The pop culture of this decade has been a product of both the Iraq War and the Great Recession. Escapism returned to the media spotlight, with superheroes, music, fantasy and new talents taking over the place of the sardonic comedies (i.e., The Office (US)), Reality TV shows and Police Procedurals that dominated the previous decade. Even movies of The '90s and 2000s have received "shiny reboots", getting rid of the despair that marked the originals.
The escapism trend has also brought a retro craze not seen in three decades, primarily focused in the 1950s, 1960s and 1980s, although the 70s and 90s (among other decades) have been also been invoked as well.
Hasbro and Discovery Networks launched The Hub (now known as Discovery Family), a TV channel featuring updates of many iconic franchises from The '80s, such as My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, which gained a major Periphery Demographic fandom that no one saw coming, and Transformers Prime. It also gained publicity with the comical gender bending Super Hero spoof import, SheZow.
Starting in 2010, following the CN Real era, Cartoon Network started airing more TV-PG shows such as Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Steven Universe, all three of which were enjoyed not only by older kids, but people who were kids in The '90s (now college-age or just past it) and The '80s (now full-grown adults). At the same time, reboots of classic CN shows such as ThunderCats, The Looney Tunes Show, and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated were also well-received, though older viewers have complained about the two latter series' reworkings (TLTS has Bugs and Daffy in a 1990's-style Seinfeld setting, while SDMI has Scooby and the gang in a soap-ish Dallas format).
And Dallas itself has a successful revival on TNT since 2011, though both the oil business (understandably) and Larry Hagman's iconic "JR" have largely become minor playersnote before being retired after Hagman died one year later. And Hawaii Five-0 (an updated version of the 1970s series) has its audience, too. Unfortunately the Charlie's Angels reboot ABC produced (also in 2011 for the 35th anniversary of the series) was widely panned and quickly canned.
80s (and early 90s) pop culture in general has returned with a vengeance: Popular franchises of the era have been turned into blockbusters (with varying degrees of success). Synths and turntables have replaced guitars and boomboxes as the driving force in the music industry. Fashion-consciousness has returned to the runways. And the cars and technology of the era have turned from rust buckets to much-sought "vintage". This has been especially true for video games, with a "retro gaming" scene gaining followers.
In this era of digital music, analogue media storage has gained attention: In 2011, vinyl discs represented just 0.1 percent of all music sales, mostly catering to niche markets such as audiophiles. However, LPs have seen an unexpected resurgence, mostly attributed to the rise of indie rock and electronic music, the two genres that have extensively used vinyls since 1990.
Even the Roaring Twenties have had their slice of the cake, with The Great Gatsby's "shiny reboot" being financially successful (both in tickets and books, with 180,000 digital copies sold since the movie's release), though it divided critics in regards to the use of 3D and the replacement of jazz in favor of hip-hop, electronic and alternative rock music in the soundtrack while praising the acting.
Downton Abbey has practically been for the golden 20s/tepid 30s what Mad Men has meant for the fabulous 50s/swinging 60s, with both eras becoming an important part of this nostalgia wave.
Retro Studios revived the beloved Donkey Kong Country series from The '90s for a new installment. The Kunio-kun series, too, looks to be on the verge of revival.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World wasn't a blockbuster, but it opened The '90s up as the new nostalgic decade, a testament to how time has passed.
Paul Reubens revived the Pee-wee's Playhouse stage show and in 2016, released Pee-wee's Big Holiday on Netflix, while The Muppets made a big-screen comeback bid, followed by a new TV show.
Star Trek (2009) and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, two iconic franchises of The Sixties, have also been revived on the big screen after a long period of being left in the dust. The former has also gotten a new series greenlit, Star Trek: Discovery.
Following Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm in late 2012, plans were announced that the long anticipated Star Wars sequel trilogy will be made with J. J. Abrams as director. The first film, The Force Awakens, premiered in December 2015. Tragically, in December 2016, Carrie Fisher, who'd returned to play Princess Leia for the new trilogy, died shortly after she finished filming her scenes for the next film, The Last Jedi, scheduled to premiere in December 2017. To make matters worse, her mother Debbie Reynolds died the following day.
After sitting in Development Hell since 1997 and notably being the butt of many jokes within the gaming community, Duke Nukem Forever was handed over from 3D Realms to Gearbox Software of Borderlands fame and released in 2011.
After the steady supply of (primarily indie) Retraux video games, a trend of homaging the general look and feel of media from the 80s also started in late 2012, spearheaded by games like Hotline Miami and later followed by larger profile games like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
Animorphs enjoyed a short-lived revival from Scholastic. Rumor has it that Sony Pictures is currently working on a movie adaptation of the series.
Anime's offerings include the revival of the Dragon Ball franchise in the Re-Cut series Dragon Ball Kai along with the renaissance of the Sailor Moon franchise, with the reprinting of the manga along with a new series released in Summer 2014 and the reboot of the Ghost in the Shell franchise with the announced Arise series. And speaking of anime from this decade, the genre has regained popularity overseas (see below).
British culture has seen a resurgence in popularity overseas, having its biggest impact over American culture since the 1960s-era "British Invasion" (the "Cool Britannia" boom of the 1990s never became very popular in part of the foreign public), as well as spurting a renewed interest on Victorian/Edwardian culture.
Within Eastern culture, South Korea began to spread its culture more aggressively into the West, matching Japan's cultural influence in some aspects. China and Russia have also attempted to compete with Hollywood by making their own blockbuster-like films, although these are little known in the West.
The hedonistic attitudes of the past two decades (last immortalized by Jersey Shore) have become increasingly mocked and frowned upon as these became so commonplace to the point of becoming utterly uninteresting and the recession changed priorities towards more austerity. Nevertheless, Moral Guardians' voices have become louder. In 1998 or in 2008, "Blurred Lines" would not have made much of a stir; in 2013 it got labeled as grossly immoral (especially after the singer Robin Thicke's infamous performance at the MTV Video Awards show). Conservatives criticized it as "debauched" while feminists called the song misogynistic. And Marvin Gaye's estate sued for plagiarism.
Explicit sexuality has lost momentum not only by the prevalence of less revealing clothes and that sex has mostly been relegated to apps like Tinder, but also the end of the symbols of the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s: The Sun dropped its Page Three Stunna in early 2015, while Playboy announced that its iconic centerfold would be no more by its February 2016 issue, which introduced a style more akin to "lads' mags" like Esquire and GQ(though they have since reversed this decision). Retailers such as Abercrombie and Fitch and perfume companies have also reduced their ads' sexual content. Carl Karcher Enterprises, which runs the American hamburger chains Hardee's and Carl's Jr., was once known for going straight to sex appeal in their advertisements with models and former porn stars eating their food in bikinis and lingerie, but in mid-2017, in response to falling sales, the focus shifted to the lives of fictional CEO Carl Hardee Sr. and his hedonistic son.
This decade has also been marked by an important push towards political correctness among Generations X, Y and Z, primarily from collegiate students.
However the rise of political correctness has also spawned a massive backlash. Terms like "Social Justice Warrior" ("SJW" for short) have risen to mock people who take political correctness too far, with a Straw Feminist stereotype being associated with the Vocal Minority on social media websites such as Tumblr and Twitter. Opposition to multiculturalism amid increased immigration and terrorism have spawned far-right populist parties which many feel are harboring sentiments reminiscent of the Third Reich. In addition, neo right-wing groups have emerged, with varying stances towards social issues. These groups are dubbed as the "alt-right", and may be the counter-claim to more liberal millennials. Due to conflicting views on both sides as well as moderates on both ends, Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement should be applied when discussing said issues.
This moralistic climate might have reignited the "Religious Right", bringing it back to the forefront. However, the popularity of Pope Francis, known for his progressive stance, has pushed religious politics, as well as a lot of Catholics into the province of liberals, something unthinkable just a decade ago.
This "house cleaning" in turn has increased the popularity of Web Original content, even in Hollywood as some filmmakers now find themselves with a suddenly more stringent censorship stifling much of their creativity.
This move towards more correctness and rectitude is the result of backlash against the "Baby Boomer" generationnote Those born between 1946 and 1964, now portrayed by later generations as selfish, immature freeloaders with an unrealistically simplistic (and overtly utopic) vision of the world. It hasn't helped that the reputations of many of the boomers' most important symbols and idols have been shattered overnight. A glaring example of this generational divide is the rejection of 20-something feminists of the bikini and the "sex positive" philosophy championed by 1960s/70s-era feminists. On the other hand, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers also accuse Millennials of being selfish, immature freeloaders with an unrealistically simplistic (and overtly utopic) vision of the world.
But Darker and Edgier works also took advantage of the environment: The last Harry Potter films were noted for being much darker than their source novels, at the same time the dystopian The Hunger Games and Divergent series replaced vampires and the supernatural as the headliners of Young Adult Literature. Some video games (Modern Warfare, Watch_Dogs, Grand Theft Auto V) and TV shows (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, House of Cards (US), Homeland, The Walking Dead) have become notorious for their lack of sympathetic characters or good outcomes. Even fairy tales have gone gritty with such films as Snow White and the Huntsman and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, two Darker and Edgier retellings, while Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty have denounced the inherent climate of political correctness. A few reboots have focused on grit in response as well.
May 2017 marked the very last performance of the Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey circus after 146 years, putting an end to the traditional circus on nationwide tours. Reasons are varied, ranging from animal activists cracking down on animal abuse in circuses (whether real or perceived) to the fact people on YouTube and social media have done all kinds of unusual stunts to death (apart from popularizing those that would not work on wide venues), rendering the circus as "old hat" entertainment resorting to stale routines. While "premium" circuses such as the Cirque du Soleil have all but displaced the traditional circus in the developed world, big tops still enjoy great popularity elsewhere, in Latin America and Asia they have become recognized as cultural heritage.
With the widespread economic disparity and greater free will of big businesses, some have dubbed the decade "The New Gilded Age".
Anime & Manga
While Asia is having something of a golden age, the Land of the Rising Sun on the other hand has had less to cheer about as the effects of the Lost Decade continue to rear its ugly headnote Though not everyone agrees with this sentiment, citing how Japan has managed to stay stable nigh indefinitely when it should logically have floundered to the point that some question the "Lost Decade" narrative itself, a devastating earthquake and tsunami ravaging the Tohoku region in March 2011, and The Japanese Invasion seeming to be reeling back from some foreign shores, as Japan's international and cultural reputation received a hit with Shinzo Abe, who have left a negative reputation in the Far East Asian sphere with his xenophobic and conservative actions.
The decade started out poorly for anime, with the collapse of Toonami still lingering, the closeout of many prominent dubbing companies, and a string of poorly-performing shows. However, since 2012, Anime has been enjoying a massive revival in the west, thanks to the revival of Toonami, the success of streaming services like Neon Alley and Crunchyroll, new dubbing companies like NIS America and Section 23 Films rising to the fore, and a multitude of smash hits such as Attack on Titan, One-Punch Man and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
The revival of Toonami deserves special mention. An anime and action cartoon block on Cartoon Network whose efforts lead to the last anime boom, it eventually saw its end when the CN Real era became prominentnote It could be said that the decline and fall of Toonami was a major cause for the end of the last anime boom, as there was no viable platform for anime of its scope that was able to replace it until its eventual revival. But on April Fools' Day 2012, viewers tuned into [adult swim] expecting to see The Room again — but instead saw the beloved anime block returning for one night - then after a huge Twitter campaign by anime fans, permanently on May 26. Out of the gate, it's done its part to help revive anime in the west, as it has cemented such hits as Bleach, and Naruto, and even turned Deadman Wonderland - a program that tanked badly in Japannote some saying as a result of the above mentioned moe/otaku pandering boom - into a hit with a bonafide fanbase. The block has even rescued shows that were screwed by the parent network such as the reboot of ThunderCats and Sym-Bionic Titan, though time will tell if either or both shows will eventually see continuation. And perhaps because of this success, they've even gotten the privilege of showing Space Dandy at the same time it is being broadcasted in Japan.
Perhaps as a response to the industry’s abusive retention of "traditional and at times controversial conventions", the Tokyo government went as far as passing Bill 156, which would essentially restrict titles with such questionable content from being sold to minors. Not surprisingly, the industry and anime fans have largely opposed it, citing concerns of free speech and that governments shouldn’t be trying to force such cultural shifts in such a matter. The broadness of the law also leave it open to abuse and some have said that the restrictions can also bring further detriment to the industry like The Comics Code did to western comics. While the law was passed in December 2010 and was supposed to take full effect in July 2011, due to the various lawsuits to try and stop it as well as concerns over enforcement, time will only tell how this will go.
Eastern video games (especially in regards to the JRPG) have fallen deeply, as the most recent offerings by Square Enix, such as Mindjack and Lord of Arcana, failed to impress a Western gaming community that has written them off, and Final Fantasy suffered its greatest failure to date with its fourteenth installment (though [[the following installment was heralded as a return to form). While Idea Factory and NISAmerica have tried to pick up the slack, they weren't well-received, with the growing differences between Japanese and Western tastes in gaming often cited as an explanation. This is in addition to sites like Polygon and Kotaku publishing articles with an anti-Japan bias, though these have mellowed down over time as other games were well-received. Still, this inadvertently had a chilling effect on games being brought over from Japan, not helped by Nintendo's decision to region lock the 3DS. However, just like anime, Japanese video games are still a formidable force due in part to the resurgence of the Fighting Game with titles like BlazBlue, as well as the arrival of Nintendo's Wii U in 2012 and Sony's Playstation 4 later in 2013. While the Wii U did poorly at first, it soon made its mark with a string of strong hit games, and the PS4 has been doing even better.
Music is also having a difficult time crossing over the pond as the market is still physical media dominated rather than digital, unlike K Pop which used to become internationally popular, Japan still maintains a firewall over their media as few if any J Pop videos are often deleted quickly by. Along with vast cultural differences even between K Pop, it has created a negative impact on Japan's international reputation. Though that said, Visual Kei and folk/modern bands have seen a resurgence in recent years.
Manga, following its Western counterparts, is undergoing a transition of sorts into digital, online and doujinshi-style self-publishing to cope with the changes in technology. This continues a trend from the Turn of the Millennium with works like Axis Powers Hetalia, though more traditional and established manga giants like Shonen Jump continue earning profits despite print media publishing in general being on the decline. Then again, Shonen Jumpdid go digital in 2012. Also, Kodansha did lose several high-profile properties due to high-handedness of its editors — like the decades-long cult classic Gunnm(AKA Battle Angel Alita) and Attack on Titan, which was plainly refused by the editor because "it wasn't JUMP!"
The anime industry in general for that matter has increasingly embraced digitization and online distribution/streaming as a viable, alternative platform to the decades-old direct-to-TV modelnote Called by some in the industry as “The Curse of Osamu,” referring to Osamu Tezuka's approach back in the 1960s of "dumping" his products on TV networks at prohibitively low prices. Coincidentally, this has helped in legitimizing sites like Crunchyroll while attracting both international and domestic fans.
In relation to the aforementioned digitization of the anime industry, some companies and animators have already started exploiting new media more directly. Examples include Production I.G's anime Kick-Heart being Kickstarter-supported and Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment streaming at least some of its Gundam shows (including the Unicorn OV As episodes) for free on YouTube.
A more recent trend in anime has seen the reemergence of the Cool Big Sis to the limelight (or what some are calling the "Age of Onee-san") particularly in Gundam Reconguista In G and Gundam Build Fighters Try, in addition to the general trend of stronger female characters. Which has been lampshaded by Yoshiyuki Tomino himself, who's stated in interviews as being tired of "little sister" cliches.
Sports anime and manga, while traditionally weren't big sellers in America, has seen a slowly growing resurgence in popularity in America thanks to the popularity of Free!, Haikyuu!!, and Kuroko Basketball to the point that many licensors such as Funimation and Sentai Filmworks started picking up sports titles in their catalogs and even dubbing them. It also doesn't help to note that many of these titles have a Cast Full of Pretty Boys (which is also relatively popular in America thanks to the popularity of many romantic shoujo titles) which leads to Periphery Demographic (as many sports anime and manga usually geared towards younger boys and teenagers). Not to mention, American audiences are growing tired of many Schoolgirl Series Slice of Life works as many of them use the same cliches over and over again.
A number of Long-Runners and otherwise iconic manga series ended or reached their finales over the span of 2015-2016, such as Assassination Classroom, Fairy Tail, Naruto, Nisekoi, Bleach, Kochi Kame, Toriko, Golgo 13, Chi's Sweet Home, Gin Tama, Billy Bat, and Squid Girl, some of whom have been in continuous publication for up to 40 years. This leaves One Piece as the only series left of Weekly Shonen Jump's Big Threenote consisting of One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach to still be running.
Thanks of the popularity of Death Note and Fullmetal Alchemist from the previous decade, Darker and Edgier shonen works that incorporate themes seen from seinen works have become increasingly more popular. Titles such as Attack on Titan, Seraph of the End, Deadman Wonderland, and Akame ga Kill! are shonen works that fall into the more cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism and have more complex Character Development that is often seen in many seinen works note By technicality, these works are considered seinen since they are geared towards a more older audience, but they are run in many shonen magazines because many devoted readers still continue to read the shonen magazines even into adulthood. Even Hunter × Hunter, a manga series that uses a lot of traditional action shonen tropes, happens to deconstruct many of the common shonen tropes, with the storyline shifting from an idealistic end until the Chimera Arc where it shifted towards a more cynical mood. That being said, traditional idealistic shonen action works still remain popular such as My Hero Academia, Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, and Black Clover that bring in a new generation of shonen fans both in Japan and abroad. In addition, the revival of the Dragon Ball series on cable television with Dragon Ball Kai and Dragon Ball Super have brought a new generation of Dragonball fans.
Western fashion in this decade has been heavily affected by the Great Recession, having to wait for a change until around 2012, being influenced by a rise in aesthetic nostalgia for the elegant(ly) austere "yuppie" fashions of The '50s, The '60s and The '80s, as the result of a general reaction against the informal, monochromatic, distressed and borderline sleazy styles that marked the 1990s and 2000s, reflecting a change in social attitudes and paradigms. To sum it up, Simple, yet Opulent is the style.
Slim-fit became the choice buzzword for a sharp silhouette: From skinny jeans and shirts evoking the 1980's "new wave silhouette", to suits inspired from Mad Men or Miami Vice and, to a lesser extent, interbellum-styled clothing with the return of patterned styles such as tweed, pinstripes and checkers. Suits, dress shirts and neckties all became much thinner, and collars and lapels shrank as well. Suspenders have also become more common.
Bowties and hats have also become common after five decades of obsolescence (sans for some limited popularity in the 80s). Sweaters have seen a resurgence as well as plastic glasses. Rolled-up sleeves and off-the-shoulder dresses have become mainstream too. The black-lapel blue tuxedo has made quite a fashionable comeback, as well as shoulder pads.
After two decades of forcing the slim figure as the epitome for beauty, the "Real Women Have Curves" phenomenon came back, bringing with them voices of concerns about the increasing obesity rates and the dangers coming with it. The extremely tanned and barefaced looks of the 2000s have also rolled back and heavy make-up has gradually regained popularity, especially influenced by Instagram.
Make-up in this decade had been developed to fit in with the advancements of HD cameras and is classified into three styles; the vintage look, characterized by contouring, winged eyeliner, and red matte lips; the no makeup-makeup look, which, by name, is heavy makeup disguised as barely-there makeup; and the Korean or ulzzang style, which emphasizes a youthful look through big eyes, dewy skin, rosy cheeks, gradient lips, and narrow chins. Each style shares a common theme of thick eyebrows.
Women's dress silhouettes turned a bit dressier with vintage-themed prints complete with a flowing waterfall or handkerchief-like patterns topped with a high waistline. Hemlines slightly dropped from the 2000s-era miniskirts to above-ankle around 2013-14 before rising to mid-thigh in fall 2016. More casual dresses come in "maxi" length (that is, floor length).
Women's footwear in this decade had two extreme flavors: the ballerina-style flats, as well as high-heeled platform stilettos and boots continue to be popular, although not being as prominent as in the last years. While Ugg boots continued to be popular, the company started to make waves with other products during the decade, especially moccasins. Also making a fast rise is Toms Shoes, a slip-on shoe based on Argentine Espadrilles. It is notable for its "Buy One, Give One," campaign, in which impoverished children are given shoes for every pair bought. Although almost exclusively a women's shoe in the U.S., Toms are popular with both sexes elsewhere.
After 15-to-20 years' of mostly unisex styling, haircuts have become more gender-specific once again: Men's hairstyles have been strongly modeled on the punk movement, with cuts such as the "Ramone cut" and the "Fauxhawk" being increasingly popular as a backlash against the 2000s-era long hair spread, as well as "undercuts". Women's hairdos have also gotten shorter or, if still long, more extravagant akin to the '80s Hair looks. During the recession, many young women stopped dyeing their hair altogether, which has led to a marginal vogue for grey hair (being constantly mocked as a sign that young people are acting too old-fashioned).
Beginning at the second half of the decade, a small but increasing number of young women have shaved their heads, either partially or entirely, mostly as a reaction to societal conventions about female hair, bar from a number of cases done to support high-profile cases of cancer.
For men who wished to have their hair long, they would have them pulled it back, either as a pseudo-mullet or into a ponytail or a samurai-like bun (known as "the man bun").
Also, facial hair has regained acceptance after a decade of slow resurgence. The full beard became extremely common in North America and Europe in the late 2000s and early 2010s as razors were seen to be an unnecessary expense, though the more moderate Perma-Stubble has gained greater acceptance due to the full beard becoming now associated with jihadists. Mustaches have also become pretty common, although you are more likely to find a "pencil-thin" one or a "Magnum" one instead of the "handlebar" mostly sported by hipsters (and for that matter, mostly on their T-shirts).
Hipster-influenced clothing came in vogue in this decade. Ironic glasses, knit caps, scarves, plaid shirts, vintage prints, wacky dyed hair, obscure and incomprehensible tattoos, just to name a few, stepped to the catwalk.
The spring-summer of 2015 saw a minor resurgence of hippie-inspired clothing, with flowery prints, platform shoes, and flares becoming a limited trend. Rounded sunglasses have become popular in their own right.
The decade gave us the most notable dresses and other articles pressed down to fashion history:
2010 gave us Lady Gaga wearing a beef jerky dress for the 2010 VMAs, causing outrage from PETA.
2011 gave us the simplistic yet elegant fairytale wedding dress of Kate Middleton to Prince William, created by Sarah Burton under the Alexander McQueen label. Prince William's similarly austere suit became as well a turning point for fashion as up until then, there were no rules about how to wear an smoking (however, since we're speaking of royalty...)
The red carpet for the 2012 Academy Awards became a buzz when Angelina Jolie wore a thigh-high split black evening gown, and the Internet had a field day with it.
Rihanna caused quite a stir when she wore a very diaphanous 1920s inspired dress at the 2014 CFDA awards.
The winter of 2014-2015 introduced sweaters with a keyhole-shaped Cleavage Window in it.
The last week of February 2015 gave us a heated debate all over the internet of the colour on a Roman Originals dress as seen in a Scottish woman's photo as either white and gold lace or blue and black lace. It's actually royal blue and black lace, but the picture's severe glare made it easy to be interpreted as white and gold lace.
In 2017, rompers note a one-piece clothing of shorts and shirt traditionally worn by adult women, toddlers, and babies became a relatively popular fashion trend among adult men thanks to the success of a Kickstarter project.
2018 gave us the Catholic-themed MET Gala with Rihanna wearing a papal inspired frock topped with a mitre and Zendaya wearing a Joan of Arc-inspired dress; and the simplistic yet elegant wedding dress of Meghan Markle to Prince Harry, created by Clare Waight Keller under the Givenchy label. Meghan's 5 metre veil was laced with flowers representing the members of the Commonwealth and of Meghan's home state.
Films — Animation
The popularity of computer-animated features on the big screen continued apace from the Turn of the Millennium and has greatly benefited from the 3-D Movie revival.
While Disney's attempt to bring back 2D animation to movie audiences became a failure, their shorts Paperman and Feast feature 2D aesthetics while being produced in CGI.
The Disney Animated Canon had its biggest hits since The '90s with Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia. The first and especially the third one became extremely popular and revived the Disney Princess franchise after a decade.
On the other side, Dreamworks Animation's reputation improved with more story-driven, less-jokey efforts beginning with Kung Fu Panda in 2008 and How to Train Your Dragon in 2010, however the studio's movies became increasingly intellectual and/or cloying since then, hurting its financial position to the point it almost went bankrupt after a series of failures (Pacific Data was closed in December 2014). DW returned to the old formula with 2015's Home, which became a major commercial hit, as it happened to Kung Fu Panda 3 and The Boss Baby. The studio itself was purchased by Universal for 3.8 billion dollars and they will start distributing their films in 2018. Jeffrey Katzenberg will no longer have control of the studio once the purchase is complete (he will stay at the company as head of Dreamworks New Media). Instead, control will be overseen by Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri.
Pixar, which dominated the previous decade, has continued to churn out box-office hits but has found its prestige slipping since the Tough Act to Follow of Toy Story 3, with Cars 2 getting a poor critical reception, and Brave got mixed notices and underperformed worldwide in spite of winning an Oscar. Monsters University did do well with critics, though audiences were divided on it as well. After not releasing films in 2014, Inside Out, the studio's first 2015 release received a standing ovation at Cannes and became a surprise hit, competing with Jurassic World on even terms. The same year though, they released The Good Dinosaur which became their first Box Office Bomb. Their fortunes though seem to have begun rebounding. Finding Dory became a big critical and financial hit while Cars 3 was considered to be an improvement on the previous one. Coco was met with critical acclaim and was a commercial success, and also scored 2 more Oscars for Pixar (Best Animated Feature and Best Song). The Incredibles 2 has also been meant with acclaim and its huge 182 million opening weekend has giving it the record for best animated feature debut.
Illumination Entertainment and Universal's Despicable Me series have also charmed mass audiences, crowding the market even more alongside Warner Bros. Animation Group (The LEGO Movie), Laika Animation (ParaNorman) and Industrial Light and Magic/Paramount Animation (Rango). CGI films' international popularity even made titles that weren't huge hits in North America, such as The Adventures of Tintin and the continuing Ice Age franchise, into blockbusters — a sign of the increasing importance of foreign audiences to Hollywood.
Sausage Party became the first successful R-rated animated movie since 1999, and the first since 1981 not to be based on a TV series.
Films — Live-Action
James Cameron overturned his own record with Avatar, which with Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010) started a 3D craze in 2010. While a few films had been already released in the format for some years, it was not until then when it became standard for blockbusters and animated films to be released in both stereoscopic and 'flat' prints. Nonetheless, by the second half of the decade, 3D became relegated to family fare, audiences preferring larger, higher-resolution systems in the vein of IMAX instead.
Excessive use of Jitter Cam is on its way to becoming a Discredited Trope, due to being overused by a ton of movies and shows during the end of the previous decade and the first half of this one. Movies like Jack Reacher, The Raid, and John Wick are establishing clearly-shot, meticulously choreographed fight scenes as the new "cool" thing to do in action movies.
The Blockbuster Age of Hollywood is still going strong, in spite of the fact competition from premium cable and streaming services have meant a shift towards an improved movie-going experience, which has translated into Hollywood posting ever higher box-office numbers in spite that admissions have decreased in a sustained basis since the late 1990s/early 2000s (Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are among those predicting that the business model will eventually evolve into one similar to theatre and concerts). The critical and financial failures in the domestic market of numerous blockbusters between late 2010 and mid-2014 and franchise-based films beginning in 2016 have made movie studios rethink their strategies, especially as foreign revenues have dropped due to the growth of Netflix and rampant piracy in developing countries.
Meanwhile, a new "indie wave" emerged during the second half of the decade, featuring a personal feeling reminiscent of the 70s-era "auteurs", drastically different from the sentimental "Sundance style" or the "kitchen-sink" realism that marked "indie" filmmaking during the 2000s. Ironically, streaming has given people a higher awareness for less "commercial" fare, and films like Moonlight, La La Landnote The two of them being the focus of the biggest Oscar blunder ever, when the former winning Best Picture as the latter was named first in a "Steve Harvey" moment and Manchester by the Sea became popular with the mainstream audience, while Baby Driver and The Big Sick competed with blockbusters on even terms for the summer box office in 2017. Not even superhero films could escape this trend, Logan being one of the darkest films of the genre, while Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming aimed straight to young adults and mostly ditched the "epic battle" scenes associated with these movies.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe began hitting its stride in the New Tens, with 2010 and 11's Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger setting up its big 2012 crossover The Avengers. It has maintained success throughout the decade and has since become the highest grossing film series of all time with a total worldwide gross exceeding 17 billion dollars. Its success has led to rival studios attempting to launch their own Shared Universe series or modify existing franchises into being one, including the DC Extended Universe, The Amazing Spider-Man Series, the X-Men Film Series, the Universal Horror Dark Universe, and the Godzilla/King Kong MonsterVerse. As of yet, none have replicated Marvel's success, with many of them being so caught up in setting up spinoffs that the films themselves suffered for it.
2016 was the first year in which not a single non-documentary film (theatrical or DTV) was rated "G" by the Motion Pictures Association of America.
Gender politics have become a constant theme inside Hollywood, as actresses began speaking out against their lower wages compared to those for their male counterparts. Cases of sexual abuse and other indiscretions (some of them hidden for several years) began to draw high levers of anger beginning in the middle of the decade.
Depending on who you ask, horror cinema has either undergone a new renaissance or is stuck in a Dork Age. Whereas the previous decade was defined primarily by Torture Porn movies, J-horror remakes, and remakes/reboots of horror franchises from the 70s and 80s, this one has seen a slew of low-key Found Footage movies and teen-oriented flicks that consist largely of Jump Scares. While some of these films have received critical acclaim (most notably the works of James Wan, who is considered by some to be this generation's answer to John Carpenter), most have been dismissed by critics who view them as being manufactured, hollow films that fail to leave any sort of lasting impression. On the other hand, the past few years have seen a plethora of smaller, auteur-driven indie horror films such as It Follows, The Babadook, Get Out, Starry Eyes, and The VVitch, all of which have received acclaim for emphasizing smart writing and creepy atmospheres over cheap scare tactics, also capitalizing on a climate of apparent general hysteria not only hitting paydirt, but also making critics notice a genre long despised by academic circles. Many of the most commercially successful horror films in this decade were produced by Blumhouse Productions who were able to produce a number of successful horror franchises with most of the films having a rather low budget. The 2017 adaptation of the Stephen King novel It became the highest-grossing horror film as well as the third highest grossing R-rated film of all time.
