Popular Culture During the Pandemic: How the Coronavirus has changed the way we interact with popular media

With the coronavirus raging on outside our doors, it’s safe to say that the way we live our lives has shifted greatly. With that shift, the way we partake in popular culture has had to change. Gone are the traditional days of heading to movie theaters, having big gatherings with friends, or going to arcades. Now, most entertainment can be found online or ordered through websites. Let’s take a look into what has risen in popularity during these months indoors.


Netflix has always had a large number of subscribers, but the number of people watching increased during quarantine. After the pandemic started taking over, movie theaters were shut down, and many movie watchers headed to online streaming sites instead. Online streaming sites have been a big thing for the past few years but have now boomed with people’s inability to leave their houses. With the pandemic raging on, streaming services are more popular than ever. According to the article Netflix added 10.1 million subscribers this spring as people around the world stayed home written by Steven Zeitchik on the Washington Post’s website, “The company [Netflix] added 2.9 million subscribers in the U.S. and 7.2 million overseas for the period between April and June, when much of the U.S. — and the world — saw public life come to a halt amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.”

Further getting the upper hand in the terrible state the world is in, Netflix has added a setting called Netflix Party that allows you to watch a movie with your friends over long distance. This group-watch feature includes simultaneous streaming for you and your pals, and a group chat to talk while you watch, allowing for an almost theater like experience whilst social distancing. Competing sites like Disney Plus and Hulu have caught on to this idea, joining Netflix with group watch settings. To build on the novelty of streaming sites, Disney Plus has begun releasing highly anticipated films directly to their website. Movies like the live action version of Mulan and the upcoming movie Soul (coming out December 25) are being released on the site instead of being aired at theaters. This move further corrals some movie goers to watching films online instead of in theaters.


Another thing that has skyrocketed in popularity over the course of these past few months is video conference apps like Zoom. Before the pandemic, not many people knew what Zoom was nor had they even heard of the app. It is now a household name. It is safe to say that one of the companies that has profited most off of people’s inability to congregate is Zoom. Zoom is used almost everywhere now, in schools all over the country and for work meetings. It has become so popular that a new, and not so fun, past time called ‘Zoom bombing’ was created.


There are tons of articles, videos, and news outlets detailing problematic Zoom bombings that have occurred. People have been stuck inside so long, that some are trying to satiate their boredom by interrupting Zoom calls to bully, insult, and offend others that are attempting to navigate online classes and meetings. Other people are using apps like Skype, Zoom, or Discord to keep up with their friends or family who they cannot visit in person.


Since the move to indoor entertainment, one thing that could not have come out at a better time was the game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The release of this game had a lot of hype online, and people were itching to get their hands on a copy. The recently released Nintendo Switch Lites and the original Nintendo Switch consoles were flying off the shelves, to the point where many big retail stores like Target, Walmart, and Best Buy were completely sold out of them.


This inability to be purchased further added to the buzz around the consoles and games. This point is reiterated by the article, Nintendo surges after reporting a 428% profit spike driven by gamers flocking to Animal Crossing amid the pandemic (NTDOY) by Matthew Fox on Business Insider’s website. Fox writes, “Nintendo’s hardware unit, which includes the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite consoles, saw sales jump 166% year-over-year to 5.7 million units. The Switch has been sold out across the country for months, as a surge in demand was coupled with a disruption in Nintendo’s supply chain due to the pandemic.” Fox continues to state, “Nintendo’s most popular software title wasAnimal Crossing: New Horizon, which sold 10.6 million copies in the quarter, bringing its cumulative unit sales to 22.4 million.”


Popular culture is always changing to reflect the times, it will continue to adapt to fit whatever situation the world is in, and people will always change the way they interact with it.