After nothing short of a tumultuous time that has been 2020, some of our writers and editors look back over last year and highlight the headlines that shook up 2020 for them. From humourous outings of comedians challenging brands, broken records and local boons to untimely deaths – here are a few of the BIGGEST headlines that shook 2020.
The Headlines of 2020
Taylor Swift’s folklore Breaks Multiple Records
It gained 80.6 million streams in one day on Spotify, the highest for any female artist, and sold 846,000 copies in its first week, making Swift the first artist in US chart history to have seven albums sell more than 500,000 copies in a single week. folklore also topped many charts. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and topping the charts in the UK, Finland, Australia, Norway, New Zealand, and Belgium. All of its tracks debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, with ‘cardigan’ at the number one spot, making Swift the first person to debut at the top of both the album and singles chart in one week. Not only did it break many chart records, but it also earned Swift some of the most positive reviews of her career. folklore has a current score of 88 on Metacritic, the highest of any of her previous albums. The album was praised for its stripped-back production and meaningful lyrics, which give it a level of maturity and thoughtfulness that sets it apart from her previous work.
Joe Lycett Changes His Name to Hugo Boss
On the 1st of March, comedian and presenter Joe Lycett, known for his stunts on panel shows including 8 out of 10 Cats, Taskmaster, and his own stage shows like That’s the Way, A-ha, A-ha, Joe Lycett (2016), decided to change his name by deed poll to match the worldwide fashion brand Hugo Boss.
The name change came about after the comedian discovered that the brand Hugo Boss had been pushing small and independent businesses into corners with cease and desist letters if they dared include the word ‘BOSS’ in their company branding/name. As someone passionate about consumer rights, as evident in his own show Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back (2019-) where he fights back against troublesome corporations, it made sense that Lycett decided to pick a struggle with such a huge organisation – yet it did still come as a surprise.
Only a month later after the initial change did Lycett change his name back; however, the comedian’s statement brings issues of corporate power to the forefront. Fair play, Joe!
Warner Bros. to Debut Entire 2021 Film Slate on HBO Max
The news of Warner Bros. releasing all their movies for 2021 on HBO Max is a decision that could quite literally change the face of cinema. While HBO Max is not currently available in the UK, the decision will undoubtedly sacrifice Warner Bros. theatrical profits to bolster HBO Max’s content. While broadly good for the consumer, the decision will likely have severe effects for the cinema industry, and seemingly very few in the industry are happy about it. That is excluding those who worked on Wonder Woman 1989 who were essentially paid hush money, not a good look. Christopher Nolan, always up to speak on behalf of the cinema industry, blasted the decision, as did the director of the upcoming Dune adaption Denis Villeneuve. Dune will be caught up in this deal if it comes to fruition next year. Villeneuve described the move as one intended to save the owner of Warner Bros. and HBO Max, AT&T, and disregard anyone else. Both directors called out HBO Max itself, Nolan even describing it as “the worst streaming service”. I am not sure either will be working with Warner Bros. anytime soon, but it is hard to disagree. If their plan succeeds, the cinema industry is unlikely to survive much longer. The lack of communication with the people who toil over making these films is particularly egregious. Some cinemas have even threatened to cut ticket prices to limit the money Warner Bros. would get from ticket sales even further. Perhaps the saving grace for the UK though is that HBO Max has not made it across the pond yet.
The Impact of the Pandemic on the Arts in Southampton
This year, Southampton launched its bid to become City of Culture 2025 following years of investment in the Cultural Quarter, with a campaign fronted by famous residents including singer Craig David and Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo. However, the arts and culture industries took a substantial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic this year, and Southampton venues have been no exception. In May, Nuffield Southampton Theatres went into administration just weeks after being forced to close for the first lockdown. At first, it appeared the theatres would close permanently, but in September the Mayflower Theatre Trust purchased the Studio 144 theatre in Guildhall Square. It will be renamed MAST Mayflower Studios, and the first performances are expected to take place next Spring. Further attempts have been made to rejuvenate the arts sector in Southampton through the creation of GO! Southampton’s new platform called ‘Southampton from your SOfa‘. As arts venues were made to close during the lockdown, this project, part of the Visit Southampton website, was marketed as a one-stop place for artists from across the city.