The decade has seen an increased backlash against Conspicuous CG in live-action movies; many have derided it as lazy and visibly fake, and will mention its use (or over-use) in critical reviews. Films made with many Practical Effects advertise the fact, recognizing that it's now a positive selling point for many viewers. (Mad Max: Fury Road garnered widespread praise for keeping its use of CGI at only fifteen percent).
There has been a debate between movie buffs regarding if the industry has become "infantilized" with the emphasis on blockbuster films in detriment of the more "mature" fare that thrived during the 2000s. By the second half of the decade however, some began to counter these claims, either citing the number of G- and PG-rated films declining into near-oblivion against the dominance of PG-13 films and the resurgence of the R rating, the presence of "inappropriate" situations on films squarely aimed at families, or (to a much lesser extent) the use of what they might see as Family-Unfriendly Violence on superhero films.
Whitewashing in Hollywood in the recent decade has been a subject of controversy. One particular actress, Scarlett Johansson, was subjected to casting controversy in the Ghost in the Shell adaptation where she plays as the main protagonist, Mira Killian, who is a cyborg of a Japanese woman, which critics argue an Asian actress would have been more appropriate for the role. In a similar vein, she would have cast as a transgender man, Dante "Tex" Gill, in a biopic Rub & Tug, but due to pressure from many transgender activists, she was forced to withdraw from the role.
After having success in producing their own television shows, streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon begun producing their own films. The results tend to be mixed though both have at times been able to gain critical success and some relative popularity. Amazon's Manchester by the Sea helped them become the first streaming service to get a film nominated for the Best Picture Oscar while Netflix won a Documentary Feature Oscar with Icarus. Whereas Amazon tends to give their films a standard theatrical release before uploading it to their service, Netflix tends to give their films a very short release before quickly placing it on their service. This has gotten Netflix some scrutiny from people in the film industry, even preventing them from competing at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and receiving backlash from numerous people working in the film industry, especially those who operate cinemas. This has prevented them from acquiring rights to certain films even if they offer more money than traditional studios.
The Young Adult genre has greatly dominated literature in this decade featuring two completely different styles: The first years of the decade were marked by the The Hunger Games series and its ilk (Divergent, The Maze Runner) featuring grungy, dystopian settings. Then, novels deliberately hearkening back to John Hughes' teen movies like The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns and Everything, Everything became popular.
Not only teen-oriented books have made it to Hollywood: The bestseller Gone Girl has gotten a film adaptation and Fifty Shades of Grey confirmed its cultural phenomenon status with its arrival to Tinseltown. The A Song of Ice and Fire series also received more mainstream notice after its television adaptation, Game of Thrones, became popular — by the middle of the decade, what five years earlier was a little-known series of fantasy novels was at the same iconic level as the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.
Scandinavian literature gained international popularity even expanding to other media such as film and TV, with Nordic Noir style thrillers such as The Millennium Trilogy, Bron|Broen, and Wallander receiving Foreign Remakes. Perhaps long overdue for the region which brought us Black Metal, Horror has also taken a strong root in Scandinavia. Whether it's the dark Vampire story of Let the Right One In or the Zombie-splatter comedy of Dead Snow, young creators are making a new generation of horror with a uniquely Nordic twist.
The Internet grew as a major player in not only television distribution, but creation. Netflix in particular hit paydirt with Marvel tie-in shows like Daredevil (2015) and Jessica Jones (2015), other original smashes like House of Cards (US), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Stranger Things, and Orange Is the New Black, and the revival of Arrested Development. House of Cards was the first series without a network to compete for the Emmy awards in 2013. Conversely, this has led to cable TV being the next medium due to fall to the Internet's overwhelming power with "cord-cutting" becoming a steady new trend as people realize that their cable TV subscriptions are too expensive and limited a service compared to the sheer versatility of their internet connections. A related trend that is even more worrisome for cable TV is the rise of the "cord-nevers," young adults striking out on their own and having no intention of subscribing in the first place in favor of their internet connections and maybe using over-the-air antennae. So far, only live TV content like sports, that internet feeds cannot reliably supply at present, is proving a good enough lure for subscribers. It certainly explains why the Canadian media company, Rogers Communications, bought the exclusive Canadian TV broadcast rights to the games of the National Hockey League for .9 Billion (2.45 times the amount NBC bought for the American rights and in a country that has only 10% of the US population). There are a few exceptions that buck the trend, most notably Breaking Bad, which only became a commercial juggernaut near the end of its run, after the earlier seasons had been placed on Netflix, which most analysts say was the contributing factor for its astronomical rise in live-viewer ratings, in addition to superb word-of-mouth following its huge gains at the Emmys during its run.
Science Fiction is thriving in the film world with Prometheus, Avatar and the like, but struggled on television in the first half of the decade with only Falling Skies and the Doctor Who revival winning people over. Additionally, long-running world-building sci-fi series of yesteryear (The X-Files and the Stargate franchise) were off the air without new series to replace them. In the span of a few months, Syfy cancelled many Science Fiction shows such as Stargate Universe and ABC gave up on a V revival. Some blame this on trying to grab new Battlestar Galactica's fans. The genre thrived in the second half with big hits such as Star Trek: Discovery, The Orville, Lost in Space (2018) and Final Space. Around the same time, Who got another wind after Peter Capaldi's acclaimed but lower-rated run as the Doctor was followed by the headline-making arrival of Jodie Whittaker as the character's first female incarnation.
Fantasy and medieval period pieces, on the other hand, begin to thrive. This is primarily thanks to the monumental critical and commercial success of Game of Thrones and the imitators that it launches, such as Vikings.
The popularity of film superheroes has also translated to TV: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sparked a slew of successful shows such as Gotham, Supergirl, the Arrowverse shows, and the Marvel Netflix shows (with Arrow having premiered one year before "S.H.I.E.L.D."). The Walking Dead has also become a testament on how influential comic books in general have been during the decade.
Miniseries have become a new mainstay on TV, ranging from the classic 3-4 episode format to full 22-26 episode seasons. TV movies and anthology series have also become a trend.
In Australian TV, the National Indigenous Television (NITV) was integrated with SBS so that the indigenous station could broadcast free-to-air for all Australians to see. Speaking of SBS, it's second channel SBS2 was rebranded as a youth channel, bringing with it shows like Community, Unbeatable Banzuke, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force after 6pm.
HBO's venture into Asia, HBO Asia, released its first ever original series, Serangoon Road, a fast-paced crime fiction drama co-produced with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, set in 1960s-era Singapore.
In April 2014, David Letterman announced that he would retire in 2015, after more than 30 years in television, with his final show airing on May 20, 2015. A week after his announcement, CBS announced his Late Show successor would be Stephen Colbert, who ended his own show, The Colbert Report, on December 18, 2014, after 9 years. After 15+ years of being oddly one of the most trusted names in news with a humorous tone, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show stepped down on August 6, 2015, succeeded by South African comedian Trevor Noah. Fortunately, the newer series, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, with the Daily Show alumnus providing his more focused wry eye on current events has become a big hit in its own right.
After two decades' worth of Alternative Rock, Hip-Hop and Adult-contemporary Idol Singers heavily inspired by jazz and soul, Electronic Music became a hot spot in the American public eye, after years of mild-to-moderate popularity in the club scene (already being popular around the rest of the world, especially in continental Europe). deadmau5, David Guetta, and Skrillex, among others, have become global celebrities. The latter has become particularly notorious for popularizing Dubstep, a part-aggressive/part-melodic genre copied by other producers, spreading many subgenres like "deep house" and "electroswing" (which became popular a little earlier than its parent genre with 2010's "We No Speak Americano"). Although deadmau5 doesn't consider himself to be and dislikes being called a DJ, he is an electro house producer known best for wearing an iconic mouse-head mask. Guetta is a French house music artist who released his obscure debut album in 2002 and hit worldwide fame with 2009's "When Love Takes Over". The ponderous success of Lady Gaga ended up becoming the crucial piece in the puzzlenote But don't remind her about that; she has herself shifted to soul music.
Likewise, with other electronic music genres, many a pop star has cashed in the craze at least once, with mixed results: Both Adele and Taylor Swift relaunched their careers by adopting the genre with considerable success. Earlier on, Justin Bieber commonly incorporated synths and digital instruments with guitars, trumpets, and pianos.
Boy bands have started to make a comeback after falling out of favor for almost a decade; this time, they were crafted in Bieber's mold. Due to Bieber's astronomical popularity, few of these boy bands were able to attain much success worldwide.
One Direction, comprised of five British-Irish X Factor alumni who finished third on the show's 2010 series managed to gain popularity. After conquering the UK in 2011, One Direction started to rapidly grow an international fanbase, and when they released their "Up All Night" album in the US, it debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200, a feat unheard of for a British band's debut album. One Direction became so massive that not only did other boy bands that struggled in Bieber's presence get further hammered down, but Bieber's own popularity was dramatically hemorrhaged (his personal scandals didn't help either). The quintet was neck-a-neck with him the entirety of 2012, have completely surpassed him by the summer of 2013, and by the end of that year "Bieber Fever" was all but extinct.
In 2015, Bieber decided to embrace the "shocker" persona he had been known for in the previous years, adopting an urban-oriented sound, also teaming up with DJ duo Jack U, their song "Sorry" becoming a big hit that summer. Meanwhile, the British ensemble saw a series of upheavals (including Zayn's exit in 2015) that led to their break-up in 2016. Some of the members though have since begun successful solo careers.
Urban music has remained popular in spite of the fact Glam Rap and other popular genres of the 2000s have fallen out of favor and replaced with the renascent West Coast style. Newer takes on hip-hop come in three different flavors: a) Revisiting R&B, jazz and other "black" genres, often with some social commentary, b) Crossing over with EDM, with some "featured" performances alongside pop artists (some artists, like Kendrick Lamar, have managed to do both), or c) "mumble rap", Trap Music consisting of indecipherable mumbled lyrics, coupled with simplistic lyricism. Much like the rock example below, hip-hop fans argue about whether or not the above is actual hip-hop or "gentrified Hip-Hop", with some fans saying traditional Hip-Hop/Rap is dead in the mainstream even though 2017 marked the point when the genre surpassed rock in sales and has come on top in popularity surveys since 2013, dominating the music industry to the point Paul Anka, of all people, has told of his intention to enter the scene.
"Sunshine pop", popular in the 1960s, saw a sudden revival during the decade, becoming an important genre in the urban field. While the ever-optimistic "Motown sound" predominates, there have also been notorious influences from 80s-era funk and disco music, with songs like Daft Punk's "Get Lucky", Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines", Pharrell Williams' "Happy"note He also contributed to the previous two songs, Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass", Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk!"note OK, technically Mark Ronson’s "Uptown Funk!" (Bruno Mars was the featured artist), but everyone considers it a Bruno Mars song first, The Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face" and Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling" topping the chartsnote actually, "Get Lucky" got stuck at #2 in the United States behind "Blurred Lines", but the rest all hit #1. Maroon 5, which in the 2000s had personified the funk-rock movement, morphed their sound, scoring a hit with 2014's "Sugar".
The rock scene became dominated by British acts (and Brit producers) and strong EDM influences after the previous decade had been marked by raw sounds and an inescapable American feel. There has been debate among rock fans not only because of its dependence on synthesisers (verboten on American rock), but also because of the fact many artists have adopted a squeaky-clean, "goodie-two-shoes" image in contrast to the traditional rocker persona, leading to some fans and critics to call it "rock in name only", "guitar pop", "festival music", "Instagram rock" or "gentrified rock". "Indie" rocknote Unrelated to the folk-based American genre of the 2000s, being more of a British interpretation of "college" rock is a combination of 1960s-era mod, soul and "jangle" pop with new wave, with some urban tinges becoming common by the middle of the decade. The more EDM-flavoured "fire pop", a mix of power ballad and club beats, became synonymous with YA "dystopia" movies. Notable exponents include The Black Keys, Imagine Dragons, Twenty One Pilots, Lana Del Rey, Florence + the Machine, Bon Iver, The 1975, Foster the People, Mumford & Sons, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Gotye, Magic!, and fun. note whose 2012 tune "We Are Young" became the first rock song to reach #1 on the pop charts since Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" in 2007, among others. Older UK acts such as Coldplay and Muse, both pioneers of the "fire pop"/"crossover" genre have remained popular.
And in spite of being hit by decreasing album sales and lack of chart success and radio airplay, most trad rock acts (particularly bigger ones like Metallica, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Avenged Sevenfold, Slipknot, and Linkin Park just to name a few) are bigger than ever in the concert field, drawing four- to five-figure crowds with no difficulty whatsoever: Guns N' Roses' "Not In This Lifetime" reunion tour has grossed over 0 million in tickets alone.
Speaking of Guns, Rose became the vocalist for AC/DC in 2016 as Brian Johnson was forced to retire on account of his deteriorated hearing.
After 20 years of inactivity (save for a brief reunion performance at Live 8 in 2005), Pink Floydnote Or at least David Gilmour & Nick Mason, as Syd Barret died in 2006 and by then was in no mental condition to continue performing by the time of the Live 8 reunion, Roger Waters formally left the band in 1984 and declined to join Gilmour & Mason for this event, and Richard Wright died in 2008 regrouped to publish what would be the band's final album in a discography spanning 36 years: The Endless River. Released in 2014 and composed primarily of unused instrumental recordings from the sessions for 1994's The Division Bell, the album received a mixed reception from critics and fans due to its nature as an instrumental album. However, the album's sole vocal track, "Louder Than Words," would be regarded highly among Floydians as a fitting grand finale for one of the biggest and most influential prog rock bands of the 20th century.
Probably the biggest victim of the market's shift is Post-Grunge, which was one of the most popular rock genres of the 2000s, but completely fell out of favor with audiences, with most of the bands falling out of favor (they were also hit particularly hard by the fall of physical sales), with "garage rock" taking the same path. Only a handful of groups kept their chart success on rock radio alive by changing their sounds; unfortunately, they're now playing to far smaller crowds than before, with only the biggest bands still pulling in thousands of people per concert, Linkin Park being the only exception, mainly because of its association with more traditional grunge and the now-resurgent nu metal genre.
On the flipside, extreme metal is actually experiencing its greatest peak since the Nineties; not only have multiple long-defunct big names (At the Gates, Carcass, Gorguts, etc.) released their long-awaited comeback albums and returned to the touring scene, but numerous established acts are experiencing the greatest sales of their careers and there are just more options for fans as a whole than there ever have been. That being said, extreme music is still largely unknown to the mainstream; unless you're Cannibal Corpse, The Black Dahlia Murder, Behemoth, Amon Amarth, Napalm Death, or one of a select few others, you still may as well not exist to mainstream listeners.
Also, Nu Metal, of all genres, is beginning to see a resurgence with bands like Issues, Of Mice & Men, Hollywood Undead, Islander, King 810, Butcher Babies, In This Moment, and From Ashes to New all gaining popularity, while older bands that previously abandoned the style such as Slipknot and Staind made albums that hearkened back to their old sound. Bring Me the Horizon, who was once one of the poster boys for metalcore, ditched it in 2015 for a new style incorporating nu metal, giving them their biggest success.
Pop Punk, one of the defining genres of the past decade, experienced a huge drop in popularity during the early 2010s, becoming a source of mockery, mainly being kept alive through older acts like blink-182 and Sum 41 still having a large fandom, while newer bands have enjoyed a crossover fandom with Metalcore and Post-Hardcore, with bands like The Wonder Years, Knuckle Puck, and Transit forming the Defend Pop Punk subgenre, categorized by heavier, downtuned guitars and loud/soft dynamics with very personal lyrics. By the second half of the decade, the genre has witnessed an unexpected bout of nostalgia (primarily through mentions from celebrities who grew up/came-of-age during pop punk's heyday), although more for its subversive stance (coincidentally or not, these Shout Outs began during the 2016 election campaign and the rise of the anti-establishment campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump) rather than for the music itself.
Emo Music has gone back to being the domain of twentysomething hipsters like in the 1990s and bands that have started during the decade such as Foxing, The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die and La Dispute seem to take a heavy undercurrent from Indie Rock, Post-Rock and Math Rock. Several older acts such as Brand New and Motion City Soundtrack as well as Yellowcard announced they would be disbanding.
In terms of Asian music, the effects of The Japanese Invasion seemingly reeling back from foreign shores (as mentioned in the Anime section) has also affected Japanese Pop Music's once-sterling reputation in the Asian music scene; with their relatively-closed borders and peculiar approach to exporting their culture, especially since it has given South Korea, widely considered as its cultural rival, a golden chance to shine in the global stage, perhaps replacing almost every other nation as the cultural capital of Asia in the processnote (with some even saying that South Korea has taken that sole distinction from the Japanese).
Korea's success with its popular dramas and cinema is debatable, not to mention its animation and comics still pales in comparison to Japan's, but Korean Pop Music blows those industries out of the water in terms of international success. Compared to Japan, which has retained traditional roots in their musical trends, South Korea is more than willing to blend in American and Western cultural aspects to its own music and has done so with extreme success, both in the broader Asian region and to a lesser extent, in the West, especially among fans of Korean/Asian culture and some fringes of the urban music fandom.
Among some of K-Pop's highlights, US artist Akon paired up with Korean group Wonder Girls for the hit single Like Money, and PSY's Gangnam Style has broken the world record for being the most viewed song on YouTube, reaching #1 on the music charts in the UK and Australia, and #2 in the USA. PSY even paired up with MC Hammer of all people, performing a mash-up of Gangnam Style. K-Pop has made inroads on Australian radio, and dominates the nation-wide channel SBS PopAsia. When the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) decided to have its first ever TV Song Festival in 2012, featuring eleven performers across the Asia-Pacific,note Singapore, Australia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, Afghanistan, and of course South Korea it chose Korea as the host nation.
It's a telltale sign that you've made success when even North Korea has gotten in on the actnote Although judging from the actual video, North Korea's propaganda machine seems to be decades away from comprehending what the word "parody" means.
Nothing lasts forever though, as K-Pop is much more sensitive to political waves than other genres. When South Korea accepted hosting the THAAD system in its territories, China was quick to enact sanctions on K-Pop and the Hallyu which crippled its influence in China. The foreign exposure attempts also started to backfire, as foreign exposure proved to be have a detrimental effect on the popularity of certain groups due to time constraints and fatigue. When BTS won a Billboard award in 2017 they decided not to directly focus on the Western market like Wonder Girls or CL of 2NE1 did to avoid making the same mistakes. While it remains somewhat popular overseas, it no longer enjoys the same influence it had during 2012.
Of course, Japan has managed to have its own considerable international success with AKB48; which has gone from a humble girl-group to a powerful media giant in Japan, Vocaloid, and the similarly memetic PonPonPon music video on. The K-Pop vs J-Pop dichotomy has become a source of Misplaced Nationalism on both sides, but K-Pop's global success is undeniable, and it remains clear that it has promising days ahead.
Japanese Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music, and in particular Visual Kei, is undergoing somewhat of a resurgence. Visual Kei and Japanese metal bands, among them X Japan, Buck Tick, Loudness, and Luna Sea, have reunited and/or are actively touring. The Oshare and Host-kei trend that defined much of Visual Kei for the Oughts is beginning to die out, with "indies" or newly-signed Visual Kei acts returning to a harder rock sound—among them being VaguProject, DALATH, Diaura, Matenrou Opera, Trick, and similar new or newish bands. While Versailles has disbanded (as have many other Visual Kei bands; 2011 and 2012 were actually known as the "years of death and disbandment", as many bands broke up and famous artists of the genre died), Jupiter re-formed with a new vocalist.
Seremedy was one of the first breakout non-Japanese Visual Kei bands (though it disbanded in 2013, with Yohio beginning a solo career and vocalist Seike forming Kerbera), and there are other non-Japanese based Visual Kei acts beginning to form once again. X Japan, Buck Tick, Loudness and others that began in The '80s are actively recording and touring to popular reception (if not among the mass media), and Yoshiki Hayashi was tapped to write the score for the 2012 and 2013 Golden Globes award ceremony.
In Japan, the Group Sounds type of hybrid rock music/folk music has experienced a revival in popularity after fading for much of the past few decades, with even Japanese teenagers taking notice of them again, with many groups such as The Tigers and The Wild Ones (under the leadership of Kenji Sawada of The Tigers) reuniting and either touring again or writing/recording new material, and like Visual Kei, has also seen some notice taken of it in foreign markets, with Kenji Sawada's fandom in foreign countries reaching unprecedented heights with the rise of and social media.
Bachata, electropop (coloquially known as "tropipop"), and reggaeton have become dominant genres in the Latin music field.
Early on the decade, major reggaeton stars such Don Omar and Daddy Yankee had begun to to shift from reggaeton to electropop music, the former scoring a hit with "Danza Kuduro" (based on Angolan music) and the latter with "Limbo". The popularity of reggaeton resurfaced quickly thanks to artists from Colombia such as J. Balvin and Maluma.
Romeo Santos (former lead singer of Aventura) and Prince Royce (who released his debut album of the beginning of the decade) have continued to expanded bachata's popularity with a younger audience in the urban crowd. Their songs have even topped the Spanish pop charts despite the music being usually being labeled as tropical.
Bachata's popularity has gotten to the point that most major Latin pop singers will release a bachata version of their singles just to capture a wider audience.
Cuban-American rapper and producer Pitbull has bridged the gap between Latin music and hip-hop, establishing crossovers between artists of both genres, while by the middle of the decade Spanish-language tunes like "El Taxi", "La Bicicleta", "Chantaje", "Vente P'acá", "Mi Gente" and "Echame a Mi La Culpa" cracked the Billboard Top 40. The most successful example of this was "Despacito", which featured Latin singers Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee alongside Justin Bieber, quickly turning into an anthem for Hispanic pride in the Trump era (as several commentators have described it as a rebuke against "xenophobes fearful of the takeover of 'Murican culture by Spanish-speakers"), as well as the first global music phenomenon since 2015's "Uptown Funk". The song topped the charts throughout Latin America, Spain, Portugal and Italy in late 2016/early 2017, taking off in continental Europe shortly afterwards, and upon the release of the Bieber remix it became the first Spanish-language song to reach #1 on the U.S. and U.K. charts since the "Macarena" remix in 1996. Trap music has also gained popularity on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to the success of Latin artists of the genre, with Balvin and the Puerto Rican trap singer Bad Bunny topping the Hot 100 in 2018 with "I Like It" (also featuring Cardi B).
Music Streaming services have risen in popularity, with large services like Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Radio and premium services becoming very popular, as well as smaller ones like Bandcamp and Soundcloud. In late 2014, Billboard revised their ranking methodology so that music streams from the major streaming service are now counted in their album and song charts (they still have charts though for "pure album" sales) to account for this thread. The Official Charts Company, which handles music ranking charts in the UK, made similar changes to their rankings in 2015. In 2017, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) even reported that streaming had made up over 50 percent of music consumption in the UK.
Ironically, the biggest figures in pop music have waged war on the streaming industry over the low royalties paid by Spotify and the like, with many joining premium services like Apple Music and Tidal in response, most of them releasing their works only in this platform... aside from physical formats. The result: physical music sales picked up after having fallen out of favor by the turn of the decade, with most labels still producing cassettes of new albums in small quantities, and Sony announced the issuing of select titles on limited vinyl runs beginning in 2018, having abandoned the format in 1990, when the company considered the format "dead" after acquiring Columbia Records.
FM radio has narrowed formats after the late-2000s crisis, and along with the decline of physical sales, this new environment became a reflection of the new musical landscape: most stations are now top-40 oriented (CHR, Hot AC, Latino) with the odd "soft AC"/"middle-of-the-road" station in between as well as urban and/or rock in some markets, the three being a mix of formerly widespread formats, now mostly found on digital radio and the Internet, with services such as Sirius and TuneIn becoming popular.
With lower royalties coming from streaming, most acts have resorted to touring in order to keep going. This has heralded a "golden age" of music festivals, often competing fiercely to get the most popular artists on their line-ups. Not all that glitters is gold however, as the much-hyped Fyre Festival in the Bahamas during early 2017 turned out to be a poorly-planned fiasco (the headlining DJs were replaced by... local musicians, and that was just the tip of the iceberg; read more about the disaster here).
Late December 2015 witnessed the passing of Lemmy Kilmister and Scott Weiland. 2016 saw the deaths of rock legends David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Leonard Cohen, and Prince, among others.
The deaths of Chuck Berry and Fats Domino in 2017 were regarded as the demise of "rock-and-roll", as Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard (both over 80 years) are now the only surviving stalwarts of the pre-Beatles era.
The sudden suicide of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell on May 17, 2017, only hours after his last show, stunned the music world. His passing made Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder the last surviving major grunge singer of the early '90s. His friend Chester Bennington of Linkin Park took his own life on what would have been Cornell's 53rd birthday on July 20. And on October 2, singer Tom Petty passed away from a cardiac arrest (a week after wrapping up The Heartbreakers' 40th anniversary tour), taking "the soul of rock" with him. The apparent lack of a "next generation" of rock music compared to previous eras has become a source of deep concern for fans and musicians alike. John "J." Geils (of The J. Geils Band), Greg Allman (of The Allman Brothers Band), Donald Becker (of Steely Dan) and Malcolm Young (of AC/DC) died on April 11, May 27, September 3 and November 18 respectively.
On January 15, 2018, Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries was found dead in mysterious circumstances. "Fast" Eddie Clarke (of Motörhead) passed on five days earlier.
Other musicians that passed away during the decade include Ronnie James Dio and Lena Horne in 2010; Johnny Pearson, Roger Williams, Phoebe Snow, Gerry Rafferty and Amy Winehouse in 2011; Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Hal David (Burt Bacharach's main lyric writer) and Dave Brubeck in 2012; Patti Page, Eydie Gormé, Lou Reed and George Duke in 2013; Joe Cocker and Polly Bergen in 2014; Cilla Black and Ben E. King in 2015, Robert Stigwood (Bee Gees producer), Rudy Van Gelder (engineer on many jazz albums), George Martin (The Beatles/Wings producer) and George Michael in 2016; Al Jarreau, Allan Holdsworth (jazz/prog guitarist), Buddy Greco, Dave Valentin (jazz flutist), Cuba Gooding, Sr. (of The Main Ingredient), Robert Miles (trance producer, best known for the 1996 hit "Children"), and Glen Campbell in 2017; and as of 2018, Vic Damone, Hugh Masekela, Ray Thomas (of The Moody Blues) and Yvonne Staples (of The Staple Singers). Swedish DJ and House Music producer Avicci was found dead on April 20, 2018 from an apparent suicide.
In early 2018, Neil Diamond, Paul Simon and Elton John announced that they would retire from touring days apart from each other.
On a minor, yet positive note, after decades of copyright protection, on 22 September 2015, the song "Happy Birthday to You!" has now entered the Public Domain. note Europe followed suit as the copyright holdings of the song expired at 31 December 2016.
On another note, the patents for MP3 expired on 23 April 2017. Some thought that the mp3 players and/or the format itself is dead according to the creators, it's not.
If you were to sum up the National Football League this decade, the first word that came to mind would be "concussions". Head injuries have been at the forefront of the game for the past several years, particularly after several beloved veterans such as Dave Duerson and Junior Seau committed suicide. They were later revealed to have brain trauma, no doubt related to their years of playing. The horrors of the Chris Benoit murder-suicide in 2007 still being fresh in people's minds might have also had an effect. There was also a marked uptick in concussions at the high school level, suggesting that the NFL's bad behavior has a trickle-down effect. Things got markedly worse when the New Orleans Saints were revealed to have been running a bounty systemnote basically, a system where defensive players were paid a bonus if they seriously injured an opposing player that marked out specific targets. (The Bountygate scandal also revealed Commissioner Roger Goodell's penchant for overreaction after the Saints players allegedly involved in the scandal had their penalties vacated, with some legal analysts saying that the Commissioner had overstepped his authority by trying to make an example out of the Saints.)
The NFL also flirted with having a lockout in 2011, but they were able to resolve things just in time (the only game that was canceled was the Hall of Fame game, a preseason game). However, in 2012, the league dealt with the referee lockout, in which for three weeks, the league used replacement referees to replace the regular refs, and after backlash from the players, fans, and commentators, culminating with the "Fail Mary" game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, the NFL brought back the regular referees, ending the lockout.
The New England Patriots, led by QB Tom Brady, continue their successful run throughout most of the 2010s, as they would make seven consecutive AFC Championship appearances, winning four of them, and making four Super Bowls, winning two of them (XLIX and LI, the latter they won in overtime after coming back from a 28-3 deficit). The Patriots also had to deal with the Deflategate scandal (in which Brady allegedly played with underinflated footballs during the 2014 AFC Title Game against the Colts), which resulted in Brady getting suspended for the first four games initially in the 2015 season, but after several appeals, was pushed back to the 2016 season.
After missing the entire 2011 season due to him undergoing multiple neck surgeries, Peyton Manning was released from the Colts, and he signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent. This was seen as risky, as many people wondering if he can still play at a high level. Manning answered his critics when he helped guide the Broncos to consecutive winning seasons, winning the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year, and was named the 2013 NFL MVP (his fifth overall) after setting new season records with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 passing yards, while the Broncos offense scored 606 points (the most in NFL history). Manning's Broncos would make two Super Bowl appearances, winning one (50). Following his Super Bowl 50 victory, due to his declining health and playing ability, Manning announced his retirement on March 7, 2016.
The Seattle Seahawks, coached by former USC coach Pete Carroll, became one of the most successful NFC teams, on the strength of their defense, helmed by their vaunted "Legion of Boom" secondary, which featured cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas III and Kam Chancellor. Their offense, helmed by QB Russell Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch, also performed well. The Seahawks would win two NFC Titles and make two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XLVIII, in which they defeated the Peyton Manning-led Broncos (who became the first team to score 600 points in a season) 43-8.
The Green Bay Packers were another successful NFC team, with Aaron Rodgers replacing longtime veteran Brett Favre in the 2008 season. Under Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers would win Super Bowl XLV, and Rodgers became a two-time NFL MVP (2011, in which he set a new season record for the highest passer rating, as well as guiding them to a franchise-best 15-1 record, and 2014).
