The year 2020 was a complete dumpster fire, wasn’t it? But somehow I found some things to enjoy in all this mess. But, sadly, a lot of my fandom stuff let me down, too.
This list of great and terrible 2020 moments is my own personal list, so if your preferred option isn’t on there, well, that’s bound to happen. My life as a geek is pretty extensive, but it’s not all-encompassing. I do wish I could be a geek oracle and know everything, but that super power hasn’t kicked in quite yet. Someday, perhaps.
That said, feel free to give me your own lists or personal additions in the comments, though, because I’d love to hear more outside my own fandom circles!
My Best 2020 Geek Moments
10 – My Last Movie Theater Experience: Boku no Hero Academia: Heroes Rising
Back in early March 2020, it seemed that things were getting bad. But I also really wanted to see the new BNHA movie and it had just come out in theaters. Shutdowns hadn’t kicked off quite yet and there were no official recorded cases in my state yet (the first one would be announced just four days later). I decided I would go, but I’d bring Clorox wipes, wiped down my seat, and make as little contact with common surfaces as possible. I was still nervous as hell, but wanted to get this in before things got worse.
The movie was good, but it was that last taste of pre-lockdown life that stuck with me the most after I’d left the theater. In two weeks’ time I would be starting the process of working from home, and just a couple weeks after that I would be under a stay-at-home order and masks would be mandatory whenever I went out for supplies. Things moved very fast in March, and I’m grateful I got to have this last moment before the entire world shut down around me.
Parasite breaking so records at the Oscars was an incredibly high point of the year and it happened fairly early on, before any of us really knew what was coming. Everything went downhill from there. And it went downhill fast. It was the last collective win for many of us before we descended into absolute hell.
I, unfortunately, didn’t get to see the movie back in 2019, but as soon as it went up on Hulu in early 2020 I watched it almost immediately (hence it belonging on the 2020 list). The themes regarding class differences would continue to resonate with me throughout the entire year, especially as lockdown and the failed response from our governments became more and more apparent with each passing day.
And, honestly, the relatable memes got me through much of 2020. Every time an elite person did what elite people tend to do, people would whip out a Parasite screen shot and a new viral meme was born. And you know what? It hasn’t gotten old. They are just as funny now as they were then.
During the first few weeks of lock down, Westworld season 3 was basically the only time I was able to get my mind off of the horrors of the world and enjoy something else. I realize the season was rather controversial, primarily because they, uh, left Westworld, but I enjoyed the hell out of it and was grateful for the distraction. Literally nothing else could get me away from doomscrolling besides this.
Personally, I thought the season was fantastic and I look forward to more of the story. The actors, the music, the cinematography – all of it was top-notch and was easy for me to latch onto as I got used to my newfound isolation. I spent hours reading theories on forums and writing reviews after each episode. If I didn’t have this tether to something positive, I’m not sure how I would have made it through the spring. It’d have been much more of a struggle, that’s for sure.
The Parks & Rec special was a breath of fresh air as the reality of our locked down world really started to sink in.
We were all fairly scared in May, unclear just how long we were going to be stuck in this seemingly endless quarantine. We kept being told it’d be ‘two weeks.’ Then it was ‘two weeks more.’ Then we were a couple months into it and we got the strange feeling our summer was going to be impacted. Some projected it’d go even further than that. And hey, those people were right. It’s December and everything is still a mess. But it was really hard to gauge that at the time.
While creating content about this crisis while we’re still currently in it can be dicey, they pulled it off perfectly. They captured this specific moment in time – our anxieties, our joys, even our humor – and put together a short piece of entertainment that raised money for a good cause.
My favorite band is OK Go. Their creativity and style is incredibly appealing to me. So when they dropped a new song produced entirely in quarantine, I just about cried. It’s been seven months now and I’m still listening to it regularly. Just listen and enjoy. The song speaks for itself.
Death to 2020 certainly isn’t for everyone. There’s a fair amount of cringe in it. But it’s also sarcastic, satirical, and has a biting wit that made it feel like my sardonic Twitter feed got funneled directly into a movie. I also found quite a bit of catharsis through watching it, being able to see the events I’ve just lived through with accompanying dark humor to take the edge off. I felt better having watched it. Of course, if reviews are any indication, some people felt worse after watching it. But hey, this is my review not theirs, so it’s going on my positive list!
