Every year comes with its own share of ups and downs, triumph, tragedy, and WTF moments; things we saw coming, and the unexpected; the scary, the controversial and unavoidable. Looking back on 2015, many moments were very sad. The year was scarred by terrorism and violent attacks. Millions of families were changed forever, broken apart and displaced. Corruption and greed at a colossal scale were exposed and put up on public display. But every year always tries to balance itself out. Where tragedy strikes, hope is never far behind. 2015 also knew happy moments when people overcame their fears, set trends, broke barriers, and redefined their role in society. Moments that filled people with pride and strength, or just made people laugh and not worry for a while. There were moments that people anticipated for months, and when the time finally came, they couldn’t have been happier with the result.
2015 wasn’t always easy, but it was definitely full. There were thousands of poignant moments, and this article chose only the most memorable ones. Those moments that really counted are those that couldn’t have happened any other way. They all mark a point in our tumultuous history, whether at the beginning of a movement or in the midst of an ageless pattern. Here are the moments that we’ll look back on in years and remember. Life moves so fast that sometimes looking back is the only way to see clearly what had happened. Looking back on 2015, many moments come to mind, but these are the moments that defined the year.
13 The Cosby Saga
The drugging and dirty allegations came pouring in during 2014, but on December 30, Bill Cosby was finally arrested in Pennsylvania on charges of sexual assault. The once revered comedian, known as American dad Cliff Huxtable, has denied the charges from the beginning. But as more and more women came forward, Bill’s reputation sank further and further. His honorary degrees and awards were taken back, and his legendary 80s sitcom reruns disappeared from television. With a surely long and arduous trial to come, Cosby’s legacy will be dragged even further down, as the victims can finally rejoice in letting their story be heard.
12 Bieber Reborn
Remember all the weed? The break-up from Selena, the dumber than usual outfits, car races, American deportation threats, pics in the buff, and tattoo sleeves… At one point even the Beliebers weren’t Beliebing. Then big JB turned it all around in one tear-filled moment, after singing “What Do You Mean” at the VMAs. The tears were magical. Justin Bieber was back on top of his game, and reclaimed the reins of his own popularity bandwagon. Is it too late to say sorry? No, Bieber, it is not. You’re forgiven, and bigger and better than ever. Adele also made a huge comeback this year. Now you get to hear,”Hello, it’s me,” every single time you turn on your car radio.
11 Legalize It
The legalization of recreational marijuana grew in leaps and bounds this year. Stateside, pot was legalized in Washington DC, then Colorado, Washington and Oregon, all making loads of cash. Next up will probably be Vermont. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put a weed clause in his mandate letter stating: “Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”
Now here was a time-suck viral image that somehow managed to lure everybody into an argument over something so simple as, “what color is that?”
There were two sides to the story: it was either a white and gold dress, or a blue and black one, and everybody had their firm stance on the subject. The viral explosion of a topic so mundane proved that people would rather talk about something non-consequential, than one of any seriousness at all. Scientists offered different reasons as to why people saw different colors, and soon the image disappeared as fast as it had arrived.
9 Election Circus
Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and last but not leas,t the unapologetic Donald Trump, along with a bunch of other people began their trash-talking bid for the Republican ticket of the 2016 US Presidency. The political media circus has been ridiculous and it has only just begun. How many more insults can Trump come up with to increase his already red-hot media spotlight? Every word the guy says is debated and Trump is laughing all the way to the bank. What’s most surprising, and perhaps disturbing to everyone in America, is that he is actually leading in the polls… by a lot.