San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked controversy when he knelt in protest during the national anthem in 2016 over the mistreatment of black people by law enforcement. About a year later, other NFL players (most black, but others white as well) started kneeling as well, due to harsh criticism from Donald Trump, which also caused a rift between players in the league and the owners of the teams. After the 2016 season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract and became a free agent, but all of the NFL's other teams, due to a combination of Kaepernick's poor play, fear of backlash from their fanbases, and not wanting to deal with the media circus surrounding his protest, passed on signing him which exacerbated the controversy and sparked a debate of whether he deserves a contract or not. On May 2018, the NFL passed a rule stating that anyone appearing on the field has to stand for the anthem, but allows anyone who doesn't want to stand to stay in their locker rooms until the game starts.
The Philadelphia Eagles, coached by Doug Pederson, won their first Super Bowl at Super Bowl LII in 2018, defeating the highly-favored New England Patriots 41-33 (a rematch of their Super Bowl XXXIX showdown from 2005). The Eagles' star quarterback, Carson Wentz, suffered a season-ending injury during the last weeks of the season, getting replaced by Nick Foles, who rallied the team to victory and got named the Super Bowl MVP.
The Cleveland Browns, the perennial Butt-Monkey of the NFL, finally hit rock bottom during this decade. In 2016, they went 1-15, with their sole win against the San Diego Chargers only happening thanks to a missed field goal attempt. But in 2017, they became the second-ever team to finish a regular season without any wins (the first since the 2008 Detroit Lions), finishing 0-16 and bringing them the 2-year record of 1-31, the worst ever in NFL history. However, the 2018 season started looking better for them. They opened the season by tying the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-21, ending their 2-year losing streak and also marking the first time since 2004 that their season opener wasn't a loss. And then, in their week 3 game against the New York Jets, quarterback Baker Mayfield made his NFL debut leading the Browns to a 21-17 win, ending their winless streak.
The dominance of the English Premier League by the Big Four (Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool) was broken by perennial joke team Manchester City, backed by Qatari Sheikh Mansour, bought their way first to Champions League status, then to the Premier League title. Liverpool slipped out of the top four, dropping as low as 8th in 2011/12, before new manager Brendan Rodgers and mercurial striker Luis Suarez nearly propelled them to the league title in 2013/14. Things seemed to settle back into the status quo in 2014/15 when Chelsea, led by the notorious Jose Mourinho, won the title, but the entire footballing world was stunned in 2015/16 when tiny Leicester City (who were given 5000/1 odds before the season) listed the trophy. At the same time, teams like Swansea, Southampton and frequent pretenders to the top four Tottenham Hotspur proved that they were willing to take on and beat the big boys at their own game, aided by the nearly installed FFP, Financial Fair Play, rules which prevented clubs from spending beyond their means in pursuit of success. In Europe, the backlash against Premier League dominance began, with the new Galacticos at Real Madrid, a Barcelona team lead by Lionel Messi (widely considered to be the best player on the planet), Neymar, Brazil's wunderkind and controversial former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and scrappy underdogs Atletico Madrid winning La Liga and the Champions League, a dazzlingly successful Bayern Munich team under former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola sweeping all before them, Borussia Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp (and later Thomas Tuchel) challenging the bigger clubs and Paris St. Germain spending their way to success all managed to break the dominance of English clubs. Italy's Serie A, still haunted by the ghosts of a vast match-fixing scandal, continued to decline.
At an international level, Spain's dominance continued with victories in the 2010 World Cup, the first held in Africa, and the 2012 European championships, crushing Italy 4-0 in the final. Then, they were eclipsed by a resurgent Germany, who won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, thrashing the hosts 7-1 in the process, marking another new disappointment for Brazil, which hasn't caught a break since 2002. England plunged to new depths of failure as well, reaching its lowest point in a loss on penalties to Italy in the 2012 Eurocup quarter-finals. They were thrashed 4-1 by Germany in the 2010 World Cup in the second round after limping out of the group stage and then failed to even get that far in 2014, finishing bottom of their group with only a single point. The US, by contrast, managed to get out of the so-called 'Group of Death' composed of eventual winners Germany and footballing superpowers Portugal and Ghana by beating Ghana 2-1, giving Portugal one hell of a fright in a 2-2 draw and losing 1-0 to Germany (which, considering how the Germans thrashed just about everyone else, is rather impressive). In the second round, they pushed a much fancied Belgium team to extra time, with goalkeeper Tim Howard's performance reaching Memetic Mutation proportions when his article on The Other Wiki was changed to name him as 'Secretary of Defence', something which newspapers, comedians and internet commentators gleefully ran with. The 2018 World Cup became controversial not only because of its being held in Russia (both because of the country's reputation and FIFA's corruption scandal that saw the ouster of Sepp Blatter), but also because of the fact many of the teams survived (primarily the group stage) out of sheer luck rather than merit (ironically, the "seeds" were set in a way to avoid the plethora of "death groups" that led ultimately to Brazil's humiliating 7-1 defeat in 2014) and the myriad of games ending on penalties. The Cup was finally won by France, who not only stood out for its team being comprised mostly by African immigrants, but also played the finals with Croatia, who "Les Bleus" had beaten the 1998 semi-finals before winning their first championship (with both victories, Didier Deschamps became only the third man to have won a World Cup as both player and manager).
The National Basketball Association recently underwent a changing of the guard in both of the conferences, dramatically shifting the landscape of the entire league. In the summer of 2010, LeBron James, the greatest player of the current generation, decided to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Miami Heat, teaming up with Miami superstar Dwyane Wade and former Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh to become the contemporary "Super Team". In the West, the upstart (and not even a decade old) Oklahoma City Thunder established themselves as a legitimate powerhouse on the backs of young talent in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, challenging (and even dethroning) such names as the San Antonio Spurs in 2012 to make it to the Finals. The Chicago Bulls, led by Derrick Rose, and the Indiana Pacers, led by Paul George and Roy Hibbert, have returned to form as beasts of the east, while the Boston Celtics enjoyed a stint where they were the go-to rivals for the Miami Heat. As for LeBron himself, his loss in 2011 to Dirk Nowitzki made many question whether or not he could ever get a championship... and then he followed it up by winning back to back in 2012 and 2013. In 2015, he headed back home to Cleveland and completed his redemption arc, toppling the 73-win Warriors in 2016 and delivering the Cavs their first-ever championship.
The Golden State Warriors went from longtime basement dwellers to one of the most dominant teams of the decade. Led by the Splash Brothers duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State steamrolled to the NBA title in 2015 and followed it up by breaking the regular-season wins record with 73 in 2015-16. Their quest to repeat fell short at the hands of LeBron and the Cavs in the Finals, but just a month later the Warriors pulled off the biggest free agency coup since LeBron assembled his Miami Dream Team, luring Kevin Durant away from Oklahoma City to form potentially the next great superteam.
Baseball has also recovered some popularity after the doping scandals of the last decade, primarily in the football-heavy West Coast as the San Francisco Giants embarked on an "even-year three-peat", winning the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 (their first titles since 1954, when they were still the New York Giants).
The MLB saw two "strength rallies" in 2013 and 2017, both leading into World Series victories, the first by the Boston Red Sox after the Boston Marathon massacre, while four years later the Houston Astros managed to upset all pre-season predictions after the city became struck by Hurricane Harvey.
After 71 years, the Chicago Cubs finally won the National League pennant in 2016, also having ended the Giants' "even year magic" in the Division Series. On top of that, they got their first championship in 108 years after overcoming a 3-1 game deficit in the best-of-7 matchup against the Cleveland Indians.
In 2017, the Houston Astros triumphed in a seven-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the first World Series in franchise history (they joined the league in 1962 alongside the New York Mets).
The National Hockey League saw the end of multiple decades-long championship droughts as the 2010s opened. The Chicago Blackhawks, whose previous championship had come in 1961, won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015; the Boston Bruins, who had not won a championship since the Bobby Orr era in 1972, triumphed over the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in 2011; and the Los Angeles Kings, who were one of the first six expansion teams to join the NHL in 1967, finally won their first Stanley Cup in 2012, and added a second in 2014. The NHL also saw its first expansion franchise since 2000 when the Vegas Golden Knights took to the ice in 2017, and stunned everyone - themselves included - by reaching the Stanley Cup finals in their first season. Plans were laid to add another franchise in Seattle to begin play in 2020, with the necessary 10,000 season ticket orders being placed in just 12 minutes.
A nasty stretch of sports-related scandals over 2011-13 broke many fans' faith in stars once acclaimed as role models and even heroes — Multiple Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong turned out to be doping all along in what was just the most high-profile of the steroid-related scandals of the era, beloved college football coach Joe Paterno's career (and, as it turned out, life) ended in disgrace when it was revealed that his assistant Jerry Sandusky was a serial pedophile and Paterno may have willfully covered it (an seemingly eternally delayed trial of three other school officials is likely to reveal more information), and the touching story of up-and-coming football player Manti Te'o and his leukemia-stricken girlfriend was revealed to be a hoax gone awry (the girlfriend didn't exist). But things can get even worse than those —double-amputee Olympic-caliber runner Oscar Pistorius of South Africa murdered his girlfriend, leading to doubts about his sanity, and NFL player Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole, a sentence that ended when he hanged himself in his cell in 2017.
Some of the biggest programs of college football had been hit with scandals. Not only did Penn State have to vacate many of their wins dating back to the time of Paterno's alleged discovery, which nullified his status as the winningest coach in the sport's history, it led to the athletic program and the university itself overhauling their leadership and postseason bans for the football team until 2016 (all sanctions other than a million dollar fine and two years of the postseason ban have been reversed owing to evidence revealed in 2015 that the NCAA seriously mishandled the investigation), not to mention a nationwide effort by universities to step up their anti-molestation policies. The University of Southern California had also been hit with scandals when it was discovered that in the mid-2000's many USC players had accepted money from agents, which led to a 2-year postseason ban from 2010-11, a vacation of several wins, including the 2005 National Championship rout over Oklahoma, and famed running back and alumnus Reggie Bush handing back his Heisman trophynote an end-of-the-year trophy bestowed to a high-impact player, usually either a quarterback or running back. The University of Miami also faced probes over financial scandals that led to self-enforced bans on the 2011-12 postseasons, and the University of North Carolina and Ohio State University football programs each faced a one-year postseason ban in 2012 for a violation of NCAA rules.
Backlash against the Bowl Championship Series had continued into this decade, with among the reasons including the 2010 Fiesta Bowl matchup between "BCS Busters" Boise State and TCUnote was Mountain West at the time, now in the Big Twelve, which denied both a chance to challenge a power conference. Effective 2014, the BCS was replaced with a playoff system involving the top four teams, and a set of four major New Year's Day bowls with a guaranteed slot for each of the five power conferencesnote Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Pacific-12, Southeastern and a guaranteed slot for a "Group of Five"note American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt team.
The tradition of sports champs visiting the White House that dated back to the Reagan years was shattered after Donald Trump's arrival at 1600 Penn. Some players of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots decided not to pay the President a visit (including Tom Brady, who withdrew for personal reasons), while the 2017 NBA Champions Golden State Warriors boycotted Trump altogether after Trump withdrew their invitation. Stanley Cup winners Pittsburgh Penguins went to the White House without controversy while the Chicago Cubs returned after greeting Obama during his last days (they were playing the Washington Nationals that week), the players opting not to cited professional reasons rather than personal opposition to Trump for their absence. On June 4, 2018, President Trump withdrew the Super Bowl LII Champions Eagles' invitation, partly due to the aforementioned anthem protests, and partly due to the Eagles stating that they would only send in at least 10 players, including SB52 MVP quarterback Nick Foles.
The Washington Redskins' success in 2012 revived debates that the team's name is seen as disparaging towards Native Americans. Several liberal/left-leaning publications (e.g., the New York Daily News, Slate, Mother Jones) have stopped using the Redskins name, and at least 50 Senators (mostly Democrats) sent a letter to Redskins owner Dan Snyder telling him to change the team's name, citing the NBA's lifetime ban of Clippers owner Donald Sterling for making racist comments as an example. All of the Redskins' trademarks were temporarily cancelled by the USPTO in 2014, but was reinstated in 2017.
On January 2018, the Cleveland Indians announced they are planning to retire the Chief Wahoo logo/mascot from regular use, starting in the 2019 season. Chief Wahoo gained a lot of controversy over the years due to it being a caricature. Since 2014, the Indians began downplaying Chief Wahoo in favor of the "Block C" logo, which became their primary logo.
Universal Orlando Resort opened up The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010, a new area that was immediately praised for its extreme attention to detail, immersion, and authenticity; so much so that it was seen as a major game-changer for not only Universal, but for theme parks altogether. It was also a move that caused Universal to at last be seen as worthy competition for the Disney Theme Parks, and a travel destination in its own rights.
The subscription MMORPGs had fallen out of favor by this time; World of Warcraft, while still being popular, has seen a decline in subscriber count, Final Fantasy XIV was severely botched on launch, All Points Bulletin quickly tanked and Star Wars: The Old Republic adopted a free-to-play scheme mere months after release due to extravagant budget issues. Rift has seen some success after being launched in March 2011, although it too adopted a limited free-to-play model the next year, as did World of Warcraft earlier on. Free-To-Play games using a microtransaction model have been flourishing at the start of the decade, especially with the great popularity of games like League of Legends and Team Fortress 2. Other no monthly subscription MMORPGs such as Ragnarok II: Legend of the Second, Guild Wars 2, and Fiesta Online are relatively popular.note Many MMORPGs sustain their revenue through an item shop where players pay real life money for virtual items that will either help boost gameplay or cosmetic purposes.
The Sonic the Hedgehog series appeared to be making a comeback, with 2010's Sonic Colors and 2011's Sonic Generations both receiving the most critical and fan praise of any game in the franchise in a decade. However, the series hit a slump when 2013's Sonic Lost World was met with mixed reception, with Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric being outright panned the next year (although its 3DS counterpart Shattered Crystal and follow-up Fire and Ice were better received). 2017 saw two major releases of differing reception: Sonic Mania was met with high acclaim and considered on par with Colors and Generations, while Sonic Forces was met with mixed reception.
The Fighting Game genre is undergoing something of a renaissance. The success of Street Fighter IV, Tekken 6, and BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger in the late 2000s led to announcements of expansions and sequels, among them The King of Fighters XIII, Arcana Heart 3, Soulcalibur V, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Dead or Alive 5, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Street Fighter X Tekken, though the latter two are particularly divisive and possibly contributed to Capcom's decline. The Super Smash Bros. series released its fourth installment(s) as well. In addition to established titles, there's also some new blood in the fighting arena, like Skullgirls, Daemon Bride, and Rivals of Aether, as well as spin-offs for non-fighting games like Umineko: When They Cry fighting game and Persona 4: Arena. The decade so far also saw the revival of the Mortal Kombat franchise with its newest installment/reboot and its sequel, in addition to a pseudo-spinoff starring DC Comics characters, winning back fans who'd been disappointed by its brush with the Polygon Ceiling. And of course, Arc System Works, the company behind BlazBlue, has continued to grow thanks to its now-flagship series, with the possibility of becoming the next top Fighting Game company following fan disillusionment towards Capcom.
The fan disillusionment on Capcom could be traced with several of their questionable practices with their fighting games. Street Fighter V was released with bare-bones single player feature to make sure the game can be featured in EVO and the players were well-trained in PVP matches. It took several years for Capcom to remedy this, but this has an effect of some games being rushed for EVO, such as BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle or just merely released with minimum single player features, with latter features coming via DLC (an example includes Fighting EX Layer). The worst offender of this one however, is Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite: A combination of Executive Meddling for roster decision and bad marketing ploys made players actually avoid the game (to the point that there were ZERO players detected) despite actually being a normally playable game, with fans saying that the game has been killed. All in all, there were some justifications that Capcom, despite still staying as a fighting game juggernaut (if only via Street Fighter), has been losing some grounds.
The decade has also showcased a growing divide between "casual" and "hardcore" gamers, with many citing the advent of motion-control gaming as part of the debate: The Wii, the Kinect, and the Move have given gamers new ways to play, but only a handful of titles have taken full advantage of these motion-control devices, and most of them are "casual" games like Just Dance, Dance Central, and the ever-popular Wii Sports series, causing many diehard gamers to deride motion-control as a gimmick. At the same time, cellular phones and handheld computers have seen tremendous growth, with many of its games, like the famous Angry Birds, proving to be a prime attraction for the casual gamer. As phone-based games became increasingly popular among casual gamers during this period, they began drifting away from traditional retail video games. On the other side of the extreme, let's not even get started on the "exclusivity" PC gamers want their format to go, with the increasingly intense hardware requirements and the perceived "Stop Having Fun" Guys attitude regarding the format. All this has left fans and analysts to wonder if there can ever be a middle ground again. Nintendo however, often credited/Mis-blamed for starting this trend, attempted to re-bridge the gap by catering to both casuals and diehards this time around with the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U, with both underperforming, the WiiU becoming the death knell for motion control. The Nintendo Switch eventually recaptured the casual market at the same time the company began a belated incursion into the mobile game business.
On July 11, 2015, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away from a bile duct tumor, abruptly ending his 13 years tenure. Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda briefly served as acting representatives for Nintendo in his absence, until former Nintendo of America president Tatsumi Kimishima was eventually appointed as Iwata's successor on September 16. Kimishima stated that Nintendo would continue to utilize the blue ocean strategyExplanation seeking success not by directly battling commercial competitors, but by tapping into untouched market space through innovative new products that Iwata adopted and will be continuing Iwata's unfinished plans for the company, most notably its entrance into mobile phone gaming. Iwata's passing was highly publicized, with condolences being heard even from rivals Sony and Microsoft; new information about Iwata's multiple contributions to Nintendo also resurfaced during this mourning period, and his once-divisive reputation among gamers quickly became almost entirely positive.
By 2015, the mobile gaming boom began to decline, with no newer "killer apps" to match the popularity Angry Birds or Candy Crush got upon their releases. In response, developers began pushing "freemium" schemes. Japan seems to have a good following in this point, with RPG using gacha-based system like Granblue Fantasy and Fate/Grand Order. Both games, however, continued to improve themselves to the point of becoming a force to be reckoned with, with Fate/Grand Order becoming the new Gateway Series for the Nasuverse. 2017 is another turning point for this: Nintendo released what would be their most successful mobile game, Fire Emblem Heroes, internationally, to the point that they at times topped the download chart. This eventually pushed FGO to release the game in English language, and along with Granblue, the three competed as the top Mobile Gacha RPG in the market, possibly ushering a new age of gacha. If you're wondering their key to success amongst the crowd, part of it can be pointed to the fact that they drew really attractive playable female characters as their super rare gacha prize, with some referring them as 'waifu' (as many of the higher rarity characters are often 5 rarity, or the rarest character, happen to be females). And with enough popularity on a character, the game will then release an alternate version of the character, or basically the same character with a Fanservice outfit depending on the season of the time (Summer is the most common for Beach Episode and swimsuits) and different gameplay than the vanilla version, in the end, the amount of fortune by the waifu popularity will greatly increase with that. On the other hand, the gacha system in mobile games has also drawn controversy in the west and Japan alike, as the biggest concerns about gacha games is that many of them encouraging gambling among children in order to obtain the strongest and rarest characters to beat hard content despite the fact that many of the gacha games are designed for an adult audience, although technically, these games tend to avoid 'Pay to Win' scenarios, most units are actually eligible enough to carry the game and the games had to be more generous in giving free resources occasionally... but paying money is an easier, quicker way.
Indie gaming has garnered widespread popularity due in thanks to the proliferation of the internet, given most of these are distributed online and a majority of the industry's revenue comes from downloads, as with thatgamecompany's Flower and Journey, initially available on the Play Station Network to strong digital sales and critical acclaim and, along with flOw, eventually rereleased on a one-BluRay disc compilation titled Journey Collector's Edition. Sony and Nintendo show interest in indie video game developers, including thatgamecompany. Indie games, initially known in shareware circles during the 1990s, became increasingly profitable after the late 2000s saw numerous critically praised titles such as Braid. They came to be characterized as relying on innovative gameplay mechanics and unusual art styles. Monaco, Fez, Papers, Please, Outer Wilds, Undertale, and Cuphead won plenty of positive reviews and decent sales for such approaches, but a growing number of developers have also created horror games including Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Perhaps the most successful of these games is the notorious(ly addictive) Minecraft created by a Swedish programmer named Markus "Notch" Persson. It uses pixellated graphics, the point is you mine blocks and build any imaginable thing out of them, and you have to defend yourself from hostile monsters by not just finding supplies, but using a shelter made from scratch. It even has been constantly updated by Mojang who ported it to iOS, Xbox 360, Wii U, and the Google Android. Other notable indie games include the aforementioned Angry Birds series, League of Legends, and a pair of unlikely 2014 sleeper hits in Flappy Bird and Five Nights at Freddy's.
The decade has seen two major breakthroughs in video games as free speech. In the United States, the Supreme Court ruled in 2011's Brown (formerly Schwarzenegger) v. Entertainment Merchants Association that video games are guaranteed the same free speech protections that other forms of media have, rendering bills to restrict sales unconstitutional. It did(n't) help that many shops do in fact already have such regulations in place without the need for government intervention anyway. Meanwhile in Australia, after some long, controversial years of South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson denying the unanimity to introduce the R18+ rating to games the same way that films are rated, the Australian Attorneys-General had finally decided upon it in the summer of 2012. The implementation took effect at the end of the year.
The Visual Novel genre continues on in the background in comparison to other game genres, but received an unexpected boost in popularity in 2012 with Katawa Shoujo, created by members of 4Chan. The game was well received by almost everyone who reviewed it, and its effects on the VN genre are still being felt as more VNs are released to growing popularity. When CLANNAD, already the subject of a popular anime adaptation, finally received an official English translation, it immediately became one of the top-selling games on Steam.
Crowdfunding, particularly through Kickstarter, has become a popular option for indies and even some established developers to get funding without having to go through publishers. The trend was started by Double Fine, who achieved massive support for "Double Fine Adventure" (later titled Broken Age) when traditional publishers were wary of backing an old-school adventure game. However, there has been increasing amounts of controversy over the use of Crowdfunding. Starting with Mighty No. 9 created by Keiji Inafune at Comcept, it was initially the most successful Kickstarter related to Video Games at the time. However, it was followed by two campaigns for the pre-emptive spin-off Red Ash and the resulting anime leading to discontent that the system could be abused by AAA studios, especially after it was announced that Red Ash found a publisher and that the resulting money would instead be used for undetermined stretch goals.
Konami cut ties with its old self in 2015 and announced their new focus towards mobile gaming and other business activities. The news did not go well, especially after the unceremonious cancellation of Silent Hills, the lukewarm-at-best reboot of Castlevania, and Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima being laid off/leaving with his name being removed from the box art of MGS5. Stealth-Based Game fans mourned Metal Gear when, in 2015, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was confirmed as the final game of the series with Hideo Kojima at the helm. After much turmoil and rumors, Konami confirmed that they will keep making AAA games (including a potential new Metal Gear), though the damage might be irreparable in the eyes of the fans; as while there's also a section of Konami that actually pleased the fanbase via Super Bomberman R, it is usually drowned by the vitriol towards more controversial games like Metal Gear Survive.
The irony is that Konami was reviled because it went for either mobile or gacha game division after seeing the success of the likes of Puzzle & Dragons, and as the genre actually started to get embraced, it made their movement actually pretty prophetic and a smart business sense. Of course, along the way, beloved, classic series got mistreated and their other main focus, Pachinko machines, were still only popular in Japan along with other turmoils within the company which made fans still disillusioned at Konami while accepting other mobile games.
After decades of being little more than a recurring theme in sci-fi works, Virtual Reality reached consumer availability in a form that people actually took seriously, in the kickstarted the Oculus Rift CV1, and the HTC Vive; shortly thereafter Sony would bring their own version in the PlayStation VR. Given the pedigree of all three systems (Oculus having a lot of videogame talent in its staff roster, and the Vive being little more than a consumer-targeted refinement of prototypes built by PC gaming juggernaut Valve Software), it's not surprising that the uses and software library of all three consist almost entirely of videogames.
While League of Legends gained dominance amongst the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre (MOBA), around this era, the open beta and eventual release of an update of the game it was based on, Dota 2, sparked an intense rivalry that would define the scene of competitive gaming and e-sports and sparked the wave of many MOBA-like games to be released. While many of them failed and ended up closing, League and Dota continued to be the most heated top game rivalries, with only two games aside of the top 2 still standing strong in the scene of MOBA: Smite by Hi-Rez Studios and Heroes of the Storm by Blizzard Entertainment.
Even mobile gaming gets on the MOBA scene with games such as Vainglory, though that later spiraled out to another beast. Thing is, Vainglory used a traditional MOBA control scheme with touch screen. This was proven to be a decent carryover from normal MOBA to mobile MOBA. But around mid-late of the era, Chinese company Tencent Games (which has bought out Riot Games) unleashed Arena Of Valor, an internationalized version of their local MOBA Wangzhe Rongyao (translated as Honor of Kings or Kings of Glory), which provided a pseudo directional pad for MOBA movement and simplified their attack/skill system to facilitate the mobile platform better. While Vainglory still held the throne of mobile MOBA dominance in the west, AOV proved to be a great success in the Asian market (WZRY itself became the top selling mobile game in China); this is also taking factors that WZRY is very Chinese; including characters from Chinese history, folklore and mythology; the international AOV used a Western design while also throwing in characters from the DC Comics (such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) to appeal to the west. This also sprung in some 'copycats', one of them that proved to be a success despite the 'cloning' stigma (and lost lawsuit case) is Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
The success of MOBA would spark another new genre based on another popular Valve game, Team Fortress 2. After years of development, Blizzard unleashed Overwatch, which would define the genre of Hero Shooter, a combination of First Person Shooter and MOBA, taking cues from TF2. A lot of games based on that genre continue to be produced and also fall, although Hi-Rez Studios' own Hero Shooter Paladins managed to stay and become the only force that could stand against Overwatch and Team Fortress 2's popularity.
A minor trend has developed over this decade involving settings and themes normally associated with children and childishness repurposed into action or horror video games, making it the medium equivalent to the Subverted Kids Show. Standouts of this subgenre include Epic Mickey, Five Nights at Freddy's, Bendy and the Ink Machine, Doki Doki Literature Club!, and Baldi's Basics in Education and Learning, all of which have caught on to one degree or another.
The presence of Microtransactions has grown, especially in mobile games that have embraced the Allegedly Free Game model. Many of these have begun to sell "loot boxes" that provide Randomly Generated Loot. While generally tolerated in free games, especially if the game provides ways to buy them without real money and/or the items are purely cosmetic, when done improperly they enable a particularly nasty form of Bribing Your Way to Victory where one bribe is probably not going to be enough. The issue came to a head in 2017, when game-changing loot boxes were included in Star Wars Battlefront II despite it already being a full-price AAA title. The backlash against this was so severe that even the mainstream media picked up on it, and various world governments began investigating whether loot boxes violated gambling laws.
2017 was seen as a renaissance for Japanese video game development and their reception in the west, which coincided with the above stronger interest in japanese media as noted in the anime and manga section above. Resident Evil 7 gained back a major level of prestige amongst fans that were seeing a sharp decline in the franchise's quality over the previous half of the decade, which hit a nadir with Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil Operation Raccon City, with the 7th given praise as the best in the franchise since the the fourth game. Yakuza 0 and the later released Yakuza Kiwami led to a Newbie Boom for the franchise, having the best sales for the series in the west in its history. Tales of Berseria was critically acclaimed as the best in the series since Tales of Vesperia after a string of many dissapointments amongst the fans. Nioh, a Tecmo Koei Team Ninja developed project that was infamously stuck in Development Hell since 2004 finally released to a high universal claim as well, garnering the best western sales in the history of Team Ninja's career. NieR: Automata not only managed to make Yoko Taro as household name with gamers, but saved PlatinumGames from the brink of collapse after several bad licensed titles with Activision and the tragic cancellation of Scalebound earlier that year. Persona 5 became the best selling game from Atlus in the company's history, and managed to make an already successful ranchise even more mainstream as a result. The biggest winner, however, was Nintendo, whose release of the Nintendo Switch was met with universal acclaim, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being seen as one of the best launch titles in console history, and the equally well received Super Mario Odyssey as further proof that Nintendo's dark days with the Wii U were over. These trends for well recieved and commercially successful japanese games continued into 2018, with titles like Dragon Ball Fighter Z, Monster Hunter: World, and the remake of Shadow of the Colossus among others showed that Japanese gaming has made a true comeback. This video in particular explains this phenomenon.
2012 saw the release of Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, a new type of game that involved physical toys that could be "brought to life" within the game itself. Some other developers played Follow the Leader and released their own "toys-to-life" games, and eventually major retailers would have entire aisles devoted to these toys. Unfortunately, this proved to be a passing fad; as the three major series (Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and LEGO Dimensions) all ended by 2017. The concept still survives (Nintendo's amiibo line continued on, and Starlink: Battle for Atlas came later), but no longer has the dominant presence it once did.
Crossovers and Guest Fighter concept within video games has became MUCH more common in the latter years of this era. The first phenomenon of this is most probably Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which included not just Sonic the Hedgehog, but also Solid Snake into the roster. The next Smash Bros game went above that and added Mega Man, Pac-Man, Ryu, Cloud Strife and Bayonetta. Afterwards, adding Guest Fighter from another company in one game became a lot more common and outlandish choices started popping up more. For instance, Tekken 7 features Akuma, Geese Howard, Noctis Lucis Caelum and Negan; Injustice 2 features the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fighting EX Layer featured Terry Bogard, several collaboration projects by gacha games (example: Ryougi Shiki appearing in Fate/Grand Order note The character is written by the same author responsible for the Fate series, Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger appearing in Super Robot Wars X-Ω, 2B and 9S appearing in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, a lot of event characters from many other series within Granblue Fantasy, a game that started out as an original setting...)
Despite the economic downturn, technology marches on. Facebook, Twitter, and the smartphone have revolutionized the social experience, spurring some commentators to predict the end of privacy. The Internet is also proving to be even less hospitable to the preservation of media than the newspapers and film reels of past decades, with once-well-known virtual media of the 2000s, like Homestar Runner, Kid Radd, Bob and George and several MMOs either lost or on their way to oblivion, although a few have undergone the website equivalent of Keep Circulating the Tapes, with projects that relocate webcomics to still-supported websites.