The closure of several local venues over the lockdown period has taken its toll, not least because many small venues were already struggling before the pandemic. The Joiners launched a fundraising campaign back in March to help them survive the impacts of coronavirus. In October, they were among several local venues to benefit from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. However, not all of our venues were included, despite around 89% of all applications being successful. The 1865 was rejected by the fund and was subsequently placed among the Music Venue Trust’s list of 30 venues facing imminent closure due to the pandemic. They also have launched a crowdfunding campaign to survive having to operate at just 20% capacity for the foreseeable future. You can donate to their fundraiser here.
Disney Confirm Loki Will be Bisexual
2020 was the year that Disney FINALLY decided to step up to the plate and offer just a smidgen of the representation that the comic book world so proudly offers. Loki, starring Tom Hiddleston in the titular role and due to be released in 2021, will have a bisexual lead.
Marvel Comics are no stranger to LGBT characters; in fact, some of it’s biggest names have been confirmed as LGBT, not only through word of mouth but actually in print. Deadpool, Valkyrie, Star-Lord, Spider-Woman, Kitty Pryde, Black Cat, Iceman, Mystique; the list goes on. Of course, some of these names listed have gotten their own movie adaptations, like Deadpool in Deadpool (2016), Star-Lord in the Guardians of the Galaxy series (2014-), and Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnorak (2017). Of all of these, however, only Valkyrie was the only character to have an onscreen hint of her sexuality, with a fleeting shot of a now-deceased lover (of course, said lover wasn’t referred to by she/her pronouns and left conveniently ambiguous). Even the merc with a mouth, besides a few jokes, is yet to actually be confirmed on-screen as pansexual.
This is why Loki actually being bisexual in the new Disney+ tv show is going to both be a) super important if Disney actually does make him bisexual rather than just saying he’s bisexual as an afterthought and b) the determining factor is deeming whether Disney is ever actually going to carry out their claims of being inclusive and diverse. Representation on any level is important, but from a show that’s going to be as huge as Loki? It’ll be supernova-levels of on-screen (hopefully) positive representation of LGBTQA+ people, and it’ll be accurate to the comics. Will Disney follow through and give us a good depiction of a bisexual person? I’ll believe it when I see it.
Stars We Lost in 2020
Eddie Van Halen (1955-2020)
On October 6th, 2020, Eddie Van Halen passed from throat cancer, sending the music industry and fans into unbelievable grief. Eddie Van Halen inspired hundreds of musicians; Myles Kennedy (frontman, Alter Bridge), took to Instagram to share his respects and reflect on the Van Halen lead guitarist’s incredible talents. Kennedy spoke for everyone through an emotive caption speaking of how Halen ‘ignited the dreams and aspirations of millions of guitarists around the world….myself included. He was without a doubt one of the greatest.’
Eddie and his brother Alex formed Van Halen in the early 70s, along with bassist Michael Anthony and iconic frontman David Lee Roth. Despite the band defining 80s glam rock, they didn’t release an album until 1978 a year after Warner Bros signed them in 1977.
Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Eddie was born into a family of music. His father Jan was a jazz pianist, clarinettist and saxophonist, so it’s no wonder he became one of the all-time best guitar players in rock history. The rock veteran’s death shook the band to the core, on November 16th 2020 Halen’s son Wolfgang announced that the band would not continue, saying ‘You can’t have Van Halen without Eddie Van Halen’ drawing one of the biggest rock legacies to a close.
Sean Connery (1930-2020)
Sean Connery passing in October has resulted in the loss of one of the most enduringly entertaining actors. Most famous for his role as the very first James Bond, Connery shaped the role perhaps more than any other, bringing a sense of style and bravado that very few have been able to emulate. Connery never faded after his stint as Bond, like later actors, starring in excellent films well up until his retirement in 2006. A personal favourite post-Bond role for Connery is Harrison Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as his roles in The Hunt for Red October and The Man Who Would Be King. Connery’s unique voice appearing even when he abandoned his Scottish accent meant he was recognisable in just about any film he appeared in, although it often mattered little considering how often he had the best performance in the room. Considered by some to be one of the last great actors his performances will never be forgotten.
