When a year is hitting the homestretch and the end is in sight, it’s par for the course to look back and take stock of all that has transpired during the previous twelve months.
The result is lists. So. Many. Lists.
It’s equal parts overwhelming and informative because a lot happens in a year. By the time December rolls around, you need something like a well-thought-out listicle to remind you what went down back in January.
But now, a decade is about to end, and if you thought trying to make sense of a year was a tough business, try making sense of ten years. 2015 seems like a lifetime ago and that was only the decade’s halfway point.
At first glance, it’s easy to list off some of the more notable things that happened this decade, things like Donald Trump becoming president, the Star Wars franchise being revived, Game of Thrones hitting the scene, LeBron James winning a championship in Cleveland, and Snoop Dogg changing his name to Snoop Lion.
But what about some of the things that happened that may have fallen off the radar? We can obviously remember moments like Breaking Bad ending but what about that time when people trying to figure out the color of a dress dominated conversations for a week?
The 2010s have been a wild ride and you could be forgiven for forgetting a few things. Here are seven things that you might have forgotten about but that definitely happened.
Vuvuzelas Almost Ruined the 2010 World Cup
The World Cup might be one of the best sporting events we have (with all due respect to curling at the Winter Olympics). It’s three to four weeks of bliss for both soccer diehards and people who simply enjoy a good show.
It gins up patriotism, makes you suddenly very interested in countries you’ve barely heard of, and makes you think that maybe you should start running and maybe get in shape a little bit.
Soccer fans—I’m talking about the diehards—are notorious wack jobs when it comes to supporting their teams, and for the most part, their preferred weapons of choice are chants and songs. “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes will never die as long as soccer is being played.
However, in 2010, when the World Cup took place in South Africa, there might have been chants and songs and thousands of people singing the chorus of “Seven Nation Army” but you wouldn’t have known it.
Why? Vuvuzelas. That’s why.
The roughly three-foot-long horn is a South African staple that was largely unknown to the rest of the world up until 2010. However, with the World Cup in its backyard, the vuvuzela made its presence known.
Every game was accompanied by the endless drone of thousands of vuvuzelas. It never stopped. It was like a white noise machine that slowly drives you insane instead of helping you sleep.
Players complained, announcers complained, and fans watching on television complained but FIFA ignored them (or possibly didn’t hear them, because you know, the vuvuzelas) with soccer’s governing body saying that the horn was an essential part of South African culture.
Hey, do you remember who won the 2010 World Cup?
Yeah, me neither (I looked it up. It was Spain. They beat the Netherlands).
But I remember those effin’ vuvuzelas.
A Two-Year-Old Indonesian Boy Smoked 40 Cigarettes a Day
In 2010, a video of two-year-old Aldi Rizal from Indonesia made the rounds. It was not because (as with most videos of two-year-olds) he was doing something cute like pretending his shoe was a phone or was dancing to Brittany Spears.
40! He was two!
It goes without saying that he was full-on addicted to cigarettes and was shown going about his day looking like the old guy in your neighborhood who retired ten years ago and now keeps himself busy by tending to his property.
The video naturally sparked outrage and the government of Indonesia set out trying to remedy a problem that was consuming their country to no real avail. In 2017, it was reported that the country had 60 million active smokers, including an 8.8% increase in smokers aged 10 to 18.
Thankfully, with help from the government, Rizal was able to quit smoking but started eating constantly in the process and gained a ton of weight. It took some time, but by 2017, he was off cigarettes, eating better, and excelling at school.
A year later, reports came out about another two-year-old Indonesian boy who was addicted to smoking because WHAT THE HELL, INDONESIA?
Kony 2012 Took Off (Then Took a Turn)
Kony 2012 was a short documentary produced by the non-profit organization Invisible Children. The documentary’s goal was to create some awareness about Joseph Kony, a Ugandan militia leader and war criminal.
Kony was the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a militia that was largely made up of children from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan who had been forced into joining.
Their organization’s hope was to have Kony arrested by the end of 2012.
It didn’t work.