Internet piracy has quickly drawn the ire of the United States Congress, and Congress' attempts to curtail it have even more quickly drawn the Internet's ire as the proposals offered often went far beyond what was necessary and instead were seen as putting internet freedom at risk:
It began with the proposition of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills, which many said would grant the government the power to shut down copyright infringing websites. The Internet exploded in massive protests, with The Other Wiki blacking out in solidarity, and Anonymous banded together with big website creators to protect the free Internet, all to ensure the bills did not pass. They didn't, but the US Senate shows no signs of completely giving up.
The situation worsened when, a day after The Other Wiki blacked out, the FBI had taken measures to shut down popular filesharing site MegaUpload, which caused a chain reaction of filesharing sites like Fileserve, Filejungle and many others making their sites for private-uses only.
Following behind SOPA is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), rumored to be much worse, though many said the rumors are usually exaggerated. With the backlash in Poland and elsewhere, it seems unlikely that it would be ratified, let alone implemented, in the foreseeable future.
In 2011, there was the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act (PCIPA), the US equivalent of existing European data retention laws. However, given the Internet's previous rallying to defeat the more imminent threats of SOPA and PIPA, and already delaying and weakening the more slow-burning ACTA, we have more than a few months to prepare for PCIPA. On top of that, PCIPA is a remake of legislation that already failed to make it to a full vote. These factors, and the fact that the media actually denounced PCIPA/HR 1981 in 2011, makes for a bill that, like previous US data retention bills, is doomed to an ignoble failure.
2013 saw the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill with the aim of fixing cybersecurity problems but would create privacy problems as it did so. The bill was dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate thanks to its formally bipartisan support splintering among party lines. Barack Obama promised to veto it, the NDAA, which was an annually-passed bill that just happened to have a nasty set of riders attached. In addition, the bill has been improved: some of the privacy issues have been resolved through numerous amendments that make it so the government cannot mine data gleaned, and that they cannot condition ISPs to give up information, and other amendments have clarified that intellectual property is not something it can be used to protect.
Now, according to the CDT, the big flaws that haven't been addressed, and which are likely to be addressed by Senate Democrats, assuming they don't scrub it outright, are the flow of information directly to the NSA, and the use of information for "national security." Also, the much-maligned Quayle amendment, which amended CISPA to be able to affect cases involving "the exploitation of children" and "threat of bodily harm or death to an individual," is, in fact dictated by existing laws, in which ISPs and other entities can, and already do, voluntarily give information related to these to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the US government, and law enforcement agencies. ISPs and the government may not search for such things under CISPA or current law, but if information related to the exploitation of a minor or a threat of bodily harm is also found in cyberattack data, the Quayle amendment allows it to be used.
And there're also the two big elephants in the room, The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and an equivalent treaty with the European Union, a pair of trade agreements being written in secret with only a few being allowed to look at them, which promise to make several parts of SOPA and PIPA into international law, amongst many other awful things.
A (relatively) new form of entertainment appeared this decade: The Abridged Series - edited videos of anime, video games, or cartoons that are significantly pared down, but have a brand new - often humorous - script. While at first the only decent creator was LittleKuriboh with his popular Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, throughout the years several other quality abridged series have popped up - culminating in the massively popular Dragon Ball Abridged. As a result of the popularity of these works, some of the creators of these works have found their way into legitimate voice-acting gigs.
Although not quite as big as Facebook, Tumblr became massively popular since its formation in 2007, and houses countless communities, the most popular being referred to as "social justice bloggers", "hipster bloggers" and "fandom bloggers". Yahoo! bought Tumblr for .1 billion in May 2013.
Generally, one social network would blow up every year. In 2011, the photo-sharing application Instagram took off. Having been launched only a couple of months before the beginning of the new year, Instagram would have over 100 million users by April 2012 and was bought by Facebook the same month. Around the beginning of 2012, Pinterest, another photo-sharing website with a pinboard-style gimmick, underwent a quick rise in popularity. 2013 brought rise to Vine, a Twitter-owned mobile app that allows users to create six-second video clips. 2014’s breakthrough was Snapchat, which allowed people to upload photos online that would disappear after ten seconds.
After seeing a slump during the latter half of the previous decade (with Phineas and Ferb being the sole highlight of the period), animated cartoons on TV have taken a noticeable upswing in acclaim and popularity, with shows like Adventure Time, Regular Show, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, and The Legend of Korra (the sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender) getting critical acclaim and huge fanbases, and Cartoon Network is making a comeback after the CN Real debacle, not just with some of the aforementioned shows, but also bringing back Toonami, which embodied the resurgence of anime among Western audiences. That said, there have still been plenty of series that fared poorly with critics, audiences, or both.
On a more somber note, this decade would see the end of the last remaining Saturday Morning Cartoon block on broadcast TV after Vortexx's final airing on September 27, 2014, ending nearly 60 years of Saturday morning cartoons on broadcast television. While it would be easy to point to increasing competition from exclusively cartoon (and all-around kid-friendly content) focused cable networks and online broadcasting/streaming services as the main causes, this article goes more in depth into the reasons why this old mainstay has died in the water (in particular the Children's Television Act of 1990).
As online streaming became a viable platform for the production and broadcast of TV series, many new animated series were produced for the new format, including several film spin-offs from DreamWorks Animation. By the second half of the decade, animated series with complex, dramatic plots (as opposed to episodic comedies) were becoming more numerous on streaming services than on television. Examples include the critically-acclaimed adult dramedy Bo Jack Horse Man and the Animated Adaptation of Castlevania.
The last remaining cartoon voice actors of the "golden age" passed away during the decade: Stan Freberg died in 2015 at the age of 88, while June Foray passed away in 2017, just months shy of what would have been her 100th birthday.
Commercial space travel thrives in fiction, as in the movies Avatar and Prometheus, but official scientific exploration of space has almost completely vanished; not surprising, given that manned exploration has never ventured past Earth's orbit following the Apollo program, the Columbia shuttle disintegrated after two decades of service, and the shuttle program itself was retired in 2011 without an immediate replacement program, leaving only the venerable Soyuz capsules, active since the late 60s, to manage an increasingly budget-shrinking International Space Station. The impression held in The '70s, that by the turn of the century mankind would be roaming the sands of Mars, now seems a bit further away.
Despite setbacks in human space endeavors, commercial exploration of space has turned out to be a good investment for NASA, with no less than five separate manned capsulesnote NASA's Orion, SpaceX Dragon, Boeing CTS-100, Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser, and an unspecified capsule by Blue Origin, four human-rated launch vehiclesnote human-rated versions of the existing Delta IV and Atlas V; Falcon 9; and the Space Launch System, and two unmanned resupply vesselsnote the aforementioned Dragon, in its cargo, configuration, plus the Orbital Sciences Cygnus under development, for deployment some time between now and the early 2020s. Of these, Orion and Dragon are capable of going beyond Low Earth Orbit and potentially to Mars, while the rest are to be LEO ferries. The era of commercial space transport can be fairly said to have begun some time in 2012, when the Dragon completed testing, including the all-important retrieval note As The Daily Show's Jon Stewart said to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, (paraphrased): "There are four entities which have sent something into orbit and then retrieved it intact. These four are the Soviet Union/Russia, the United States, the People's Republic of China... and Elon Musk.", and began operationsnote first flight to the ISS: 22-31 May 2012, in cargo configuration. Every-day citizens are closer than ever to affordable space trips, and space travel itself could be a big boom for science and the economy. Last but not least, a consortium of super-rich entrepreneurs, among them, James Cameron, have started a company aimed at mining asteroids.
Unmanned exploration seems even more promising. The Dawn, New Horizons, and Juno probes reached their targets (Vesta in 2011 and Ceres in 2015 the first one, Pluto in 2015 the second one, and Jupiter in 2016 the third one), to say nothing of the successes of the landing of Curiosity on Mars in August 2012, the European Rosetta, sent to the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in 2014, or the European/Russian Exo Mars orbiter which arrived at Mars in 2016. Among Long-Runners, the two good ol' Voyager probes keep working after forty years in space and have reached interstellar spacenote In the sense of the zone where the solar wind is overtaken by the interstellar medium, that is and Cassini, that danced around Saturn since 2004 and sent in 2005 the successful European lander Huygens to its largest moon Titan, was deorbited into the ringed planet in 2017. On the other hand... we'll let's not mention the Russian Phobos-Grunt disaster.
Alternative fuel sources continue to grow in availability, albeit slowly, and energy-efficient appliances are on the cusp of becoming the norm. They may have to hurry, as nuclear power, the only workable alternative to fossil fuels at present, is under scrutiny due to the earthquake/tsunami combo critically damaging atomic energy plants in Japan, most notably the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. While not nearly as severe as Chernobylnote both are category 7, but only because category 7 is a catch-all 'off the scale' rating - Chernobyl was at least ten times worse than Fukushima, it's had a similarly chilling effect, and the outcome could shape nuclear power policies for the rest of the decade as countries rethink their nuclear programs. Germany led the way on this one, with the government of Angela Merkel doing a 180 on nuclear policy, announcing plans to eliminate all nuclear power in Germany by 2020note after having previously considered expanding the system, shortly after the accident, in a desperate attempt to keep voters on their side; while her CDU/CSU has taken a drubbing, her coalition partners, the libertarian FDP, has been wiped out, or nearly so, from at least two state legislatures, and the Greens have officially become a prospective party of government. On the other hand, France and, more significantly, India and Britainnote "More significantly," because France already relies on nuclear power for 75% of its electrical generation, and public opinion isn't about to be swayed by one accident in a faraway land continue to press ahead in their plans to preserve and expand their nuclear power base, so the future remains extremely muddy on this one.
Apple released the iPad in 2010, turning the tablet from a curiosity to a must-have item, but not before everyone and their brother mocking it as the dumbest thing ever. With the iPad a runaway success, other companies followed suit. General users started migrating away from conventional PCs to these devices.
In August 2011, Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple, appointing longtime executive Tim Cook as his successor. On October 5th, Jobs died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer at age 56. Since his death, some have expressed concerns over whether Apple can carry on or still be innovative without him.
After the December 2015 shooting in San Bernadino, California, the FBI tried to urge Apple to assist them in unlocking the iPhone belonging to one of the shooters. Tim Cook adamantly refused to cooperate, citing an overreach of privacy, the fear that the program to unlock the iPhone could be stolen by hackers and subsequently used for criminal or terrorist purposes, or fall into the hands of foreign governments to gather intelligence. as well as setting a dangerous precedent that could force other major manufacturers into serving government agencies like the FBI. In March 2016, the FBI announced that they'd found a way of accessing it without Apple's help, which seemed to confirm Cook's suspicions. And then, in April, the FBI found no incriminating data on the phone.
In 2016, Apple introduced the iPhone 7, which eliminated the industry standard 3.5 mm headphone jack, though this decision has been criticized as being both as a very hasty and shameless ploy for marketing their own wireless earphones (dubbed AirPods), which were then delayed because of technical issues.
In 2017, Apple introduced the iPhone X, which drew some mockery for a failure in the security system during its introduction.
In 2012, Microsoft released Windows 8, later updated to Windows 8.1 in late 2013. While its new UI and overall design language eventually become a source of new trends of flat design user interface, it was heavily criticized by PC owners for replacing its longstanding system if toolbars and menus with the unintuitive and unfitting "Start Screen" interface, to the point they had to rename their Windows 9 (which was replaced with Windows 8.1) into Windows 10, a much-needed return to form that would work on all devices andbe perennially updated (although these have proven to be an annoyance for most users) rather than be replaced eventually by a "Windows 11".
The company has also entered the manufacturing game after acquiring Nokia, with its existing lines of smartphones, tablets, and the high-end Surface line of computers slowly becoming credible rivals to Apple (the Surface Pro desktop computer was lauded as more innovative than many Apple projects of recent years), though the manufacturing divisions future remains shaky outside of the Surface line with Nokia's long standing cell phone business being spun-off into Finland-based company HMD Global in 2016 and the canciling of the Windows Mobile project towards the end of 2017.
Samsung emerged as Apple's chief rival in the mobile field. It has its occasional problems as well, like the exploding Galaxy Note 7's, which were supposed to be the Korean giant's big seller for the 2016 holiday season.
Go has proven for decades to be notoriously difficult to program good AI for compared to other board games due to the large amount of choices per turn. This changed in 2017, when Google's AlphaGo defeated Ke Jie, the human champion of Go, with 3 wins and 0 losses, at the Future of Go Summit near Beijing. Other professional Go players at the summit challenged AlphaGo, but AlphaGo remained undefeated, cementing the program's absolute mastery of the game. As Go is considered the toughest board game for a computer to understand and play well, the AlphaGo versus Ke Jie match is largely considered by computer programmers as the last time there will be a Man Versus Machine board game match to test the cutting edge of artificial intelligence.
It would appear that, as of 2017, desktop computers are falling out of favor with general consumers. The main reason for this is functionality and technological slow-down. Smartphones and tablets have advanced to such a degree that they can now comfortably handle many of the functions that previously required a desktop PC: need to check your e-mail, see the latest news, chat with your friends, read/study from an e-book or word file? Smartphones and tablets have you covered, and with all those available on the go too! The same goes for laptops, especially for more complex tasks. The second reason is the seeming slowing down of Moore's Law (number of processors on a chip double every 2 years). This is most evident when you consider the differences in your first through maybe third computers, which had the feel of being manufactured decades, not years apart from one another, and between a PC made in 2012 and 2017 where the difference is much less radical. To be clear, the desktop breed of PC will not disappear any time soon, but will be pushed into sidelines of gaming, enterprise applications, and high-end systems for PC enthusiasts (one more proof for the falling-out of desktops is the explosion of gaming PCs made available, as the gaming market is considered to be the last area in which the sales of desktop computers can still expand and grow).
In the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, tech companies recovered their place at the top of the corporate pyramid, with Apple and Microsoft and Google being joined by Amazon and Facebook, the five becoming the largest companies in the world. Naturally, there have been numerous concerns across the political spectrum about their dominance of the global economy, including the displacement of numerous business, with accusations of tax dodging. These companies' interest on charity and other social issues has also given way to cries of hypocrisy and legitimate fears about social engineering, especially after it was discovered in 2018 that the British firm Cambridge Analytica had collected the personal data of millions of users through a Facebook game and aimed news content towards them to allegedly influence political elections, while other games in the social platform collected sensitive information without the users' knowledge. Facebook's stock value fell as much as 10 percent thereafter while founder Mark Zuckerberg testified before the U.S. Congress. The scandal also led to user growth stagnating among numerous websites in spite of their changes of "terms and conditions". This also has led to the U.S. Government proposing stricter guidelines for Facebook and Google, while services such as Amazon, Netflix, Uber and Spotify among others would have to pay as many taxes as their non-digital counterparts as decreed by the Supreme Court in June 2018.
The 'Internet of Things' developed even further from the previous decade, with networking capabilities being added to household appliances like kettles, refrigerators, central heating controls and even light bulbs. This, combined with the introduction of 'home assistant' devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, which allow users to control their 'smart' devices through voice commands (e.g.: "Alexa, turn the lights on in the kitchen"), brought Automation and Smart Homes into the mainstream consciousness.
The electric car has finally broken into the mainstream after a very, very rocky start. 2011 saw the launch the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, followed by the Tesla Model S and Renault Zoe in 2012, BMW i-series in 2013, Tesla Model X in 2015, and the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt in 2017note Electric versions of the Ford Focus, Mercedes B-Class, and Smart Fortwo are also available, though only in a handful of markets as "compliance cars" to meet stricter emissions standards in some areas, and Chinese OE Ms JAC and BAIC also offer lineups of E Vs, though only in China, obviously.. So far, adoption is pretty good, helped by hefty tax breaks for buyers and a steady stream of government funding for manufacturers (though both of those may end soon, at least in America), and increases in battery technology have allowed for lighter, cheaper cars with higher top speeds and longer ranges. And with places like Germany and California planning to phase-out traditional gasoline and diesel cars over the next few decades due to the looming threat of climate change and the fallout of Volkswagen's "Dieselgate" scandal, electric cars are on their way to becoming commonplace.
However, despite the U.S. being a nation where electric cars are starting to become popular, in the United Kingdom they aren't as liked as gasoline cars, especially with sports car fans, where there is very much a consensus that sports cars with large engines, whether they be V6, V8 or V12 gasoline, are a good thing. In the United Kingdom electric cars are seen very much as a car for the Granola Girl type of owner, or too feminine for the male demographic - especially with SUV fans, or an Unmanly Secret (for the automobile enthusiast crowd)
There's also been Hype Backlash against Tesla since the Troubled Production of the Model 3 during 2018, and complaints over the media's excessive tendency to cover stories about him.
It looks like electric cars being commonplace will still be an issue that there is much of a Broken Base about, especially the Unpopular Opinion that not everywhere in the world can support them. This also includes tweets by certain celebrities about the recent 2030/2040 gasoline/diesel bans. However, due to the subjective nature of the topic, that's all that can really be said on the matter without getting into the intricacies of the complex issues surrounding gasoline/diesel bans and electric cars.
Especially when some individuals have thought of Loophole Abuse way as a way to get around the ban - alternative-fuelled cars with synthetic petrol or biofuels, but the major research into that is still ongoing.
More so than ever before, a lot of public attention has been given to bullying - the crux of the attention began after several gay teens committed suicide. While there is particular emphasis on LGBT-related bullying (including the It Gets Better project), bullying in general is recognized as a serious problem for the youth. A particular scourge is "cyberbullying", which takes the cruel harassment and abuse of children and teens out of the schools — where, for so long, it was minimized by society — and into an increasingly connected online world. A bullying victim can have no place for relief from harassment if they have so much as a cell phone.
Adding to the issue is Newgrounds, once the poster boy of mocking anyone and everyone had deleted a controversial flash game of Anita Sarkeesian, a vocal feminist whose personal web series Tropes vs Women had drawn ire from the internet ranging from threats made on her channel to outright slander. This has caused a natural divide within the internet who is split between keeping feminists from stifling their opinions on the internet and creating a generation of young men and women who would support women's rights on the internet front.
Oh, and this seems minor, but the hilarity cannot be contained: in 2010, New York State adopted non-consensual, no-fault divorce—the last state to do so. Welcome to the 1970s, New York divorce law!
The sudden suicides of Robin Williams in 2014, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington in 2017, and Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain (within four days of each other) in 2018 brought greater attention to Depression, Suicide and mental health.
A string of incidents involving police officers killing unarmed black men, as well as punishments for said officers that many consider far too lenient, has led to public outcry and protests. The heated racial climate has drawn comparisons to the Civil Rights Movement and the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked a great deal of debate all over the country, and has made many people realize that they aren't yet living in a post-racial society. The killings of two black men in July 2016 led to nationwide protests. One demonstration in Dallas ended with a sniper proclaiming allegiance to the BLM movement killing five policemen (with admonishment and disavowal from the movement's leaders).
On both sides of the pond and equator, a legendary entertainer of the mid-to-late 20th century saw his reputation implode overnight: one year after his death, beloved British TV host Jimmy Saville was accused of sexually abusing prepubescent children throughout his career; meanwhile, groundbreaking African-American comedian Bill Cosby was at the center of accusations over sexually assaulting dozens of women and using date rape drugs to assist while Woody Allen spent an unusually unpleasant experience at the 2016 Cannes Festival in the grounds of his complicated family issues, being called out as a "creep" by most celebs. Also, Hollywood was rocked by the revelation that the "butter scene" in Last Tango in Paris was performed without the consent of Romy Schneider. And in the Southern Hemisphere, Australian novelty singer Rolf Harris was convicted of indecent assault.
The revelations over Saville (which included his molestation of prepubescent children, hospital patients and corpses) led to the creation of Operation Yewtree in late 2012, which began turning over stones and actively digging into old sexual harassment/assault allegations that had previously been buried or not investigated on the grounds that such things were not talked about. It has so far resulted in the convictions of pop star Gary Glitter, popular DJ Dave Lee Travis, formerly untouchable publicist Max Clifford and the aforementioned Rolf Harris. Singer Cliff Richard and DJ Tony Blackburn were also accused of harassing young women although none of them were underage), but were acquitted, suing the BBC for defamation. Many victims who had stayed silent for decades came forward, and increasingly substantial allegations have been made of a pedophile ring containing and being aided by senior politicians and other influential figures, with late former Home Secretary Leon Brittan being implicated (the Home Secretary is one of the Four Great Offices of State, after the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Foreign Secretary), generating significant popular outrage. Similarly, the Cosby case uncovered even more of the grittiness that marked NBC (and the entertainment industry as a whole) during the 70s and 80s.
In 2016, Fox News founder/former image consultant Roger Ailes was forced to resign after the station's female journalists sued him over continuous sexual harassment (he died in mysterious circumstances in May 2017). Network mainstay Bill O'Reilly was similarly terminated shortly thereafter following a similar lawsuit against him.
In 2017, allegations of sexual abuse against producer Harvey Weinstein quickly snowballed as many high-profile actresses revealed that Weinstein had made unwanted advances to them. He was quickly expelled from his company (which also halted its release schedule indefinitely) and the Academy. Ben Affleck, Steven Seagal and others have been also accused of similar actions, while David Schwimmer won praise for his insistence to use a chaperone when interviewed by a female journalist in an hotel room in 2010. The scandal also killed off the notion that the victims of sexual abuse were either just asking for it or doing it as "power play".
After the Weinstein scandal, award-winning actor Kevin Spacey was accused of attempted rape against fellow actor Anthony Rapp in 1986, when Mr. Rapp was 14. Mr. Spacey's choice to come out as gay immediately after his accusation drew the condemnation of LGBT groups, which fear that this will bolster homophobia. After other actors accused him as well, the actor was also banned from Netflix, which announced the end of House of Cardsnote This had actually been decided for months, but it wasn't supposed to be announced until 2018.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal have brought forth the #MeToo Movement that address the prevalence of sexual abuse and sexual harassment in modern society, particularly against women note This hashtag is Older Than They Think, as it was originally popularized by Tamara Burke in 2006 to address sexual abuse among black women. The hashtag has also brought a lot of international recognition in various places around the world where violence against women are relatively common such as Africa, Middle East, Afghanistan, India, and Russia, which the #MeToo further expand into the issue of misogyny in society that encourages sexual violence against women. Many women in various social platforms shared their stories of sexual abuse on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, some of which are abuse and harassment that occurred decades ago.
These scandals had a domino effect, with people now unfairly or not scrutinizing other powerful entertainment and/or political figures because of suspicion or vague rumors as more and more men were revealed to have sordid pasts via victims coming forward. Among those accused were actors George Takei and Jeremy Piven, journalist Charlie Rose, A Prairie Home Companion creator Garrison Keillor, Today anchor Matt Lauer, comedian/U.S. Senator Al Franken, and co-founder and chief creative officer of Pixar John Lasseter. There has been some concern that there's very little space for nuance among investigating transgressions.
It was during this decade that societal attitudes towards rape started to increasingly sympathize with the victims. Thanks to long-standing feminist efforts, sexual assault, particularly those on college campuses, are being taken more seriously, and organizations and movements to support and empower victims of rape caught on all over the world. The public began to crucify once-respected figures who were either accused of rape or attempted rape, like movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, news titan Roger Ailes, comic Bill Cosby, actor Kevin Spacey or famous record producer Dr. Luke or were "rape apologists" who either defended or relativized it, like former Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, fashion designer Donna Karan, singer Cee Lo Green, or journalist George Will, and support anyone who was raped or has openly supported rape victims. Countless rape trials (most famously, the one against former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner) have gained national, if not worldwide, attention, as the public rallied behind the victims and pressured courts not to take any action against or show hostility to them. Unfortunately, this air of automatic sympathy became a problem in late 2014, when an article on Rolling Stone discussed the story of a rape at the University of Virginia. There was strong support for the victim, including fines and suspensions, until other investigative journalists discovered that the entire story was a hoax. The reporter was blasted for not even attempting to corroborate the story, and both the fraternity and the Dean mentioned by name in the article sued the publication.
The transition of Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce) and her appearance on the June 2015 cover of Vanity Fair brought transgender issues and acceptance to the very forefront of American public discourse. Transphobia is also becoming as much of a social taboo as homophobia did in the previous decade, especially among the left and younger people. At the same time, conservatives have pushed for "bathroom bills" that effectively ban uni-sex bathrooms and "religious freedom" laws similar to Indiana's and discrimination against transgender individuals are still an issue in American society. President Trump has also proposed to ban transgender people from serving in the military, the Dept. of Justice ruled that the Civil Rights law does not cover sexual identity, and a proposal by the administration to create a legal definition in federal civil rights law on basis on birth sex that is unchangeable. On the other side of the globe, India and Pakistan have managed push legislation that recognize third-gender identity (known as "hijra") as a protected status and pass various civil right laws protecting transgender individuals despite India and Pakistan traditionally more socially conservative than United States.note For example, homosexuality remains a crime in Pakistan as per British colonial law while India has recently overturned their anti-sodomy law in 2018
Real Life Events
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The War on Terror has continued after the 2011 death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq in 2011, and the planned removal of soldiers from Afghanistan by 2014. So-called "homegrown terrorism" continues, such as the 2011 murders of over 70 teenagers by a right-wing anti-Muslim extremist in Norway, as well as the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings by two Caucasian Muslim brothers, Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev. In Europe, aside from the gun attack in Norway, British soldier Fusilier Lee Rigby was beheaded in broad daylight, while French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked in January 2015 for a depiction of Mohammed, resulting in 17 deaths and global outrage, along with the hashtag 'Je Suis Charlie' ('I Am Charlie'). This was not the worst trauma France was to face that year, with November 13 bringing more carnage with 130 killed in gun attacks across Paris. After the world showed the biggest outpouring of sympathy and solidarity after a terrorist attack since 9/11, and further terrorist attacks like the ones in San Bernardino, California and Brussels, Belgium occurred (and that's only including those events linked with Islamic terrorism, for Western Terrorism has risen considerably throughout the decade), international outrage towards terrorism re-emerged. France and Britain subsequently joined the bombing campaign on IS as part of a new bout of war in the Middle East, with the civil wars in Syria and Iraq. One might argue that it is the newest near-miss for World War III... if we're lucky.
The already problematic situation in the Middle East was further compounded by the rise of ISIS/ISIL/IS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/... the Levant/Islamic State/Daesh), a radical Islamic fundamentalist group which quickly gained infamy due to its brutality and its extremely savage methods of executing prisoners (live-beheading, firing-squad style executions, burning a prisoner alive etc.), as well as its worrying initial military success (it has since been contained and forced to retreat by a steady onslaught of American, Canadian, and following the November 2015 Paris gun attacks, French and British bombing raids). This new Coalition has since been joined by Russia, which is seeking to gain influence in the Middle East, following its annexation of Crimea and engagement in a proxy war in Eastern Ukraine.
While the West has been willing to engage in an Enemy Mine, relations between Russia and the West have steadily deteriorated, with the inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko in London concluding that yes, he was murdered (poisoned by a nuclear isotope in his afternoon tea at the Ritz, and yes, it does sound like the plot of a spy film) and yes, it was almost certainly ordered by President Putin. The Russian Ambassador responded by saying that the already cold relations between Britain and Russia had not deteriorated simply because they couldn't get any worse. Things soured further during the second half of the decade, as Putin was accused of interfering with numerous political elections abroad as well as his continued endorsement of the Syrian government. The poisonings of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England in 2018 only stoked the flames even further.
The aftermath of the Middle East conflict and the 2005-09 economic downturn (especially the 2007-08 financial crisis) has led to a political fragmentation not seen since The Great Politics Mess-Up, with extremist movements springing around the world with an avowed opposition to the technocratic "Third Way" that dominated democratic countries after 1991. This has brought fears of a potential collapse of Western democracy (not helped by the relative stability of the more autocratic Russia and China), along with echoes of Fascism and Communism.
In the United States, President Barack Obama found himself into a climate of increasing political polarization, marked by a series of divisions between moderates and radicals from both the Republican and Democratic parties marking the formation of fringe groups:
The left saw the rise of the Occupy movement note known mostly for their fiery opposition to Wall Street and the increasing power of big corporations over government and their... use of corporate products while protesting. Although, to be fair, Occupy never explicitly called for the dissolution of all corporations, merely that they shouldn't have unfettered access to political influence, which surged in 2011note as protests began near the aforementioned Wall Street area and spread to cities across the nation. and though the protests died down and their methods have been criticized by many, the "OWS" rallies also fueled an unabashedly left-wing faction in the Democratic Party, with Elizabeth Warren becoming the face of the "Social Democrats", opposed to the "Clinton Democrats"' support of free market. In 2016, self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for the Democratic ticket, becoming a surprise opponent to Hillary Clinton, who, after VP Joe Biden's refusal to run, was left as the prohibitive favorite. As a result, the 2016 Dem platform became more markedly left-wing on economic and social issues as Clinton rushed to court voters from Sanders.
The 2010 midterm election saw the unexpected ascendance of hardline Republican congressmen dubbed as the "Tea Party", championing isolationism, states' rights, conservatism and an all-out opposition towards Obamacare, gun control and multiculturalism, feuding with anyone that didn't see Obama or the Democrats as a threat. Their pushing of the SOPA and PIPA copyright bills and intervention in Mitt Romney's campaign (such as his criticism of the EU in the eve of the London Olympics or his infamous "47 percent" speech) in 2012 and their role in deadlocking agreements on the fiscal cliff in 2013note Republican congressmen filibustered Obama's healthcare bill, leading to a 17-day government shutdown in October ended up dividing the GOP, as its image fell to unforeseen levels, much like Congress itself, whose approval ratings by then reached five percent.
Obama was re-elected in 2012 in an electoral landslide, owing much to the youth, minorities and women, while he only gained 39% of the white vote and 42% of all males. note Reduced influence of the white male vote in the election coupled with the effect the minority vote had in Obama's re-election led some to argue society had polarized greatly since 2008, a view corroborated in 2016 Furthermore, Obama was reelected with the popular majority vote, a feat for a Democratic Party president that has not happened since Franklin D. Roosevelt - back in 1944.note To be a bit fair, not counting Obama, there have only been two Democrats since who actually went up for reelection - Jimmy Carter (who lost by a huge margin) and Bill Clinton (who won a second term in an election with a big third-party candidate, and he definitely would have had over 50% otherwise). Harry Truman served most of FDR's last term and was reelected to serve a term of his own, but declined to run again, so he doesn't count. John F. Kennedy died before he could run again. Lyndon Johnson, like Truman, served out the remainder of his predecessor's term and won a term for himself, but didn't run again. Meanwhile, except Gerald Ford (who succeeded to the presidency and didn't win his own term), every Republican went up for election twice - Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush each won twice, while George H.W. Bush only won once. As a historical curiosity, this marks the first time that three presidents in a row have served two terms since Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe served consecutively in 1801-1825.
Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize marijuana for limited recreational use by popular vote, while Washington, Maryland and Maine legalized gay marriage by vote, when previous legalization efforts have been through judiciary or legislation. Note, however, that marijuana is still illegal in Washington and Colorado due to federal statute, which takes precedence over state law.... and yet, Attorney General Eric Holder held back from cracking down on either state (with a few caveats, like not smuggling it to states where it's illegal), showing that the much-reviled War on Drugs could be on its way to reaching its end. However Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to keep it going, to the eye-rolls of several.
Same-sex marriage is gaining more and more acceptance in the United States. For the first time ever, polls indicated that the majority of American voters favor legalizing same-sex marriage, a huge gain comparing that barely over a third favored it in the early-mid 2000s, and not even 20% in the early 1990s. Young people are especially accepting, with polls showing that around 70% favor legalizing it. Additionally, a sitting President announced that he was openly supportive of the cause, a first. The Democratic Party has now become almost completely united in making it happen, while the Republicans, once almost completely united against it, are starting to show cracks and several prominent right-wingers now openly say it should be legalized. In two major cases, the Supreme Court both struck down the law limiting federal marriage benefits to only opposite-sex marriages and defeated the controversial Proposition 8, a popular vote measure which banned same-sex marriages in the California just months after it was legalized. Including California, twenty-nine states have legalized same-sex marriage since the beginning of the decade (including six states where the state supreme court ruled a same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional but the ruling was stayed), and a few of them even did it by popular vote. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, striking down all bans against it.
This has led to acts of resistance like Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis refusing to grant any marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as well as forbidding her staff from doing so. While some rallied for her, other notable conservatives noted that resisting the advancement of gay rights had long become a hopeless cause... and the fact that lionizing Davis was embarrassingly hypocritical considering it turned out that she had been married four times and had a child out of wedlock.
In April 2015, the state of Indiana passed the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act", giving business owners the right to refuse service to anybody they wished if it conflicted with one's religious beliefs. But many saw it as an attempt to legitimize discrimination, especially towards LGBT people. This sparked protests demanding that the law be repealed, with several other states declaring to boycott Indiana, though less than a week after passing, the Indiana state government wrote an addendum which stated that LGBT people could not be discriminated against.
The "religious freedom" clause for discriminating against LGBT people took a bleaker turn. In the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, a Colorado Christian baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, which led the gay couple to file discrimination lawsuit with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission against the bakery and took the case to the Supreme Court. In June 2018, the Supreme Court made a 7-2 vote ruling narrowly favoring the Colorado baker, citing clear bias against the baker. However, the exact wording prevented any precedent for any religious owners to discriminate, treating it as an individual case and leaving existing anti-discrimination laws intact.
The Department of Human Health Services under the Trump administration, opened up a division that allows healthcare workers to refuse service to LGBT patients on basis on religious freedom as well, making it harder for LGBT patients to seek accessible healthcare.
In what many saw as the end of Net Neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission announced new rules governing Internet service. Now, internet providers can give "preferential treatment," meaning faster internet, in exchange for more money. Critics argue that this stifles innovation - anyone that wants to start a new business that tries to compete with, say, Netflix, all Comcast has to do is slow down your internet and you won't be able to get anything done. However, the internet activist community, helped by John Oliver explaining the issue with brilliantly humorous clarity on his TV show, fought back and when the FCC requested public comments about these rules, there was a massive flood of 4 million submissions, so many that the FCC's servers temporarily malfunctioned from the load. The vast majority of them demanded stronger rules, mostly by redefining the internet as a "common carrier," which is how the regular telephone system is regulated in Title II of The Communications Act of 1934. With the public support of President Obama for such a move, the FCC board voted 3 to 2 on February 26th, 2015 to do precisely that. However, then came the 2016 election of Donald Trump, who appointed Ajit Pai as the chairman of the FCC. Pai and the FCC voted 3-2 to overturn the Obama-era regulations in late 2017 despite overwhelming public support in favor of keeping them, and those regulations came to an end in mid-2018. As expected, this highlighted the fact that despite the public support showing this is one issue most of both parties generally agree on, Congress has been mostly split along party lines regarding the issue. In a May vote on a bill that would reinstate these regulations, the Senate passed this bill 52-47 (with Arizona Republican Senator John McCain being absent due to sickness and thus abstaining), with every one of the 47 being Republican, all Democrats being part of the 52 (along with three Republicans who crossed thei aisle). However, the House of Representatives has yet to vote on the issue (and given the aforementioned partisan split and its current Republican domination, it is unlikely it ever will) in an administrative environment.
Where the fed appears to have stalled on this issue, the States, however, have begun to fight back. In late August of 2018, California's Congress passed a landmark Net Neutrality bill, heralded as the "gold standard" of net neutrality protections, by overwhelming majorities in both the State Assembly and State Senate, leaving the issue now on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown (a democrat) for him to sign or veto; he signed the bill into law and was promptly sued by the cable and broadband industry, as well as the Trump administration itself. The issue was brought to national attention when a scandal erupted due to Verizon throttling the data connection of the Santa Clara fire department involved in fighting the wildfires plaguing California that year. The Fire Department reportedly had unlimited data, and Verizon attributed the throttling as a customer service error and had nothing to do with net neutrality, but the public (and the fire department's spokesperson) refused to accept that explanation, leading to increased support for California's bill and a renewed drive for states to enact their own legislation for net neutrality. Three states (Oregon, Washington, and Vermont) have already done so, with six (New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Hawaiʻi, Montana, and Rhose Island) have executive orders enacting some form of net neutrality, and California would join the former category should the bill pass and be upheld by the courts.
While the GOP had been blamed for things going wrong, the Democrats also had their fair share of controversies. For a time beginning in 2013, Obama was accused of abuse of power, coming first from Bob Woodward (one of the journalists that revealed the inner depths of the Watergate scandal) and later the Associated Press about the wiretapping of conversations, at the same time the Tea Party accused the IRS of using its role to target them, mainly via denying them proper tax status. While some liberal groups were subjected to additional scrutiny as well, most of their groups were processed by line editors, while all conservative groups were flagged and delayed. Lois Lerner, the head of the division responsible for tax-exempt status, was ordered to provide all documentation regarding this issue. She refused to testify (not before protesting her innocence), and refused to turn over any documentation on the claim that her computer crashed and the hard drive was destroyed per protocol. She also failed to back up any of her data per agency standards, and was caught asking questions before the crash about whether or not the agency's instant-messaging software was automatically backed up, where she expressed delight that it wasn't. In Late August 2014, it was revealed under the FOIA that in fact, backups of Lerner's hard drives did exist, as all government data is backed up, but government lawyers stated it would be "too onerous" to search for the data. Many mainstream media sources were criticized for not reporting on this revelation of scandal. In December, it was revealed that Lerner tried to stop inspectors from looking into this controversy as far back as 2012.
At the same time, the ex-CIA worker Edward Snowden revealed that the once-secret NSA (National Security Agency, uncovered by Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning in 2010) monitoring and collecting citizens' (including politicians') phone calls, emails, web searches and general social media information, in violation of domestic law. In fact, even prominent figures in foreign nations (such as Brazil's President) have undergone similar sets of unwarranted surveillance. The trial of Manning didn't gain prominence until Obama defended the NSA, causing a big uproar since the President became nationally known for his opposition to Bush-era surveillance programs. This has caused divisions in both the Republican and Democratic parties, with both parties' conservatives claiming that the NSA has prevented terrorist attacks, while the progressive and libertarian sectors of the Democrat and Republican parties openly criticizing it.note As a side note, sales of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four rose exponentially just because of the scandal. While his actions have controversy (he was eventually branded a traitor for seeking refuge in Russia, even though it's not known if he actually tried to hand them critical information), it also brought about a larger debate about Internet surveillance and intelligence on both the national and global stage (and it's best to leave it at that).
In this regard, another point of controversy in the government's alleged abuses of power is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 and 2013, which gives the government power to detain terrorists indefinitely in sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA. However, these sections were so vaguely worded that it could potentially give the government power to arrest any Americans that they suspect of being terrorists even if they are innocent. This has led to many campaigns, lawsuits (the most famous one having prominent figures on the left such as Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellesburg as plaintiffs) and petitions against the Obama Administration to get NDAA 2012 or at least sections 1021 and 1022 repealed, and led to dissatisfaction and criticism of both parties from progressives and libertarians, many who refused to vote either of the mainstream parties in the 2012 elections due to support of NDAA across both parties, instead either supporting Ron Paul, a third party candidate (almost all of the third party candidates have stated to oppose the NDAA) or sitting out the election altogether.
More recently, in light of growing outrage over NSA surveillance and, groups as diverse as activists, tech companies, members of Congress and a presidential task force are calling on the government to rein bulk surveillance and restructure the NSA itself. If successful, these could both validate Snowden's efforts and reshape how America does intelligence work.
The NSA scandal quickly took its toll on Obama's approval, marking the President's first serious crisis, being far from the last: While not affected by the fiscal cliff fiasco, an extremely shaky economy (a majority of Americans believed the country was still in recession... three years after it ended), the IS debacle (with controversy erupting after he was pictured playing golf while hostages were being beheaded) and the ebola outbreak caused Obama's approval rating to dip under 40% by November 2014, when the GOP swept Congress in the mid-term elections.
Yet another government agency has faced scrutiny over violations of international law and extreme abuses of human rights — the CIA. According to several Senate-led committees and investigations, the CIA "systematically misled" government officials about its interrogation program. The report found that the CIA's legal justification for the use of harsh interrogation techniques were based on faulty intelligence, concluded that the CIA used interrogation methods that were not approved by its own headquarters or the U.S. Justice Department, found that the CIA provided false information that their interrogation techniques (meaning the interrogations did not get any intel that wasn't false), felt that the CIA's interrogation techniques amounted to needless physical, emotional, and psychological abuse/torture, impeded White House oversight, and actively evaded oversight both by Congress and its own Inspector General. It's gotten to a point where the CIA actually chose to spy on members of the Senate in order to obstruct their investigations.
Gun control in the U.S. remains a hot topic. 2012 saw fatal shootings at an Aurora, CO movie theater (12 deaths at a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises), a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, outside the Empire State Building, and (worst of the lot so far) at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT: 26 deaths at the school — 20 of those being children as young as six years old — plus the deaths of the shooter's mother and the shooter himself. To make matters worse, these shootings came along on top of ongoing problems with gun violence in cities like Detroit and Chicago. Gun sales boomed (so to speak) after Sandy Hook, owing to fears of tighter restrictions on assault weapons and the like. The public push for such laws wasn't able to convince the Senate to vote in favor of them in 2013, thanks in part to the pro-gun rhetoric of the National Rifle Association, and also to a Connecticut Democrat who admitted nothing in the bill would stop another Sandy Hook, leading many to believe the government was just using the tragedy as an excuse to push an agenda. The murders also called the issues of mental illness, media violence, and (to a lesser extent) the increasingly polarized American society into question. Since then further mass murders (a drive-by shooting that killed six in Santa Barbara, CA in May 2014; nine churchgoers shot to death at a Charleston, SC church service in June 2015) have come and gone through the news cycle relatively quickly, suggesting that Americans are becoming desensitized to gun violence and/or do not believe change is possible. It took a trio of gun related incidents in late 2015, one at a live news broadcast in central Virginia, another at a community college in southern Oregon, finally one in San Bernardino, Califorina, and the Orlando massacre of June 12, 2016, to reignite the gun debate in America (the last two are in fact terrorist-related according to the F.B.I.).
Debate immediately arose after a college student announced he had successfully tested a gun rendered by a 3-D printer, with many Congressmen calling for a ban, not only on them, but also on three-dimensional printers. In 2018, the Trump Administration green-lit said inventor's proposal to release the manuals, leading to the government being sued by eight states.
The U.S. suffered the worst act of terrorism on its soil since 9/11 with the April 15, 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon, resulting in three deaths and hundreds of injuries, with two Chechen-born brothers held responsible for the attacks after days of many theories (including some that blamed North Korea for the tragedy). Tamerlan Tsarnaev was captured and killed on the night of April 18, while his younger brother Dzhokhar was caught the following day, after a long search throughout Boston.
On June 12, 2016, 50 people were shot and killed at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The shooter, who was killed by police at the scene, proclaimed himself to profess allegiance to ISIS; it was later discovered that he was a self-hating gay man raised in a deeply religious immigrant household, inflaming discussion on all sides. It was one of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, and outcries for gun control from liberals and close surveillance of Muslim and Arab-Americans from conservatives reached their highest levels since Newtown (if not ever) and 9/11, respectively. On the positive side, the global outpouring of solidarity was the largest America has received since the 9/11 attacks, and it did more than anything else to lead to wider sympathy and acceptance of LGBT people in the country.
On October 1, 2017, a crazed gunman opened fire upon a crowd of concertgoers at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip from the famed Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 and wounding 546 people in what has become the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the U.S. to date. The perpetrator was one Stephen Paddock, a well-off retiree and an avid gambler. Curiously, after the police officers breached Paddock's hotel room, they found a veritable arsenal of weapons (7 various pieces in total) and a large amount of ammunition, sparking concerns as to how he was able to bring in such an amount of guns and keep them without alerting anyone. Naturally, the gun debate was reignited with increased vigor once more, with focus now on two new aspects - silencers (which muffle gun sounds) and bump stocks (which are used to turn semi-automatic rifles into automatic ones). The incident also spawned controversy due to official statements routinely contradicting themselves as to the official timeline of events, leading conspiracy theorists wild, not helped by the shooter's apparent far-right background (including alleged links to militia groups), although it was soon discovered this had nothing to do with the shooting, putting some media outlets in a sticky place. The nastier side of the news also came out when a high-profile CBS news lawyer declared that she had no sympathy for the victims because country music fans were Republicans, leading to her immediate dismissal from the network.
On February 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at Parkland, Florida, an affluent suburb of Miami, killing 17 people (14 students and three staff members) and wounding 15 others, thus surpassing the Columbine massacre (which killed 12) to become the deadliest shooting to ever take place at an American high school. The gunman was identified as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student who was expelled from the high school for his violent behavior. It was revealed that the FBI were warned about him five months prior when he made various statements online threatening to shoot up a high school (such as a comment stating that he's going to be a professional school shooter) as well as various online photos him posing with a semi-automatic weapons and making various violent and racist remarks online (while early reports linked him to a group advocating for Florida to secede from the U.S., these alleged ties had no actual relevance in his plans and were later dismissed as a 4chan hoax). It was also revealed that a person close to the shooter made an anonymous tip to the FBI a month earlier for his violent and erratic behavior, which the FBI later admitted that they never followed up on the tip and didn't go through the investigative protocol. This has sparked a debate on the competency of the FBI as an agency of preventing such attack since the FBI has also been caught up in a political feud with Donald Trump in regards to the Russian investigation around the same time. Also caught up in the controversy was the police department of Broward County, whose head sheriff was accused of not taking action on warnings about the shooter and hiring a school deputy who stayed outdoors during the shooting.
A group of survivors of the shooting soon began a movement calling for stricter gun control named Never Again MSDnote named for the iconic slogan used to memorialize the Holocaust (Parkland has a large Jewish population, several of the killed were Jews, and Cruz was known to have made anti-Semitic comments on social media). The students helped lobby congresspeople to pass stricter gun laws and organized several school walkouts and protest marches, which gained support and donations from several prominent Hollywood figures and media personalities. The events did not go without controversy: aside from numerous right-wing conspiracy theorists calling the shooting a False Flag Operation, many criticized the "editorializing" many media outlets (most notably channels owned by Viacom and NBC-Universal as well as the Gannett network of newspapers) gave during the day, while Leslie Gibson, a Republican congressional candidate for Maine was forced to step down after receiving backlash for calling Emma Gonzalez (one of the head protesters) a "skinhead lesbian", while others accusing her of ripping up a copy of the constitution (it was actually a target). Laura Ingraham, a Fox News host lost her sponsors as the result of mocking David Hogg (another prominent protester) for being rejected from a college, leading to a proposed boycott of said sponsors on social media.
While the student protesters may have not have been given the warmest reception from the hard-right, they did seem to finally break the stalemate on gun politics that has persisted since Columbine. According to search trends and news analytics, public interest in the topic of gun control, which normally dies down after a shooting in less than a week, remained steady throughout the rest of February. Support for stricter gun laws surged in the aftermath at a level far exceeding the bump following other mass shootings, reaching their highest levels since 1993. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association, the gun rights group largely seen as the main obstacle preventing all legislation regulating gun ownership from passing, saw their favorability rating plunge to historic lows with a plurality of Americans seeing them unfavorably for the first time, and their sponsors (such as Visa, Best Western, and Delta) severed ties with them in droves after a progressive news blog reported on them and pressure mounted on the companies. Popular stores like Dick's stopped selling guns and Republican politicians, like Brian Mast of a district near Parkland, became more open to some gun control proposals. Gun-control groups like Everytown and Giffords saw their membership spike. And as for the protests themselves? There were two mass school walkouts with nearly 3,000 schools and one million students participating. The March for our Lives main event, meanwhile, was reported to be the third-largest protest in U.S. history, behind only the two Women's Marches (with the March 14 walkout said to potentially be in fourth). While Emma Gonzalez's pledge of being "the last mass shooting" hasn't come true (there was another mass shooting at a high school in Texas three months later), there is growing evidence that the movement will have implications at the ballot box in November.
The 2015 Charleston shooting (see above) has spawned a backlash against "Southern Pride", the Confederate Flag, and the Neo-Confederate movement. They were always controversial, but the shooting was a major catalyst for much of American society turning against them and being seen instead in the same negative light as Nazi symbols, as symbols of the oppression of African-Americans throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries rather than Southern heritage and culture. Not only had the shooter cited white supremacy as his primary motivation, but what really sparked the backlash was that the South Carolina capitol building had a Confederate flag flying at full-staff even though the US flag had been lowered to half-staff (because state law prohibits removing the flag without majority vote in the state legislature). After numerous petitions demanding that the flag be banned from display at US government grounds, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley agreed to have their state legislature vote on removing it (The flag was briefly removed by protesters, before being returned. The flag was officially removed on July 10, 2015), leading other southern governors to order the flag being removed from their capitols. It's even prompted retailers to stop selling merchandise featuring that flag, including those related to The Dukes of Hazzard.
Before the Boston Bombing, Chris Dorner, a disgruntled police officer fed up with the corruption within LA's police force went on a rampage and killed four victims across California; the police manhunt was callous and brutal, harming civilians to take down the rogue cop. He was eventually cornered and killed by immolation when he was corned into a cabin in the mountains after a long manhunt.
The Shooting of Trayvon Martin and subsequent George Zimmerman trial was a national news topic in the spring of 2012 and the summer of 2013. A Florida neighborhood watchman with white and Latino heritage, Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Martin, a black teenager whom Zimmerman followed through the street claiming he believed was up to no good. This resulted in a violent altercation between the two; Zimmerman claimed he shot in self-defense. The lengthy trial was marred with promises of rioting if Zimmerman was acquitted (á la the Rodney King police brutality trial's violent aftermath in 1992) and discontent from conservatives who feared Zimmerman being found guilty would lead to harsher gun control laws. While the acquittal did not result in citywide riots anywhere, California again felt discontent as Oakland faced small riots on the streets.
Another racial issue that came into play in this decade is racial profiling and bias that led to police are called on blacks doing everyday activities (such as sleeping, leaving an Airbnb rental, or barbecuing). One particular case was a Philadelphia Starbucks on April 2018 that led to the arrest of two black men waiting for a friend and not ordering anything in the Starbucks. The manager called the police and accused the two black men for trespassing. This led to a national outcry to racial bias of Starbucks which led an apology of the Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson and Starbucks temporarily closing many of their shops for employee racial-bias training. Starbucks compensated the two black men with and financial coverage of their tuitions for their bachelor's degree.
In the summer of 2014, unarmed black men Eric Garner of New York City, NY, and Michael Brown of Ferguson, MO, were killed by policemen by chokehold (which is prohibited by the NYPD) and being shot, respectively, although Brown was attempting to attack the responding officer. When both officers where cleared of indictment by grand juries in November and December, it led to nationwide protests, with "Hands up, don't shoot", "Black Lives Matter", and Garner's last words "I can't breathe" becoming major catchphrases. It also sparked debates over issues like systemic racism, as well as police militarization (with the police in Ferguson responding to peaceful protests with tear gas and rubber bullets and multiple journalist arrests on spurious charges, including a local Fox reporter being arrested on-air for filming the police in what they had declared was a restricted area). There was also a (mostly local) wave of protests (some of which were violent) that followed the initial outrage over Brown's death, although it got sizable media coverage as well; Garner's death went mostly unnoticed until after the non-indictment. Several other unarmed black men were shot and killed by police in the same time period, but have not added as much fuel to the fire as Garner and Brown. The lack of an indictment for Brown's death has been widely criticized due to the unusual method by which the grand jury sessions were conducted and the behavior of the prosecutor involved, and the National Bar Association has even filed a lawsuit against the city of Ferguson in response.
Following the December murder of two NYPD officers at the hands of a wanted felon and NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio's public condemning of the NYPD's infamous racism (including stop-and-frisk policies and statements by black NYPD officers as to the abuse they suffered when out of uniform), the NYPD and police unions have entered a "virtual work stoppage" in protest; only immediately arrestable offenses are responded to. The drop in low-level crime enforcement (like public drinking, traffic tickets, loitering, and noise violations) has been met with acclaim from residents of low-income neighborhoods, where said low-level offenses were often used to bully black and Latino residents. Many other residents have railed against it, summarized in an infamous picture in the New York Post about a man free to go after publicly urinating on the sidewalk.
The death of Freddie Gray in April 2015 after allegedly being "rough rided"note Unsecured suspects are cuffed and placed in the back of a police van that is then driven violently throwing the unbelted suspects around without being able to use their hands to steady themselves by the police sparked violent protests in Baltimore and led to Gray becoming the third high-profile black police victim. In a break with previous incidents six police officers faced charges up to second degree homicide. The first cases ended in mistrial until eventually all cases were dismissed. Marilyn Mosby, the district attorney responsible, faced criticism from the left for dropping the case, and from the right for withholding evidence. Even Stephen King weighed in on it with shocking disbelief:
"Gee, looks like NOBODY killed Freddie Gray. Guess he just died of being black. Funny how that happens in this country."
In March 2015, US House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before the House without informing President Obama, angering Americans who saw this as undermining the president's powers and an attempt to sabotage talks between America and Iran. A week later, 47 Republican senators, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, signed a letter to the Iranian government, warning them against any development of nuclear weaponry. With Americans even more incensed, this led to petitions demanding that the senators and Boehner be tried and prosecuted for violating the Logan Act, which prohibits unauthorized Americans from negotiating with foreign nations. As of March 16, one petition has over 300 thousand signatures and counting.
In February 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court died suddenly. And within hours of his death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate would not go forth in appointing a new Justice, arguing that it should wait until after the 2016 presidential election. This act enraged Americans, who saw this as yet another attempt at subverting President Obama's authority. On March 16, Obama announced that judge Merrick Garlandnote who'd been considered twice before for the nominations eventually given to Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. would be his pick for the Supreme Court, and urged for fair hearings. Other people actually sided with McConnell, fearing that the nomination of Garland would be another power grab for Democrats and that it was so late in Obama's term it wasn't necessary. In the end, McConnell quickly shot down Garland's nomination, disappointing many Democrats.
In 2017, Donald Trump decided to replace Garland with his first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch. Democrats, infuriated by the Republicans so abruptly turning down Garland the previous year, quickly voted against his nomination and reached the 60 voter mark. McConnell countered by stating that if this happened, the "nuclear option" (requiring a simple majority vote from the Senate) would be instated.
On June 27th, 2018, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in the Supreme Court, giving Donald Trump the opportunity to appoint a more like-minded judge. On July 9, Trump named Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his pick. With a highly-traditionalist judge replacing the moderate Kennedy, numerous groups — primarily women, black people, and sexual minorities — voiced concern and even fear that the Supreme Court could roll back decades of social progress, as the Court would have the power to eventually overturn several noteworthy cases such as Roe v. Wade note which legalized abortion nationwide, Obergefell v. Hodges note which prohibited the states to ban same-sex marriages, or to not recognize those celebrated in another state, and Lawrence v. Texasnote which invalidated anti-sodomy laws in states, legalizing homosexuality nationwide (the latter two having Kennedy as the "key vote"), as well as potentially ruling ACA unconstitutional, while upholding the administration's migration policies, gun rights, and the death penalty at a time these policies face enormous public pressure for change. Amid this scenario, some Democrats were open to use the obstruction tactics that blocked Garland against Kavanaugh.
Come September 16th Kavanaugh was caught in a controversy where a psychology professor, Christine Blasey Ford, accused Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, for gang-raping her in high school during a house party when Kavanaugh was 17 years old while she was 15. The confirmation vote was delayed over this, Republicans and conservatives questioning the allegation and its timing while Democrats called for an FBI investigation. While the Senate Judiciary allowed an FBI investigation it was only given a week to do so; ultimately the Senate voted to confirm him on October 7.
Illegal immigration and the policy of "sanctuary cities" in the US came to the forefront in early July 2015, when a young woman named Kathryn "Kate" Steinle was shot and killed at a San Francisco pier by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican felon who had been deported five times from the country. According to his confessionnote where he also confessed to killing Steinle accidentally, he came to San Francisco to find work and knew they wouldn't deport him because of San Francisco's policy of not complying with Immigrations and Customs Enforcementnote It is illegal for a city to do this, but the Obama Administration had actively supported sanctuary cities and refused to enforce the law. Many conservative activists railed against the policy, and also with Obama's silence on her death when compared to Michael Brown and Freddie Graynote The administration sent investigators to look into the crime, representatives to their funerals, and contacted the families personally, none of which was done for Steinle, even after activists railed against him. The House of Representatives passed "Kate's Law" in response, which withholds federal law enforcement funds from any city who refuses to comply with ICE.
On March 2018, a migrant caravan coming from various Central American countries arrived near the U.S. border, many of them asylum seekers fleeing gang violence and government persecution. President Trump sent the National Guard to the border as a response and condemned the Mexican government for failing to stop the caravan. Attorney General Jeff Sessions then established a "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration and asylum seekers by separating children from their parents and jailing asylum seekers and migrants with the children being placed in separate detention facilities and shelters in horrid conditions (i.e. a former Wal-mart store in Brownsville, Texas used as a detention center for 1,500 migrant boys). Sessions also established a policy banning asylum on basis of domestic and gang violence, with a noticeable case of a Salvadorian asylum seeker having her asylum denied by a federal court due to her forced slavery to a guerrilla faction that was described as "maternal support to a terrorist organization." The policy of separating children from their parents was condemned by various human rights groups, including the United Nations. Session also drew controversy within Christian pastors by using a biblical scripture of Romans 13 to justify the separation of migrant families. note Romans 13 is a biblical scripture that tells followers to submit to God's law, which is often used by far-right politicians in the past to justify slavery, racial segregation in South Africa and United States, and antisemitism. The United States pulled out from the United Nation's Human Rights Council after the council criticized the United States for the child separation policy.
In September 2015, when 14-year-old Texas student Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade clock to school to show his science teacher. But despite both explicitly identifying it as a clock, another teacher mistook it for a bomb because it looked similar to bombs from movies, calling the police, who arrested him. Since the police neither evacuated the school nor called a bomb squad, the arrest was seen as an act of discrimination, spawning the Twitter hashtag #IStandWithAhmed to protest and show solidarity. Although President Obama and other figures in NASA posted articles in favor of the boy, the lawsuit was eventually dismissed when it was determined the school acted in a lawful way and Mohamed could not prove discrimination of any kind had taken place.
In October 2015, several presidential hopefuls including frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson made Islamophobic comments such as suggesting that Muslims should be prohibited from running for office. It reached a new level after the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, as numerous politicians opposed helping Syrian refugees because one perpetrator was discovered with a Syrian passport (it was soon discovered that the passport was forged), and various Muslims got harassed or attacked. Other politicians suggested that Muslims and Middle Easterners be cataloged and/or put into camps, bearing a horrifying similarity to the anti-Japanese hysteria in WWII. It wasn't until Trump declared that he'd ban all Muslims from the US (including US citizens) that there was any major backlash, sparking a turn in how Muslims are perceived in the west.
After the GOP was defeated in the 2012 presidential election and saw its image plummet even more following the 2013 shutdown, the party's establishment devised a mea culpa analysis, with John Ellis ("Jeb") Bush aiming to update the party by burying the social conservatism and small-government concerns of the Tea Party. While this proved quite successful (with the GOP pummeling the Dems in the 2014 midterms), in the long run "21st Century Republicanism" increased tensions between the party elites and the base, leading to the overthrow of John Boehner as Leader of the House in favor of Paul Ryan (who was also Romney's running mate in 2012) after a migration debate turned ugly. In the meantime, real estate tycoon Donald Trump promised to "Make America Great Again" while pledging to build a wall with Mexico (generalizing its people as "criminals") and ban the entry of Muslims to U.S. soil. His campaign's turnaround from a mere joke to becoming a political contender energized the "outsider" factions of the party, including political newbies like Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina as well as Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Chris Christie, crowding the primary campaign to seventeen candidates. The backlash against the "New Republicans" became apparent with Jeb's poor debate performance leading to his early drop out and Senator Marco Rubio's shift in tone to court discontented voters, which briefly worked, only to crater in his home state of Florida. Trump's flexibility compared to the dogmatism and social conservatism of Cruz (and that of relatively unknown candidate Governor John Kasich) mostly ended with any serious chance of an establishment "back-up plan" to stop Trump, with both remaining candidates making an unprecedented truce to prevent him from getting the nomination. This attempt backfired horribly, with Trump winning the following primaries way above polling results, becoming the presumptive nominee after the Indiana race (by that point, he was projected to get around two-thirds of delegates in line with polls in the remaining states). Trump finally became the GOP's standard-bearer in late July, after a somewhat contentious convention marked by the lack of Republican leaders (such as the Bushes, Romney and McCain, not to mention former rival Kasich and Rob Portman, the state's Governor and GOP Senator respectively), tenuous support (to say the least) from almost anyone outside the Trump campaign, and the presence of B-listers such as Scott Baio and Willie Robertson.