Geoffrey Palmer (1927-2020)
There is no doubt that Geoffrey Palmer OBE was, and still is a household name. Starring in 70s sitcoms, The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin (1976-79) and Butterflies (1978-83), Palmer was the king of the British sitcoms. He shot to fame in the 70s, the two sitcoms bringing him to the attention of the British public and landed him guest sitcom appearances, including Faulty Towers in which he portrayed Doctor Price. Like many British actors he started off with a good ol’ stage career, performing at the National Theatre under the director Laurence Olivier in J.B Priestly‘s Eden End. But his stage career was short lived as he found plays and theatre so tedious he rejected the theatre, which was probably in his best interests.
Come the 90s, Palmer was an experienced actor and widely recognised for his work. His respected reputation saw him starring alongside Dame Judi Dench in As Time Goes By which ran for over a decade (1992-2005). The sitcom followed the romance of Lionel Hardcastle (Palmer) and Jean Pargetter (Dench) who reunited their love after over 50 years apart. Evidently, it was a roaring success and appeared on out televisions for the majority of the 90s and into the 2000s. Palmer also lent his voice to many children’s audiobooks including numerous Roald Dahl tales including Revolting Rhymes, Esio Trot and The BFG. In 2004 a drawing of Palmer was introduced to the National Portrait Gallery, drawn by English artist Stuart Pearson Wright.
Many people would consider the actor a National Treasure as he entertained the nation for over 50 years and defined the 70s sitcom. This year in November, aged 93, Palmer passed following a short illness, the beloved actor will no doubt be remembered for his services to drama and will be eternally present in British television history.
Sir Ian Holm (1931-2020)
Sir Ian Holm (1931-2020) had a dynamic career on stage and screen; from the sci-fi world playing an android, to taking form as an athletics trainer or being part of a Shakespearean classic and being part of two separate adaptations of some of fantasy literature’s most famous work, he has been a man of many lives and many talents. He is someone that will be sorely missed in the acting world.
Perhaps infamous for that infamous scene in Alien, Ian Holm has been on our screens since 1968 and has explored his range of acting talent from Chariots of Fire to the Chef Skinner in the animated children’s film Ratatouille. In 1989, Holm was awarded a CBE and awarded the title Sir in 1998. But of course, his most recognisable role was as the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, in Peter Jackson‘s Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03)
The only other role Holm portrayed more times was Napoleon (which he did so 3 times; was Bilbo four, and as a Baggins five.) Sir Ian Holm was a masterpiece, and his passing in June 2020 was a shock to the acting world. From the tweets and condolences passed around the world, you can see just how many people have been touched by his joy and prestige.
Caroline Flack (1979-2020)
It was a tragedy to hear of Caroline Flack‘s death when it was announced nationally on the 15th of February, just earlier this year. Her death, which shocked Britain to its core, followed a lengthy spell of struggles for the television and radio presenter, bringing the reign of media terror which had hounded the star throughout the years to an end.
As a Brit, it’s difficult to think of a way that you wouldn’t know of Caroline or her work. Her career as an actress, which began in the early 2000s, threw her straight into the limelight. From her first performance on Leigh Francis’ controversial television sketch show Bo’ Selecta! (2002), to her work on a multitude of national primetime favourites such as the after shows, I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! NOW! (2009–2010) and The Xtra Factor (2011-2013), Caroline covered all the grounds of being a multitalented individual.
Arguably, her most notable role was her infamous role as the presenter of the globally popular television reality show Love Island, however, the role brought Caroline to the forefront of the British media as her own personal and (supposedly) private love life was on many occasions targeted and explored. She was branded as a ‘cougar’ and ‘pedo’, words which allowed her to be pushed into a box of negativity, arguably impacting her mental health for many years.
Throughout her life and career, Caroline Flack really shined and showed us she could do it all – from presenting to dancing, acting to being the strongest support to those who didn’t quite succeed in their dreams. She’ll always be remembered for her talent and bright smile, alongside the importance of highlighting how the media is a cruel force that really needs to stop and look at itself.
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