America was inundated with mass shootings in 2015. Two Virginia news reporters were gunned down on film, church-goers in South Carolina were attacked, an Oregon college went under fire, the Colorado planned parenthood tragedy, the San Bernardino, CA massacre, shootings in a Louisiana movie theatre, and more. Over 460 deaths, compared to 281 in 2014. The sorrow and bewilderment reached new levels as Americans scrambled for explanations. President Obama offered comfort, saying, “Somehow [shootings] have become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this.” The Black Lives Matter movement, which protested police conduct in the unjust deaths of African-American civilians, also gained much ground in a terribly violent year in America
When 2015 began, there was a man named Bruce, and now she goes by Caitlyn Jenner. Jenner’s uber-public celebrity status collided with the very private, very personal decision to have surgical gender reassignment. Older fans of Olympian Jenner were baffled as much as the younger generation Kardashian fans. Then the Barbara Walters special came along and confirmed that the tabloids were right all along. The LGBT community was polarized, some rejoicing she went public with the June Vanity Fair Cover, and others thinking it was too much too fast. In any case, it was a monumental year for LGBT, who also gained ground with gay marriage becoming legal across the USA.
6 Jail Break
On June 6, two inmates, David Sweat and Richard Matt escaped from a high-security upstate New York prison and almost made it into Canada. The inmates were on the loose for over three weeks. There were stories of a practice-run they had made prior to the actual escape, of corrupt guards who helped them out, even of a love affair between a guard and Matt, and a broken up plan for a Mexican escape. Eventually the pair split, Matt was shot dead 50 miles away from the prison, and Sweat found two days later was captured 1.5 miles south of the Canadian border.
5 Late Night Retirements
It was the end of an era in television as long time late-night talk show host, David Letterman, retired after 33 years of show business. Letterman once followed the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, a now seemingly long-ago television legend. Letterman inspired the zany antics of Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel, but Dave was different. His pre-YouTube mentality was that of another generation, but his Top-Ten List method captivates you now. Also retiring was Jon Stewart from the Daily Show, another trendsetter in the comparatively liberal and loose cable TV business.
4 Syrian Refugees
As the civil war in Syria goes on, this devastating story gets more and more press. Millions of families have been uprooted and over 250,000 souls have died. The conflict that began in 2011 has continued, and refugees are running out of places to go. Neighboring countries like Turkey and Lebanon have been flooded with families, and politicians are seeking international aid, scrambling to find less crowded safe havens. Hundreds of thousands of refugees already settled in across Europe. FactCheck.Org says the US has accepted around 2,000 refugees in 2015, with 85,000 due in 2016. Al-Jazeera reports that over 5,000 refugees will live in the Toronto area, with 25,000 expected to settle across Canada by February 2016.
3 Star Wars
This movie was on everybody’s radar for months. The saturation of promotional materials found in toys, foods, commercials, talk shows, and all else, was unavoidable, and led to a record setting billions, beating the previous record set by another 2015 sequel film, Jurassic World. This latest Star Wars reboot is filled with new heroes and old, bringing generations of fans together. Many Yoda-heads have already seen the films dozens of times, while others are waiting for theatres to offer show times that aren’t sold out. The Force has been with this charmed Sci-fi series since the beginning, and there is no end in sight.
2 Volkswagen Stalls
On September 18, Volkswagen Motors was busted by the EPA for intentionally side-stepping environmental standards for engine emissions. The company, ranked number one in production, beating out Toyota for the first time between January and June, was suddenly exposed, and may be forced to recall over 400,000 vehicles. Due to the blatant dishonestly of the violation, many executives were fired and evidence was surely shredded, however VW will probably make a full recovery. The public has a short memory for car industry disasters. The Toyota brake pedal disaster of 2009 did little to hinder sales numbers or international reputation.
1 Paris Attacks
Words cannot describe how appalled the entire world was to hear of this tragic news. An orchestrated terrorist attack on Friday the 13th of November targeted five Paris venues simultaneously. Suicide bombers detonated and gunmen fired upon the innocent, killing 130 people and injuring hundreds. We saw unforgettable news images of murdered restaurant patrons under sheets, panicked concert-goers fleeing from a theatre, and a soccer player stopping as an explosion silenced the crowd. We can only hope that such an awful event will never happen again, whether in Paris or any other setting.