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Commencement 2021: Four years in a review

| Friday, May 21, 2021

Maggie Klaers | The Observer

Every year, Scene honors the graduating class with a snapshot of the most critical cultural moments of their four years in the tri-campus community. That includes pop culture, campus culture and American culture at large.

Won’t you take a walk down memory lane?

Fall 2017 — Male consequence and the #MeToo movement

The fall of Harvey Weinstein in October sets off a domino effect, uncovering decades of sexual harassment and abuse in the entertainment industry. The ensuing #MeToo movement offers survivors a platform on which to expose the wrongdoings of seminal entertainers (Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K.), cult heroes (Evan Stephens Hall, Jesse Lacey) and countless others in the three years since.

Nov. 3, 2017 — “Lady Bird

A movie about Catholic school angst — there may not be a film more suited to the tri-campus community. “Lady Bird” also signals the arrival of writer/director Greta Gerwig, who hits another home run in 2019 with “Little Women.” 

Spring 2018 — A music scene appears at Notre Dame

For the first time in far too long, student musicians proliferate and collaborate in the tri-campus community. In a series of house shows and guerrilla performances, these artists (epitomized by talents like Ninjoi, Felix Rabito and LadiBree) and their supporters strive to make Notre Dame cool again.

Spring 2018 — “Fortnite” 

100 enter. One leaves. First released in the summer of 2017, it’s not until spring 2018 that “Fortnite” becomes a meme. How many dances do YOU know?

Fall 2018 — “Mo Bamba” vs. “Sicko Mode”

“Alexa! Play ‘Mo Bamba.’”

“No, Alexa! Play ‘Sicko Mode!’”

“Alexa, stop! Play ‘Mo Bamba!’”

“Grrr. Alexa!”

March 25, 2019 — The leggings problem

A Notre Dame mother is concerned about leggings and literal protests ensue. And memes — so many memes.

Apr. 15, 2019 — Notre Dame is on fire

The other one. The Parisian symbol of art and culture goes up in flames; the world mourns.

April 26, 2019 — “Avengers: Endgame”

The final installment of Marvel Studios’ gargantuan cinematic project delivers a satisfying conclusion to the 22 films that, beginning with 2008’s “Iron Man,” reimagined the superhero for the 21st century. Please snap.

May 9, 2019  — The end of “Game of Thrones”

The final season of television’s biggest show tyrannizes the Sunday night Twitter feed throughout the spring of 2019. No fan favorite can escape the writers’ wrath, and no viewer can hide from rogue spoilers as they materialize in cyberspace without warning, ready to assassinate everyone’s enjoyment Arya-style. 

Also, a lot of people hated it! But don’t cry for HBO: Between “Succession,” “Euphoria” and “Chernobyl,” they’ve still got all the best TV.

Summer 2019 — Hot girl summer!

Following the example of Megan Thee Stallion — not the first time she’ll appear on this list — everyone is encouraged to go out and live their best life under the sun. For what it’s worth, these three or so months are also the peak of my human existence. It is only downhill from here.

Fall 2019 — The Notre Dame music scene rages on

In backyards, basements and living rooms, students gather to rock the f*** out. Bands like Felix Rabito (later St. Dismas), Basement Boxers, The Shifties and Almighty Loaf put on shows that we won’t soon forget. To any non-seniors, come join the scene in a COVID-free year.

Oct. 5, 2019 — “Parasite

It’s the first foreign-language film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, and deservedly so. Scene liked it so much, we reviewed it multiple times. No, literally

Jan. 26, 2020 — Billie Eilish rules the Grammys

The 19-year-old singer-songwriter’s debut album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” sweeps the Grammys, making Eilish the first woman and only the second person in history to win all four of the top categories. Based on this year’s Grammys, she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Spring 2020 — Quarantine …

Do we even need to explain? Everyone’s watching something called “Tiger King,” TikTok isn’t cringey anymore (“Say So” by Doja Cat, anyone?) and Zoom is suddenly a noun (and then a verb again). How unprecedented!

Summer 2020 — Black Lives Matter

The killing of George Floyd, amongst others, sparks a nationwide reckoning with racial injustice and police brutality. Black Lives Matter isn’t a new movement, but in summer 2020, the culture begins to change.

June 17, 2020 — “Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers

Calling all Pharbz! Acclaimed singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers releases her second studio album and I cry. Scene later names it the best album of the year.

July 24, 2020 — “Folklore

While “Folklore” would later win Album of the Year, this spot is essentially the Taylor Swift grab bag. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Scene loves Taylor Swift. Like, a lot. She follows up “Folklore” with “Evermore” and later, a re-recording of “Fearless.” And does “Bridgerton” count? It’s Taylor’s world, and we’re just living in it.

Aug. 7, 2020 — “WAP”

[Censored.]

January 8, 2021 — drivers license”

Olivia Rodrigo writes the breakup ballad of a generation, and thanks to TikTok, it becomes the song of 2021 only 8 days into the year. But Scene has conflicting opinions.

January 15, 2021 — “WandaVision

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) becomes the Marvel Television Universe (MTU) with its first Disney+ show. Theories and spoilers dominate Twitter for multiple months — maybe even to the series’ detriment

May 23, 2021 — Commencement

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About Aidan O'Malley

Aidan is the Scene Editor. He likes to watch movies (and write about them, too!)

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