19 Early 2000s Pop Culture Incidents That Would've Broken Twitter If It Had Existed At The Time

    The trending page would have been chaos.

    Twitter was created March 21, 2006, which means the little blue bird missed out on all the pop culture chaos in the early 2000s.

    Twitter website bar

    Here are 19 pop culture things from the early 2000s that I honestly wonder how Twitter people would have handled:

    1. During a Saturday Night Live episode in 2004, singer Ashlee Simpson's second performance opened out with the roughest of starts as the track of her voice from the first song that night started playing before she had even put the microphone to her mouth, revealing she was lip-synching.

    Ashlee Simpson holds her face while Jude Law shrugs

    This was so scandalous back then and hurt her career. Nowadays, I don't think anyone would really care all that much...but the tweets would have poured in and I could picture the video having millions of views with endless retweets.

    ashlee simpson isn't allowed to lip sync but everyone on tiktok is? bullshit

    Twitter: @JoeInTheWorld / Via Twitter: @JoeInTheWorld

    2. At the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna performed alongside Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. During the performance, Madonna proceeded to kiss Spears, then Aguilera, and the world fell out of their seats.

    Madonna kisses Britney Spears

    Right after it happened, the camera cut to Justin Timberlake, Spears' somewhat recent ex-boyfriend at the time. He had a reaction that would have been meme'd into another galaxy. Heck, we still use it today.

    Justin Timberlake watching the Britney Madonna kiss at the VMAs is that guy you’re seeing who likes other girls thirst traps but gets mad at you for posting anything sexy

    Twitter: @theglennisshow / Via Twitter: @theglennisshow

    3. Starting in 2002, the world could not shut up about the new singing competition American Idol. The show's popularity would have ignited Twitter hashtags, especially support for the first winner Kelly Clarkson.

    First three winners of American Idol

    Clarkson was a favorite throughout the first season, so this being new territory for reality TV competitions, people would've been foaming at the mouth on Twitter when she won.

    watching american idol season one i would die for kelly clarkson to this day

    Twitter: @cloversmith / Via Twitter: @cloversmth

    4. At the 42nd Grammy Awards in 2000, Jennifer Lopez wore a dress that people needed to see so much, she accidentally forced Google to create Google Images.

    Jennifer Lawrence in a low-cut green dress

    The dress made an encore appearance in 2019. People still seem to love it and J.Lo, but no one is safe from funny tweets.

    I want someone to love me as much as J-Lo loves that Versace dress.

    Twitter: @MaryanHaye / Via Twitter: @MaryanHaye

    5. In 2003, California elected action film star Arnold Schwarzenegger as the state's Governor. "The Governator" was all anyone could talk about, and as the Austrian-born actor took office, the jokes rolled out like a kindergarten cop in charge of Cali, with voters running to the polls and da choppa!

    Arnold Schwarzenegger is sworn in as the 38th governor of California

    The puns would've created a "report pun" function on Twitter. Hopefully electing celebrities will remain in the early 2000s, right?

    I can't believe that a nation that could elect Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jesse The Body Ventura...um...

    Twitter: @TaoofStieb

    6. After France declined to support the US war on Iraq, certain disgruntled Americans decided to rename french fries into freedom fries in their anger. Yes, it was a very real thing, and even at the time, other Americans made fun of people who tried to make the name-change stick.

    french fries and ketchup on a plate

    I can see the hashtag #SayFreedomFries and I am cringing. I couldn't imagine refusing to shove fries in my face because a restaurant labeled them as "french fries" on the menu.

    Hey. Remember when France wasn't down with us attacking Iraq for whatever reason we first did that so people started calling French fries, "freedom fries?" That was weird.

    Twitter: @shawnnyberg / Via Twitter: @shawnnyberg

    7. At a German hotel in 2002, singer Michael Jackson dangled his son, Prince Michael II, off the balcony for the paparazzi to see. It was a terrifying moment and would have enraged Twitter users to the point of demanding that Jackson have his children taken away.

    Michael Jackson holds child that has a towel over his head

    Jackson's name was steeped in controversy during this era, and for a lot of people it was the moment they had lost all respect for him.

    And I’m still mad at Michael Jackson for dangling his baby over that balcony

    Twitter: @thisisapril00 / Via Twitter: @thisisapril00

    8. In 2002, Eminem released his music video for "Without Me" where there is a scene where he electrocutes a lookalike of the then-US vice president Dick Cheney while proceeding to dance over his collapsed body.

    This was beyond controversial back then, especially because second lady Lynne Cheney had been critical of the rapper. People would've been tweeting their outrage at Eminem's not-so-subtle song lyrics about Dick's most recent heart attack: "I know that you got a job, Ms. Cheney, but your husband's heart problem's complicating."

    I love how Eminem name dropped Dick Cheney in “Without Me”. Man disses everyone

    Twitter: @BuckleyJbj20 / Via Twitter: @BuckleyJbj20

    9. In 2002 at the 74th Oscars, Halle Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role thanks to her demanding performance in Monster's Ball. She was the first Black woman to win in that category.

    Halle Berry holds up her Oscar

    I imagine this would have been an emotional night and there would have been overwhelming support on Twitter, especially for any aspiring Black actors. But, also:

    Ya know what’s crazy, Halle Berry became the first black woman to win an Oscar for best Actress 21 years ago and a black woman hasn’t won since. That’s nuts.