The 2016 Democratic primary was incredibly divisive and controversial, being essentially a repeat of what happened in 2008 with Clinton vs. Obama. Divisions between Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters ran deep, with Clinton supporters calling Sanders' supporters over-idealistic while Sanders supporters were sharply critical of Clinton's ties to "big money" interests. The 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak, which included emails from seven key DNC staff members and dated from January 2015 to May 2016, suggested the party's leadership had worked to sabotage Sanders' presidential campaign, prompting the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz before the Democratic National Convention. After the convention, DNC CEO Amy Dacey, CFO Brad Marshall, and Communications Director Luis Miranda also resigned in the wake of the controversy. On July 25, 2016, the DNC issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders and his supporters, stating, "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," and that the emails did not reflect the DNC's "steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process." Later revelations by the interim chair, Donna Brazile, allege that Clinton took control of the DNC due to bailing them out of a financial crunch, granting her campaign more control over how revenue was spend. This included withholding funds from House and Senate candidates to focus on Clinton's bid. But the damage was done, likely resulting in Hillary Clinton's loss to Trump thanks to disgruntled Sanders supporters either voting for third-party candidates, or sitting out the election altogether. Post-election, the topic of the 2016 primaries is still a bitter hot-button issue, with both sides blaming each other for Trump's presidential victory. A lot of progressive critics of the Democratic Party argue that they still refuse to acknowledge why Hillary lost.
Some of the divisions are still there in regards to healthcare. In September 2017, Sanders and 15 Senate co-sponsors (some of whom are seen as up and coming stars of the party) submitted the "Medicare for All" bill, a single-payer healthcare plan. The bill also covers vision and dental care, unlike Medicare. But it has significant opposition from establishment Democrats. There was also the feud between Sanders' loyalists and Ellison supporters, who were among the officials ousted by Tom Perez amid an ongoing intra-party feud. The moves have drawn criticism from the progressive-leaning Democrats who feel the staff shakeup is retribution for their opposition to its new Chairman Tom Perez during February's 2017 chairman race, in which neoliberal Tom Perez was picked over progressive Keith Ellison (and because Perez was a late entry in the race, this made some think he'd entered just to stop Ellison from winning), which itself was a huge bitter holdover from the 2016 primaries. If anything, the decade has been a massive case of We ARE Struggling Together for the DNC, with some fearing a second Trump win.
The primary election also caused division among black voters, especially among black millennials who (like many others in their generational group) largely supported Sanders while older black voters were firmly behind Clinton. Millennial voters were polarized into three factions - those who supported Clinton, those who supported Sanders, and those who were disillusioned altogether thanks to all the candidates' flaky stance on African-American social issues such as criminal justice reform. Clinton supporters argued that there was too much at risk to support Sanders or third party candidates, saying that it was important to vote Clinton and keep mobilizing as Democrats as "harm reduction"note i.e. the belief that other black folks can rarely afford to vote for interests beyond trying to preserve very basic rights, hence why any political discourse regarding criticism of Democrats almost always leads to push back. Sanders' supporters argued that supporting Clinton meant more of the same harsh criminal justice policies that effected black communities and have no interest in the notion that black people must keep voting in establishment Democrats as harm reduction, when they've done nothing beyond cause harm, or barely address their erosion of rights. Trump also gained more of the black vote than any Republican candidate to date, attempting to tap into the large wave of African-American dissatisfaction with Democratic leadership.
If the 2016 general election could be defined by one word, that'd be mudslinging: Both Trump and Clinton attacked mutually at every possible turn (the real estate mogul said the former Secretary of State should be in jail instead of the Oval Office, and the NY Senator claiming that Trump didn't have the temper to guide the nation), giving voters a bad perception with both, something exacerbated with the profusion of heavily-fictionalized news aimed to defame either candidate, if not outright libelnote Clinton never had an affair with Yoko Ono, and there's no proof conservatives have lower IQs. The campaign trail was also marked by the candidates' faux pas: Trump got entangled in tweetstorms against the the parents of a fallen Muslim-American soldier after they appeared at the DNC, and later with Venezuelan beauty queen Alicia Machado after Clinton mentioned her in the first debate (Trump having apparently humiliated her Hispanic roots during his days running the "Miss Universe" pageant), as well as suspicions about his business ties given his reluctance to show his tax returns (He actually avoided paying them for around 18 years after recording huge losses in 1995) and the leaking of a raunchy "hot mic" recording made in 2005 that led to a temporal estrangement between him and the GOP, which saw its Congress majority jeopardized after the incident, which seemed like it would end Trump's chances for good. Meanwhile Clinton was dogged by an FBI investigation into her use of an unauthorized private email server, as well by some WikiLeaks revelations that she had "two positions" on matters: One to tell the public and one for private matters, fueling long-held suspicions that she was untrustworthy. This was also coupled by the investigation itself, which many critics attacked as being a "sweetheart" investigation because many of the actors were granted immunity without providing much in return, data was allowed to be destroyed, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch having a secret meeting with Bill Clinton, who was also under investigation, during the investigation. There were later concerns about her fitness for the office after "blacking out" at a 9/11 memorial ceremony, a few days after she called Trump supporters "a basket of deplorables".
With stable economic data, President Obama's high personal popularity, a high organizational level and almost unanimous support from the media in addition to her political experience, Mrs. Clinton held a solid (if slim) lead in the polls, although both she and Mr. Trump were virtually tied by Election Day as the Donald recovered after the final televised debate at the same time Hillary's campaign was again facing FBI scrutiny. It was expected that the "Big Blue Wall" would provide a Democratic victory in the Electoral College. But the GOP claimed decisive swing states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan (some of them had not voted Republican in decades), giving Trump 276 votes by 3 a.m. Eastern time on November 9. Note that Clinton led Trump in the popular tally by two million votes, which led to suspicions about hackers tampering the voting machines in three states (Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania), with calls for a recount made by the Green Party. Recounts were only taken in Wisconsin, and Trump ended up winning by one hundred more votes. The CIA also mentioned some suspicions about Russian involvement in the campaign, which were later referred to disinformation campaigns, rather than any actual tampering with the voting machines.
The 2016 campaign has also been noted for third-party candidates stepping into the spotlight, though not necessarily for the right reasons: Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein briefly made inroads until election day as okay to little better alternatives to the unpopular main candidates, only to have blunders of their own (Johnson became noted for his cluelessness regarding foreign policy, while Stein became criticized for her alleged opposition to vaccination and other anti-science policies). Nevertheless, independent conservative Evan McMullin led a campaign that briefly made the Trump camp nervous about Utah and Nevada without negative impact by media or tactical voters for being a better alternative for moderate Republicans.
And even despite being both scolded and attacked by both Clinton and Trump supporters as well as tactical voters throughout the election for being spoilers for both major candidates, they didn't do bad in resultsnote which if combine both them is 5,946,437 (which is actually close to get 6 million votes) or 4.35% in percentage.
Following Donald Trump's extremely unexpected win in the 2016 Election, the backlash against him ironically grew even stronger than previously in his campaign, when there was more or less an equal divide in his supporters and detractors. This was a very unconventional beginning, as most previous presidents usually went through a "honeymoon" period of massive favor before the public opinions changed, whereas mass protests broke out immediately after Trump's win. Actually, most Americans who protested have considered him an "illegitimate" President (because of him losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots, the claims that Russia was involved in his election, and/or his policies and personality), and though his approval rating among Republicans is around 75-80%, his ratings as a whole were down to a very low 30%, the lowest for an incoming President since polling began during the Truman administration, stripping Obama from this dubious honor by over a year (also getting the most hostile climate since his political mentor Richard Nixon took office in 1969, if not since the American Civil War) — and whereas approval ratings in the opposite party usually start around 40-50%, Trump has consistently polled in the single digits with Democrats (including in areas like transition and cabinet approval, which have tended to be at least around 50% in the past) This was not at all helped by several major blows to the presidency:
This was first triggered after tweets by him stating that the reason he lost the popular vote to Mrs. Clinton, the (somewhat) more popular candidate, was due to "millions who voted illegally", as well as that his crowd size at the inauguration massively eclipsed that of Obama's, neither of which was true, leading the White House to inform about "alternative facts" in the umpteenth battle between Trump and the "liberal media" (going as far to caling them "Demo spanners" and challenging NBC-TV's broadcast licence later in the year) and the "coastal elites". On the subject of tweets, in contrast to what was stated earlier in the campaign, Mr. Trump continued with the brash tweets he was so well known for. This time, however, his status as a president and the fact that many of these tweets were attacking celebrities or businesses who disagreed with him angered both supporters and detractors alike, especially those worried that the tweets could deteriorate international relationships to the point of engaging into war with certain countries.
In January and February 2017, he enacted a travel ban against seven Muslim-majority countries. Although Trump claimed it was a measure to protect US citizens and their interests, it was immediately held as a violation of international law (White House officials defended the ban citing greater travel/immigration restrictions enacted in the past, ignoring all of these took place before WWII).
In March 2017, Trump tweeted that his predecessor Obama had personally wiretapped Trump Tower shortly before his election, insulting him for this. This caused a massive FBI investigation, despite the fact that no proof existed for this incident. In the end, aside from a few disregarded comments from proponent Nunes, it was definitively agreed that this didn't happen at all. Despite this, President Trump still constantly mentioned this "incident", going as far as to state that the British government assisted Mr. Obama with this. This, combined with mentions of the Clintons long after he beat them, has caused many to scold him for being revenge-seeking.
Around the same time as this scandal, it was revealed that Trump's National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, had illicit ties to Russia. More and more news surrounding the incident and an apparent Trump connection to Russia came out as the FBI decided to personally investigate Trump's ties to Russia and Putin, leading to Cold War-esque fears about Trump leading to a Russian domination. Further news coverage of the ties, such as Russian spies with ties to Mr. Trump, a large amount of his cabinet picks having ties to Russia, and a secret meeting with Trump and Putin officials in the Seychelles who created a server connecting the two.
In May 2017, Trump fired FBI director James Comey, allegedly for being "too soft" on Clinton. However, further revelations (including from Mr. Comey himself) showed that his dismissal was more likely motivated by his refusal to stop investigating the President's Russian connections, confirming the FBI's and the CIA's suspicions about the President. Whatever the case may be, many Americans called for the President's impeachment after these incidents, the White House enacting "contingency measures" in the case this happened. The fact experts consider an impeachment unfeasible until after the 2018 midterm elections have brought concerns for a potentially devastating political standstill. Congress then appointed an Special Commitee led by Robert Mueller, which eventually led to a number of former aides for Mr. Trump to submit, the Administration denying knowledge of their Russian contacts.
While Mr. Trump did promise to repeal Obama's healthcare bill and to cut spending, his proposals turned out to be too extreme, even for the staunchest conservatives, with his plan to decimate Medicare and Social Security (which would severely hurt the working class, ironically Trump's main base of support) to increase military spending and to finance his much-coveted wall. Despite these criticisms, though, Trump is still very acclaimed by a dedicated group of conservatives and economic libertarians.
Similarly, the Administration's proposed tax cuts immediately became extremely unpopular, being only supported by the GOP in Congress. This reflected a changed public attitude toward taxes after the 2008 financial crisis, especially considering that the 1986 tax cut passed with bipartisan support and was very popular, and though the 2003 tax cuts eventually became infamous, it initially got public support.
Many Republicans have openly criticized Mr. Trump's "blowhard" attitudes, deeming them as a danger to democracy. The list includes former Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush; the Reagan family; former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; Senators John McCain, Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Bob Corker; former House Speaker John Boehner and former GOP candidate Mitt Romney, among others.
A white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting against the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue took a deadly turn when violent clashes broke out between protesters and counter-protesters broke out. A 32-year old woman was fatally run over and several others injured by a car driven by one of the white supremacists. Instead of being able to bring the country together over in times of a national crisis, Trump's failure to unequivocally condemn "white supremacist" groups, instead opting to blame "both sides" for the violence caused widespread condemnation and fears that he was a Neo-Nazi sympathizer (even though his daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are Jewish), with polls on the matter showing his response went over as badly with the public as George W. Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina.note While it was technically true that both sides were violent that day and there were several left-wing "Antifa" anarchists among the counter-protesters, the fact that one side of the rally advocated for ethnic cleansing and genocide compared to the other for social equality and stopping the spread of white supremacy and the car attack at the end led to Trump's argument being deemed morally bankrupt by Democrats, most centrists, and even some Republicans. The backlash led to several people and organizations severing ties with Trump: members of his advisory councils resigned en masse, forcing him to dissolve them; rabbis cancelled a conference call with the White House; charities rapidly backed out of his Mar-a-Lago estate; artists boycotted the Kennedy Center Awards as the sitting President generally attends, leading Trump to no-show as well; calls for his resignation or impeachment once again erupted; and demands re-ignited for his awards, honorary degrees, and "hall of fame" inductions to be revoked.
Mr. Trump also drew controversy by pardoning infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an Arizona-based sheriff who was convicted for defying a court order banning him from racially profiling Latino immigrants, an action condemned by immigrant and civil rights groups, and overseeing harsh conditions in prison facilities.
Trump's retweet of three anti-Muslim videos made by Britain First, a British far-right group (one of which was confirmed to be a hoax) also caused the first serious Anglo-American international incident in almost two hundred years, with calls for Trump to be banned from the UK (an idea that had been proposed as early as 2016).
Trump's all-out support for Roy Moore, the hard-line religious extremist candidate for the Senate in Alabama quickly became a liability for the President as Moore became embroiled in accusations that he had relations with underage girls when he was 30. The Democrats' "house cleaning", which resulted in Senator Al Franken's resignation, enabled them to make the election (and the 2018 mid-terms) a referendum on sexual politics. Upon Moore's defeat to attorney Doug Jones (making the latter Alabama's first Democratic senator since the 1990's), a motion calling for Trump's impeachment emerged on grounds of sexual misdemeanor.
Roy Moore's loss was immediately preceded by Democratic candidates sweeping several local elections, many of whom were made up of female, POC, and LGBT candidates. One of the most notable was the victory of Danica Roem in Virginia's 13th legislative district, whose win quickly became a huge national news story as she became the first openly transgender person elected and seated to a state legislature in the US. What's more, her victory came against longtime incumbent Republican Bob Marshall, who proudly called himself the state's "chief homophobe", sponsored his state's version of the controversial "bathroom bill", and constantly referred to Roem using male pronouns, leading to stern criticism from moderate Republicans. Despite Marshall's many Moral Guardians-esque railings against her, Roem made no issue out of her identity, choosing instead to focus on local infrastructure issues, a strategy that clearly worked in Roem's favor.
In December 2017, Mr. Trump announced that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which had been attempted in vain during the Bush years. This was quickly interpreted by the international community as a reversal of Mr. Obama's attempts to grace the U.N.-sponsored "two states" solution in order to strengthen U.S.-Israeli ties, being rejected by all but 9 member states in the U.N., and a group of Arab countries retaliated by declaring the Holy City as the Palestinian capital.
In March 2018, the world's eyes turned to a congressional district outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Trump won by a large margin. A seat had just been vacated by Tim Murphy, a Republican lawmaker forced to resign because of a sexual scandal involving the use of public funds to pay for his lover's abortion. His successor, Rick Saccone unsuccessfully attempted to downplay the scandal while his rival, Democrat Conor Lamb made significant in-roads by appealing to moderate, inner-city Republicans pitted against Trump. After a tense election, Lamb won by a handsome margin, energizing Democrats ahead of the November mid-terms and leaving Republicans in a bad standing.
The Supreme Court has made four controversial rulings that will undoubtedly change the foundation of the American political landscape.
The first came in Citizens United in January 2010, which allowed corporations and wealthy donors to spend money on elections without disclosing how much or by whom they are donating. Supporters claim that spending money on political elections is a freedom of speech right. Opponents feel that having the rich and wealthy spend so much money on their candidates destroys the very idea of a democracy.
The second came in Shelby County v. Holder, their gutting of section three of the Voting Rights Act in June 2013. They claim the VRA in general is based on "obsolete" data, and that it encourages voter fraud, while critics have said that this will allow voting institutions to discriminate against people who can't afford Voter ID's (disproportionately Black/Latino and Democratic-voting).
Their third ruling is McCutcheon in April 2014, which allows for unlimited donations given to political candidates in elections.
The fourth came in Hobby Lobby in July 2014, which, like Citizens United, ruled that corporations can have religious beliefs, allowing businesses owned by conservative Christians to exclude abortions in their employees' medical coverage. Supporters of the ruling state that corporations are not responsible for paying for their employees' coverage. Opponents criticize the ruling as misogynistic and enforcing religious beliefs onto other people, stating that many working-class women can't afford the birth control pill.
While there were several extremely destructive hurricanes in the U.S. over the decade, by far the most famous and damaging hurricane of the decade was 2012's Hurricane Sandy. While it was not as severe devastation-wise as Hurricane Katrina, Sandy caused significant mayhem in the Eastern United States at the cost of over billion, still easily taking second place. New York City and New Jersey were hit the worst, with power outages and the flooding in streets and tunnels causing flight cancellations and the two-day closure of NASDAQ. Even the subway station lines were flooded. Since Sandy, scientists and politicians alike discuss how climate change amplifies storms and sea level rise has had made the coasts (specially the East) less attractive. Meanwhile, citizens relocated from New York and other effected states to the South and the West Coast (from where quite a few of them came to the zone because of the mortgage crisis) because the storm was too severe, to the point you could read articles calling it "Superstorm Sandy" and "Frankenstorm". note "Frankenstorm" was named because it was a hurricane-nor'easter hybrid and Halloween was days away, but later media coverage used "Superstorm Sandy" due to being considered an extratropical cyclone when it made landfall in Atlantic City.
Hurricane Maria, which struck Dominica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico in 2017, was notorious not only for its initial destruction but the very, very slow restoration of basic services (electricity especially) to Puerto Ricans. While there were many factors that figured into this (an usually busy hurricane season overstretching FEMA's resources, longstanding infrastructure issues, etc.), the emergency response on the part of the United States was particularly and widely criticized, with President Trump's handling of the situation seen as comparable to President George W. Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina back in '05. Debates over the total death toll of the storm and how many deaths could be attributed to post-storm recovery problems warrant their own page at Wikipedia.
A series of wildfires swept through California in 2017, which, combined, burned about 1.3 million acres of land, or about 5,000 square kilometers. The largest one, the Thomas Fire, became the single largest wildfire in California's recorded history and spread through the land, nearly unstoppable for weeks. The Lilac Fire in San Diego, meanwhile, was notable for burning at a frightening speed, at up to one acre per second (or about 1 square kilometer every 4 minutes). Though the destruction was immense, including the demise of one major winery and numerous businesses and residences, the firefighters were able to save everybody except two, though one of them, sadly, was their own. What resulted, on the social side, were an increased awareness of the devastation that wildfires can cause in Californianote due to a combination of a large amount of dry brush, a semi-arid to arid climate, strong Santa Ana winds, and California's ongoing persistent drought, and a renewed discussion on climate change, namely if this drought is the cause of it or not, though for various reasons, they won't be discussed here. One direct impact, certainly, was a change in fire insurance, namely that many areas were now no longer covered by them at all due to them being high-risk, creating a heated debate that has persisted long after the fires went out. Things went From Bad to Worse, though, as heavy rains early into 2018 caused mudslides in the burn areas that killed 18 people.note This is because the vegetation on the mountains had roots that would anchor the soil in place. The fires burnt away this vegetation, turning the mountains essentially into mounds of loose, unstable soil.
Heated divides and political rhetoric took an incredibly violent turn on June 14, 2017 (Trump's 71st birthday), when a man by the name of James Hodgkinson opened fire on Republican lawmakers while they were practicing for the annual charity Congressional baseball game that was to happen the following day. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot in the hip, and several others were shot before the shooter was fatally wounded by Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner. Mr. Hodgkinson was a fervent supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, and known for his virulent anti-Republican rhetoric. Before the shooting, Hodgkinson was confirmed to have asked whether or not it was Republicans or Democrats practicing, and then opening fire when he learned it was Republicans. The act drew swift bipartisan condemnation and support for the victims, including a viral picture of the teams praying together at second basenote Scalise's position when the game took place the next day. The New York Times attempted to link the political violence together with the 2011 shooting of Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, including the use of a map put out by a Sarah Palin-backed group putting a target over Gifford's district. But when it was pointed out that the shooter's obsession with Ms. Giffords predated the map, the paper had to issue an embarrassing retraction, and was later sued by Ms. Palin. Other news activists, like Joy Reid, were condemned for their takes on the shooting, including insinuating that Mr. Scalise deserved to be shot.
The election of Donald Trump has caused the rise of Right-Wing Militia Fanatic groups (also known as the "alt-right"), including gun absolutists, anti-abortion and anti-LGBT extremists, neo-Confederates, white identitarians, extreme misogynists, and even Klansmen and Neo-Nazis. Many of their activities and rallies have become more mainstream in American politics, and some of them have resulted in violence (such as the Charlottesville's "Unite the Right" rally mentioned above). One of the major factors of this has been the support of Donald Trump from many of these groups and Mr. Trump's refusal to condemn their activities, with the few "condemnations" that he has given widely being seen as forced and insincere (especially since they usually involved deflection towards other groups). Not helping the matter is that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI under the Trump administration have shifted their resources to dealing with "antifa" and Islamic terrorism instead of white supremacist terrorism despite the fact that Americans are much more likely to be killed by far-right terrorism than any far-left or Islamic terrorism. Far-left terrorism is a relatively rare and recent phenomenon, with antifa groups mostly avoiding the use of life-threatening weapons like guns or vehicles (especially in North America); meanwhile Islamic terrorism, despite its frequency in Europe has been very sporadic in the United States.
Faith in the press has taken a nosedive throughout the decade. While American trust for the media had been steadily declining since the 1990s, it took a serious hit in credibility during the 2016 election cycle, often polling at less than half the country believing the American news media will tell them news accurately. Among other things, reporters are often perceived as uninterested in problems outside of their cities, and having a far too cozy relationship with Democratic lawmakers. This was bolstered by hacked emails released from WikiLeaks, which showed news anchor John Harwoodnote who infamously lied on-camera repeatedly during the much-pilloried CNBC primary debate engaging in opposition research against candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson, describing NYT reporter Maggie Haberman as "friendly" to the Democratic campaign, and then-Politico reporter Glenn Thrush declaring himself a "hack" and submitting full articles to Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta in advance of publication, something against his employer's policies. After Trump's victory, viral images of ABC anchor Martha Raddatz crying over the victory were circulated among conservative sites note For the record, Raddatz has denied crying over Trump's victory, blaming the incident on being awake for a very long period of time.. After the election, several high-profile failures of poorly-sourced and uncorroborated anonymous leaks, coupled with a repeated insistence by Trump about "fake news", has tanked the media's credibility, often polling at less approval than his own historically low ratings. The media's push to "rededicate" itself to fact-checking and speaking truth to power after the election rang hollow among listeners, as they wondered why they felt the need to claim so when that has always been their purview. It fueled many suspicions that the media was not as interested or rigorous in fact-checking the Obama administration, which even some reporters admit they didn't their due diligence. The editorial endorsement many news outlets have given to immigration reform and tighter gun control among other issues has led to even more allegations of biased reporting.
Things came to a fever pitch in early December 2017, when several major news networks, along with CNN, ran many false anti-Trump stories in one week.note CNN and CBS ran a false story claiming that Donald Trump, Jr. was collaborating with WikiLeaks on document production during the campaign, when he was actually being told about publicly available documents. ABC's Brian Ross reported that Flynn was going to testify that then-candidate Trump directed him to collaborate with Russians, when it actually happened after the election. Reuters claimed that Trump's financial records were being subpoenaed, only for it to belong to someone else. And finally, a reporter claimed an arena for a Trump rally was empty, however, the picture was taken before the event occurred. The networks were blasted for their errors, and many critics question why all of these "errors" are anti-Trump in nature. In early 2018, the Sinclair television group began running pro-administration pieces in their stations' newscasts, although it should be noted that most of them are affiliated with either ABC, CBS or NBC, leading to an evident sense of contradiction.
In May 2018, Mr. Trump referred to the murderous Salvadoran gang MS-13 (the "maras") as "a bunch of animals" when asked about Central American drug-lords. However, many media outlets used Manipulative Editing to make him refer as such to immigrants in general. While The Washington Post and the Associated Press deleted their articles and issued embarrassing retractions, many others insisted that treating warlords as animals was going too far. Shortly thereafter, many on the press published that the Israeli army attacked Palestinians unprovoked during the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. However, it turned out that most of the casualties were members of the terrorist organization Hamas, a fact that most of the media left out of their reporting, mainly to avoid said terrorists' wrath.
In late June 2018, a disgruntled man shot five people dead in the offices of The Capital Gazette, a newspaper located in Annapolis, Maryland. The shooter later said that he did so because the Gazette had printed a story about him being a sexual offender.
The 2018 midterm elections show massive cracks among the Democratic Party, as candidates and politicians with strong far-left politics similar to Bernie Sanders are favored over established political moderates. On June 2018, Californian U.S. Democratic representative, Maxine Waters, urged attendees in a rally to confront and harass Trump administration officials following an incident where White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was turned away from a restaurant note According to various reports, Sarah Sanders was turned away by the restaurant owner because several of the workers were uncomfortable serving Sanders. This has led to a condemnation by Nancy Pelosi in regards to Waters's remarks and asks for civility, but many Democrats and liberals are quick to call out on Pelosi for her inability to stop Trump's oppressive policies, which they agreed to be far worse than anything Waters was doing.
Likewise in the same month, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old democratic socialist, defeated the incumbent Democratic moderate Joseph Crowley, the fourth highest ranking member of the New York 14th Congressional district's Democratic primary in the Bronx and Queens. Prior to Crowley’s surprise defeat, these uprisings have largely failed at the primaries, with socially conservative Chicago Democrat Dan Lipinski surviving a challenge from a progressive, two other New York representatives holding on in their primaries, and moderate governor candidates winning primaries in New Jersey, Virginia, and Illinois. This has led to more infighting between the Sanders and Clinton wings in future primaries, including a race in Boston where Mike Capuano faces progressive challenger Ayanna Pressley, the New York governor race between Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon, and the insurgency against the Empire State’s Independent Democratic Caucus, who caucus with Republican state senators.
After a year-long battle with brain cancer, U.S. Senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain died on August 25, 2018 (4 days before his 82nd birthday). In his last requests, he'd excluded President Trump, who'd insulted his service during the 2016 election season, from attending his funeral, and invited former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both former opponents, to speak at his funeral, instead. McCain's passing seemed to mark an End of an Age as he was among the last prominent Republicans prior to the rise of the Tea Party at the start of this decade.
Republicans have also had their share of infighting in congressional primaries between establishment Republicans and the Trump wing of the party. There was the Roy Moore insurgency in Alabama, which became a liability after child molestation accusations popped up, Corey Stewart’s victory in the Virginia Senate primaries, and two other representatives in the Carolinas, North’s Robert Pittenger and South’s Mark Sanford, falling in their primaries to more conservative challengers in Mark Harris and Katie Arrington. None of these races got nearly the same buzz as NY-14, which virtually nobody was even talking about before the results actually started to roll in. In fact, all eyes in New York were on the 11th district’s Republican primary between moderate incumbent Dan Donovan and conservative ex-rep and felon Michael Grimm. Donovan survived thanks to a Trump endorsement and the race quickly fell out the spotlight once the 14th district stole all of the thunder.
On October 22, 2018, various bomb packages were sent to several critics of President Trump: including CNN, various Democratic politicians (Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kamala Harris, Eric Holder, Barack Obama, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Maxine Waters), liberal investors George Soros and Tom Steyer, actor Robert De Niro, former CIA Director John O. Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The suspect of the bombings, Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr., was arrested for the attempted bombings and was well-known in Facebook and Twitter for his strong support of Donald Trump and making various threats against critics of Donald Trump (alongside with his white supremacist views according to his former boss of a pizzeria and a violent criminal history). While no one was injured in these bombing attempts (since many of the bombs never detonated) and the attacks were condemned by the Trump administration; President Trump has faced criticism for his partisan and violent rhetoric in his rallies that encouraged acts of terrorism against news organizations and political opponents.
To make matters worse, the day after Sayoc's arrest a gunman stormed a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on a Saturday morning (while several services were going on) and managed to kill 11 people before being captured by police. He explicitly targeted Jews due to his belief in various anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, resulting in the worst attack on Jewish people in the United States to date and the latest mass shooting in 2018. This further caused people to question whether politicians and the media (especially online media) were doing enough to stop the spread of disinformation and scapegoating.
In Canada, the Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, won a majority government in the 2011 election, after years of minority governments. While leading to a continuation of Harper's centre-right policies, the election also saw the dramatic rise of the once-perpetual third-string New Democratic Party led by the late Jack Layton. It also saw the collapse of the Bloc Québécois, a party that promotes Quebec sovereignty, which was reduced to a record-low four seats, not even enough for official party status. The centrist Liberal Party was demoted to third party rump for the first time in their history, prompting the election of center-left moderate Justin Trudeau (son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau) as party leader and succeeds getting party back to be returning it's former historical position to beat Harper. Finally, a Green Party candidate (Elizabeth May) was elected for the first time ever. After Mr. Layton's death, the similarly center-left Thomas Mulcair was picked to head the NDP, becoming Leader of the Opposition as a result.
Eventually, Stephen Harper's ideologically driven policies, ranging from the unnecessary to the nonsensical, and his haughty attitude imposing them created so much resentment and hatred of his government that the 2015 election was obviously going to be an uphill battle for him. To head that off, and in hoping to finish off the Liberal Party for good, Harper had its new leader, Justin Trudeau, the son of the iconic PM Pierre Trudeau, lambasted continually in a long Scare Campaign as a worthless lightweight. Unfortunately, that campaign backfired with Mr. Trudeau given some very low hurdles to impress the public with his articulate intelligence and irresistible charm pushing a very left-wing platform promising to end years of austerity. When Mr. Harper stooped to scapegoating the minuscule number of women who wear the niqab face covering as a wedge issue, complemented with the obviously xenophobic "Barbaric Cultural Practices" tipline proposal, the Conservatives found that it hurt the competing NDP more with the "Kick Harper Out" vote coalescing around the Liberals instead. Come election day, the Liberals leaped from third place to first with a majority government with Justin promising "Sunny Days" to restore as much of the Canada of his father as he can.
