Revived artists and TV shows, controversial performances and Netflix originals make up the culture of 2013

The culture of 2013 was fractured and fragmented in countless directions never before seen thanks to the explosion of conversations sparked by new media like Instagram, Buzzfeed, Reddit, Twitter and Pinterest. Trying to discern dominate cultural themes among an entertainment industry over-saturated with content is nearly impossible and inevitably futile. Yet a few individuals, both real and fictional, emerged whose art and antics managed to tower over the conversational static and transform the collective consciousness of us all.

Justin Timberlake’s Triumphant Return:
2013 started off with a classy bang as Justin Timberblake finally broke his 7-year hiatus from dominating the pop charts with the release of his third album, the lauded “20/20 Experience.” Timberlake rekindled his musical companionship with Jay-Z for the release of the stellar single, “Suit and Tie,” which he debuted on the 55th Grammy Awards to a frenzied reception.

Breaking Bad:
America’s favorite meth manufacturers finally retired their lab coats and goggles after a 5-year run that earned Breaking Bad a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-rated television series of all time. For those that are still frantically binge-watching Breaking Bad on Netflix, I won’t spoil the ending, but show creator Vince Gilligan gave anti-hero Walter White a fitting send-off that earned its permanent spot in TV history.

Fans should not fret, as they still have the Saul Goodman spin-off, “Better Call Saul,” that features the snappy lawyer’s career before Walter White entered his life. The series will debut in the summer of 2014.

Rise of Netflix, Fall of Blockbuster:
Every generation, a new form of media comes to dismantle outdated modes of entertainment, and 2013 was the year Blockbuster took its final breath. After declaring bankruptcy in 2010, the rental franchise finally closed the doors to its remaining stores after competition from Netflix and Redbox outpaced its business model.

Netflix dominated entertainment in 2013 by not only providing the most popular TV and movie streaming service but also introducing its own original programming with critically acclaimed dramas such as “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” that have quickly developed devoted fanbases. Netflix also gained much love after reviving a television cult classic…

Revival of Arrested Development:
Seven years after Arrested Development was axed from Fox’s lineup, the most beloved dysfunctional family finally found a new home for their chaotic antics on Netflix.

AD’s fourth season was marked with viewing parties across the globe that were packed with costume contests (who can blue themselves the most?), copious amounts of chocolate-dipped bananas (and ice cream sandwiches, of course), and unlimited juice that was sure to set any party off the hook. The new season confounded both fans and critics with its dense, and often depressing, plot that brought protagonist Micheal Bluth (Jason Bateman) to his knees, setting the stage for a fifth season and maybe even a movie.

Kickstarter, the world’s largest crowd-funding platform, exploded in 2013 with projects pitched by everyone from Zach Braff to Whoopi Goldberg to Amanda Palmer, allowing users to fund their own entertainment in a complete restructuring of the entertainment business. Projects managed to fund as much as 10 million dollars in unprecedented donations.

However, Kickstarter still has to streamline its model, as many users have issued complaints for artists not delivering on their funded promises and claims that many celebrities were exploiting users for their money instead of taking some from their private island fund.

Game of Thrones and the Red Wedding:
Without the risk of spoiling the end of Season three, it is safe to say that there was no moment in 2013 television so singularly soul-crushing as the infamous Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones’ third season. Numerous videos sprang up all over Youtube of fans and helpless bystanders reacting to the relentless carnage crafted by Game of Thrones creator/evil mastermind George R.R. Martin.

Daft Punk’s Domination:
The last the we heard of the mysterious metal-faced DJ’s was the soundtrack to “Tron: Legacy,” but on a surprise promo airing during a March episode of “Saturday Night Live,” the iconic robots briefly flashed on television screens and foreshadowed their 2013 takeover. Their disco-tribute fourth album, “Random Access Memories,” was unleashed upon the world in May after their single “Get Lucky” had already been dominating pop charts around the globe since April. The album proved to be their most critically acclaimed release to date, due largely in part to the host of collaborations they featured with funk legend Nile Rodgers, synthpop innovator Giorgio Moroder and Animal Collective vocalist Panda Bear.

Robin Thicke has a big…
American-Canadian singer/self-proclaimed sex symbol Robin Thicke was 2013’s undisputed chart-topping champion with the release of the unofficial summer anthem, “Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. and Pharrell).” The funky Marvin Gaye-inspired single peaked at number 1 in 14 countries, sold over one million copies and stayed at number one on the Billboard charts for 12 weeks straight. Yet Thicke faced a torrent of criticism about the content of the song, claiming that it was deeply misogynistic and downplayed the importance of consent. This claim was not exactly helped by the fact the music video featured dancing topless models, and the music video for his second 2013 single, “Give It 2 U,” included a literal “ass float” led by 2 Chainz that featured—you guessed it!—copious amounts of booty-shaking, which leads us to 2013’s dominating culture force…

Miley Cyrus and every parent’s worst nightmare, twerking:
Twerk. Verb, informal: “to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance,” courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary.

I don’t know if there is anything audiences (excluding Billy Ray Cyrus) love watching more than a once-pure, innocent Disney Channel idol falling from grace and embracing the enticing dark side of sex, drugs and twerking. Miley Cyrus’ descent to depravity started with the release of the single “We Can’t Stop,” which included the lyric “it’s our bodies, we can do what we want to,” that was surely at least one fan’s last words. Cyrus went on to amuse her fans and horrify the FCC when she gyrated on Robin Thicke during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, unquestionably the most infamous live moment of 2013.

After watching Madonna, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and countless others embrace similar journeys to blunt sexuality, it is mind boggling that audiences were so shocked to see another coming-of-age pop star follow a similar path. Regardless of whether she is cast as an edgy feminist or a hell-bound deviant, Miley Cyrus was 2013’s poster child, proving that even in our great internet-savvy constantly self-aware age, we still just want to watch pop stars get half-naked on live television.