Yesterday, Nielsen, in partnership with Sony Electronics, released their list of the top 20 most memorable television moments in the last 50 years. It seems like most of ‘murica has their shit together, and remembers the really important stuff (like the coverage of John F. Kennedy’s shooting and funeral, September 11th, O.J. Simpson’s car chase and trial.) But, because these things can’t ever be completely rational or normal, some things about the list just leave me going “Dafuq?!”
For starters, let’s take a look-see at this list. It’s actually pretty interesting to see what got us all to converge on our televisions. I’m also pleased to report that the last season of The Bachelor didn’t make the cut. There really is hope for the human race, after all!
Americans’ Top 20 Most Memorable TV Moments of the Last 50 Years
- September 11th attacks (2001)
- Hurricane Katrina (2005)
- O.J. Simpson murder verdict (1995)
- Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (1986)
- Death of Osama Bin Laden (2011)
- O.J. Simpson high-speed car chase (1994)
- Earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan (2011)
- Columbine school shooting (1999)
- BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (2010)
- Funeral of Princess Diana (1997)
- Death of Whitney Houston (2012)
- Capture and execution of Saddam Hussein (2006)
- Barack Obama acceptance speech (2008)
- Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding (2011)
- Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1963)
- Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing (1995)
- Bush/Gore election results (2000)
- Los Angeles riots/Rodney King beating (1992)
- Casey Anthony murder trial verdict (2011)
- President John F. Kennedy’s funeral (1963)
This isn’t a bad list, but the placement of things, and the lack of far more important events than, say, the death of Whitney Houston, leaves me questioning exactly how many people, from how many different generations, actually participated in this “survey” of sorts. I mean, the coverage of Desert Storm? Vietnam? The destruction of Haiti? The more recent shuttle disaster (Columbia?) The launch of the space station? Haley’s Comet? The first man on the moon? There wasn’t exactly a lot on TV before the late 80′s – early 90′s, so I can’t really wrap my head around how things that the entire nation was watching/seeing/talking about didn’t make the cut. I’m also a little confused as to why Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s royal wedding didn’t make the cut, despite being one of the most televised events ever.
I’m a fan of pop culture (on the total down-low, so let’s not over-share this fact, mmkay?!), but let’s think this through for a moment: The death of Michael Jackson didn’t make this list, but Whitney Houston’s did. Also, his first trial, which I remember being highly televised. No coverage of any war(s) made it, and we all know we’ve seen a metric ton of it in the last 50 years, whether we’re actually 50+ or not. Elvis Presley’s death didn’t make it, and I cannot count the number of people I’ve heard talk about that being burned into their memory.
No sporting events making the list also blows my already feeble mind. I specifically remember being glued to the coverage of the ’96 Olympics (In school!) (Especially in my science class!) because it was a) in my home state, b) IT’S THE MO’FO OLYMPICS, SON!, and c) I was hoping to see the Starbucks kiosk my dad designed/built on TV so I could tell all my friends that my dad was FAMOUS! The draft of LeBron James was more prevalent to me than any royal wedding, and everything Michael Jordan did is also at the top of the list.
Maybe it’s just me, but even at the world-ignorant age of 25, things I wasn’t even alive to see come to the forefront of my mind when I think about the most memorable moments on television. It makes me even more thankful that I’ve spent my life being engrossed in my grandparents’/parents’ stories, and that I make sure to remind them to regale my kid with them. I’d rather she learn about the death of Kim Jong Il than the death of a celebrity, and the coverage of a war that her dad, uncles, and close family friends fought/died in, than a white Bronco speeding down an interstate.
Note: Unless Gore showed PROOF of Manbearpig somewhere in the coverage of the Bush/Gore election, I don’t think it should’ve made the list. At all. Super cereal, you guys.