2019’s Biggest Pop Culture Trend Was Climate Anxiety Or Something

Calling it pop culture is exactly right, just like the pop culture of pet rocks

2019’s biggest pop-culture trend was climate anxiety

Alright folks, I’m calling it: 2019 was officially the year the climate crisis went mainstream. Think about it. No longer is mention of the warming atmosphere, melting ice sheets, and acidifying oceans — along with the resulting human suffering — limited to the “environment” section of the newspaper. It’s not a niche worry for small pockets of concerned citizens.

Instead, the planetary crisis came up in movies, songs, and books meant for widespread consumption — a bar that many of them actually met. And for once, the subject got some major airtime from the Democratic presidential candidates. Given the changing climate’s potential to reshape every aspect of human life on Earth, it makes sense that it’s starting to get mentioned in nearly every cultural sphere.

Why now? Concern about the crisis has been building for decades, and the combined efforts of activists and scientists around the world surely had something to do with that. You might also point to the uptick of visible, dramatic consequences, like record-breaking heat waves, wildfires, and floods. Or the culture-setting power of young people, who literally made “dying of climate change” into a TikTok meme.

It’s probably all of those things! But the “why” matters a lot less than the “what” — and climate anxiety definitely blew up in 2019, in everything from pop hits to the Impossible Whopper. (snip)

But there was no lack of climate change themes in some of the popular TV shows that filled the Game of Thrones–shaped hole in our lives. Season 2 of HBO’s Big Little Lies spent an entire episode on the subject, as Renata and Madeline struggled to talk to their kids about the crisis. And the final season of The Affair jumped 30-plus years into the future to a climate change–stricken Montauk (writer and producer Sarah Treem describes the environment as being like “a character itself”).

The article mentions Hotcoldwetdry showing up on TV, in books, “music” (gotta put it in quotes, because it’s really just computer created noise with autotuned lyrics), celebs (no mention of their private jets and yachts), and movies…er, movie.

This year, we saw approximately 20,000 books about the Green New Deal, including On 🔥 by beloved Canadian Naomi Klein. [Editor’s note: OK, we’re exaggerating, but you should see the towering pile of GND-themed galley copies sent to Grist HQ for reviews.]

Well, that’s interesting, since the Democrats refuse to vote on it, and we’re 10 months in. Even AOC barely ever mentions it anymore. As for that Impossible Whopper? Who cares? People who eat meat aren’t going to ditch a regular Whopper for it. Regardless, these people are all nuts

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