Let's elaborate on the issue of Quebec separatism. In control of Quebec via a minority government in 2014, the Parti decided to throw a Hail Mary by introducing a "Charter of Quebec Values," which would (among other things) force public employees to remove religiously significant clothing and symbols to encourage a "secular" society (even though Quebec is already secular to begin with). This ignores the large crucifix that hangs in the provincial parliament, mind you. Now, the idea was apparently meant to rally Quebeckers around a French Canadian identity, since the removal of religious symbolism would be portrayed as passive aggressive pseudo-civil disobedience towards the federal government. The Parti Quebecois hoped to manipulate this sentiment into nationalist anger when the federal government inevitably challenged the charter's constitutionality in court. Although religious minorities and human rights sympathizers condemned the move, there was enough public support for the idea that the minority government called an election in the hopes of winning a majority. However, the Parti Quebecois' campaign went off the rails within a week of the campaign's start; their star candidate declared that he wanted to fully separate Quebec from the rest of Canada should he get elected, and the Bloc fully embraced that position. Predictably, most of the electorate, especially the youth, balked at the idea of revisiting the inevitable turmoil of a third independence referendum, and the party's support fell apart overnight. As a result, the federalist Liberal Party won a solid majority, dealing what could well be a fatal blow to the Parti Quebecois. Separatism of any kind will more than likely be treated as political poison from here on out. For instance, the separatists have proven so desperate that the next leader of the Parti Quebecois was the very man who torpedoed their last election, while the federal Bloc Quebecois has shriveled so badly that the very leader, Giles Duceppe, who led the party to that state of ruin, and resigned for that, was reappointed leader of the remains because there was no one else. In the 2015 federal election, the BQ more than doubled its seats from 4 to 10, but it was not enough for official party status and Duceppe himself was defeated, leading him to resign the next day. As a result, the separatist federal voice is still crippled with Quebec separatists desperately clutching at straws like the Nostalgia Filter of their 1995 referendum defeat to try to drum up any new support for their cause.
On a lesser note, in the province of Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne managed to not only win an general election for her party beset with scandal and unpopular policies, but she became the first openly gay leader of a major government in an English speaking country. More importantly, although her Ontario Liberal party was beset with controversies and scandal while facing a troubled economy, Ms. Wynne's sexual orientation was a complete non-issue in the election campaign. That in itself became a retrospective point of pride for Ontarians to do what would have been unthinkable twenty years before. Ironically, it did become an issue when this new majority government reintroduced its new sex-ed curriculum for the public schools that previously got shot down by religious groups who spooked the previous premier. When they tried to kill it again, one MPP in the opposition snarked that Premier Wynne is especially unfit to dictate such educational policy. The premier asked him point-blank why she: a mother, a former school board trustee and the former Education Minister, was not qualified to update this material; he could not answer considering he would be forced to state that it's because she's a lesbian, a statement that would have been political suicide.
Wynne's past successes have soured by 2018, as provincial polling in Ontario indicates that her government is headed for a historic Curb-Stomp Battle after the Liberals have held power since 2003. In no small part, this largely appears to be due to a ballooning budget deficit, whereby Ontario is now the most heavily indebted sub-sovereign jurisdiction in the world, not to mention cutbacks to essential services, skyrocketing costs for electricity, and the abrupt selling-off of the province's power distribution system (Hydro One) when Liberals are generally considered left-leaning by the public and not generally in favour of free-market privatization. Time will tell whether the Liberals' poor position in public opinion either remains the same, gets worse, or rebounds before the provincial election arrives in June 2018.
Alberta politics was turned on its head in May 2015 when the Alberta Progressive Conservatives, who had reigned uninterrupted since The '70s, went down to defeat due to accumulated arrogance and mismanagement. You would think that their replacement would be the Wildrose Party, which had been formed by conservatives disillusioned with the centrist drift of the PC government — but you'd be wrong, since the party that won a majority government in response was the left-of-centre Alberta NDP under new premier Rachel Notley, going from four MLAs before the election to more than fifty out of the 87-strong legislature. Bear in mind that Alberta is generally considered Canada's most right-wing province, and with good reason. The shock of the Alberta NDP's victory boosted the federal NDP back to the top of the polls nationwide, which turned out to be a Hope Spot until Justin Trudeau came along and turned the late 2015 federal vote into a Liberal Landslide Election. The prospect of further vote-splitting leading to future Alberta NDP victories has since led the Wildrose Party and the decimated PC Party to enact an Enemy Mine, merging to become the United Conservative Party (or the UCP).
Also on the provincial level, the Green Party made surprising gains in British Columbia, with their eventual three MLAs holding the balance of power in a BC NDP minority government since the 2017 provincial election. The Greens also made breakthroughs in the Maritime provinces, electing single members in elections in New Brunswick in 2014 and Prince Edward Island in 2015 to challenge both the local NDP and Progressive Conservatives as the alternative to the reigning provincial Liberals in recent years.
On October 17, 2018, Canada officially legalized marijuana, making them the second nation after Uruguay to do so, and also offered pardons to Canadians who'd been convicted of possessing 30 grams or less.
In Europe, protests opposed to budget reform in favour of debt reduction sprouted up almost everywhere, signalling an intensification of distrust in civil government that had been growing throughout the previous decade, with the mass opposition to the war.
Spain's grassroots protest movement, called Los Indignadosnote "The Outraged Ones" began on May 15th, 2011, when thousands of mostly-young Spaniards camped out in Puerta del Sol, Madrid's central square. A movement that was repeated all over the country in protest to the budget cuts and the insanely high levels of unemploymentnote 25% of the working population and over 50% for young people. At the time. By November 2013, it rose to 27% and 58% respectively, and it still doesn't show signs of going down any time soon.. This inspired sit-in protests all over Europe and even the Occupy Wall Street movement itself. Partly thanks to many Spaniard expatriates living in the US that repeated the protest from Spain, thus catching the eye of many unsatisfied young Americans. The movement was then organised as a political party called Podemos, which cut into the base held by the social-democratic PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party). Meanwhile the right-wing PP (Popular Party, leading party since 2011) found a rival of its own in the liberal Ciudadanos movement. The result? The four organizations cannibalised each other twice, leaving Spain with no government between late 2015 and October 2016, when the Socialists decided to withdraw their intentions of forming a government, giving the PP free rein to hold onto office.
The country has been wracked by one of the most serious political/constitutional crises since Franco's rule. Catalonia, a province with wide autonomy, was dissatisfied with having to provide its substantial funds (Catalonia accounts for roughly 20% of Spain's GDP) and held an independence referendum on October 2017. Needless to say, Madrid's reaction was stern, to say the least, sending policemen to Barcelona in an attempt to quell the referendum, with widespread cases of police brutality recorded. After the results came in and were in favor of independencenote While a staggering ninety percent of voters supported independence, it should be noted the election was mostly to "ratify" it, with turnout being just over 40%, Madrid gave an ultimatum to Barcelona to declare openly whether or not it is declaring independence, threatening the annulment of Catalan autonomy in case of a positive answer, which effectively happened at once. The Madrid government took control of Catalonia while the independentists fled to Belgium to lead a "government-in-exile" before surrendering in April 2018. The whole situation currently seemed for a time to be devolving into a Madrid-Barcelona spat with a tendency to turn into a Second Spanish Civil War while reaction from the European Union was lukewarm at best, partly due to the burgeoning secession movements (Veneto, Scotland etc.). It's also worth noting that a large drive for the Catalonian independence seems to originate with the Catalan business elites who wish to use independence to secure more profits for themselves, instead of paying taxes to bolster less prosperous Spanish provinces.
Spain was hit particularly hard by the crisis, but Portugal, Italy, Iceland, Ireland and Greece were hit even harder. In Greece, disillusionment with the major parties has led to a huge boost in votes for fringe parties, including the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn and SYRIZA, a coalition of Communists and other far-left groups. In the cases of Iceland and Ireland, conditions had since improved enough that they've avoided a Greek scenario (actually Ireland returned to the high growth rates of years prior). Meanwhile Italy saw both the rise of anti-EU movements like comedian Beppe Grillo's (vaguely) leftist (and initially parodic) Five-Star Movement and the rightist Northern League and even the brief return of Silvio Berlusconi to the spotlight with Forza Italia before being expelled from the Italian Senate following his conviction for tax fraud. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi quit on December 2016 after his proposals to change the Constitution were rebuffed in a referendum.
France had seen an increasingly divided and unsatisfied populace over the past few years as people have shifted to populists on both the far-left and far-right, especially made evident by the strong presence of the right-wing Front Nationale under Marine le Pen in election polls and becoming the country's third largest political party. President Francois Hollande was rocked by an economic crisis and an infidelity scandal that left him mired as the least popular European head of state (his approval rate hovering under 20% since late 2013, and under 10% since early 2014, and not more than 5% after the terrorist outbreak (see below)), being constantly pressured to resign. In 2016 he became the first President of the Fifth Republic to choose not to run for re-election in the 2017 race.
The ensuing elections became one of the most contentious and messy in French history, with the two main parties (the Socialists and the Republicans) picking unexpected candidates: The former chose hardliner Bernoit Hamon over moderate minister Manuel Valls, while the Gaullist Francois Fillon won over former President Nicholas Sarkozy. But neither got much attention (Hamon was considered a 'lost cause' while Fillon was affected by a nepotism scandal), the focus instead going to le Pen, capitalizing on the successes of Brexit and Trump; as well as two men who bolted from the PS with two very different views: Emmanuel Macron, a libertarian socialist and Jean-Luc Melenchon, an Euro-skeptic close to the Communists. By Election Day, there was a three-way tie with Madame le Pen and Monsieur Melenchon representing the "Old France", Monsieurs Macron and (to a lesser extent, fourth-place candidate) Fillon campaigning for a "New France". Macron won the first round by a larger margin than expected (although very small, 23.8 to 21.4) against le Pen, whose attempt to garner support from a terrorist attack days earlier backfired on her (the slain policeman turned out to be a progressive campaigner), narrowly beating Fillon (who had a much better showing than forecast) out of the runoff (he had around 20%), while Melenchon (who had seen his poll numbers surge) came out fourth with 19% (And Hamon? He got 6% if you want to know, even worse than expected). Macron handily beat le Pen in the run-off, while his recently-founded "En Marche" movement swept the parliamentary elections. Monsieur Macron's efforts have concentrated on reforming the country's infamous labour regulations, jealously guarded by the trade unions.
The country has also been victim of two hard-hitting terrorist attacks in 2015. The first, in January 7th, targeted Charlie Hebdo (a notorious satirical magazine known for its mockery of Islamism), killing 11 and leaving another 11 wounded. Worldwide reaction was immediate, with "Je Suis Charlie" becoming the motto of the repudiation against the attacks. But in November 13th, there was a second attack with an onslaught of 7 simultaneous attacks which killed 138 people and injured 368, becoming the biggest attack on French soil since WWII and the worst in Europe since the Madrid bombings of March 11th, 2004, and the worst in the Western world since 9/11. In 2016, Nice became the backdrop to a somber Bastille Day as a truck rammed towards a park just after the midnight fireworks. The result was of over 75 fatalities and around 100 injured either run over or shot. This also led to a three-month extension of the emergency state in force since November, that was going to be lifted in the following week. Needless to say, this led to even more cynicism among the French.
Neighboring Belgium was also hit by an attack at Brussels' airport in March 2016. The country is not only known for being Europe's de facto capital, but also being the place where many Jihadist attacks were planned, including November 2015's onslaught in Paris.
In Switzerland, contingency measures for whatever may result from the aforementioned turmoil are already being plannednote These precautions cover a variety of methods ranging from financial controls to military drills to combat potential unrest from Eurozone states. should the aforementioned turmoil on the Continent worsen; this has consequently led to a general increase of Euro-skepticism. Needless to say, huge social upheavals have taken place.
Germany had been relatively stable with Angela Merkel's coalition government until around 2015 with the Middle Eastern refugee crisis. This reached its breaking point in December 2016 when a truck rammed over a Christmas fair in Berlin, killing 15 in an attack the IS took credit for. Earlier in the year, a series of attacks which included an Afghan refugee stabbing three people and a rejected Syrian asylum seeker committing suicide by blowing himself up outside of a music festival. At least two attacks by failed asylum seekers were thwarted by locals (one by a group of Syrians) and authorities. As a result, the far-right Alternative for Germany party has made large gains in the polls, getting in third place in the 2017 elections, which gave Frau Merkel an historic fourth term as Chancellor.
In the United Kingdom, the 2010 General Election returned a hung parliament (the first since February 1974, and the second since WWII), with no single party attaining a majority. This led to Britain's first peacetime coalition between the Conservatives (largely centre-right) and the Liberal Democrats (somewhat more centrist than the previous centre-left Labour government) and the implementation of austerity economics, including widespread cuts to government spending. The growing uncertainties in the Euro-zone once more revived, at least for among some segments of society, the question of Britain's role in Europe as well as plans for a 2014 referendum for Scottish independence from the UK. While the latter ended in the Scots rejecting independence by a margin of 10%, the former is still up for debate. The continuing economic malaise and the perception that the benefits of the limited recovery have only been felt by the rich has sparked an upsurge in popularity for populist parties, most notably the ultra-conservative UKIPnote the United Kingdom Independence Party led by popular leader Nigel Farage, and the enduring popularity of the SNP note Scottish National Party had the ruling coalition concerned. But the economic recovery was just enough for Mr. Cameron to win a Landslide Election in 2015, no longer needing the LDP's help and giving Labour its most humiliating defeat since 1983. Both the UKIP and the SNP held large gains in the 2016 elections, while Labour was mired in its biggest crisis in years.
Like in the States, anti-'establishment' figures have emerged in this climate of discontent: Along with the UKIP's Farage and former London mayor Boris Johnson becoming the Tories' "Brexit" chief, "old-school" socialist Jeremy Corbyn took a devastated Labour Party by surprise, winning its 2015 leadership election with a populist agenda. This eventually led to a cold war with Corbyn, the MP's that support him and a large portion of the grassroot members on one side and the rest of the MP's on the other.
As the economic situation became more stable, the aforementioned doubts regarding the European Union (and its future) became more prominent, with the Cameron cabinet ratifying a referendum which would decide the UK's future in the Eurozone just after the 2015 election. The overflow of migrants from Africa brought a lot of tension with the rest of the continent, but the aftermath of the Paris bombings just worsened the already hostile climate towards migrants in Britain, primarily those from the Middle East, as well as increasing calls to send Brussels a "good riddance".
On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom voted "Leave", making the UK the first nation to decide to leave the European Union.note Take in mind that the Parliament needs to trigger "Article 50" to notify the EU of an impending exit. This may be nullified however if the Ho C gives a "nay" vote, as the referendum is not legally binding as ratified by a High Court ruling). On the same day as the final results came in, the pound plummeted to a 31-year all-time low (by as much as 10%) with the European stock markets taking a dive as well, and Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation (he then stepped down from Parliament altogether in September). The whole situation raised additional concerns as Scotland called for a second independence referendum and there were calls for referendums for Welsh independence and for Northern Ireland to join the Dublin Republic, meanwhile the Euroskeptic movements in Belgium, Netherlands and France also began voicing demands for their own -II-exit referendums, putting the whole European integration project at risk.
Political pundits have called post-Brexit politics "a mix between House Of Cards and Game of Thrones": Mr. Johnson was tipped to replace Cameron in the Tory leadership as early as 2012. However he quickly dropped out of the race after Michael Gove announced his intentions to run. He came on third, trailing fellow Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom, who was herself far behind Theresa May, a member of the "Remain" camp who became PM on July 13. In spite of her moderate positions, Mrs. May pledged fro a "hard" Brexit (thus leaving the Customs Union), calling an early election for June 2017 to maximise the Tories' electoral advantage.
Across the political spectrum, the cold war in the Labour Party boiled over. Jeremy Corbyn's already fragile grip as Labour's leader was weakened even further after numerous M Ps accused him of being hesitant to campaign for the "Remain" effort. A portion of the shadow cabinet resigned, trying to get Corbyn to resign. When it was clear he wouldn't, a leadership contest began, with Mr. Corbyn and Owen Smith as the candidates. Both are trying to appeal to the left of the party, with Smith supported by most of the MP's and Corbyn being supported by Momentum. There was also two legal battles, firstly to whether Corbyn would have to get nominations (as he was the incumbent, he didn't) and secondly whether the vote freeze for new members was fair. (It was originally ruled to be unfair but the Court of Appeals ruled it to be fair. It's unclear whether it'll go to a higher court)
While Britain had been a relatively safe place in both economicnote The reason Britain wasn't as hit by the Great Recession had to do with the fact it did not grow as much as the U.S. and Germany and it didn't have the bloated deficits of the Mediterranean countries. and social terms during the decade (with only two major terror attacks and the biggest protest being a race riot in 2011), even becoming the "cultural mecca of the world" and recovering (to an extent) the international relevance it had lost after the Black Wednesday crisis of 1992note When the UK pulled out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, a forerunner of the Euro currency, in order to prevent a run on sterling., the aftermath of the Brexit vote radically changed this climate: During the summer, there were claims of a wave of "hate crimes", while terrorist acts became shockingly common, the gravest being a vehicular massacre near the Houses of Parliament, followed by a suicide bombing at Manchester (during an Ariana Grande concert) and another vehicular attack at the Tower of London and the Haymarket (and later a bombing in a London tube car). Concerns regarding the British economy surged after many firms announced their departure for Frankfurt among other cities on the Continent, while the cost of the negotiations forced the May ministry to cut spending, most notoriously in care for the elderly. This feeling of a sudden national decline hit the Tories hard, Mrs. May's gamble backfiring in the most humiliating way, failing to win a majority, hanging on to power with a deal with the Euro-skeptic Irish Democratic Unionist Party, while Labour won far more seats than expected (most surprisingly upscale constituencies such as Kensington), Mr. Corbyn now becoming a more accepted leader in the party. The pro-European Liberal Democrats also saw an upsurge in contrast to the collapse of the UKIP and the SNP.
On top of all that, a blaze destroyed Greenfell Tower days after the election, which resulted in scores of casualties (including the residents of the entire upper floors), not to mention that more than a hundred people were left homeless. The disaster soon became a metaphor about the UK falling apart, marking an end to the "Cool Britannia" era that marked the early Blair and (later) the Cameron years, although it became obviously clear with the tragedy that this prosperity never came for many people, the fact such a shabby council building was merely miles away from the most expensive neighborhood in the world made it all more striking.
Strikes, once thought to be almost extinct after the Yorkshire and Wapping disputes of the mid-80s ended in defeat for the unions, have returned to the political forefront during the May administration. The main points of industrial action have been the NHS and the railroads. The NHS strike of early 2018 (which coincided with a cold wave) eventually ended with the government bowing to the strikers' demands, a first since the "Winter of Discontent" in 1979. However, the cost ended up swallowing the budget, giving way to fears of runaway inflation.
In June 2018, a government report pointed out that, unless the UK struck an advantageous deal with the EU, there was a grave risk that many supplies might run out as soon as two weeks after the country departed the Union, which might even lead to a military takeover—not that it would be the first time that the very notion of British democracy collapsing was pondered.
Politics in the UK have also been marked by scandal. The decade began with the aftermath of the MP's expenses scandal which ultimately brought down Gordon Brown's cabinet. And days after the Weinstein scandal shocked Hollywood, Westminster found itself with a sex scandal of its own, with numerous MP's being accused of sexual misdemeanor, to the point a cabinet minister resigned.
Relations between Europe and the U.S. saw a rebound during the Obama years but hit a stride back upon the election of Donald Trump, criticized by many of the continent's leaders because of his denouncing of the European Union and NATO, labeling the latter "obsolete" (he later backed out) and his affinity for Russia. In his May 2017 tour of Brussels, he attracted even more ire after refusing to back the NATO's Article 5 for Military Cooperation and pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement late that month.
Further complicating the matters with U.S. allies is the issue of trade. President Trump has a dim view on global free trade thanks to his protectionist economic policies and has threatened to pull United States out of NAFTA (particularly in regards to Mexico with the immigration issue and his proposed border wall with Mexico being forced to pay for it). In addition, the Trump administration announced that they will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on U.S. allies such as Mexico, Canada, and European Union, which the countries responded with retaliatory tariffs on the United States on various U.S. exports, thus sparking fears of a trade war and a possible second Great Depression.
While the Trump administration has been very hostile towards U.S.'s key allies, the same cannot be said for America's greatest geopolitical rival, Russia, with whom the Trump administration is much warmer. The administration has been reluctant to impose any sanctions on Russia that was supported bipartisanly in the Congress; and in the 2018 G7 Summit, President Trump proposed of readmitting Russia into the G7 summit, a proposal that was rejected by U.S. allies and even several top GOP lawmakers. note Russia was once part of the G7 economic forum that was previously named G8, but Russia was permanently suspended from the economic forum because of its military intervention on Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.
In February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced his decision to step down from the Holy See, the first time this has been done since the 15th Century. Benedict's replacement, Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio), is the first non-European Pope in over one thousand years (And also the first Pope of Italian descent since 1978, owing to being a child of Italian-Argentinians). Notoriously more liberal than the arch-conservative Benedict or the traditionalist John Paul II, in the course of just over a year he gained success in positioning the Catholic Church as a major social force on the world stage, even restoring some of its prestige in the West.
France legalized gay marriage in April 2013.
England and Wales followed suit and legalized gay marriage in July 2013.
In May 2015, Ireland became the first nation to legalize gay marriage by popular vote rather than by a judicial ruling or a parliamentary decision.
Germany would follow in 2017 after having allowed for civil unions.
Russia, however, stays vehemently conservative and reactionary under the still-ruling Vladimir Putin. The Orthodox Church enjoys greater and greater state support and has become more influential, while the protests of 2011-12 calmed down, and the ruling United Russia party is no longer under popular criticism, though only from a political standpoint (and that only in the international politics). They still get a lot of flack on the domestic front for being corrupt Obstructive Bureaucrats bent on banning this and regulating that. It doesn't help that at least a good deal of criticism coming from the West has little traction among the Russian populace at large, and most Russian opposition parties are just oriented on the reviled oligarchs, being so unabashedly Western-oriented that even their political advertisements are often produced in English first (and sometimes only) and are clearly aimed at getting the support abroad, not in their own land.
There is, however, a sort of grassroots movement for greater popular control on the authority, which managed to produce some result and a notable leader in the person of Alexey Navalny, a corruption-fighting lawyer and activist who in 2013 was nominated to the Moscow mayor election and came second. On the other hand he is a pretty controversial figure mired in scandals about his business profile (he was even indicted in the case of some tax shenanigans, but was sorta-acquitted later), his political views (due to his reported socializing with some reported Neo-Nazis), and favorite Russian political slander, accusations of being a Government's pawn.
Ukraine is locked in a civil war, with pro-European and pro-Russian factions engaged in a conflict in the East of the country. The former government was overthrown, the ex-president escaped to Russia, but the new revolutionary nationalist government still has very weak control over the country and especially Crimea, where a Russian-backed rebellion took control, declared independence from Ukraine quickly joined Russia — an event largely quietly recognized as fait accompli by the world at large. However, Russia's continued meddling in Ukrainian affairs and support of the rebels with weapons, supplies and personnel despite protests to the contrary has led to sanctions by the US and EU, which while slow to engage, are now starting to do damage. note The US has little to lose, as Russia-US trade is light. The EU, however, is much more divided on the issue, as it has much more irons in the fire and has invested in Russia heavily, so any meaningful sanctions will hit the European countries (especially France and Germany) basically just as hard as they will hit Russia, which is the last thing the Europeans would want, in this volatile economic situation. While Germany is reluctantly beginning to turn the screw, France is more ambivalent, owing in part to the huge arms deals with Russia, including the sale of the two Mistral-class helicopter carriers for 1.2 bn euros, a deal that basically kept the Saint-Nazaire shipbuilders from bankruptcy and huge layoffs, which went through despite the sanctions. However, as time goes by, the EU is becoming harder hearted.\
Once the movement to overthrow Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych took off in February, the story became international news. Attempts at compromise and negotiation have floundered with neither side willing to back down. Soon after the Crimea debacle the two Russian-speaking and most Russian-aligned Eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk followed suit, with the new Kiev government answering with the armed response. While initially sluggish, the civil war is picking up steam, with the Ukrainian government, unable to dislodge the increasingly proficient rebels with their inadequately funded and trained ground forces, resorted to the shelling and bombing of the rebel cities, leading to numerous civilian casualties. Refugees are already numbering in the thousands, and paramilitaries clashed in the cities of Odessa and Mariupol in the neighbouring South-Eastern provinces, which has led to the civilian massacres under the unclear circumstances.
Ukrainian media (and some Western ones following them) are widely accusing Russia on supporting the rebels, while in the Russia proper a government is leery of admitting that it is publicly providing this support — even though they've been repeatedly caught doing so — while a growing popular discontent is brewing against not providing it. Consequently, Russian-Western relations, already frosty after the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London, have soured, Western sanctions are well on the way to crippling the Russian economy (which, however, only seems to bolster Putin's support among ordinary Russians) and some are even claiming that this is the beginning of a new Cold War between Russia and the West.
Europe also has to face a mass influx of refugees. (Many of them fleeing from the civil war in Syria, but there are also many from neighboring countries.) The initial reactions of the different European countries are basically covering the whole spectrum of how one might possibly deal with such a situation, ranging from welcoming thousands of refugees with open arms at first to erecting fiercely guarded fences along the borders.
Austria came close to becoming the first European nation since WWII to be governed by a nationalist party. Norbert Hofer, of the Austrian Patriotic Front (FPO, founded by former Nazis) became the most voted candidate in the first round, then leading leftist candidate Alexander van der Bellen in the polls. However, van der Bellen got a surprise victory in the runoff after winning the mail vote as well as early voting (preferred by younger people and those living in cities, although political commentators also denounced that migrants also voted this way), becoming in the process Europe's first ecologist President, although only six months later as the FPO denounced the results, leading to a second election. Ultimately, in a "Shaggy Dog" Story for the FPO, Herr van der Bellen won by a larger margin (albeit, it was still very thin). However, in the 2017 legislative elections FPO won 51 seats, making them the third strongest party in Austria.
Norway was taken unaware by the July 22 attacks in 2011, and although the general feeling of support on behalf of the victims lingered - that is mostly the 69 people gunned down at the Labour Party Youth summer camp (as well as the eight bomb victims in Oslo) - the effect also was political. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, leading a left wing coalition, was blamed for sloppy security, and the words of the Breivik Manifesto, written as a kind of mish-mash by the gunman himself, actually stirred the anti-immigration sentiment in the country. The following general election in 2013 gave majority to a new right wing coalition, reigning to this day, although with great resentment from groups who initially voted for them. During this time, the anti-EU bloc has gained support as well.
Internationally, Norway has been a staunch NATO supporter, and participated in the US-led military campaigns, both in Afghanistan and Libya. This unconditional support, also in the question of Russia, which has a small border with Norway, is debated, also in strict constitutional terms (because the initial decision to join the Libya campaign earned some criticism because of the lack of constitutional procedure).
In the Middle East, the "Arab Spring" of 2011 saw long-standing dictatorships in Tunisia (Zine El Abidine Ben Ali) and Egypt (Hosni Mubarak) overturned by massive protests, sparking a wave of protests for democracy and/or Sharianote The two are quite compatible, especially considering that the latter is so damned slippery it might as well be meaningless across the region. Democracy is... unstable at best, however. While other countries have had government changes (like presidents not running for another term or ministers/cabinet members resigning), the main focus is in Egypt, Libya and Syria, the latter two of whom went into civil war. Gadaffi was overthrown in a civil war, while Bahrain and Yemen crushed the revolutionaries. Syria's crackdown on rebels quickly reached brutal and horrifying levels, and other countries have been highly reluctant to intervene. Only time will tell how this all plays out, especially where these countries' attitudes towards the West, and the United States of America in particular, are concerned.
While there were clashes between the protesters and police, Hosni Mubarak's defeat seemed inevitable. When he tried to impose a curfew, neither the military nor the police enforced it, beginning to side with the protesters. When he dissolved government and appointed a new vice president, people demanded that he should be dismissed as well. When he tried to get further crackdowns on the protesters, the military did not comply and demanded his resignation. When he said he wouldn't seek another term, but would live out his current tenure, he was forced to resign by the rest of his government, and he complied. The military took over for a period of six months until elections could be held. Mohammed Morsi, Mubarak's successor, was overthrown by a military coup on July 3, 2013, just a year after he was sworn in as the first democratically-elected president in Egyptian history. His tenure was affected by the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in politics, which caused a fierce opposition. As Morsi was a junior member of the Brotherhood high leadership, there was a sense he was taking his marching orders from the other Brothers and was ramming Islamist reforms down the throats of a country that wasn't entirely sure it wanted that (at the very least, many were quite ill at ease with his attempt to exempt his decisions from judicial review, the hurried procedures of the committee charged with drafting the constitution, and the confused process for the referendum to approve the new constitution). Indeed, it's possible that a plurality or even a majority of Egyptians supported the coup, as it more or less came at the demand of the Tamarrod (Rebellion) movement, calling for Morsi to make substantial concessions or leave by the anniversary of his presidency; when he refused to do either (in a speech that struck many as arrogant and overly partisan), the protest that was supposed to show up the morning of the 30th developed late on the 29th instead. That said, the military's subsequent crackdown on peaceful Brotherhood protesters drew international condemnation, leading many to refer to the ruling armed forces as a military junta.
Muammar Gaddafi, the dictator of Libya, began a violent crackdown on the protesters, unwittingly prompting the creation of the National Transitional Council, a centralized authority within the opposition so they could consolidate efforts for change in the rule of Libya. Much of the United Nations recognized the NTC as opposed to Gaddafi as the rightful government of Libya; even China and Russian switched their support to the NTC upon the fall of Tripoli. Facing military defections and government resignations, Gaddafi quickly lost Benghazi and Misrata, as well as several other cities, to the rebels, before his forces pushed back and retook much of the lost territory, even reaching Benghazi and Misrata. The United Nations Security Council issued a no-fly zone over Libya, allowing NATO to conduct military operations against Gaddafi's forces, including air strikes on Gaddafi's artillery, cruise missiles from submarines, an arms embargo and naval blockades. Tripoli, Libya's capital city, went under rebel control by late August, along with several of Gaddafi's sons killed or arrested, signaling the endgame of the civil war. The rebels began cleaning up the rest of Gaddafi's holdouts, including Bani Walid and Sirte, while Gaddafi's location remained unknown. At the climax of the Battle of Sirte, Gaddafi was found, captured and killed, ending the civil war. The NTC took over as an interim legislation for ten months (mostly by prosecuting Gaddafi officials while absolving opposition officials for their acts), before dissolving upon holding a general election for the newly-formed General National Congress (and new Prime Minister Ali Zeidan). In the wake of a post-Gaddafi era, the GNC's current job is to reconcile the factional infighting, sectarian tensions, economic issues and general lawlessness as Libya's first democratic government for over 50 years.