But let’s not get hung up on objectives not being met.
Kony 2012 became incredibly popular very quickly and was the first video to hit one million likes on YouTube after being viewed over 21 million times. Because of all that attention, the organization’s site crashed.
The video also impressed numerous celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Bill Gates, and Kim Kardashian. It was generally praised for calling attention to Kony and his actions, the majority of which had gone unnoticed by the majority of the world.
Negative criticism of the film included the organization over-simplifying the Kony crisis and broad-brushing the overall situation—not to mention playing fast and loose with some of the facts.
In addition, it shined a glaring light on the burgeoning new idea of “slacktivism,” which entails doing as little as possible for a cause so you can feel good about yourself without really making a difference.
Then there’s the fact that less than two weeks after the film’s release, Russell was arrested in San Diego for allegedly masturbating in public and vandalizing cars.
Video soon emerged of Russell running in the middle of a San Diego intersection naked and generally causing a ruckus. He and Invisible Children chalked up the incident to good old exhaustion and dehydration because isn’t that always the reason for someone running around a major American city naked?
So, like, we did it?
A Dude Skydived from SPACE
Can it be considered skydiving when you are actually above the sky? Because that’s really the case here.
However you look at it, though, what Felix Baumgartner and Red Bull pulled off on October 14, 2012 was straight-up lunacy.
Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, flew about 24 miles into the sky above New Mexico courtesy of a helium balloon then ditched his pod before free-falling back to earth.
The total descent lasted ten minutes. There’s a good chance that it’s taken you ten minutes just to reach this sentence.
For you stat nerds out there, here are a few records that Baumgartner broke.
- He became the first human to break the sound barrier without any form of engine power. His top speed on the descent was Mach 1.25 (over 800 miles per hour.)
- With his balloon traveling over 127,000 feet, Baumgartner broke the (unofficial) record for the highest manned balloon flight.
- He also broke the record for the highest altitude jump, which was set back in 1960 (probably sponsored by cigarettes or Life magazine.)
Preparations for the jump started in 2010 when Baumgartner started working with Red Bull and a team of scientists to attempt the highest skydive on record. The project was briefly put on hold when the group was sued by another fella, who says the idea was his and Red Bull had stolen it from him.
There was then a brief pause, but by early 2012, it was game on.
The jump was scheduled to happen on October 9th, but weather problems delayed things. A week later, they were good to go, with the launch taking place at Roswell International Air Center.
Just to be clear: homeboy flew up to space in a balloon and then causally jumped home.
Take that Monster.
Manti Te’o Experienced the Perils of a Long Distance Relationship
In December of 2011, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o announced he was putting off the NFL for another year and had elected to come back to the Irish for his senior campaign.
This was a big win for the team, as Te’o had led the Fighting Irish in tackles in 2011 and was a finalist for the Butkus Award and the Lott Trophy (he was also named the 2011 FBS Independent Defensive Player of the Year and was honored as a second-team All-American).
Te’o’s senior year was supposed to be a happy one, but on September 11, 2012, both Te’o’s grandmother and girlfriend died. His girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, was a student at Stanford University who was suffering from leukemia, something doctors had found after she had been injured in a car accident. The two had met back in 2009 when Kekua connected with Te’o on Facebook.
Over the next year or so, the two continued to communicate via Facebook, phone and text messages but never in person which, in hindsight, might have been a red flag. Actually, it should have totally been a red flag. Is there something more ominous than a red flag, because if so, this would be a good time to employ whatever that might be.
By the summer of 2012, their relationship had intensified (despite never actually seeing each other in person). In June, Kekua told Te’o about the leukemia diagnosis.
Three months later, she was gone—until early December, when Kekua called Te’o and told him that *surprise* she wasn’t dead.
In spite of the two initial tragedies, one reversed tragedy, and one related new tragedy/embarrassment, Te’o had a hell of a year. He was a Heisman finalist and led Notre Dame to the BCS National Championship Game versus Alabama (the Irish lost 42-14.)
