cultural reset meme


This ‘cultural reset’ meme celebrates pop culture milestones

'Like someone pressed a button...'


Stacey Ritzen

Internet Culture

Posted on Apr 21, 2020   Updated on Apr 20, 2020, 4:44 pm CDT

When you think of the most defining pop culture moments of recent years, what comes to mind? Prince Harry marrying Meghan Markle? Or, perhaps, the Korean film Parasite winning four Oscars at the 2020 Academy Awards? Surely, the fall of former producer Harvey Weinstein, which paved the way to the Me Too movement in late 2017, would be near the top of any list. And it’s now also partially responsible for the “cultural reset” meme taking over the internet.

Actress Rose McGowan, who helped spearhead and remains one of the loudest voices in the movement, sat down with ABC News Australia’s Samantha Hawley on International Women’s Day last March to discuss the global impact of Me Too.

“I’ve seen a huge change, it’s really just like someone pressed a button on a cultural reset,” McGowan told Hawley. “We needed to wake up and see things with very new and adult eyes, and it was painful — it was really a triggering year for a whole lot of people around the world — but I think it’s important for growth.”

However, “cultural reset” didn’t evolve into a meme until nearly a year later, when Twitter user @thegoodwar used it to describe the video for singer-songwriter Caroline Polachek’s single “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” in December 2019, according to the website Junkee.

As the tweet began to go viral, others added their earnest contributions to the cultural reset meme, such as Shakira belly dancing to Arabic music at the Superbowl Halftime Show, Tonya Harding’s broken skate lace (as portrayed by Margot Robbie in I, Tonya), the music video for Solange’s “Losing You,” and so on.

Given that this tweet has gained nearly 150,000 likes in less than four months, many people seem to agree that the baseball scene in Twilight was a cultural reset.

Or this recent tweet, celebrating the nine-year anniversary of Game of Thrones, which premiered on April 17, 2011—and was very much a cultural reset in that it took the sci-fi fantasy genre mainstream.

Of course, as time went on, people began to get rather fast and loose with the cultural reset meme. While some of these may have been cultural resets on a smaller or more individual scale—Miley Cyrus changing her hair color or Meredith Grey calling out Dr. McDreamy on slut-shaming her.

Who is to really say what is or isn’t a cultural reset? Perhaps, like beauty, a cultural reset is also in the eye of the beholder.


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*First Published: Apr 21, 2020, 7:00 am CDT