It's too early to tell if the country's renewed interest in Old Glory and American patriotism will be a just another fad or a new way of life. But anthropologists studying American pop culture 2000 years from now will, undoubtedly, see a remarkable trend emerge over the last 3½ months of 2001. The traditional beacons of pop culture—fashion, music, advertising, and television—are all flashing red, white, and blue.
This is the famous witchcraft prodigy's third straight year on this list. His much-anticipated movie debut was a record success, generating what was thought to be impossible—more Harry Potter fans! This year, merchandise flowed and Harry Potter book clubs popped up around the world. If author J. K. Rowling doesn't finish writing the next book in this series soon, she'll have a Muggle revolt on her hands.
VIDEO GAME CONSOLE BATTLE ROYAL
The champion of the industry is still Sony's PlayStation 2, which was released in 2000. But this year Nintendo's GameCube and Microsoft's Xbox climbed into the ring, and video-game-loving capitalists everywhere applauded the competition. All three companies poured money into advertising and game development. Analysts (yes, there are people paid to study this stuff) say that Sony will be the industry leader for the short term, but look for Microsoft to surpass it by the time we compile a 2003 list. Either way, it's a great time to be a video-game-loving kid.
A television gimmick once relegated to the day's lottery numbers and sports scores is now responsible for informing the world about everything and anything 24 hours a day. Cable-television executives this year fell in love with the technology that scrolls text along the bottom of your TV screen. Now, if you don't like what you're watching you can read; if you don't like what you're reading, you can watch. It's like having two annoying channels wrapped into one.
Movies starring monsters—both the scary kind and the lovable kind—drew huge box-office dollars all year. Hollywood pioneer Godzilla doesn't have anything to worry about yet, but Planet of the Apes, The Mummy Returns, Shrek, Monsters, Inc., Harry Potter, and The Fellowship of the Ring all helped produce some of the year's biggest stars for kids and parents.
NEXT-GENERATION GAME SHOWS
Nobody really wants to be a millionaire anymore. Big Brother moved out months ago. (We turned his room into a study.) And surviving just isn't what it used to be. So what's next? A second generation of reality game shows appeared on the horizon this year. And fans of the raunchier Love Cruise and Temptation Island, the cover-your-eyes-cool Fear Factor, and the fast-paced The Amazing Race agree these new game shows are decidedly more exciting than Regis.
How can one woman be a pop trend? Here's how: start the year by starring in a halftime show that overshadows the biggest football game of the year; release a wildly popular new CD; film her first live concert special; sign an out-of-the-universe marketing/promotion deal with AOL Time Warner; go on an arena-packing North American concert tour; and remain one of the top three search terms on the Internet for the third straight year. That's all.