The first half of 2021 is almost over. Time to take stock! What are the most striking communication moments so far?
1. Bernie Sanders and Amanda Gorman are the stars of Joe Biden’s inauguration
During the (cold) inauguration of President Joe Biden on Wednesday, January 20, former presidential candidate Bernie Saunders slumped in his chair. Includes knitted mittens and cross-legged. Photoshopped in the most hilarious ways, the iconic image is the perfect base for a thousands een memes.
However, the photographer Brendan Smialowski was less happy: “If I knew this was a… meme I would never have taken the photo.” Senator Sanders appreciated the attention. He decided to have the photo printed on sweaters and sold it for $45 for charity. Sanders raised $1.8 million in five days.
Poet Amanda Gorman
Sanders is not the only one who steals the show from the new president that day. The 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman read her poem during the inauguration The Hill We Climb for and moved millions of people with her words. Her Instagram account grew from 45,000 followers to 3.1 million in no time. She was asked for several talk shows and landed a contract with the world famous modeling agency IMG Models.
In the Netherlands, the rights to her collection of poetry were sold to publisher Meulenhoff in a heated auction, and the choice of the translator caused some controversy. Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, winner of the International Boozer Prize, was initially asked. But after a lot of criticism on social media that the publisher had chosen a white writer and not someone with roots in the black community, Rijneveld decided to return the assignment.
Meulenhoff teamed up with publisher Wilde Haren, a start-up in the book world that focuses on inclusivity, visibility and diversity in (children’s) books. Spoken Word artist Zaire Krieger will translate Amanda Gorman’s poetry collection.
2. Harry & Meghan bij Oprah Winfrey
Last year, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced via Instagram that they were “taking a step back as ‘senior’ members” of the British royal family, which has sparked a deluge of comments. Whoever thought the two former royals would keep quiet was wrong.
On Sunday evening, March 7, Harry and Meghan joined none other than talk show queen Oprah Winfrey. They clapped about life within the walls of Buckingham Palace. The interview hits the British media like a bomb. Markle said she had suicidal thoughts during her pregnancy and said that the royal family was concerned about the skin color of their unborn child Archie. The interview was viewed by more than 1.5 million people in the Netherlands alone.
3. Bibian Mentel: “Collect memories, not possessions.”
Because of those words, many Dutch people had to wipe away a tear during the broadcast of Humberto on Sunday evening, March 7. The week before, it was announced that three-time Paralympic snowboarding champion Bibian Mentel had metastases from a tumor in her head and that doctors could no longer cure her. Edwin van Spee, Bibian’s husband, was a guest during Humberto Tan’s talk show. And later there was talk with Bibian himself via a video call.
When asked if she wanted to give viewers anything else, she replied: “Go do something you like. Collect memories, not money or possessions.” The moving life lesson could count on many reactions from the sports world and beyond, such as Prime Minister Rutte and Prince Constantijn.
4. Bilal Wahib .’s Live Stream
After Tuesday evening, March 23, actors Bilal Wahib and Oussama Ahammoud are under fire. During a live stream on their Instagram with thousands of viewers, they asked a minor to show his genitals in exchange for 17,000 euros. After some encouragement, the boy did show his genitals during the conversation, after which Wahib and Ahammoud started laughing.
Within no time the reactions pour in and people speak shame of the two actors. Top Notch, the record label to which Bilal was under contract, announced the next day that it would stop all activities with regard to the artist, after which RTL and children’s broadcaster ZAPP will follow. Wahib was invited to talk about the incident on Beau van Erven Dorens’ talk show, but withdrew at the last minute because the victim’s family did not want it. Opinions on Wahib’s move vary: what this means for his career is, according to some, too early to comment.
5. Formation chaos: ‘Position Omtzigt, function elsewhere’
These were perhaps the four most discussed words after Thursday 25 March: ‘Position Omtzigt, function elsewhere’. The then scout for the new cabinet formation Kasja Ollongren tested positive for corona, after which she left the Binnenhof in haste with collected notes under her arm. An attentive photographer from ANP took a photo. The formation chaos was complete in no time. The memorandum was about CDA MP Pieter Omtzigt. The now former number two on the list who got the benefits affair on the table and is currently at home stressed out.
Later that day, Kasja Ollongren and Annemarie Jorritsma resign and are replaced by new scouts. On Thursday April 1, Rutte says in the debate that he has no ‘active memory’ of mentioning Pieter Omtzigt in the conversation with the scouts. After hours of debate, the entire opposition is losing confidence in Prime Minister Rutte. But the coalition parties remain behind him, so that Rutte barely survives the vote and remains outgoing Prime Minister.
6. Shell loses Milieudefensie lawsuit
Friends of the Earth, the international organization above Milieudefensie, won the climate case against Shell on Wednesday 26 May. It is unique that a company is forced by a judge to reduce CO2 emissions. Not compensation, but a radical policy change is what made this ruling so groundbreaking.
The oil and gas company is obliged to reduce emissions by the end of 2030 by a net 45 percent compared to the level of 2019. This percentage is significantly higher than the minimum 20 percent that Shell itself is aiming for and is not in line with the climate agreement of Shell. Paris from 2015.
The court rules that not only countries, but also companies must make a commitment to combating global warming. Shell announced that it would appeal. If the ruling stands, it will open the door to future lawsuits against gas, oil and coal companies and other energy consumers.
Like 2020, 2021 has already been a year full of standout moments in the media. Which do you think is still missing?
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