Try to distil the entire year into one word and you’ll soon discover how impossible a task it is. Oxford has had its attempt, naming its word of the year ‘rizz’ after Tom Holland went viral for claiming to have none. Other dictionaries tried their hand too, but their generic blandness soon made rizz seem a lot more interesting – Merriam-Webster chose ‘authentic’; Dictionary.com chose ‘hallucinate’.
As I reflected on this year’s pop culture moments, only one real contender came to mind: “Ludicrous”. Because when you look back over everything that’s happened this year, it is.
From the hype of Barbie vs Oppenheimer, which had us all dressing up for the cinema, to the extravagance of every single Met Gala attendee being upstaged by a cockroach, this year saw us latching on to the strange, the frivolous and everything in between.
Gwyneth Paltrow was the gift that keeps on giving. After a swift lunch of bone broth, she took to her ski-collision trial with poise, annihilating her opponent with a withering “I wish you well.” More Gwyneth in 2024, please.
Meanwhile, the Lionesses united the country, making it to the World Cup Final and inspiring so much excitement that many of us found ourselves for the first time voluntarily putting the football on at 9am. I repeat, ludicrous. But jokes aside, this was a pivotal moment for the women’s game, with nearly 15 million tuning in to cheer the team on.
Other pop culture highlights include Rihanna revealing her pregnancy during her super bowl performance (yes, that was this year), the spirit of Elvis supposedly possessing Austin Butler’s body and Saltburn’s wonderfully sarcastic take on ‘eat the rich’.
In design news, Twitter rebranded to ‘X’ although it hasn’t particularly caught on (sorry Elon). It seems that rebranding one of the world’s biggest brands that’s even established its own verbs requires more than an anticlimactic new logo. Particularly when it coincides with a lot of questionable leadership decisions.
Milton Glaser’s beloved I ❤ NY logo also got an update, which split New Yorkers and much of the design community. Many deemed it bland, hollow and forgettable. It’s another reminder of the strength of people’s emotional attachments to logos, particularly as the original I ❤ NY campaign helped save the city from a decline into poverty, crime and violence at the time. That’s not to say that logos can’t be refreshed, but the new design erased almost all visual reference to the original. The ludicrous part? Its use of emojis and social media stickers. They were an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist but instead belie the seriousness of the issues that the city’s currently facing.
So yes, ludicrous. A word that sounds as delightfully strange as its meaning. Deriving from the Latin word ludere (to play), its evolution has shifted from referring to the comical to the implausible. And if any of you had been shown this article at the start of this year (somehow) and deemed any of these moments as ‘plausible’ then you’re just as ludicrous as the year itself.