The BCS title game took place on January 7th, and a week later, Deadspin (acting on a tip) published a story that said Te’o’s relationship with Kekua was a hoax—mainly because there was no Lennay Kekua.
The hoax was perpetrated by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, described as a Te’o family friend. Te’o told ESPN that Tuiasosopo had called him on the morning of the 16th, apologizing for the prank, which was super nice of him.
From there, things got weird(er).
Te’o maintained his innocence, the nature of their relationship was dissected endlessly, Tuiasosopo admitted to falling in love with Te’o while acting as Kekua, everyone agreed that Tuiasosopo really could sound like a woman on the phone, and Reagan Maui’a (a former NFL player who allegedly met Kekua twice) was adamant that she was real.
Te’o was still a really good football player though, and in the spring of 2013, he was drafted in the second round by the San Diego Chargers. He played for them from 2013 to 2016 and then spent a season with the New Orleans Saints.
Prior to the 2019 season, Te’o had tryouts with the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions, although neither amounted to anything.
An Airplane Just Straight Up Disappeared
Your phone goes missing. Your keys go missing. Clayton Kershaw goes missing in the playoffs.
Typically, planes do not go missing.
However, that’s exactly what happened on March 8, 2014 when Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which was carrying 227 passengers, vanished while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Air traffic control last made contact with the flight’s crew a little over a half-hour after takeoff and then it dropped from radar a few minutes later. It was then tracked by military radar for about an hour before it disappeared from that too.
It would never be seen or heard from again.
The 24-hour news networks—most notably CNN—went all-in on the missing plane story. They tracked sightings (real or imagined), kicked around theories, and brought on basically anyone who had ever flown a plane onto the air to discuss the disappearance.
It got a little out of hand.
Meanwhile, a full-on search-and-rescue operation was underway in the Indian Ocean.
After nearly a year of looking, nothing had turned up, and in late January of 2017, the search was suspended. It was the most expensive search in aviation history, tallying roughly $155 million split up between Malaysia, Australia, and China.
After all of that, they had narrowed down the area where the plane had likely crashed to 9,700 square miles.
Private searches have continued since then and pieces of debris generally considered to belong to Flight 370 have turned up, but beyond that, nothing definitive has come to light regarding what happened to the plane.
Which means one thing and one thing only: it’s wild conspiracy time!
The most recent such theory involved the captain’s desire to divorce his wife, something he was unable to do because of him being Muslim.
The theory explains how the captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, put together an elaborate plan to run away with his mistress, who had just come into a great deal of money.
To do so, he’d depressurize the plane and knock everyone out before dropping that baby to below the range of radar and jumping out of the plane once he hit a specific set of coordinates to meet a fishing boat driven by his mistress.
Sure. Why the hell not?
It’s been a weird decade.
Kendall Jenner Calmed a Divided Nation
Okay, for starters, it wasn’t her fault.
It felt like it was her fault and it definitely looked like it was her fault, but unless Kendall Jenner was secretly Don Draper, the 2017 Pepsi ad in which she stops a clash between protesters and police from happening was not her idea.
It’s worth pointing out that Kendall Jenner isn’t the only problematic part of the ad.
The entire thing is an Abercrombie & Fitch-inspired gentrification fever dream of what a protest is like. It’s what unrest in Brooklyn would look like if depicted by someone who has never been to Brooklyn and, for some reason, thinks its streets look like New Orleans.
Nothing makes sense here!
Nevertheless, Kendall Jenner received the brunt of the criticism when it came to attacking the ad, which damn near everyone did.
“This ad trivializes the urgency of the issues and it diminishes the seriousness and the gravity of why we got into the street in the first place,” activist DeRay McKesson told NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez.
It wasn’t all snarky criticism on Twitter though.
Some people had legitimately good points regarding the ad’s poor taste and appropriation of a racial protest movement.
Again, not Kendall Jenner’s fault, but also not not Kendall Jenner’s fault.
It’s also worth noting that it didn’t fix anything. We still have protests despite the presence of Pepsi.
Better luck next decade, I guess.