Fugou Keiji began at the very start of the pandemic, but then got delayed due to production disruptions from Japan’s lockdown. Having it pick production back up made it feel like the world was slowly getting back on track and that we could find a way to manage life with the pandemic raging on around us.
Of course, we still aren’t quite out of the pandemic yet, but at the very least it was a sign that we could enjoy things… in a socially distant way. They managed to record audio in a safe way and delivered us the latter half of the season midway through the year.
The fandom exploded across social media and I got a brand new shiny OTP out of the whole experience. It was a fandom experience born within the pandemic that gave me something positive to look forward to for a great period of time. I only hope we get a second season at some point, because this story was too damn good to leave it there.
3 – The Mandalorian Season 2, and More Star Wars Content
It’s hard to believe that the first season of The Mandalorian happened last November, just a couple months before the pandemic began to spread. It feels like a completely different decade, honestly, and not just thirteen months ago. When the second season dropped, it felt like I was coming full circle to pre-pandemic times with my interest, and got a bit of nostalgia for something that literally wasn’t that long ago.
The season had a great beginning and end, but lagged a bit in the middle, which felt even more prominent when we were all stuck at home with not much else to do in the down time. But still, Star Wars is Star Wars and the joy it brought me far outweighed any of my petty complaints. I still enjoyed the hell out of the filler episodes (except those damn spiders).
But we didn’t just get more The Mandalorian. We got a ton of new announcements for upcoming content in the Star Wars universe including the Book of Boba Fett. Having something to look forward to beyond the pandemic is enormously important, because there were a lot of dark moments the past few months. Thank you, Star Wars! This was so very much needed.
Can you believe that a short trailer less than a minute long is #2 on this list?! But look, Yuri on Ice is important. It’s so damn important!! This is content we’d been waiting on for a couple of years already, so having it finally released to the rest of us outside the special screening in Japan was a huge damn deal! It felt like an adrenaline shot got pumped into the fandom and it came alive again.
We still don’t have a date on when it’ll be released, and I’m eager about getting that bit of information, too, but I’m at the point where even a teeny tiny bit of content is better than nothing. This was very much needed and provided a big shot of joy injected directly into my eyes. Thank you, Studio MAPPA.
If you follow me on Twitter, this coming in at #1 shouldn’t be a surprise to you at all. While Westworld, Fugou Keiji, and The Mandalorian each gave me something to hold onto for a few weeks each, Tian Guan Ci Fu has been a steady rock for me throughout the entire year. I first picked up the book sometime near the beginning of the pandemic after I read another book by the same author (Mo Dao Zu Shi, which I discovered in 2019 and thus did not include on this list), quickly began to explore fanfiction, and then latched onto the donghua when it was released at the end of October.
This is going to be a long-haul fandom for me. It’s going to last beyond 2020 with the special episode coming out in February, the continuous fanworks being created by it, and the ever so hopeful look forward to a potential season two. Without Tian Guan Ci Fu, my mental health would have sucked. No lie. It made 2020 pretty damn good despite everything going on in the world.
My Worst 2020 Geek Moments
8 – Literally Everything About Russian Figure Skating
It’s been a rough year for the figure skating fandom. So many competitions have been cancelled, just like so many other events, but somehow Russia carried forward with a ton of competitions on their own. As they were generally the only skating federation holding events, many of us tuned in and became incredibly invested in them. But it was clear that RusFed wasn’t taking this seriously. Not many people seemed to wear their masks right, if at all, and they continued to hold mask-less banquets after major events. It was a disaster and the fandom could see that this wouldn’t lead to anything good.
Unsurprisingly, a ton of their skaters have been infected, included Evgenia Medvedeva, whom I wrote about earlier this year when she was cast as Sailor Moon in an ice show in Japan. That ice show clearly didn’t happen this year, and she ended up having to go back to her old coach in Russia due to pandemic travel restrictions. While there, she was hospitalized due to a back injury and then got ‘pneumonia,’ which we’ve come to understand is the phrase being used in place of admitting that their athletes have COVID. Other favorites of mine, like Elizaveta Tutkamysheva, also got sick, and it was painful to watch the ladies champion Anna Sherbakova struggle to breathe after her short program.
