottawa, said he wants to join the consortium that buys the team (valued at US$655-million according to A celebrity owner may be exactly what the team needs to make a cold game a bit cooler, and as Globe columnist Cathal Kelly writes – get hockey into the mainstream conversation. But Reynolds may have to team up and face-off with other bidders: “It’s very expensive. I need a partner with really deep pockets … And if that doesn’t work out, I’ll buy a U.S. senator, which anyone can afford,” said Reynolds during The Tonight Show interview with Jimmy Fallon. A.D.

The mastermind anti-hero

Taylor Swift attends a premiere for the short film All Too Well, in New York in 2021.Evan Agostini/The Associated Press

Taylor Swift released her tenth studio album, Midnights, in October after a drawn-out marketing campaign made up of an MTV Awards announcement, clues and secret encoded messages, and TikTok videos. Her self-reflective and surprisingly self-critical pop album not only topped charts for weeks – but tickets for her first tour in five years were at such high-demand that some were listed for as much as US$22,000 on resale sites. Ticketmaster reported more than 2.4 million tickets sold, and cancelled its second presale, but with its original demand the tour “could have filled 900 stadiums,” said Greg Maffei, the chairman of Live Nation Entertainment on CNBC. A.D.

How the Taylor Swift Eras Tour Ticketmaster disaster unfolded


Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown.Photo Credit: Keith Bernstein/Netflix

In the week after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, grief was met with cultural obsession. Netflix reported a resurgence in viewership of The Crown (17.6 million hours), bringing it back to the top 10 charts. Claire Foy, Olivia Colman and now, in the newest season, Imelda Staunton give brilliant performances as the Queen. King Charles’s marriage and divorce from Diana – back when he was still Prince of Wales – are also depicted in what Netflix has reminded viewers is a “fictionalized drama inspired by true events” (although “Tampongate” was very real). With a new Netflix documentary following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and a memoir from Prince Harry releasing early in the new year, there is Royals-mania in the air that isn’t going away any time soon. A.D.

The slap heard ‘round the world

Will Smith appears to slap Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards on March 27.Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

If you could freeze-frame the exact moment that Hollywood reached its long-awaited descent into chaos, it would be time-stamped 10:26 p.m. ET, Sunday, March 27, when Will Smith smacked Chris Rock onstage at the 94th Academy Awards. But in a twist that only the movie industry could pull off, it turned out that maybe assaulting a fellow performer in front of the entire world wasn’t all that bad a career move after all? Barely eight months later, Smith is back out walking red carpets for the premiere of his Oscar hopeful Emancipation, and most of the Hollywood press seem willing to succumb to a collective case of amnesia. At least Rock got some great material out of the bruising moment. BARRY HERTZ

The Depps of TikTok

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp watch as the jury leaves the courtroom at the end of the day at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., on May 16.STEVE HELBER/AFP/Getty Images

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on how the legal saga between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard went down, but I’m not sure anyone in their reasonable mind can look at how social-media networks exploited the situation for easy and gross meme-ification and come out the other end feeling good about the state of modern fandom. If you would like to spend your holidays discovering just how rotten the online landscape has become, see what TikTok and Instagram have to say about Amber Heard and despair for our culture’s worst impulses. B.H.

Bennifer 2.0

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck attend a screening of Marry Me, in Los Angeles, on Feb. 8.Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Well, how do you like them apples? If the world needed evidence that true love prevails, even in the tabloid-slathered world of Hollywood celebrity, then the decades-later reunion of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez should be entered as exhibit No. 1. May the happy couple live long, drink Dunkin’, and never, ever flirt with making a sequel to Gigli. B.H.

Kanye West meltdown

It is hard to know where to begin when talking about Ye’s end. Possibly the most public, or at least amplified, celebrity breakdown in history, Kanye West’s turn from power-player to provocateur to pariah is ultimately a tragic and depressing thing to dissect. To end this tumultuous year, I can only hope for three things: that the man gets the professional help he needs, that someone close to him takes his smartphone away and that the hatred he has already spewed spreads no further. B.H.

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