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19 / 12 / 23

The Biggest Pop Culture Moments of 2023


Abi Fairfoull

5 minute read

From scandals, to celebrity break-ups and meme-worthy moments, to record-breaking box office sales, 2023 has been packed with surprising, chaotic and totally iconic moments in pop culture. 

Pop culture has woven itself into the fabric of modern society, influencing nearly every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s TV, film, music or celebrity culture, mainstream media is influencing thoughts, beliefs and behaviours of the general public, and has the power to create consumer trends. 

At JBH, we’re dedicated to staying ahead of the game, so we created a Digital PR Pop Culture Calendar 2024 that is designed to keep our team informed about imminent box office film releases, tour dates, and the latest TV series and movie premieres across all streaming platforms. 

Now, without further ado, we present some of the defining pop culture moments of 2023 that have dominated the headlines and left us truly gobsmacked. 


Barbie and Oppenheimer went head to head in what is being referred to as the biggest box office weekend of the year. The simultaneous debut of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer – two vastly distinct blockbuster films of the summer – resulted in a combined opening of $300 million, etching itself into legend. ‘Barbenheimer’ fueled the fan base for both movies – pretty impressive given that the messaging behind each blockbuster is so completely different. 

Barbie had quite the influence on fashion, beauty, interior trends and more over the summer, as fans flocked to social media to find ways to embrace ‘Barbie-core’, which is all about embracing boldness, confidence and of course… pink! 

Prince Harry’s all too revealing memoir – ‘Spare’ 

Spare the memoir by Prince Harry caused quite a stir during 2023, as the King’s son opened up about his own experiences as The Duke of Sussex. Published back in January, Spare quickly became the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time, revealing shocking details about his relationship with Meghan Markle, Princess Diana, King Charles and the rest of the royal family.  

In his book, Prince Harry made some strong allegations against his brother (and future monarch) Prince William, disclosed his number of kills in Afghanistan, spoke about his teenage drug use and even losing his virginity – it’s totally jaw-dropping and packed with uncomfortable confessions, making it the perfect read for any royal enthusiasts. 

Gwyneth Paltrow Utah Ski Trial 

The legal battle between American actress and businesswoman, Gwyneth Paltrow and retired optometrist, Terry Sanderson, captured the attention of the world last March. Sanderson sued Paltrow for $300,000, after alleging her recklessness led to a ski-related crash in 2016, causing four broken ribs, concussion and lasting brain damage.  

The jury ruled in favour of Gwyneth, stating she was not at fault for the collision, which resulted in a countersuit of $1 and legal fees, after she insisted she wasn’t guilty. 


A truly iconic moment in pop culture for 2023, was when reality TV star, Kourtney Kardashian announced the pregnancy of her first child with husband Travis Barker at a Blink-182 concert with a sign that read “TRAVIS I’M PREGNANT”. The gesture reflects a scene from the music video for All the Small Things, which came out back in 1999.

Twitter rebrand to ‘X’ 

Earlier this year, Elon Musk purchased the social media platform, Twitter and rebranded it as X. It isn’t the first rebrand of the decade and it certainly won’t be the last, but the switch up caused a lot of upset on and offline, receiving a lot of backlash and negative feedback from users of the app. 

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour became a huge phenomenon 

Swifties went wild for the The Eras Tour, making it the highest-grossing concert tour of all time. It crashed ticket sites, and brought in at least $1 billion for its first 60 shows. The hype didn’t stop there though, the Eras tour concert film was among the highest-grossing concert films of all time – so much so that the film was even nominated for a Golden Globe Award. 

Taylor’s fan base is huge, and with the rise in popularity of the video-sharing platform, TikTok, it seems excitement and exposure of the tour shows no signs of slowing down, with new fans surfacing daily. 

‘Angela Bassett did the thing’ 

Ariana DeBose gave us a totally cringe-worthy moment at the 2023 BAFTA Awards, when she broke into a rap live on television celebrating the women in the audience. The rap became a sensational meme across social media, and had people truly wondering, what was ‘the thing’ that Angela Bassett did. Like many, we will leave 2023 still none the wiser!

Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé hit cinemas 

Released in cinemas around the world on December 1st, Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé gave the BeyHive fans a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create a masterpiece tour by the iconic artist herself. The movie was highly anticipated after the Renaissance World Tour broke the record and became the highest-grossing tour by a female artist. 

Despite the hype around the release of the movie, the movie fell short against Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour film, which landed in cinemas around a similar time. 

Rihanna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show 

Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime performance in 2023 marked a truly unforgettable moment in pop culture. The renowned singer-songwriter and makeup entrepreneur delighted fans by revealing her second pregnancy on stage. Clad in a striking red jumpsuit, a leather-inspired bralette, and a stylish turtleneck bodysuit, she concluded her performance with her signature cherry red lipstick, leaving an indelible mark on the event.

Cockroach at the Met Gala red carpet 

Of all the star-studded guests that attended the Met Gala 2023, including the likes of Kim Kardashian, A$AP Rocky, Rihanna and Bad Bunny, it was a cockroach making a random appearance that caused the most hype across social media. 

To help you unlock the power of pop culture and truly elevate your Digital PR Strategy, we’ve chosen to make our tool available to the industry. 

Try it here Digital PR Pop Culture Calendar 2024

Simply follow the link and click subscribe to the calendar and all upcoming pop culture events will filter through your Google Calendar.