Pop Culture Intervention

9 Pop Culture Treasures Celebrating Anniversaries In 2018

"Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" turns 50.

At A Plus, we're addicted to pop culture, and Pop Culture Intervention brings that obsession to the soapbox. Through this series, we'll recommend what you should be watching, reading or listening to; explore how arts and entertainment affect us; and interpret the important messages contained within various works.

With each turn of the calendar, we celebrate pop culture anniversaries — whether they be movies that came out 20 years ago or albums that turned 20 years old — and 2018 is no different. 


There are some great TV shows, songs, albums, movies, and even a book celebrating a major milestone this year, and we think you should experience them again or, if you've never experienced them before, check them out for the first time. We've taken a deep dive throughout pop culture history to discover some of these gems turning either 10, 20, 25, 30, 40, or 50 years old — although we're sure there are works that are even older that deserve your attention. 

These various mediums all left their mark on the world, inspiring us all enough to where — here we are years later — we're still talking about them. Let the trip down memory lane begin:

50 years ago: "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" premieres

When it comes to educational TV, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood is one the the biggest — besides perhaps Sesame Street. Though the show had existed before making its U.S. debut on February 19, 1968, it was then that it began a run here in the States and became a TV staple until it concluded on August 31, 2001. Fred Rogers inspired generations worth of children, enlightening them about important issues, introducing them to different facets of life, and just teaching them to be good people. Later this year, in honor of the show's 50th anniversary, a documentary about it titled Won't You Be My Neighbor? will be released.

50 years ago: The Beatles release "Hey Jude"

Known for being one of the biggest songs by The Beatles, "Hey Jude" was released 50 years ago this year — on August 26, 1968, to be exact. It was written by Paul McCartney — credited to Lennon-McCartney — as a song meant to comfort Julian Lennon during a trying time. See, this was when John Lennon was splitting from Cynthia Lennon and getting with Yoko Ono. The song itself was nominated for three Grammys (but failed to win any of them) and has been hailed as one of the best songs ever by any group — not just one of the best from The Beatles.

40 years ago: "The Wiz" hits theaters

Representation matters and The Wiz is a prime example of that. The movie — released on October 24, 1978 — was loosely based on a Broadway musical of the same name from 1974 and was a reimagining of the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and the subsequent 1939 film adaptation of the same name starring Judy Garland. It featured an all-star cast of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and many other Black entertainers from the time, and centered the story in a New York City-like world. It wasn't received well by critics or at the box office but, like a handful of other works, has since become a cult classic. In fact, NBC put on a live TV music of it in 2015.

30 years ago: N.W.A. releases "Straight Outta Compton"

Straight Outta Compton made waves in a major way when N.W.A. — made up of Arabian Prince, MC Ren, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, DJ Yella, and Dr. Dre at the time — released it on August 8, 1988. The album, which was the group's studio debut, was a pioneering moment of gangsta rap and is considered to be an influential and evolutionary moment for hip-hop music thanks to songs such as the "Straight Outta Compton," "Fuck tha Police," and "Gangsta Gangsta." It was even selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2017 for the mark it left.

25 years ago: "The Joy Luck Club" hits the big screen

Though 2018 will give us Crazy Rich Asians, many are concerned that it has been too long — 25 years, to be exact — since another Asian-focused (and one not centered around kung fu) movie hit the big screen. That film would be Wayne Wang's The Joy Luck Club, based on the book of the same name by Amy Tan. The movie centers around a group of Chinese-American women and their Chinese mothers, who meet regularly to eat, share stories, and play mahjong. Throughout the film, we learn about the pasts of the women and their daughters, examining how Chinese and American cultures clash as they attempt to understand each other in the ever-changing times.

20 years ago: "Mulan" hits the big screen

One of Disney's beloved animated movies turns 20 this year: Mulan. The film — which was released on June 19, 1998 — tells the story of a young Chinese woman who proves she can do anything a man can do by volunteering to join the army in the spot intended for her father and helping the country win a war, is an inspiring one and is currently getting a live-action remake. It's based on Chinese legend, which is why Ming-Na Wen, the original speaking voice of Mulan, wanted a person of Chinese descent to play the part. Thankfully the studio avoided whitewashing the part when it found Liu Yifei, aka Crystal Liu, to star in the new version. "Reflection" on repeat forever.

20 years ago: Brandy and Monica release "The Boy is Mine"

This year marks big anniversaries for "... Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears and "I Kissed A Girl" by Katy Perry, but there's one other song we want to talk about: "The Boy is Mine" by Brandy and Monica. The tune, inspired by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney's 1982 duet "The Girl is Mine," was the first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for both women and subverted the media's portrayal of a feud between two strong, independent females that tends to garner attention and was played up more than it was real. It was released on May 18, 1998, and was the song of the summer that year. "The Boy is Mine" earned the ladies a Grammy win and, 14 years after its release, brought them back together to sing another song, one titled "It All Belongs to Me."

20 years ago: "Will & Grace" premieres on TV

There are many shows that could be celebrating their 20-year anniversary this year — such as Dawson's Creek, which gave us TV's first gay kiss, and Sex and the City, which introduced us to Carrie Bradshaw and the rest of the brunch crew. With Will & Grace, we got a TV show with unapologetically out gay characters — the first primetime show with them in lead roles — in Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes). It was the biggest win for the LGBT community since Ellen DeGeneres came out on Ellen the year prior and inspired others that came after it. Will & Grace debuted on September 21, 1998, and ran until May 18, 2006. Then, when the stars aligned, it returned on September 28, 2017.

10 years ago: Suzanne Collins releases "The Hunger Games"

Children being forced to out-survive and, sometimes, kill one another, might not be the most positive plot ever created, but the saving grace here is Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. The YA heroine was brought to life thanks to the words penned by Suzanne Collins — and later by Jennifer Lawrence on the big screen — giving the literary world a major dose of girl power on September 14, 2008. With J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter franchise hitting shelves a decade before and giving us a male hero in its title character, Collins gave us the female counterpart to inspire little girls all over the world.


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