The last decade in entertainment has been one both triumphant and challenging. Unfortunately, the decade’s biggest stories were either ones about the untimely deaths of icons, or ones that exposed our most celebrated icons for criminal behavior. We calculated the impact, social media response, and cultural significance to determine the era’s biggest entertainment stories.
1. Michael Jackson: “Leaving Neverland” documentary – 2019Source:PR Photos
In 2019, an HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” chronicled accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who said they’d be raped and molested by the legendary music icon. Though they were among many young boys who lived, slept and traveled with Jackson, they and their families were the only sources in the doc. While it convinced some that Jackson was guilty, many fans noted the legion of documented evidence of his innocence, others had problems with the one-sided coverage and previous attempts by Robson and Safechuck to sue the estate for money.
2. Nipsey Hussle’s Murder: – March 31, 2019Source:Associated Press
On March 31, rapper Nipsey Hussle was chatting with friends outside of his Marathon clothing store in South Central L.A. when he was gunned down. The entire city, along with his family and partner Lauren London, mourned the Grammy-nominated rapper who had just released his major label debut “Victory Lap.” He was grieved not just because of his music, but because of his passionate commitment to his L.A. community.
3. R. Kelly: “Surviving R. Kelly” 2019Source:Associated Press
In 2019, “Surviving R. Kelly” aired on Lifetime and 26 million viewers later, the exposure finally led to the success of the long-standing #MuteRKelly campaign. As tours and appearances dried up, Kelly was dropped from his label and then arrested in Chicago and New York to answer charges of sexual assault and more. It was 20 years in the making but many believe that the courage of the girls, now women, that he allegedly abused who came forward, finally led to his downfall.
4. Bill Cosby: Trials And Conviction – 2018Source:Associated Press
Like Kelly, Bill Cosby had decades of sexual assault allegations behind him, but had evaded any legal action until 2005, when a woman he befriended named Andrea Constand sued him in civil court. She received a settlement and criminal charges were not brought. In 2014, comedian Hannibal Burress referenced the prior allegations and his routine went viral. That opened a floodgate of accusers whose accounts went back to the 60s. Over 50 women would eventually accuse Cosby of sexual assault and misconduct. In 2017, Cosby was criminally charged for drugging and assaulting Constand in 2004 in Pennsylvania. His first trial ended in a mistrial. In 2018, he was found guilty in a retrial and sentenced to 3-10 years in prison, a sentence he is currently serving.
5. Kanye West: 2010 – presentSource:Associated Press
On May 14, 2014 Kanye West married Kim Kardashian, combining music and reality TV dynasties. The two had already had daughter North in June of 2015 and would follow that by having three more children in the decade. Unfortunately, after 2010’s masterpiece “My Beautiful, Dark Twisted Fantasy” and 2011’s “Watch The Throne” with Jay-Z, people would be talking about just about anything but Kanye’s music. There was the high-profile marriage. Then in 2016, a mental health breakdown and hospitalization. Then, his November 2016 meeting with the newly elected Donald Trump and his increasingly incoherent social media rants. “The Life of Pablo” also came out that year, but the tour was eventually cancelled. While all of this was going on, West was still working on his Yeezy fashion line. West was heading to cancellation by his former fans, but then said he was giving his life over to Christ and started a series of “Sunday Services.” Those culminated in two 2019 albums “Jesus Is King” and “Sunday Services.” Maybe Kanye’s faith will make the 20’s a better decade for him.
6. Beyoncè: 2010 – PresentSource:Associated Press
Haters, bow down. Beyoncè started the decade as music biggest female entertainer, and ended it the same way. Rihanna may have sold more records and made millions from her makeup and lingerie line. But Beyoncè continued her lock on the culture by creating not just three babies in the decade but three major projects that brought her even more critical acclaim and respect. In 2011, she revealed that she was pregnant with Blue Ivy, she and Jay-Z’s first child, born in 2012. On December 13, 2013, she dropped her fifth studio album, “Beyoncè” online, without any prior promotion. It would win 2 Grammy Awards. In 2014, an altercation between her sister, Solange, and her husband was captured on video in a hotel elevator the night of the Met Gala. The Carters eventually issued a statement and moved on. That same year, “On The Run,” the Carters’ first joint tour, kicked off. In 2016, Beyoncè dropped “Lemonade” which fit right in with unapologetic blackness of the era and further set her apart from her peers. It came with a lauded HBO doc. In 2017, Beyoncè announced her next project, twins, which meant she dropped out of the movie version of “A Star is Born.” In 2018, Beyoncè brought Black Excellence to Coachella with an HBCU themed performance and then she and jay embarked on “On The Run II.” In 2019, B’s “Homecoming” documentary aired on HBO and she was played Nala in “The Lion King” and contributed to its soundtrack. Welp, can’t say B is slacking. Who knows what this decade may bring?
7. Whitney Houston’s Death: February 2012Source:PR Photos
On February 11, 2012, the night before the 2012 Grammy Awards, the world was shocked to find out that Whitney Houston had been found dead in her Beverly Hilton hotel room. She’d been expected to attend the awards and the news of her death cast a pall over the show. Host LL Cool J simply said “There’s been a death in the family,” and it certainly felt that way. Cocaine use and heart disease led to Houston’s tragic death at age 48, taking one of the music’s biggest superstars and arguably its most iconic voice. Though Houston had her struggles, fans thought she was getting back on track by executive producing and appearing in the “Sparkle” remake. Instead, it would be her final project.
8. Prince’s Death: April 21, 2016Source:AP
In January 2016, British rock icon David Bowie died two days after his 69th birthday. Then, in February, Vanity, Prince’s one-time girlfriend and collaborator died. Prince paid homage to both of them while on his “PIano and a Microphone” tour. On his way home from a concert in Atlanta in April, Prince’s plane made an emergency landing in Illinois with what was said to be a respiratory illness. Then, on the morning of April 21st, Prince’s publicist announced that he’d passed away at age 57 at his recording complex, Paisley Park. The universe went into mourning, with fellow artists, fans, friends, and even President Obama reeling from the loss of one of music’s most prolific artists. Prince’s death was due to a prescription drug overdose, but his clean-living reputation and unanswered questions about the circumstances still have fans questioning to this day.
9. Bobbi Kristina Brown’s Death: July 26, 2015Source:PR Photos
On January 31, 2015, three years after her mother’s death, Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unresponsive in a bathtub in her Atlanta area home. Though she would live until July, she would never wake up again. While her family and the public knew Bobbi Kristina was experiencing some problems dealing with her mother’s loss, they couldn’t get her to rehab in time to help her. Her companion at the time, Nick Gordon, was never charged but was found liable for her death. The exact cause of Bobbi Kristina’s death was listed as “undetermined” and all that was found in her system was alcohol and cannabis. Almost five years to the day later, Gordon himself would be found dead from an overdose in Florida.
10. “Black Panther”: January 29, 2018Source:Marvel Films
While Marvel introduced Black Panther in its comics in 1966, the character was mostly known to comic book fans. Superheroes in movies were largely white. But in 2018, that changed forever when Ryan Coogler directed and Chadwick Boseman starred as King T’Challa, the leader of Wakanda and the alter ego of Black Panther. The film’s instantly classic trailer had comic book fans excited as well as those who’d never opened one. The depiction of an African country as a progressive, technically advanced nation, the visuals, costumes and characters introduced made the movie a box office smash, earning $1.3B to become the ninth-grossing film of all time and the top-grossing film by a Black director.