Ten Things You Forgot Happened This Year
A lot happened in January and February, not that anyone remembers any of it.
The last 10 months have had a way of erasing the first two months of 2020. But a lot of crazy stuff happened. Good luck remembering any of it.
- Qasem Soleimani, the supposed “Shadow Commander” of the Iranian National Guard, was killed by a United States army drone strike on January 3. This was widely thought to be a potential act of war by the United States; the United Nations said the killing “violate[d] international human rights law.” Soleimani was mourned in the streets of Tehran for days after his death. (Fifty-six people were killed in a stampede at his funeral.) In the moment, it felt like a scrambling of the global order and a potential augur of widespread chaos ahead.
- Unprecedented Australian brushfires rampage the continent, destroying more than 46 million acres of property and killing nearly 100 people. It was estimated that more than one billion animals were killed. The damage was so extensive that a huge concert, called Fire Fight Australia, was held in Sydney in February featuring the eclectic mix of Alice Cooper, Olivia Newton-John, Alice Cooper, k.d. lang and something called Grinspoon.
- Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle decide to “step back as ‘senior’ members” of the Royal Court. The announcement was posted on their Instagram and made without any consultation with the royal family. They said they would be alternating between the UK and the United States, because obviously they would be able to fly back and forth between those two places with no problems over the next 10 months, why would that be any sort of issue?
- The movie Joker received the most Academy Award nominations, totaling 11. Joker. That movie.
- Donald Trump became the third President in the history of the United States to be impeached. Like the first two, he was not convicted on the articles of impeachment. The impeachment was widely thought to be the primary, central issue of the 2020 Presidential Election, the animating event that would decide the winner. The irony was that Trump was impeached for trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, the man he considered his top rival in the election, but as the trial began, it looked clear that Biden’s time had passed, and that Trump was far more likely to face Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, making Trump’s entreaties with Ukraine seem unnecessarily self-destructive.
- Kobe Bryant and eight other people, including his daughter, were killed in a helicopter crash in California. For many, including many young people, it is considered a seminal moment in American history, their definitive where-were-you-when? moment of 2020, and perhaps the whole decade. OK, so this one you definitely remember: But it sure felt like this was going to be the biggest story of the year, didn’t it?
- The Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV over the San Francisco 49ers 31–20. At halftime, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira performed, leading to 1,300 complaints to the FCC about, among other things, “aggressive tongue wagging.”
- Widespread issues with a vote-tabulating app delays the results of the Iowa Democratic Caucus for several days, leading many Republicans, including Trump, to mock the Democrats for their incompetence in the electoral process. Nine months later, those same people will be accusing Democrats of the most complex, intricate, secret and overwhelmingly successful act of subverting the electoral process in the history of the human species.
- Parasite wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and Siba, a poodle, wins Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Dog Show. This is Siba:
10. Donald Trump, when asked about Covid-19 on February 27, said, “when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done. It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”
It turned out that Covid-19 did not disappear. Our memories of the first two months of 2020 sure did, though.
Will Leitch writes multiple pieces a week for Medium. Make sure to follow him right here. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his family, and is the author of five books, including the upcoming novel “How Lucky,” released by Harper next May. He also writes a free weekly newsletter that you might enjoy.