The international focus then shifted to Syria, where President for Life Bashar al-Assad was (and still is) facing his own civil war. Similar to Gaddafi, Assad ordered a violent crackdown on the protesters, who formed an anti-government opposition in an effort to consolidate all efforts against Assad. However, the opposition is mired in inter-factional infighting during the civil war, leading to Assad largely dominating the conflict from the outset. Poison gas was released, killing thousands of civilians, but nobody can decide if it was Assad or the rebels who released the poison gas - though most suspect it was Assad and his regime tacitly admitted such. Several nations, including Germany and the UK, have voted not to participate in military action against Assad, with concerns that US officials might wage a unilateral assault on Syria without UN approval. Syria is an ally of Iran, China and Russia, however, and Iran has said numerous times that they will retaliate if the US attacks Syria. After the Commons' "nay" vote, President Barack Obama called for Congress to vote on whether or not to attack Syria, although Secretary of Defense John Kerry went on record to say that the White House should attack Syria even in the event of a nay vote in Congress. When a reporter asked Kerry if there were other ways to handle the issue without use of military action, Kerry (accidentally) said "Sure, he could give up his chemical weapons, but I don't think he will." Cue Vladimir Putin announcing Assad's immediate agreement to dismantle and turn over his chemical weapons over to the United Nations. The chemical weapons and the facilities that produce them have since been rendered inoperable, and Russia returned to world politics as an "alternative power" to the West... but the civil war continues.
During 2016, government forces regained many important areas, eventually reaching Aleppo in December. An agreement to evacuate the city has been reached with the rebels, even though the attacks have continued intermittently.
In March 2017, Syria was attacked by a chemical strike, attributed to the Assad regime with the alleged behest of Russia. The U.S. replied with launching missiles towards key military positions, an operation coordinated with France and the UK. This happened again in April 2018, with both events sparking fears of a large-scale war.
In recent years, the international community began to endorse the establishment of a Palestine state more openly than merely invoking the UN's proposed "two-state" solution. During this time, Israel saw even the U.S. government under Obama criticizing them for their rather heavy-handed responses against the Muslims in the Gaza strip, which was seen as unthinkable back in the days of G.W. Bush. Upon his taking charge, President Donald Trump reversed Obama's policies, immediately taking an unashamedly pro-Israel stance in Middle East affairs, to the point he revived a Bush-era attempt to recognize Jerusalem as the country's capital, taking the American embassy to the Holy City. When the decision was announced in late 2017, only a handful of Central American countries supported the move (including Guatemala, which also opened its embassy in Jerusalem), while a group of Islamic nations stood to the U.N. to recognize Palestine as a member state. When the embassy opened in May 14, 2018 (the 70th anniversary of Israel's Declaration of Independence), Muslim protesters were shot down by Israeli forces, leaving over 50 demonstrators dead, further weakening Israel's international standing and strengthening the Palestine cause.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also faced numerous protests, starting when demonstrators gathered around Taskim Square against the tearing down of the last park in metropolitan Istanbul; it has since erupted into a larger protest against government corruption and authoritarian vibes emerging from the ruling AKP party.
Not helping Erdogan's position are also numerous allegations and accusations of covert trade and cooperation with ISIL/ISIS/IS. Most notable are the pictures showing oil truck heading from ISIS-controlled oil fields towards Turkey.
Further strain was put on Erdogan and Turkey due to an unreasonable pressure exerted on Kurds within Turkey and threats of outright invasion on Iraq/Syria if Kurdistan ever becomes a remote possibility. Add to that the shooting down of Russian fighter jet, and the situation in Turkey became even more critical.
And as a topping on the cake, in the evening of July 15, the Turkish army attempted a coup d'etat against Erdogan's government. While the military claimed to be upholding democracy and civil rights, a defiant Erdogan immediately called people in Ankara and Istambul on the streets to oppose the army. The popular reaction finally prevailed, and the President quickly controlled the situation upon arriving to Istanbul. However, there were claims about Erdogan orchestrating a "self-coup" in order to rekindle his image.
The attempted putsch further strained Turkey's relations with the West, with Erdogan's threats to restore the death penalty jeopardizing the country's chances to join the EU. He also called for the extradition of a pro-Western leader who was an ally of the AKP Erdogan reconfigured it as a nationalist, pro-Muslim party.
In December 2016, a policeman in Ankara stabbed the Russian consul to death in retaliation for the Syrian civil war.
After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was term-limited from running again, an election was held in June 2013 to choose a new Iranian president. The four hardliners unexpectedly split the vote, giving the election to the moderate Hassan Rouhani. With the goal of lifting foreign economic sanctions, Rouhani is looking to temper relations with America and the West, by acknowledging the Holocaust (his predecessor was a denier), releasing several political prisoners, calling President Obama himself by phone for a meeting and engaging in the first serious talks over the nuclear program. A pragmatist, Rouhani even expressed a desire for global nuclear disarmament and called on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (which bans the signatories from having nukes; Iran signed it in 2015, leaving Israel as the lone Mid-East country not to sign it). While scepticism abounds, especially from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made every effort to torpedo the talks—much to the displeasure of his Western allies, and both American, Israeli, Saudi and Iranian hardliners, there is a sense of optimism that decades-long tensions will finally lessen between the West and Iran... This until May 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump carried on his promise to revoke the deal, which led Iranians to resume their anti-Western streak, debilitating Rouhani's standing.
In one of the most unpleasant sequences of events ever recorded in the 21st century, Iraq has returned to the forefront as a volatile flashpoint. The Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is a Shia in a majority-Shia state; he made his bones upon marginalizing the Sunni minority (many of who are part of the same sect as Saddam Hussein) while empowering his Shia constituents. Partly as a result, ISIS (no, not that ISIS — that one had to become the CIA), an extremist Sunni paramilitary group, has branched off from the Syrian Civil War and flat-out conquered most of western Iraq. The Kurds at the north have branched off into an independent fighting force, having taken control of the oil-rich north-east. The Shias remain in charge of their southern and central regions, while ISIS is taking control of all Sunni sectors. Note that ISIS already has huge swathes of Syria already under their control; the border between Iraq and Syria has since been effectively demolished, and many people fear a regional conflict is brewing due to spillover from the Syrian Civil War.
ISIS has since declared itself simply to be 'the Islamic State', shorted to IS, and has claimed the mantle of "Caliph" for its leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, accepting the allegiance of groups such as Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram. After the alarming scale of its military successes, its frequent displays of sheer brutality the filmed beheading of Western prisoners, crucifixion of Iraqis and the enslavement and attempted genocide of the Yazidi minority, and notable social media savvy in gaining recruits and spreading its message, an unorthodox alliance of Western air-power and Iranian ground troops checked its advance. The West engaged in a bombing campaign in support of the Kurds at the Battle of Tikrit, then the Iraqi military, while Iranian ground troops supported Iraqi forces, helped train Shia militias and together, managed to turn the tide. However, the bombing campaign is only taking place in Iraq, with some members of the Western coalition, such as Britain, unwilling to get involved in the Syrian civil war, meaning that IS can retreat to its capital, Raqqa.
In the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, there has been significant upheaval recently. While outwardly in concord with one another, the scuffle between Saudi Arabia and Qatar that erupted in 2017 highlighted the internal divisions within the Arab block. Qatar was formally accused of supporting global terrorism (primarily in Syria and Iraq), though given that the accuser is Saudi Arabia which, to say it mildly, is not guiltless itself. As a result - as of 7 June 2017, nine sovereign governments have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. Many political analysts and commentators are interpreting this as scapegoating Qatar to deflect the blame of terrorism sponsorship from SA and UAE, and to punish Qatar for its relatively good relations with Iran. Things heated up additionally when Turkey and Iraq pledged military aid in the event of an invasion on Qatar. It remains to be seen how this crisis will unfold.
On, October 2, 2018, a Saudi for Washington Post journalist critical the Saudi government, Jamal Khashoggi, was reported missing in the Saudi consulate in Turkey when he was obtaining documents for a marriage with his fiancée. He was suspected to be murdered by the Saudi government, which the Saudi government initially denied before admitting that Jamal was killed after CCTV footage revealed 15 Saudi agents were sent to the consulate to kill Jamal. The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi had led to a worldwide condemnation, which resulted in various CEOs cutting business ties with Saudi Arabia and putting a diplomatic strain with Turkey and Saudi Arabia's key ally, the United States.
In Africa, the most dramatic early change was the creation of a new nation in 2011 when South Sudan split from Sudan.
The Islamic insurgency known as al-Shabab, which had turned Somalia into one of the most violent and anarchic places on Earth, lost control of Somalia's towns and cities. Crucially, it was forced out of the capital, Mogadishu, in August 2011. It left the vital port of Kismayo in September 2012. The early 2010s marked a period in which surrounding African nations started to take the threat of Islamic terrorism in their neighbour seriously. Kenya, worried that al-Shabab was kidnapping truckloads of its tourists, took a lead in the African Union's fight to push the enemy back South, while Ethiopia attacked from the west and seized towns in Somalia's centre.
In West Africa, there has been concern of Salafistnote a strict fundamentalist brand of Sunni Islam insurgency , particularly with groups like Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and Ansar Dine in Mali. The latter organisation effectively seized control of the vast northern part of the country until early 2013, when armies from Mali, France, and other African nations drove the Islamists out of the major cities of northern Mali.
China built a military base in Djibouti, signaling its expanding influence in the world stage, and especially in Eastern Africa, which some say is being silently colonized by the Chinese.
Around the Asia Pacific region, the decade has run rather smoothly. Japan was hit hard by the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011, and continues to recover; but while the rest of the world has been groaning under the weight of economic or social unrest, most Asian economies are booming. Talks of an "Asian Century" or an "Age of the Pacific" have been floated. In the region, China, Australia, and some other countries managed to avoid recession. On one hand, China is beginning to feel the pressure from the largest real-estate bubble in world history; on the other, speculation that China will become the next superpower, or, somewhat hysterically, something even more menacing, has intensified. China's massive growth has led it to replace Japan as the second-largest economy in the world, and has fueled speculation that it will become the world's top economy by the next decade. note Concerns of growing economic gulfs and unrest among Chinese workers over rights and distribution of wealth, as well as issues regarding an inflexible and Party-dependent system increasingly vulnerable to political dissidents have highlighted doubts regarding the potential for China's future success. While a China superpower is seriously discussed, China actually taking over the world is essentially a frivolous fantasy. To be fair, China has surpassed America as the largest economy by October 2014, largely by adjusting its money so it costs less on average than the Almighty Dollar. However, the U.S. economy still dwarfs China's, at .4 trillion to .4 trillion. GDP breaks down to nearly ,000 per capita per year in the U.S., compared with less than ,000 per person in China. And in spite of the controversial presence of Putin, Russia returned to the strategy game with the Syrian and Ukranian crises. India holds the potential of becoming a democratic counterweight to Beijing and Moscow, and has been steadily increasing its global influence and power. The USA's so-called 'pivot' or 're-balance' towards this region is a response to the emerging power in Asia.
Burma has introduced democratic reforms that have led to the reduction of Western sanctions against it, despite the continued persecution of minorities such as the Rohingya. Democratic campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi now has a seat in government.
Australian Politics has this decade been characterized by constant changes in the Prime Minister's office, to the point where it became a meme:
The first female prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, was elected to office in 2010, although only just, and only after acrimonious and politically damaging internal fighting in her party. She lost power in 2013 when her predecessor Kevin Rudd regained the leadership position. Rudd became the first Australian Prime Minister to support gay marriage.
On the election of September 7, 2013, the Liberal-National Coalition won government in Australia in a landslide majority, granting conservative Tony Abbott both the position of Prime Minister and a majority government, and ending six years of government by the Australian Labor Party. Abbott would go on to be one of the most disliked PMs in modern Australian history. He was scorned many for his staunch social conservatism, his government's austere budgets and his tendency to put his foot in his mouth, something seemingly very common within his cabinet. In fact, he wound up winning the 2013 election largely because of Labor infighting (the aforementioned Rudd/Gillard fiasco), which he capitalized on. This campaign tactic proved ironic - just two years into the job and facing a loss by Labor at the next election, Mr. Abbott lost a leadership contest to the more moderate communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
Turnbull, in turn, had a brief honeymoon period, called an early election as it began to wear off (partially because he appeased the more conservative members of his party), and wound up winning a razor-thin majority (read: one seat) in the House of Representatives. Mr. Turnbull would spend the rest of his own tenure walking a tightrope with the party's centrists and conservatives, for fear of getting removed from office, especially as economic growth has begun to taper off (the country hasn't slipped into recession since 1991).
Finally, in August 2018, a wave of dismal by-election results combined with continued poor election polling all but marked Turnbull's card. Staunchly conservative Peter Dutton challenged for the leadership on the 21st. While Turnbull won the first poll, the damage was done as 35 Liberal Party members voted against him, and several of his cabinet members went to the backbench. Dutton challenged again two days later, and Turnbull threw down the ultimatum - if the spill was accepted, he would not contest and would leave parliament. The motion was indeed carried (and Turnbull did indeed not contest the leadership and resigned from Parliament), but Dutton lost to Scott Morrison, seen as somewhat more moderate than Dutton while still being more socially conservative than Turnbull.
Following up on Rudd's support for same-sex marriage, the topic of legalizing same-sex marriage in Australia was still up for debate later than some other nations. A majority of the Australian public do wish that same-sex couples should be able to either get married or be able to be recognised, but not both. Unfortunately, the Australian parliament could not seem to agree if they should legalize same-sex marriage or not. Another interesting thing is that the Liberal Party of Australia had begun to slowly show support on same-sex marriage as well, Liberal politicians like Campbell Newman, Wyatt Roy, and current Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull have publicly stated that they support same-sex marriage.
The topic of same-sex marriage was eventually put up to a national postal survey throughout September 2017 to October 2017, which was won by the "Yes" side by a margin of 61.6% to 38.4%. Following this, the Marriage Amendment Act was introduced to Parliament, and passed through not long after, making Australia's recognition of same-sex marriage official.
The first Indigenous Australian leader of a state or territory came to power in 2013, as Chief Minister of the Northern Territory.
Wyatt Roy became the youngest member of the Australian parliament at 20 years of age, becoming the youngest Member of Parliament in the country's history.
The first female president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, was elected to office in 2012. Some were apprehensive of the fact that she is the daughter of South Korea's former dictator Park Chung-hee. By 2017, she faced corruption charges, and was conviced and impeached as a result. South Koreans have since elected a new president named Moon Jae-in (whose parents fled from North Korea during the Korean War), who plans to hopefully make peace agreements with North Korea. We can only await what happens.
The most dramatic regional conflict is over territory in the South China Sea, disputed by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Disagreement over territorial boundaries between China and Japan in the East China Sea have also flared. Needless to say, China is flexing its muscles in the region.
In particular the Senkaku Islands Dispute. It was found there were oil deposits near the islands. Japan argues because of a treaty signed after the first Sino-Japanese War in 1892, the islands were theirs. China disputes that the treaty had any mention of it. This sparked massive anti-Japanese movements in China, to the point where people were vandalizing anything and everything Japanese.
Another troublesome development is North Korea's increasing, even unbridled, enthusiasm at antagonizing South Korea, Japan and America. Kim Jong-un (the son and successor to the late Kim Jong-il) is becoming rather notorious for his temper tantrums, including conducting nuclear operations, launching military satellites into space, threatening to attack the aforementioned three nations and ending the armistice that has kept both countries out of war since 1953, immediately taking tensions Up to Eleven. It's gotten to a point where even China, North Korea's ally, joined America in imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea. Kim Jong-un has since called for a restart of nuclear talks with no preconditions, although the United States and Japan are both suspicious. We'll see what happens.
Osama bin Laden was located in a fortified compound in Pakistan, and killed there on the first day of May 2011 during a U.S. Special Forces operation overseen by Barack Obama. However, Pakistan remains a hotbed of Islamic extremism. The dangers of resisting the ideology of local terrorists have been highlighted by events such as a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Malala Yousufzai, being shot in the head for campaigning in support of girls' education. She got the last laugh, though: Yousufzai survived, continued her fight, has become a symbol of the campaign to educate girls around the world, was very nearly voted Time Magazine's Person Of The Year in 2012, and in 2014 became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
New Zealand legalized same-sex marriage in August 2013.
The emergence of "Abenomics" in Japan has brought up a mixed response from the international community. While some are convinced that current Prime Minister Abe's policies—which include aggressive (for Japan) stimulus, reducing or even eliminating expensive and inefficient agricultural subsidiesnote Which would be something of a "Nixon-in-China" moment, since Abe's LDP has historically been in the pocket of the agriculturalists and joining American President Obama's proposed "Trans-Pacific Partnership" free trade area—would put any lingering traces of the "Lost Decade" to restnote which, along with the aforementioned successful 2020 Olympics bid is within reasonable possibility, others are concerned about his more controversial (and rather divisive) ideas about the country's constitution (i.e. the anti-war Article 9).
Tropical cyclones very rarely become international news stories unless they are hurricanes affecting the United States, and even then, only Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy have reached that status recently. 2013's Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded and the second-deadliest storm in Philippine history, averted this big time. It has gained major international response from all over the world, with even the American Red Cross taking action. The saddest part: Cyclone Nargis of 2008 killed over 100,000 people in Myanmar compared to a few thousand deaths from Haiyan, yet Nargis received next to no international attention compared to Haiyan.
The Philippines's foreign relations with China hit a stride back in 2010 due to the mishandling of the Manila Bus Hostage Crisis. This nearly strained the country's relations with Hong Kong, since all of the hostages and victims are from Hong Kong, and it took 4 years for the relationship to be mended. Asides from the aforementioned territorial disputes in the South China Sea (renamed "West Philippine Sea" by the Filipino government in order spite the Chinese), other territorial disputes followed, such as the Scarborough Shoal standoff in 2012 where Chinese sea vessels bombarded the Filipino fishermen with water cannons. Obviously, Filipinos are very pissed at this which further increased the growing anti-Chinese sentimentnote This only hold towards mainland China not those living in the Philippines for a long time, including the Filipino-Chinese community. Then in 2013, Taiwan gave a jab on the Philippines for the death of a Taiwanese fisherman who was gunned down by the Philippine Coast Guard at the exclusive economic zones of the two countries. The incident was handled way better than aforementioned 2010 Bus Hostage Crisis but it doesn't stop China (who are ironically not in good terms with Taiwan) to take advantage of the incident just to give out their anti-Filipino sentiments. Tensions with the mainland cooled down when Duterte was elected into office, owing to his decision not to flaunt a UN ruling that nullified China's nine-dash line. But this doesn't stop China from building more islands.
The Philippines elected the very unorthodox Rodrigo Duterte as president in 2016 with a strongly nationalist platform, going as far to call President Obama S.O.B. in two separate occasions. Considering that one of his professors is the founder of the Communist Party of Philippines, this explains his anti-American sentiments, his willingness to be closer to China and Russia and vowed for a independent foreign policy where stronger nations shouldn't meddle with the country's internal affairs. Likewise, his extreme methods on his war on drugs completely changed the outlook on how Filipinos viewed the justice system since many felt that the system is so slow and that The Extremist Was Right which explains their indifference on the rising death toll of drug suspects who are said to be killed in defense against the police or are murdered by vigilantes.
When the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s son was elected as senator in 2010, this brought a very worrisome view for people who had been around during the Martial Law era when Marcos abused his power. This also comes with a lot of information online where many people, particularly those who are born after the Martial Law era, believed that Marcos is not such a bad person and that he did some good things during his tenure as president. This coupled by the dissatisfaction on Benigno Aquino III's last years of his tenure which is mired with a lot of controversies. Because of this, Marcos' son nearly won the 2016 elections for vice-presidency only to be beaten by his opponent, Leni Robredo, and President Rodrigo Duterte decided to bury Marcos in the "Libingan ng Bayani" (Heroes' Cemetery) because he believed that Marcos served his time as a soldier in World War II (despite his war medals are fake) and that it will heal the rife between supporters and detractors. As expected, this created a more Broken Base between Marcos supporters and detractors.
Considering that Mindanao, the Southern Region of the Philippines, had been experiencing conflict between Muslims and Christians since The '70s, there were several attempts for a peace agreement. Former President Benigno Aquino III nearly succeeded in 2014 where he passed the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which would give the Muslim tribes full autonomy and had a ceasefire agreement with the Moro rebels, particularly the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). However, the Mamasapano clash killed 44 Special Action Force members and several MILF members in January 2015, putting the BBL into jeopardy and on the shelf by the Congress. The incident itself added more controversies and public dissatisfaction on Aquino's tenure which led to rise of Marcos supporters and the landslide election victory of Rodrigo Duterte.
In May 2017, the Philippine city of Marawi was occupied by the ISIS/ISIL/IS-inspired Maute group, which forced President Duterte to declare martial law in the entire region of Mindanao for 60 days (later extended to the end of the year). But the military had a hard time dealing with the insurgents, their poor performance attributed to outdated training and military hardware. The incident showed that the IS, although seemingly on the retreat in the Middle East, could still pose a significant threat worldwide. However in October 2017, the city was liberated by the Philippine military with two of the Maute leaders being killed, preventing ISIS from establishing a foothold in the Southeast Asian region.
Later in 2017, Jacinda Ardern was sworn in as Prime Minister of New Zealand - the third woman in the role and at 37, the second youngest ever in the country - after protracted coalition negotiations following the general election. The negotiations resulted in a centre-Left leaning coalition government replacing a centre-Right one that had been in power for most of the decade. The following year, she became the second world leader to give birth while in office (the first was Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto in 1990).
In Thailand, a boys soccer team and their coach were trapped in the Tham Luang cave due to flooding from the monsoon. The soccer team went missing for a few days on June 2018 before a British team of divers found them in the cave. The rescue operation has gotten a lot of international attention due to the situation of monsoon flooding that made the rescue attempt difficult (which led to a death of a Thai Navy SEAL rescuer) and 3 of the 12 boys and the coach were stateless. note The 3 stateless boys were refugees fleeing from violence in a province in Myanmar while the coach belonged to an ethnic group where the Thailand government doesn't consider to be citizens. The rescue operation was also considered a Heartwarming Moment, as the boys and the coach made it out of the cave alive due to their sheer willpower and the fact the Thailand government considered granting the 3 stateless boys and the coach full citizenship for their ordeal (which is stark contrast to the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment growing in the West).
In September 2018, India finally overturned anti-sodomy law Section 377 through a Supreme Court ruling note It was British colonial law that criminalizes homosexuality with life imprisonment, ruling as unconstitutional to the Indian Constitution as it violates individual autonomy, intimacy, and identity. The Indian Supreme Court also ruled that discrimination on basis of sexual orientation is also unconstitutional for similar reasons. The ruling was compared to United States's Lawrence v. Texas, as both were Supreme Court rulings that overturned anti-sodomy laws that criminalizes homosexuality on basis on violation on individual privacy.
Latin America and the Caribbean
The wave of socialist governments in South America and the Caribbean (popularly known as the "pink tide") reached its highest point in the early years of the decade as high commodity prices as well as low exchange rates enabled a massive spending spree. By 2014, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Paraguay were the only Latin American countries without left-wing governmentsnote Even though Mexico's case is actually quite slippery. However by then, a less favorable economic climate exposed the model's fault lines, and most Latin American countries are facing acute financial hardships as well as political and social tensions amid a general sense of corruption. By the second half of the decade, the traditionally progressive region has begun electing right-wing governments for the first time since most of the continent returned to democracy in the late 1980s.
Venezuela, the country that started the "pink tide" became the hardest hit by this new scenario. Before his death in 2013, Hugo Chávez faced a creditable contender for the first time (Henrique Capriles). He was then replaced by the far less charismatic Nicolás Maduro, who began incarcerating political opponents for little or no reason. This, and the economic crisis caused by collapsing oil prices led to massive protests and the Venezuelan populace is increasingly struggling to break even, with little choice but to emigrate. The political opposition has attempted to oust him with every rule in the book, but since the Supreme Court is under Maduro's control, these attempts have been futile.
Brazil has also endured hard times: Before the 2014 World Cup, President Dilma Rousseff faced numerous protests against the declining standard of life amid a slumping economy. Shortly after, the "Lava Jato" scandal was uncovered, with almost every Brazilian politician and businessman involved in one way or another with construction company Odebrecht (which also allegedly financed political campaigns in other South American nations). Rousseff was impeached three months before the 2016 Rio Olympics, but her replacement, Michel Temer, turned out to be even worse, with just a 5% approval rating. Worse, the front-runner for the 2018 elections in the first half of the year, left-wing former President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, was arrested over charges of corruption. After those events, the brazilian population opted to instead elect the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, known for his several racist and homophobic statementsnote When asked how he'd feel if he had a son who came out as gay, he responded he'd wish for his son to die in a car crash, as well as being pro-torture and nostalgic for the Brazilian Military Regime - citing the only negative thing it had done was to not kill enough people. In spite of his infamy for his extreme beliefs, he is beloved by much of the population for being notoriously anti-corruption, anti-establishment, and anti-democracy, a common sentiment thanks in no small part to wide resentment over the democracy's history of being plagued by corrupt politicians, whom are the primary reason for Brazil's current crisis.
The Argentine government of Cristina Fernández-Kirchner (who had succeeded her husband Néstor Kirchner in 2007) became infamous for its blatant manipulation of economic data as well for allegations of corruption (which included the burial of money in a church), which eventually led to the conviction of some of her allies. She was replaced by the conservative Mauricio Macri in 2015. While his economic policies became very unpopular (with the memories of the 2001 crisis still fresh), especially among the lower classes (which had benefited from the myriad of benefits enacted by the previous government), Senor Macri's party became the first since 1985 to beat the Peronist left in Congress during the 2017 mid-term election. However, the country has been hit particularly hard by the rise of the dollar during 2018, with the government being forced to seek an IMF rescue reminiscent of 2001, a controversial decision, especially among the left and the working classes.
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos reached a peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla in 2016, even though the electorate rejected the accord in a referendum and terrorism has resurged on a small scale (small in normal terms, not in 80s-era Colombia terms).
The 2011 and 2016 Peruvian elections were marked by the likeliness of a return of the Fujimori family to the presidency, only for Alberto's daughter Keiko (also his First Lady during the final years of her father's presidency) to end up defeated by the other candidate in the run-off: In 2011 it was the leftist Ollanta Humala, who ran a more moderate campaign compared to 2006, while the center-right Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won in 2016. Both were tarnished by the Odebrecht scandal however. Senor Humala and his wife were incarcerated in 2017 for eighteen months while Senor Kuzcynski was forced to resign in 2018 after it was discovered that Kenji Fujimori (Keiko's brother-turned-bitter rival) had bribed a number of congressmen into sparing the President from being kicked out of office because of his Odebrecht ties.
In Chile, Sebastian Pinera became the first right-wing President of that country since 1990 (and the first since 1958 to be elected), succeeding the leftist Michelle Bachelet. His government was marked by high growth, but also witnessed an astronomic rise on immigration (primarily from Haiti and other Caribbean countries) and a resurgent student movement, led by college students who had protested as high-schoolers in the 2006-07 "Penguin Revolution", some of whom eventually entered Congress in 2014, the year Senora Bachelet returned to the presidency, her second term marked by stagnant growth and allegations of nepotism, as her son and daughter-in-law had used the presidential connection to buy some land. Senor Pinera returned in 2018, with the center-left parties left divided by the rise of the Frente Amplio, a group of left-wing fringe movements.
After 12 years of absence, Mexico's center-left-rightnote Yes, they're that confused PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) returned to the presidency under Enrique Peña Nieto under great controversy as (perennial) leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (nicknamed AMLO) refused to concede just like he did in 2006. Senor Peña Nieto faced a stagnated economy and increasing levels of corruption as well as the fact the "War on Drugs" he (and his predecessors) pledged to combat is still going strong, to the point not even high-profile figures could be safe from the narcos. Particularly troubling was the disappearance of 43 college students in the north of the country, which was blamed on the Army. On July 1, 2018, Senor López Obrador was elected President on 1 July 2018, now representing the National Regeneration Movement (in Spanish, Movimiento Regeneración Nacional, or MORENA), championing several populist hard-left policies, being compared to those proposed by Bernie Sanders, though ironically, many of his detractors compare him with Donald Trump as well. How his tenure will unfold remains to be seen.
Cuba and the U.S. have made various advances in their relationship, leading to the restoration of diplomatic relations in December 2014 (after being broke in 1960), but it is unsure if this will give way to democracy in the island (Raúl Castro announced that he would step down in 2018, ten years after replacing brother Fidel). Barack Obama became in 2016 the first U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge in 1928 to visit the island. 2016 was also the year the long-standing embargo became no longer supported by the States. More importantly, Fidel Castro died in November 2016, after outliving almost all other Cold War icons.
However, as of June 16th, 2017, Mr. Trump has announced to reverse several of Obama's Cuban policies, which includes upholding the embargo and imposing harsher travel and economic sanctions on the Cuban military wing that controls almost all of Cuba's tourist industry, thus effectively returning the Cuban-U.S. relations back to a level slightly above the Cold War status quo thus re-chilling diplomatic relations.
Raul Castro stepped out of office as scheduled on April 18, 2018, being replaced by Miguel Diaz Canel. This marked the end of 59 years of Castrista rule in the island (Senor Castro will remain in charge of the Communist Party and the armed forces until 2021).
Haiti still suffers from the effects of a deadly earthquake in January 2010, to the point that in 2015 the outgoing President had no one to succeed him as the election results were in court.
After all this, we have to remember, we still have a fifth of the decade to go. The potential revival of the Space Program, economic recovery, and various other conflicts and developments may arise before the end of the decade. Stay tuned for more.