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Top 10 events of 2022: USA edition

With 2023 now upon us, what are the events we will remember most from this past year? Between iconic entertainment moments, the dramatic effects of climate change, and numerous political upheavals, it has certainly been an eventful year for the United States. Here are the 10 most significant ones:

By Camilla Alcini

1. Roe v. Wade, the end of the right to abortion

The year 2022 will be remembered as the year in which thousands of American women were deprived of their right to abortion, a right until recently guaranteed at the federal level. For more than 40 years, the US Supreme Court left the choice to terminate a pregnancy to individuals and not the government following Roe v. Wade in 1973. According to Roe, abortion fell within the right to individual privacy enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. 

In June, in a case against Mississippi's ban on abortion, Roe v. Wade was overturned. Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organisation saw the last Mississippi clinic still practising abortion defeated by the federal government when the case reached the Supreme Court. The Court's decision not only left Mississippi with a state ban on abortion, but allowed other states to do the same.

Over 64% of Americans believe that abortion should be an individual choice. After Roe v. Wade, thousands took to the streets to protest the historic reversal. 'My body, my choice', the placards read, as the country once again found itself polarised. Activists will continue to work for abortion to remain accessible and protected in at least some areas of the United States. But in half the country, abortion is currently illegal.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Center for Reproductive Rights (@reprorights)

2. It's Corn!

If you have TikTok, you can't have missed the US-made trend “It’s corn!”. Praising corn, this tune allowed users to share what they love most. Tariq was with his sisters and grandmother at a food festival in Brooklyn when a journalist, Mr. Shapiro-Barnum, approached him to include it in his candid interviews with American children. “What's your favourite thing?”, a simple question that for Tariq had one and only one, rather obvious answer: “It’s corn!”.Once edited, the interview went viral throughout the summer, making Tariq the internet's favourite #Cornboy. At least until September, when he had to go back to school.

3. The Midterm Elections

For the United States, 2022 was also an election year. After the 2020 presidential election, which saw Joe Biden win over Donald Trump to become president for the following four years, Americans went back to the polls for the so-called Midterm Elections in November.

These presidential “midterm” elections are just as important because they reassign all the seats in the House of Representatives and part of the Senate (the two chambers that together form Congress). For this very reason, experts call them a kind of thermometer of the political situation in the country. It is not unusual for the opposition party to win, putting a spoke in the wheels of the incumbent president.

2022 was no exception. The Republicans won, albeit by a very small margin and with a performance far from the party's expectations. 222 seats to 213, the American right now has control of the House, while the Democrats retain the Senate 51 seats to 49. What this will mean for the country, we will only find out in the coming months, but we can already expect many legislative cliffs for Biden and Kamala Harris.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Ndifreke Sylvanus Okon (@ndifrekesylvanusokon)

4. Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard

On the borderline between politics and entertainment was the court case between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. The former couple on the stand put on a show as only two actors could have done, making it impossible to talk about anything else for weeks. Until the outcome in April, which saw the jury unanimously rule in Depp's favour.

Of the $50 million demanded in the indictment, Depp collected $15 million in damages. Amber Heard, on the other hand, received $2 of the $100 she had claimed for defamation from her ex's lawyer, Adam Waldman. All's well that ends well? Certainly yes for Johnny, who, after 'getting his life back', is back at work following the forced hiatus due to the situation with Heard. As for her, a week ago the actress decided to announce on her instagram that she does not want to continue the lawsuit, putting a stop to it once and for all. She added that the insults she received online made her feel like a victim again.

In any case, this trial made public by the nature of its protagonists and amplified on every social media outlet marked 2022. Not only by bringing domestic violence issues and the #MeToo controversy back to the centre of the conversation, but also because for a moment it felt like we were in a special episode of Suits. Thanks to Depp's lawyer, Camille Vasquez, a true Harvey Specter 2.0.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Amber Heard (@amberheard)

5. The devastation of Hurricane Ian

Forget the forced pause that the pandemic gave planet Earth, because 2022 saw pollution and emissions return to full swing. The devastation therefore continues, and the consequences are increasingly visible. Among the major natural disasters, America has been in the eye of the storm with the arrival of Hurricane Ian. 

More than 2 million people were left without electricity with this storm, which stretched over 140 miles wide and caused disastrous flooding on the south of the US East Coast. Winds in excess of 240km/h and waves of more than 20 feet made some populated areas a pile of rubble, leading people to desperately search for their loved ones online and registering for safety on their social channels. “Pray for people”, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had declared.

