2020 was a year of infamy.
Corona, corona, corona and more corona peppered with travel bans, lockdowns, quarantine, curfew, face masks and social distancing… urgh, 2020 was a reviled year! Aren’t we all excited and happy now that it’s over?
Bullshit! The fat lady has yet to sing.
2020 will probably go down as the year of SARS-CoV-2 but sorry, we’re still in the middle of the very same pandemic. We still have a stretch to go — as the lack of regular New Year’s celebrations have shown.
Don’t hold your breath. The year you think you’re remembering ain’t quite done yet.
Still, 2020 started like any other year. We optimistically rung it in with celebrations, fireworks and a few Chinese lanterns that descended upon the monkey house at the Krefeld Zoo in Germany. Around 30 primates died in the resulting inferno. Many Australians, in turn, spent New Year’s on the beach in order to escape raging bush fires.
Oz was ablaze again. Happy New Year!
A few days later, the USA assassinates Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and nine other people with a drone air strike. Iranians are peeved. Thousands attend his funeral where 56 mourners die during a stampede. Iran responds by firing ballistic missiles at international military bases in Iraq, killing exactly nobody. A few hours later, Iran accidentally shoots down a civilian Ukrainian airliner shortly after take-off in Tehran, leaving 176 people dead. More people demonstrate following the government’s initial denial of the error.
Prince Harry and wife Meghan decided to “megxit” the British royal family, and as of the 31st of January the UK is officially no longer part of the European Union.
And that was just January. That’s how it started.
In February, a cyclone storm named Sabine (also known as Ciara) ravaged much of northern Europe (including the UK), causing serious disruptions and damage.
Later that month, a German nutcase named Tobias Rathjen shot nine people of foreign origin in two shisha bars in Hanau before driving home to shoot his mother and himself. A few days later, another nut named Maurice Pahler injured dozens of locals when he crashed his car into a crowd of revellers in the town of Volkmarsen during a Rosenmontag carnival parade.
Parasite became the first foreign-language film in Oscars history to win “Best Picture”.
Its title is rather ironic in this context because the Academy Awards were one of the last big events to take place in the year. As the coronavirus spread from Wuhan, events the world over gradually got postponed — if not cancelled altogether: Mobile World Congress, the Geneva Auto Show, Game Developers Conference, E3, the Eurovision Song Contest, DEF CON, Miss World, Glastonbury, Roskilde, Rock am Ring, Oktoberfest, even the Summer Olympic Games… the list goes on. Dozens of movie releases were postponed.
Everything went online. Shoppers stockpiled toilet paper, viewers binged on Tiger King, work went home, meetings went Zoom, and car rental company Hertz went bankrupt.
T-Mobile and Sprint merged in a $26 billion deal. Segway officially ended production of its iconic two-wheeled vehicle, and Olympus got out of the camera business. Bob Iger resigned his position as Disney’s CEO while the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google had to face a US antitrust subcommittee (an unprecedented public interrogation of the leaders of four of the world’s most powerful companies).
SpaceX sent two NASA astronauts to the ISS (the first time a civilian contractor had done so). Both the UAE and China launch spacecraft headed towards Mars.
Short-form video platform Quibi came and went in 2020. Adobe finally killed off Flash. Bookogs, Comicogs, Filmogs, Gearogs and Posterogs closed.
Larry Tesler (the man behind cut/copy/paste) died, as did Bill English (the inventor of the computer mouse). We also lost Terry Jones (Monty Python), basketball star Kobe Bryant, footballer Diego Maradona, fashion designer Pierre Cardin, racing driver Stirling Moss, test pilot Chuck Yeager (the first person to exceed the speed of sound) as well as Asterix co-creator/illustrator Albert Uderzo, cartoonist Mort Drucker, and South African hotel magnate Sol Kerzner.
Other notable deaths of the year include actors Kirk Douglas, Max Von Sydow, Brian Dennehy, Irrfan Khan, Ian Holm, Wilford Brimley, Sean Connery, David Prowse (Darth Vader’s physique) as well as directors Joel Schumacher and Alan Parker.
The world of music lost Kenny Rogers, Bill Withers, Little Richard, Ennio Morricone, Joseph Shabalala (leader of Ladysmith Black Mambazo), Genesis P-Orridge (head weirdo of Throbbing Gristle), Dave Greenfield (the Stranglers), Florian Schneider (Kraftwerk), Eddie van Halen, Johnny Nash, and Spencer Davis.
Q Magazine closed down. Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
In Botswana some 330 elephants died as a result of toxins caused by microscopic algae in water holes. Greta Thunberg reminded attendees in Davos that climate change is real.
In the UK, cellular towers were set alight following bizarre conspiracy theories connecting coronavirus with 5G technology.
America was set ablaze following protests and widespread looting after a cop took the knee on George Floyd’s neck. In response, idiot-in-chief Donald Trump cleared the streets of demonstrators so he could pose in front of a church with a bible in hand.
In August, an explosion of improperly stored ammonium nitrate fertiliser killed more than 200 people and lays much of the Lebanese capital of Beirut to waste. The population mourns by rioting and trashing what remains of the city. A few days later, Belarusian long-time authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko gets re-elected despite allegations of vote-rigging. Citizens are peeved and proceed with riots, and just another few days later, more protests, riots, and civil unrest occurred around the United States following the shooting of another black man by a white cop in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Calls that #BlackLivesMatter and to #DefundThePolice rang loud as protests sweep through hundreds of cities and bring an unprecedented level of anger and scrutiny to the police and law enforcement’s use of social media. America is truly at war with itself.
Statues topple. Everything has become racist. Certain terms get blacklisted.
America burns. California records its largest wildfire season in modern history.
In September, the overcrowded Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos burns down, leaving 12,500 people without shelter in the middle of a coronavirus lockdown.
Meanwhile, the civil war in Syria rages on. Nobody really cares about the war itself; more time and effort are wasted on the scores of civilian refugees who have become pawns in intra-european disputes.
A French high school teacher was beheaded for displaying caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in class. Apple announced a switch to ARM processors.
Gary Larson started drawing cartoons again. I rediscovered my passion for woodworking, and I rebuilt my Hi-fi setup. IMDb celebrated its 30th birthday in October, and Discogs turned 20 years old on 1 November. A fly landed on Mike Pence’s head.
A monolith of unknown origin was discovered in Red Rock Country, Utah.
Actress Ellen Page is now Elliot Page. Elon Musk names his offspring “X Æ A-Xii”.
Red Hat announced its termination of the CentOS distribution.
After protesting en masse (with no face masks) against corona restrictions, Germans flaunt lockdowns to flock towards and huddle around popular winter resorts during the snowy Christmas period. Infection and death rates start soaring.
Finally, the year concludes with positive news: Coronavirus vaccines have been developed and are being distributed. Orange Man had severe difficulty grasping that he lost the American presidential race to Joe Biden. The UK and EU finally agreed on a deal that will define their future relationship. Argentina legalises abortion.
And that’s how it ended.
Images via credited institutions. Hover for more.