We’re more than halfway through what has been an absolute roller coaster ride of a year — if that roller coaster was mainly a steep descent into the deepest valleys of the world. In the depths of a nightmarish pandemic, a massive economic downturn, and heart-rending social injustices, we’ll take any good news we can find.
VICE’s mid-year roundup of the year’s biggest events is mostly a series of depressing news, but that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. Below, is a list of some of the better things that have happened this year, for some much-needed optimism.
Parasite’s Oscar Wins
We’ve said this before but we’ll say it again. In one of the biggest wins for the South Korean film industry and a highlight for Asian representation, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite took home major awards, including Best Picture, at the 92nd Academy Awards in February. It also won Best International Feature Film, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director, ending a year of accolades for its director and cast.
If art imitates life, then this diverse curation of coronavirus-inspired art is a surreal reflection of our peculiar times. Considering the most exciting art piece right before 2020 began was a $120,000 banana duct taped to a wall, coronavirus-inspired art is probably a welcome change. From edible creations like coronavirus macarons, to quirky corona-mobiles, and contemporary art like those seen in the online gallery COVID Art Museum, we are witnessing the birth of important new creative endeavours.
The Rise of Animal Crossing
As bored, socially isolated millennials find themselves cooped up at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, many are having trouble socialising while social distancing. When Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released in March, the sandbox video game quickly became the anthem of home quarantine. The platform offers a wholesome new social hub for quarantined souls, allowing people to host tech conferences, dabble in the stalk market (modelled after the stock market), shoot a horror movie, and even hook up with buttplugs. According to experts, video games like Animal Crossing serve as a good distraction from real world anxieties and provide players with the opportunity to create shared experiences with their friends while remaining socially distanced.
Wild Animals Occupied the Streets
While people remained at home glued to Animal Crossing, actual animals roamed empty streets, when lockdowns around the world started in March. Goats were photographed taking over a town in Wales, while the streets of Thailand were swarmed by macaques. These made for surreal but adorable sights, and experts explained that it likely occurred because animals were adjusting to life in the absence of humans.
Nature Healed While Human Activity Chilled
Perennially Un-horny Pandas at a Hong Kong Zoo Finally Started Shagging
Giant pandas are a vulnerable species — there are currently 1,864 of them in the wild — and their famously low libidos in captivity doesn’t help. For 10 years, staff at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park zoo had tried, unsuccessfully, to get their notoriously celibate giant pandas to mate. Then, three months into a zoo closure to curb the spread of the coronavirus, pandas Ying Ying and Le Le were finally found shagging in April. The historic moment of intimacy was caught on video.
Quarantine Food Trends
Quarantine is helping us get in touch with our inner home cooks. Sucked into a blackhole of TikTok food tutorials, we’ve all spiralled into experimental kitchen endeavours of some sort, whipping up novel and highly Instagrammable creations like dalgona coffee, pancake cereal, and sushi bake. And bread. Lots and lots of bread.
A New Mode of Working
For years, people have made references to the benefits of working from home, such as saving commuting time, increasing productivity, and creating a better work-life balance. Companies were sceptical, until the coronavirus forced offices to shutter indefinitely, ushering a new era of mass telecommuting. At first, many were uncomfortable, unprepared, and unmotivated by the concept but after settling into the groove of working from home, many now prefer the new normal. Some companies have even decided to let their employees work remotely after the pandemic ends.
Big Changes in Porn and Sex Work
Every industry had to adjust to the new normal. For those in the sex business, this meant innovations in porn, strip clubs, and more. Porn producers learned to make videos remotely by letting actors film themselves, while sex workers are engaging with their clients online. Another porn trend that is blowing up in quarantine is audio porn. Known to be more inclusive than other forms of porn and championed as a women-centric medium, this quarantine trend is a long time coming.
Some companies have also started streaming porn for free to help people cope with quarantine. Pornhub even came out with an educational video for a social distancing campaign that teaches people how to have safe sex during the coronavirus pandemic.
SpaceX’s Historic Launch
After a dramatic postponement, the highly anticipated SpaceX Crew Dragon launch finally happened on May 30. This is the first time a commercial spacecraft has sent astronauts to orbit, creating possibilities for the private sector in space exploration.
K-Pop Fans Unite For Political Issues
Amid the global Black Lives Matter movement, K-pop stans harnessed their collective prowess for political issues, showing the world that they’re a force to be reckoned with. Within a few weeks, they took down a police snitching app, flooded right-wing hashtags, encouraged K-Pop stars to speak out against racism, and arguably embarrassed the hell out of Trump.
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