125 casualties have been recorded, including the mayor of Fort Myers Beach, the hardest hit area. But to date the true number remains uncertain. Just as the climate future of the planet and the areas most vulnerable to natural disasters in the United States remains uncertain.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Hurricane Ian News (@hurricaneian)

6. Kanye West, in free fall

There's never a dull moment with Kanye West. But in 2022 the rapper, designer and now ex-husband of Kim Kardashian really gave it his best (nay, worst). 

In a way, it all started with jealousy towards his Kim's new flame, Pete Davidson. The SNL comedian was publicly and privately insulted by Kanye, who was mad with jealousy. But the situation escalated with a series of interviews and social media posts where Ye shared anti-Semitic, pro-life, conspiracy comments and criticism of Black Lives Matter. West went so far as to say that he sees some “good things” in Adolf Hitler's actions.

In short, comments truly bordering between free speech and illegal praise of Nazism. In October, the rapper paraded model Candace Owens in his Paris show wearing a “White Lives Matter”, T-shirt, a phrase associated with the white suprematism of some neo-Nazi groups. From there on, Kanye's controversial comments only increased, leading Adidas, Gap, Balenciaga and Foot Locker to sever all creative partnerships with him. Clinically bipolar, in 2022 Kanye West chose to show only his worst side.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Kanye West (@kanyethegoatwest)

7. Taylor Swift, between Ticketmaster and TikTok

Is there a year that is not in the sign of Taylor Swift? The American singer dominated the 2010s, but after this 2022 we have good reason to believe that she will also dominate the next decade. 

Taylor and her music rule TikTok, where Swifties fandom makes every chorus or bridge “trend-material”. Whether it's because we all mirror Taylor's slightly sassy, slightly tear-jerking songs (yes, even those who deny it), or whether it's because this young woman has broken record after record with each of her albums, the result is the same.

With the release of Midnights, fans embraced the new songs and started new trends, further contributing to Swift's fame. “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me!” heard this tune from the single Anti-Hero at least once? Even Gossip Girl and You actor Pen Badgley debuted it this way on TikTok. With an already sold-out stadium tour that has crashed Ticketmaster and even caused Congress to debate the monopoly on ticket sales, Taylor Swift remains a major personality in 2022.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Taylor Swift (@taylorswift)

8. Ukraine

It is impossible to talk about 2022 without mentioning Ukraine, the protagonist of the closest war to the West (geographically but above all ideally) in decades. Russia's armed invasion last February set off an alarming chain reaction involving the European Union and the United States at the forefront.

Since then, the US government has not ceased to support the country of the combatant president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Between military aid and speeches condemning Putin, the United States has been quick to stand up for Ukraine, making its support felt from a safe distance.

Just a few days ago, Zelensky surprisingly arrived in Washington DC to give a speech of thanks to the American people, vowing to win the war. “Your money is not charity”, he told Congress just before Christmas, arguing that instead American aid is “an investment in global security and democracy”. Behind him, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applauded loudly.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Володимир Зеленський (@zelenskiy_official)

9. Stranger Things 4

The US also means entertainment. It is almost impossible to pick a TV series or film that will mark a peak of success in 2022, because almost all the most acclaimed productions are made in the USA. Among the most recent successes, Tim Burton's Wednesday set a record as the second most viewed series in English, an incredible success mirrored on all social platforms.

On the top step remains another incredible product of 2022 (and beyond), Stranger Things 4. The new season of the series-phenomenon starring Millie Bobby Brown has indeed climbed all the charts, as has the song that served as its soundtrack. Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill, although released in 1985, defeated Vecna and also every other summer hit.

As for movies, Top Gun Maverick reminded us of the timeless appeal of American aviation (and that of Tom Cruise).

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Stranger Things Netflix (@strangerthingstv)

10. Kim Kardashian and the Marilyn dress 

Love her or hate her, Kim Kardashian is among the most influential women in the world when it comes to trends. It is therefore no surprise that her fashion choices, especially on the most important red carpets, are scrutinised in great detail.

So when she appeared on the steps of the Met Gala in New York in a dress belonging to one of America's most beloved darlings, some had to squint. But the image remained: Kim as Marilyn Monroe, when in 1962 she sang to then President JF Kennedy “Happy Birthday” in a flesh-pink dress covered in tiny glowing stones.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Kim Kardashian (@kimkardashian)

Some wondered how he got the permit. Others wondered how many kilos she had to lose to fit into the dress. But one thing is certain, for the entire evening (and beyond), nothing else was talked about among fashionistas.

Images: Luke Michael on Unsplash