Everything sucks. I hate it here.
The drama surrounding Chris Pratt’s church really sucks. They have very homophobic policies, including one church in the denomination openly supporting conversion therapy. This has been a problem for a while in fandom, but there’s really nothing we can do. He’s part of the MCU and it is what it is.
When he went viral for this yet again thanks to an MCU Chris meme, he got a ton of support from his castmates, which felt like a kick in the teeth. We already didn’t get the representation in the franchise that we wanted, and then we were promptly thrown under the bus as a result of the drama. It was horribly disappointing.
I hope the next phases of the franchise have more supportive actors and canon content.
I’ve never watched Voltron. I don’t ship Sheith. But I feel a weird kinship with them because I’ve also been harassed and threatened over a ship. So when they got threats of violence for their little con, I took that personally, man. For something taking place in a fandom I’m not technically a part of, I got fairly invested in the whole kerfuffle and felt sympathy anxiety on their behalf. The fact that this group of shippers is so horrifically bullied that people threaten them when they want to hang out is absolutely despicable.
Sadly, the pandemic would put a kibosh on their in-person meeting, but I hope they can put it on in the future with 100% less threats and a whole of of shipping fun. And hey, if it ever happens when I’m nearby (after the pandemic, of course), I might stop by as the lost outsider just looking to throw in some support.
Since Trump horribly mismanaged our pandemic response, movie theaters are closed and Dune will likely go straight to HBO Max (or maybe not?). I would have been able to see Oscar Isaac’s Dune Daddy Beard on the big screen had he managed this right. I will never forgive him for this.
Making a movie about the pandemic needs to be done with care and tact. Neither ‘care’ nor ‘tact’ are words that you would associate with Michael Bay, so I’ve been stewing about this impending disaster since it was first announced. It hasn’t come out yet, but I have absolutely zero hope based on the trailer or the synopsis that it’ll be handled with any sort of grace or respect.
This is awful and infuriating. I hope it bombs.
I had been looking forward to The Stand being updated and adapted for years. The timing of this film already cast a dark shadow over it, as a primary force behind the plot is a major global pandemic. Still, I was willing to give it a shot. Unfortunately it was a garbled mess and I ultimately canceled my CBS All Access subscription before the second episode even dropped. It’s hard to give up on an adaption of one of my favorite books so fast, but it was an absolute mess.
Going to Disneyland prior to SDCC has been a tradition for a few years now. I had an absolute blast back in 2019 when I got to explore Galaxy’s Edge, and I was looking forward to seeing the new Avengers Campus this year. Unfortunately Disneyland closed down as the world stopped last spring. While other parks have reopened, the original California park has remained shuttered with no re-opening in sight.
Ultimately I agree with the decision to keep the park closed given the current circumstances, but the part of the whole ordeal that bothers me is that we can’t get our crap together and slow the spread down enough where we can enjoy life. This is the right call, but we’re failing as a society.
San Diego Comic-Con is what keeps my world turning every year. As soon as one con ends, I start planning for the next one. It’s where I see most of my friends each year and my one major release of all this chaotic geeky energy. So needless to say, this cancellation was a major blow to me and left me feeling pretty aimless for most of 2020.
I have a sneaking suspicion that we won’t get it in 2021 either, which means two years of aimlessness without my major annual trip to San Diego. It’s really hard to fathom this, but ultimately we need to keep safe. An event of this size should not be held until we achieve herd immunity.
What’s To Come in 2021
Let’s hope that 2021 will be better, eh? I look forward to the following things to come:
- Oscar Isaac’s Dune Beard, either on HBO Max or on the big screen.
- The Star Wars Hotel, which is still under construction, and may be safe to visit later in the year.
- The Given Movie, coming to Crunchyroll in February!
- The Heaven Official’s Blessing special episode.
- The Book of Boba Fett.
- Maybe… Yuri on Ice? Maybe? Send the positive energy out there!
- And in none fandom news… I look forward to the vaccine and to Trump leaving office!
Cheers to a better 2021!
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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