We are nearing almost a whole year since the date the coronavirus pandemic was finally taken seriously and the United States went into a lockdown, also known as the notorious March 13. There have been over 2.5 million deaths worldwide, with over a fifth of those deaths occurring just in the U.S., but the upcoming wide availability of vaccines finally shines some light at the end of a very long and blindingly dark tunnel.
Everything and everyone suffered during the pandemic, but the one positive over which many people bonded was that extra time at home, meaning they had more time to indulge in art and entertainment.
On the gaming side, the first week of lockdown in March marked the release of two new installments in very popular and extremely different franchises: “Doom Eternal” and “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”
While the popularity of "Doom" waned after a few weeks, many people are still indulging in “Animal Crossing,” learning primarily how to trade and how the in-game stock market works. This adjustment must have proved useful after the recent stock market debacle involving GameStop and AMC among the others.
While many big AAA single-player releases were delayed, most of them were still issued within a reasonable timeframe, such as the long awaited “The Last of Us: Part II,” which landed in the hands of “PlayStation 4” owners in June of 2020.
Still, these single-player juggernauts were nothing compared to smaller multiplayer games like “Fall Guys,” “Phasmophobia” and most notably “Among Us,” a game seemingly everybody played, even those who never held a controller in their hand before.
This group-gaming phenomena most certainly stemmed from the fact that a lot of people ached for social contact, but in-person meetings were highly risky and impossible. Thus, people turned to video games, which once again connected people in a positive manner, despite how negatively media can sometimes present them.
Additionally, with movie theaters closed, many film studios were forced to postpone their biggest releases. Most notably, the Marvel Cinematic Universe did not have a new release for a year and a half because of the unexpected delays, their last release being “Spider-Man: Far From Home” in July 2019.
This all changed with the recent release of “WandaVision” on Disney+, a trippy superhero sitcom television experiment. This show has been a weekly delight for many viewers, creating online discussions that had not been seen since the days of “Game of Thrones.”
The only television show that comes close is “The Mandalorian,” which consistently stays the best new “Star Wars” property. The adventures of Mando and what the Internet still lovingly calls ‘Baby Yoda’ were as strong as ever in season two, which was a great distraction during the lonely winter holiday weeks.
Broadway and most theatres closed completely, causing a lot of performers and theater workers to lose employment, but they quickly managed to evolve into the virtual sphere.
Socially distant productions have been a staple of entertainment in the past year, with even Ramapo College creating several successful examples the past fall. The next virtual Ramapo theater production is “Stop Kiss,” with live performances March 19, 20 and 21.
Even though concerts also mostly disappeared, musicians did not stop creating. Industry titans like Phoebe Bridgers, Fiona Apple and Charli XCX put out incredible music despite the circumstances.
With most households still playing the recorded version of “Hamilton” on their Disney+ accounts, maybe the U.S. will finally realize how important art and entertainment is in dire times, and continue to support artists even after the pandemic ends.