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Here Are The Biggest Cultural Trends That Defined The 2010s For America

REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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The 2010s saw upheaval in nearly every facet of American culture. Before the decade’s start, superhero movies were just breaking into the mainstream, Hillary Clinton still vocally opposed gay marriage, and the rumors of a 2012 presidential run from Donald Trump were being laughed off.

Here are the most influential cultural events of the past ten years.

The Rise Of The Superhero Movie:

Actors Sebastian Stan, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Brolin, and Chris Hemsworth, producer Kevin Feige, and actors Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, and Anthony Mackie of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR took part today in the Walt Disney Studios live action presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2017 in Anaheim, Calif. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR will be released in U.S. theaters on May 4, 2018. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

ANAHEIM, CA – JULY 15: (L-R) Actors Sebastian Stan, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Brolin, and Chris Hemsworth, producer Kevin Feige, and actors Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, and Anthony Mackie of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Following the wildly successful release of The Dark Knight in 2008, comic book movies exploded as a genre. With Marvel’s Iron Man giving the studio its first taste of success after it’s poorly-received attempts at Hulk movies. But it wasn’t until 2012 with the first Avengers film that the superhero movie became the undisputed king of the box office for the decade.

Marvel released 18 movies between 2010 and 2020 without a single flop. Introducing characters like Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain America, and Black Panther to a mainstream audience before wrapping up their story nicely with Avengers: Endgame. (RELATED: Marvel Unveils Details For Phase Four Of Superhero Movies)

Now, Marvel enters the new decade with a largely new cast of characters and high hopes that they can continue to dominate.

The #MeToo Movement:

Harvey Weinstein appears at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on July 9, 2018 in New York City. Weinstein, previously arrested for sexual assault against two accusers, was arraigned on three new charges including criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault involving a third female accuser. (Photo by Jefferson Siegel-Pool/Getty Images)

Harvey Weinstein appears at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on July 9, 2018 in New York City. Weinstein, previously arrested for sexual assault against two accusers, was arraigned on three new charges including criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault involving a third female accuser. (Photo by Jefferson Siegel-Pool/Getty Images)

Before the start of the decade, and even for much of it, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby were enjoying stable careers at the absolute top of their industries. Today, they – and many like them – face prison sentences.

The seemingly ever-expanding list of sexual harassment, assault, and rape allegations against Weinstein shocked the country, propelling careers of journalists who reported out the stories, such as Jodi Kantor at the New York Times, and Ronan Farrow.

But the media itself was impacted perhaps even more heavily than Hollywood or politics. Fox News saw the ouster of cable news king Bill O’Reilly, and founder Roger Ailes. NBC News cut ties with Matt Lauer, and the network suffered under accusations that it had quashed Farrow’s initial story about Weinstein at the movie mogul’s request. (RELATED: The #MeToo Movement Is On Its Last Legs)

Some have argued the movement has gone to far, however, with actor and director Aziz Ansari being pilloried for an accusation that didn’t amount to a crime of any sort.

LGBT Culture Becomes The Norm For Democrats:

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 5: A Rainbow flag flies above the San Diego Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center November 5, 2008 in San Diego, California. Proposition 8, which bans same sex marriage, passed in yesterday's Calfironia election. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO, CA – NOVEMBER 5: A Rainbow flag flies above the San Diego Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center November 5, 2008 in San Diego, California. Proposition 8, which bans same sex marriage, passed in yesterday’s Calfironia election. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

Before 2010, swaths of the Democratic Party – including icons like Hillary Clinton – opposed gay marriage, but fast-forward to the end of the decade, and the party has become inseparable from everything LGBT community represents.

Once the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage from the bench in 2015, Democrats – and many Republicans – have never looked back, and the country has moved on to new questions, such as whether gender exists, and whether polygamy is so bad after all.

The Democratic Party’s embrace of the LGBT movement has massively contributed to its shift left not just on social issues, but economic ones as well. Democratic Socialists like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lists her preferred gender pronouns on her twitter page as she urges the country to dismantle capitalism by accepting her Green New Deal.

The Mainstreaming Of Videogames:

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 21: Gamers play "Fortnite" against Twitch streamer and professional gamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins during Ninja Vegas '18 at Esports Arena Las Vegas at Luxor Hotel and Casino on April 21, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Blevins is playing against more than 230 challengers in front of 700 fans in 10 live "Fortnite" games with up to USD 50,000 in cash prizes on the line. He is donating all his winnings to the Alzheimer's Association. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 21: Gamers play “Fortnite” against Twitch streamer and professional gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins during Ninja Vegas ’18 at Esports Arena Las Vegas at Luxor Hotel and Casino on April 21, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Blevins is playing against more than 230 challengers in front of 700 fans in 10 live “Fortnite” games with up to USD 50,000 in cash prizes on the line. He is donating all his winnings to the Alzheimer’s Association. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Videogaming had already broken through the nerds-only stereotype before 2010, but the decade has seen the industry rise to the single most popular form of entertainment in the world.

While many associate the recent explosion of gaming with the 2017 release of Fortnite, the championships for games like League of Legends were beating out the NBA Finals and the World Series in viewership as early as 2014.

Fortnite has, however, gone a long way toward elevating gaming for Western audiences, producing America’s first bona fide esports celebrity in Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Since 2017, Blevins has rubbed shoulders with celebrities like Drake, and consistently held between 200,000 and 600,000 concurrent viewers on the popular videogame streaming site Twitch.tv.

The videogame industry already rakes in billions more than Hollywood, and the hobby won’t be going anywhere soon in the next decade.

Election Of President Donald Trump:

US President Donald Trump gestures during a Keep America Great Rally at Kellogg Arena December 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Michigan. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump gestures during a Keep America Great Rally at Kellogg Arena December 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Michigan. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 has thrown American politics into upheaval. Trump single-handedly–and perhaps temporarily–pushed the Republican Party toward populism, making it more resemble a right-leaning party in Europe than the traditional conservatism in the U.S. (RELATED: President Trump’s Biggest Wins Of 2019)

Trump also represents the long-awaited merging of pop-culture and politics. America knew him as a reality TV star before he was president, and since assuming office, his administration has been the most watched show in America.

But will this reality show make it into the next decade?