The People and Things That Defined the Decade in L.A.

Before we look forward to 2020, let’s take a look back at the city’s biggest game changers and cultural exports of the 2010s
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Summing up an decade in a city as dynamic as Los Angeles isn’t an easy task, but a handful of people, technological advancements, and movements stood out to the Los Angeles staff as having been particularly instrumental in shaping the city we see as a new decade dawns. And since L.A. has a tendency to influence culture in the rest of the country (and beyond), the effects we saw here were often exports that shaped the rest of the world too.

Before we charge headlong into 2020, let’s take a moment to look back at what defined the decade in L.A. The 2010s were the decade of…


Instagram

On July 16, 2010, software engineer Mike Krieger posted a grainy, tilted, awkwardly lit photograph of some boats at a San Francisco pier. Little did he and partner Kevin Systrom know what Instagram would become. Popular social platforms had already boomed (and, in some cases busted) by 2010, but Instagram did something else. It created the “influencer economy” that we know today, gave a huge, diverse community of creative a platform to share their work, and allowed us to instantly see images of places and things around the world. Our collective obsession with IG bled over into everything, from which art exhibitions become blockbusters to how restaurants are designed to where we traveled and how cosmetics are formulated. Now we’ll be watching to see if the platform can maintain its dominance into a second decade, or if a newer tech will lure users away. —Brittany Martin

Streaming

In late 2010, former DVD rental-by-mail behemoth Netflix began offering customers a streaming-only subscription plan to its 21 million customers. By mid-2019 the brand’s subscriber count 158.33 million. Between Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon alone (not to mention the boatload of services launched just this year) the streaming revolution upended not just the way audiences access entertainment (remember when you still had to wait on full seasons of DVDs to arrive in your mailbox to “binge”?) but Hollywood and the long-held hegemony of old-fangled studios as a whole. In what seems like nanoseconds on the continuum of showbiz history, the streamers have come to dominate the public consciousness (hi, Baby Yoda), not to mention awards season, to the chagrin of industry giants like Steven Spielberg. At this point, the technology’s influence seems unstoppable. As Deadline puts it, “[Streaming] has challenged the established media guard in a more comprehensive way than any previous technology, and will continue to do so in the 2020s and beyond.” —Gwynedd Stuart

The Tenants’ Movement

It’s an unfortunate truth that gentrification and displacement have defined this decade in Los Angeles. Over the past ten years, rents in the city have risen 65 percent, pricing out many residents of formerly affordable neighborhoods and pushing a staggering number of Angelenos into homelessness. But as the housing crisis has worsened, it’s also inspired an unprecedented tenants’ movement in the city, as groups like Defend Boyle Heights, Uplift Inglewood, and the sprawling, multi-chapter Los Angeles Tenants’ Union have organized to quell luxury development and stop the city’s communities of color from being decimated. Regular staples at City Hall and beyond, they’ve helped spur larger, nationwide discussions about tenants rights, rent control, and the right to housing—issues that have even made their way into some presidential candidates’ platforms. —Zoie Matthew

The Kardashian/Jenners 

A decade ago, tuning out the Kardashians was roughly as easy as not watching E! and forgoing thumbing through Us Weekly at the grocery store checkout line. Since then, under the watchful eye of Macchiavellian matriarch Kris Jenner, the family’s influence has come to pervade everything from fashion to politics, turning marginal (if highly recognizable) reality show stars from Calabasas into global brands worth collective billions. The retail clothing stores the three eldest sisters once operated are kaput, but the list of brands the family is behind—from Kim’s shapewear line to Kourtney’s Goop-ish website Poosh to Khloe’s Good American clothing line—has ballooned, as has the sheer size of the family. (Since 2014, the union of Kim and Kanye West has produced four children—Courtney Love didn’t refer to the family as a “Venusian fertility cult in the Valley” for nothing.) Kris and Caitlyn Jenner’s reconfigured youngest child, Kylie Jenner, has emerged as the most financially successful, thanks to her popular cosmetics line and a massive Instagram following. In 2019, Forbes named her the youngest self-made billionaire, which is generous given her pedigree. But Kim’s success in ingratiating herself to our reality star president as she advocates for the release of certain incarcerated people has continued to produce confounding headlines. And no matter how little you want to know what horrifyingly ostentatious gift Kylie’s daughter Stormi got for Christmas this year, not knowing is harder than ever. —G.S.

Blowing Up the Binary

The 2010s were a decade of unprecedented trans and non-binary visibility, especially in Hollywood and the film industry. In wildly successful shows like Orange is the New BlackTransparentPose, and Euphoria, as well as feature films like Tangerine, queer and trans stories were told in nuanced, complex ways, helping to increase understanding of queer issues and break down the gender binary nationwide. Meanwhile, as a new crop of queer celebs like LaVerne Cox, Indya Moore, and Hunter Schafer began to grace magazine covers, L.A. made some concrete strides towards gender-inclusivity at the local level, creating its first Transgender Advisory Council in 2016, and increasing the number of all-gender restrooms throughout the county. While there’s still much to be done to protect the safety and equality of trans and non-binary Angelenos—particularly at a time when the federal government is threatening many of their basic human rights—we hope L.A. will continue to push the envelope in the 2020s. —Z.M.

Odd Future

Supposedly, Brian Eno once said of 1960s rock band the Velvet Underground that they didn’t sell many records, but everyone who bought one started a band of their own. Odd Future had a similar influence on the worlds of music and fashion in the 2010s: The collective may have only lasted a few years, but nearly every individual who passed through the social media-savvy crew would go on to launch successful projects of their own–and change the face of hip hop and R&B for a generation. Centered around Ladera Heights-reared Tyler, the Creator, other notables associated with the group include Syd tha Kyd, Earl Sweatshirt, and Frank Ocean. The group’s contributions touch on cultural trends of the decade from the mainstreaming of queer voices to internet rap to streetwear aesthetics. —B.M.

Wellness

Once upon a time it was enough to be “healthy.” In the 2010s, we wanted to be “well,” even if we weren’t always exactly sure what that meant. Often, the term carries a connotation of the type of new New Age teachings that rose in pop culture prominence when Goop really caught on, early in the decade. “Wellness” was also a buzzword for cannabis marketers, attempting to present their now-legal products as wholesome and appropriate, after decades of negative stereotypes. And, for others, wellness discourse was always linked to the concept of self-care, a term the activist and intellectual Audre Lorde proposed 20 years ago–a kind of radical self-preservation to protect ones self before going out to care for others and fight again–which felt freshly relevant in 2016 and every day since. —B.M.

Football 

When it lost the Raiders and the Rams in the mid-1990s, the L.A. area was without a professional football team for the first time since the 1940s. That drought lasted until the 2010s, when the city gained not one but two NFL franchises, although the return of the Rams resulted in a lot more fanfare than the relocation of the San Diego Chargers. In 2018, fans were thrilled when the Rams made it all the way to the Super Bowl (this season was a bit more lackluster). And on a different sort of field, another football team took the city by storm. In 2018, the Los Angeles Football Club played its inaugural match for a crowd that constituted a fervent fanbase even before the team played its first game. —G.S.


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