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Remembering the weirder news that happened in 2023

Pour one out — a Grimace shake, that is — for a year gone by

Grimace, the green M&M, and the guy from Planet of the Bass standing in front of the One Ring Graphic: Matt Patches/Polygon; Source images: Wizards of the Coast; Eugene Gologursky/Macy’s, Inc./Getty Images; Mars Corporation; Kyle Gordon
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

Remember 2023? The answer can be no. It was a lot. Between a deluge of major games — Tears of the Kingdom, Diablo IV, Baldur’s Gate 3, Armored Core 6, and Starfield, to name a few — the eclipsing cultural moment of Barbenheimer, the writer and actor strikes, the morphing of Twitter into X, the multi-pronged legal action against the Microsoft-Activision acquisition, and the rise of AI, the year in Culture was a constant drone of milestone moments.

Which could easily make you forget everything else that happened. Below, please find select things that really seriously actually happened over the last 365 days that no one would judge you for forgetting.

The M&Ms had a spokescandy controversy that ended with a Super Bowl

The year kicked off with the de-sexification of the green M&M, conservative pundits yelling about melt-in-your-mouth-not-your-hands candy, and then a Super Bowl commercial that only added to the chaos. 2023 promised to be a year!

Shrek was rumored dead

Shrek, hands behind his head, with a relaxed smile and closed eyes Image: DreamWorks

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish was a late-December 2022 surprise, so we spent a lot of time thinking about what it meant for Shrek in January. Our leading theory: Shrek died. Eventually we got to ask the directors for comment. Believe them if you must.

Two dudes tried to steal $300,000 worth of GenCon goods and got extremely busted

We do not condone theft but if you were gonna walk into GenCon to pilfer a pallet of MTG cards, wouldn’t you wear a mask? Well, two New Yorkers who thought they were the Danny Oceans of the collectible card game scene did… not do that.

E3 imploded

E3 2023 was a no-go, but at least in April 2023, the organizers believed there was hope for the legacy gaming event. But alas, by the fall, E3 was 100% dead. Time to reminisce about the very first E3!

Amouranth, Seinfeld, and the Pope all had an AI moment.

An image of a Jerry Seinfeld-esque character. The character is rendered in chunky 3D pixels and there is a feint watermark in the bottom left corner that says, “Nothing Forever.” Image: Twitch/Watchmeforever

Nothing may explain the dizzying anything-goes moment of AI tools quite like the 14-day lifespan of the automated Seinfeld episode generator that — inevitably? — made a transphobic remark and wound up getting banned. But maybe good can come of the technology: This sounds like a troll, but actually Amouranth is all in, if only for the rest. And then there was the puffer coat Pope... maybe the most 2023 story of 2023.

BioWare apologized for a commemorative Commander Shepard corpse statue

“This statue was intended to be part of a series commemorating some of the key and most emotional moments in the series” — and it very much did.

Max announced a 10-year-long Harry Potter TV series

After the release of Hogwarts Legacy, everyone was dying for the promise of a decade more Potter discourse, and Warner Bros. Discovery delivered.

Charles Martinet wrapped a legendary career as the voice of Mario and all he got was a cameo in the Mario movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie gave Martinent his due after replacing him with Chris Pratt, and he still has a place at Nintendo, but it all went down… in a shady way. At least the new guy seems nice.

The War Thunder Discord was somehow at the center of another classified document leak

The FBI arrested 21-year-old Jack Teixeira earlier this year over leaking documents that contained information about Russia’s war on Ukraine, amongst other classified topics. Note to all gamers: Git less gud at leaking!!

Grimace shake, we shook

An old photo of Grimace, the Hamburgler, and a Birdie and Early Bird sitting around a table, eating McDonald’s. Image: McDonald’s/YouTube

It’s not too early to be nostalgic for simpler times, when we ordered purple milkshakes at McDonald’s and pretended to die on the floor.

People got super weird about Oppenheimer’s sex scene

The Barbenheimer double-feature reinvigorated movie-going, yet a few people left the theater worried that it was unnecessary for Cillian Murphy and Florence Pugh to be naked with each other. C’mon folks, it was July and really hot outside.

Post Malone bought Magic the Gathering’s $2 million Lord of the Rings One Ring card

Shame on you for forgetting that our leading rapper-turned-mana-caster swooped in to grab Wizard of the Coast’s golden ticket. (But geez, think of the taxes!)

Colleen Ballinger aka Miranda Sings performed a ukulele song to respond to toxic workplace allegations

There’s a lot of sensitive material in this report on Ballinger’s year of controversy, but perhaps the most sensitive thing is your ears as they listen to a classic YouTube response vid backed by a small stringed instrument.

“Planet of the Bass” exploded as a listenable shitpost

A close-up of Kyle Gordon as DJ Crazy Times saying “BASS!” from the Planet of the Bass music video Image: Kyle Gordon

Song of the summer.

Kai Cenat incited a riot in New York City in attempted PS5 giveaway

The streamer power is real, and as Cenat taught us all this year, potentially dangerous if wielded without much thought. Cenat in particular has become a subject of curiosity, and as we wrapped up the year, was worth exploring.

“You’re so Skibidi, so Fanum tax”

There’s no quick explanation here, you are either in or out.

Kojima did a Kojima thing just before calling it a year

With most of the major game releases in the rearview mirror, Hideo Kojima took to The Game Awards to really melt brains with the unveiling of OD, a… game? Experience? Horror thing? Kojima and Jordan Peele babbled for a bit after airing a cryptic trailer and when it was all over we collectively forgot everything that happened in 2023, thus this round-up.


Now, this is your moment: What has the world collectively forgotten from the past year?

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