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  • Pamela Froman

Best and Worst 2020

2020 has been a hell of a year. With everything from a global pandemic to a presidential election to raging wildfires, these past 365 days have tested our creativity, resolve, patience, and even our social relationships.


Health concerns have severely altered our lifestyles.

Life as we knew it has been powered off because of Covid-19 – otherwise known as the coronavirus pandemic. This respiratory virus has closed down businesses, schools, restaurants – you name it. People have also had to adjust to working from home. And unfortunately, the numbers of infected and hospitalized keep growing. However, there is a light under the tunnel – a vaccine has been approved in the United Kingdom and the FDA is working on one for the United States. Meanwhile, people are Zoom happy – it's a way to attend work meetings and gather with family, albeit through a screen. And while the days have seemed to blend together ever since the first spike of cases in March, people have adapted to life under quarantine.

The political climate this year was a year filled with drama, controversy, and change.

Impeachment of President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – his trial in the Senate began in January. The investigation was prompted by a whistleblower complaint that centered on the president's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump became the third president to be impeached and subsequently acquitted by the Senate.

The Presidential Election

One of the most interesting presidential elections in recent history was recorded this year. Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris won the race, despite unsubstantiated claims from President Trump that the election was rigged. Trump has also refused to concede his loss. Harris will be the first woman, and woman of color to hold the office of Vice President. The new administration promises to take the country in a different direction, with appointed cabinet members and taskforces already forming to be ready for the turnover in January.

Natural disasters blazed forward, leaving destruction in their wake.

Australian Bushfires

Australian bushfires laid waste to the environment and landscape of Australia for several months. These deadly blazes prompted cities to evacuate and burned tens of millions of acres. As of March 2020, the fires had burnt an estimated 46 million acres, destroyed over 5,900 buildings (including 2,779 homes), and killed at least 34 people. Nearly three billion terrestrial vertebrates alone – the vast amount being reptiles – were affected and some endangered species are believed to have been driven to extinction. As well, more than 100 species of animals needed "emergency intervention" to survive.

West Coast Wildfires

Australia was not the only region to suffer from burning fires. In 2020, severe August thunderstorms sparked up numerous blazes across California, Oregon, and Washington, followed in early September by additional ignitions across the West Coast. The fires were aided by strong, gusty winds and fueled by hot, dry terrains, creating record-breaking mega-fires. These wildfires burned more than 8.2 million acres of land, razed over ten thousand buildings, and killed at least 37 people.

Changes are afoot within the United Kingdom.

Megxit – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Quit Royal Family

After months of rumors, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle officially announced they were stepping down from their duties as senior royals. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex recently bought a home in Santa Barbara and said they planned on being financially independent. And then the news broke that the couple has signed a multiyear mega-deal with Netflix to become Hollywood producers of scripted series, docu-series, documentaries, features, and children's programming. For the first time, a British royal couple are about to become players in global entertainment.

Brexit – The United Kingdom Withdraws From the European Union

After more than three years of argumentation, deliberation, and politics, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union. The move has created a whirlwind mixed reaction with both celebrations and protests taking place across the country. Once the deal is finalized the way people live and work will never be the same. People planning to move between the UK and EU to live, work, or retire will no longer be automatically allowed to do so. The UK will apply a points-based immigration system to EU citizens. Arrivals from the UK will stand in a different queue at passport control in EU countries. Finally, businesses trading with the EU will face much more paperwork.

Sadly, we lost quite a few amazing people this year.

Kobe Bryant's Death

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with seven other passengers were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on January 26. The group was on their way to a game at Bryant's sporting facility Mamba Academy via private helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76 model. The helicopter was flying in dangerously foggy weather, so much so that the Los Angeles Police Department had grounded its flights.

Chadwick Boseman's Death

"Black Panther" was a groundbreaking movie for the African-American community. It was the first major superhero movie with an African protagonist and the first to star a majority Black cast. Unfortunately, star Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer this year at the age of 43. The actor was also known for playing figures such as James Brown, Jackie Robinson, and Thurgood Marshall. He had become one of his generation's most sought-after leading men.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Death

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and a pioneer for women's rights, died at her home in Washington. She was 87. In her ninth decade, Bader Ginsburg became a much younger generation's icon. A law student, Shana Knizhnik, anointed her the Notorious R.B.G., a play on the name of the Notorious B.I.G., a famous rapper who was Brooklyn-born, same as the justice. Soon the name, and Justice Ginsburg's image – her expression serene yet severe, a frilly lace collar over her black judicial robe, her eyes framed by oversize glasses and a gold crown perched at a funky angle on her head – became an internet sensation. Young women had her image tattooed on their bodies and young daughters were dressed in R.B.G. costumes for Halloween.

Eddie Van Halen's Death

Eddie Van Halen, the guitarist, and songwriter who gave the rock band Van Halen its name and sound died after a long battle with cancer at the age of 65. In a band known for its instability – due to an influx of lead singers such as David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar – Eddie Van Halen and his brother, Alex, stayed the course, appearing on over 12 studio albums across five decades and selling tens of millions of copies. Eddie Van Halen's signature guitar sound – heavy on tapping, with both hands on the neck – was extremely influential, and difficult to imitate. He became a guitar god for the next generation.

The entertainment industry featured some groundbreaking changes this year.

"Parasite" Sweeps The Oscars

"Parasite" took home Best Picture, making it the first non-English speaking film to win the Academy Award's most prestigious award. Bong Joon-ho's movie about a lower-income family that infiltrates a wealthy household, only to learn a much darker secret, was a breakout star.

There were movements that made a statement in 2020.

Harvey Weinstein Verdict Vs. #MeToo

Film producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault. It was a dramatic fall from grace for one of Hollywood's most powerful figures. His trial was critical to the #MeToo movement. Dozens of women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein and all six women who testified against him during his trial sat together as he was sentenced.

#BlackLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter was founded in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's murderer. Black Lives Matter's mission is to stop white supremacy and build local power to intervene in unfair violence that is inflicted on black communities by the state, law enforcement, and vigilantes. They combat and counter these acts of brutality.

Like everything else, sports were also affected by the pandemic this year.

2020 Summer Olympics Postponed

One of the most highly watched sporting events of the year – the 2020 Summer Olympics – was officially postponed on March 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Olympics were supposed to take place at the end of July in Tokyo, Japan. However, the International Olympic Committee announced the event will be postponed until July 23, 2021.

Despite everything, there were some positive trends in 2020.

Drive-in movie theaters made a comeback, after all, who doesn't love a flick in your car? Drive-in concerts are a new thing – we get to rock out safely. Restaurants shared secret recipes so we can make our faves at home. Wearing sweatpants and tees became an acceptable fashion choice – all day, every day. Restaurants enforced social distancing creatively – with pool noodle hats, bumper boats, and stylish mannequins.

People brushed up their sewing, making masks for people who need them most. Major companies like 3M and Apple changed up resources and shifted production to make millions of masks to help keep people safe. Ford, GM, Tesla, and other automakers made ventilators and other medical devices to combat the pandemic.

Sure, we might be a little fatter, but that's because we've rediscovered our love for hobbies like baking and gardening. Books are also a thing – we have time to read again and we're making the time to educate ourselves. Puzzles and board games are awesome again and they offer a much-needed break from our phones. TikTok blew up the dance moves and our boredom faded away. We also came up with creative ways to celebrate big milestones like drive-by birthdays and Zoom parties. Weddings still happened – and even though they were over Zoom, they were still beautiful.

Bye Bye 2020! Hello, 2021!

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