These 8 pop culture moments truly defined 2022

Written by Leah Sinclair

From the controversy surrounding Don’t Worry Darling to the chaos of Twitter, these pop culture moments made an impact in 2022.

2022 has been quite the year.

From the war in Ukraine and the death of Queen Elizabeth II to the continued coronavirus epidemic, this year has seen the world experience some serious lows. But we can always count on popular culture to give us a dose of serotonin (or entertaining drama) to indulge in – and boy, were there some significant pop culture moments that defined 2022.

We got a dose of Y2K nostalgia as Bennifer 2.0 got married (2002 me never saw this coming), The Will Smith and Chris Rock ‘slap’ that shocked the world and, most recently, aTwitter exchange between Greta Thunberg and Andrew Tate that truly took us all by surprise.

And as we near the end of 2022, we’ve decided to look back on more of the iconic pop culture moments that had us all in a chokehold.

Rihanna’s pregnancy announcement

Pop culture 2022: Rihanna

Picture this: Rihanna in a quilted pink Chanel jacket, her exposed pregnant belly front and centre, walking in the snow with her boyfriend ASAP Rocky. This is what we all saw in January as the star, in fabulous fashion, announced her pregnancy.

The news truly broke the internet, as fans shared their excitement at Rih having her first child, and spawned the start of her epic maternity looks that we all loved, from low-slung jeans and crop tops to sheer dresses and thigh-high boots – a true maternity fashion icon.

Will Smith and Chris Rock 

Pop culture moments 2022:Will Smith and Chris Rock

It was the slap heard around the world and a moment that remains stuck in our minds 9 months later.

The 2022 Academy Awards truly descended into chaos when in March, Will Smith walked onstage and slapped Chris Rock for making a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith. Rock quipped that Pinkett-Smith looked like ‘GI Jane’ (The Red Table Talk host is known to suffer from alopecia) which prompted Smith to leap out of his seat and hit Rock.

The moment truly surprised the world, particularly due to Smith’s usually calm and friendly demeanour and resulted in a worldwide debate with some in support of Smith’s actions and many condemning it – which resulted in Smith being banned from the Oscars and other Academy events for ten years.

The emergence of Julia Fox

JPop culture 2022: Julia Fox

The majority of us were introduced to Julia Fox through her performance in Uncut Gems, but we never would have guessed that she’d become the unlikely It girl of 2022.

The actor came into the spotlight following her very public relationship with Ye West in January. From walking the streets of LA to the front row at fashion shows in Paris, the duo were everywhere before breaking up a month later – but it was only then that Fox’s reign truly began.

Whether it’s her graphic black wing make-up becoming a go-to look or her TikTok musings on capitalism and the patriarchy, the internet has fallen in love with Fox’s candour and post-apocalyptic style.

Bella Hadid and Coperni at Paris Fashion Week

Bella Hadid was named model of the year at the British Fashion Awards for 2022 – and rightly so. The supermodel has been everywhere this year (she walked 19 shows at Paris Fashion Week alone) and one of her most memorable moments of 2022 was at the Coperni show, where a nearly naked Hadid walked to the middle of the catwalk to have liquid fibre spray painted on her to create a figure-hugging, one-shoulder white dress that was strong enough to be worn and washed.

The moment instantly went viral, as many celebrated Coperni’s creativity and Hadid’s impact, showing just why she is one of the defining supermodels of this generation.

Running Up That Hills renaissance

The fourth season of Stranger Things saw us all catch up with Eleven and the gang in the highly anticipated return of the series – but there was something else that took us by surprise.

Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, which was released in 1985, experienced a resurgence in popularity in 2022, after the song was featured in the show. 

The scene in question showed the much-loved character Max battle the evil Vecna – and it certainly resonated with audiences, with some describing it as “the most iconic scene in a Netflix series”.

The use of Bush’s song resulted in it charting all over the world, even reaching No 1. in Australia.

At the time, Bush said she was excited that a whole new generation was appreciating her art, although she never expected the song’s resurgence of popularity.

“It’s such a great series, so I thought that the track would get some attention,” she told BBC radio.

“But I just never imagined that it would be anything like this. It’s so exciting but it’s quite shocking really – the whole world’s gone mad.”

Don’t Worry Darling drama 

Pop culture 2022: Don’t Worry Darling

Don’t Worry Darling was arguably one of the most anticipated films of 2022. With Olivia Wilde at the helm and a star-studded cast that included Florence Pugh, Chris Pine and Harry Styles, the excitement surrounding the film was like no other – until rumours on and off set completely changed that.

From claims that Pugh was not happy with Wilde’s relationship with Harry Styles to allegations that Wilde started a relationship with Styles while she was still with her fiancé, Jason Sudeikis (other sources debunked this theory), the drama surrounding the film continued well after filming ended and peaked around the time of the press junkets (a clip of Harry Styles and Chris Pine went viral, where it appeared as though Styles was spitting on Pine – something they both denied).

While the drama took centre stage, the film still debuted at number one, proving just how invested we all were in Don’t Worry Darling – both on and off screen.

Elon Musk’s Twitter shenanigans

Pop culture 2022: Elon Musk

Twitter has been through the wringer this year – and Elon Musk has a lot to do with it.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO officially bought Twitter for $44 billion (£36.5bn) in October, and since purchasing the platform, there have been a number of changes.

Musk fired CEO Parag Agrawal, along with other top executives and the entire Twitter board. He announced plans to charge $20 a month for a verification ‘blue check’, which resulted in imposters flooding the platform. And he ran a poll asking Twitter users whether he should step down as the company’s CEO (57% voted yes).

What’s next is anyone’s guess.

The Wednesday dance

Netflix’s Wednesday may have only come out this month, but there is one iconic scene that has cemented itself as a 2022 pop culture moment.

It involves our gloomy teen heroine reluctantly attending the school dance and seemingly breaking free through movement. The scene is less than three minutes long, but it’s a defining moment in the series – so much so that the dance has become a trend on TikTok, with the likes of Lady Gaga and Marina Diamandis doing the dance, along with figure skater Kamila Valieva who recreated the viral dance on ice.

And there you have it – seven pop culture moments from 2022 that remain embedded in our brains.

Here’s to many more in 2023!

Images: Getty

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