    Twitter: @matthewcondello / Via Twitter: @matthewcondello

    10. In 2004, beloved lifestyle personality Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months in federal prison for insider trading.

    Martha Stewart escorted by police

    Everyone at the time was buzzing about how the "nice baking and crafting woman" was the face of a big crime. Many tweets would've been poking fun, but I imagine the majority would've been stunned. If anything, it seemed to help Martha going forward and she has stayed out of trouble for the most part.

    Prison changed @MarthaStewart. She’s so damn cool now. I’m kinda crushing.

    Twitter: @NavyVet31 / Via Twitter: @NavyVet31

    11. In 2001, Tiger Woods won his fourth straight major, coining the phrase the "Tiger Slam" in golf circles. This guy was the Elvis of the sports world. Everyone was obsessed and the massive crowds that followed him during tournaments were like something you'd see for a rock band.

    Tiger Woods holds US Open trophy and poses with his mom

    There hasn't been that type of hype around a single athlete since. Seriously, not even Tom Brady or LeBron James garnered the type of god-tier public status Tiger had in the early 2000s. If you thought Twitter was bad defending Brady and James, wooo boy, those Tiger years...people were groveling.

    Before this year, the last time all four majors and The Players were held by a player from the United States, @TigerWoods had won them all - https://t.co/M0IriqZIIb

    Twitter: @GolfChannel / Via Twitter: @GolfChannel

    12. If I had to pick one couple people were obsessed with in the early 2000s, it was Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. From the popularity of Friends to the thirst for that guy in Se7en, these two were always on the cover of some gossip magazine.

    Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston

    People were obsessed and even more upset when it came to an end. Since some can't seem to mind their own business, all the Aniston-Pitt divorce tweets would have drawn a line in the sand.

    I’m in a doctor’s office waiting room and there’s a People magazine on the table. I can’t believe Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are getting a divorce.

    Twitter: @Rollinintheseat / Via Twitter: @Rollinintheseat

    13. Throughout the early 2000s, things were ALL Paris. Paris Hilton was a popular figure and was a major focus of celeb culture. From her TV show, a leaked sex tape, and all kinds of party shenanigans, she was always a headliner in celeb news and I couldn't pin it down to just one moment.

    Paris Hilton in a diamond-like gown

    I imagine if she had a Twitter presence back then, she would have been the most-followed celeb on the site (that didn't exist yet).

    Paris Hilton said nothing will compare to partying and living life in the early 2000s without social media and like I just know she’s right

    Twitter: @SkylerAriel / Via Twitter: @SkyIerArieI

    14. During the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake closed the show, but in the final moments, Timberlake reached over and pulled off a part of Jackson's shirt, exposing her breast on live TV.

    Janet Jackson angrily looks up at a dumbfounded Justin Timberlake

    It would've been interesting if Twitter's existence would have changed the perspective people had, leading to them coming to Janet's aid...or would it have amplified the vile and seemingly unnecessary criticism of Janet?

    I still wonder how Justin Timberlake "accidentally" pulled Janet Jackson titty out for that super bowl.

    Twitter: @bobbyxlong / Via Twitter: @bobbyxlong

    15. In 2000, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the first Harry Potter book released in the US simultaneously with the UK. The hype around the Potter franchise hitting the big screen had begun and the books hitting the States were already the "it" read for children and young adults.

    Hardcover copies of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"

    Pottermania was in full swing, and honestly, no other book series has touched it as far as splendid hardcover release parties at book shops. However, Twitter would have been a mess of spoilers. And younger me would've wondered why Cedric Diggory was trending so much.

    i don’t cry over men i cry over losing my harry potter and the goblet of fire hardcover

    Twitter: @pleasuringurmom / Via Twitter: @pleasuringurmom

    16. Much like "All Things Paris Hilton," I had to do the same for one other celeb. Throughout the early 2000s, Britney Spears might have been the most-talked about celeb, period. People would not leave Britney Spears alone. Whether it was about a performance deemed controversial or who she was dating, she had become a bull's-eye for tabloids.

    Britney Spears singing

    A lot of different women were targeted by paparazzi and tabloids in the early 2000s, but no other celeb seemed to be dealt the damage Spears had to endure. Twitter could've amplified that, or maybe more people would've come to her defense.

    middle-aged celebrities who fully participated in tabloid culture blaming “society” for the way britney spears was treated

    Twitter: @humanbrennapede / Via Twitter: @humanbrennapede

    17. In 2004, celeb fanatics became equally obsessed with Britney's new significant other and backup dancer Kevin Federline, aka K-Fed.

    Britney Spears and husband Kevin Federline at the Billboard Music Awards

    The tweets would've been pretty mean, I imagine. K-Fed was so big in the pop culture public eye that he even made guest appearances on different shows, including stepping into the WWE ring:

    holy CRAP i forgot all about k-fed! and i dont just mean his WWE run, i mean his very existence #wwe06

    Twitter: @BossMoz / WWE / Via Twitter: @BossMoz

    18. In 2002, Sesame Street's Elmo testified on Capitol Hill to support federal funding for music education and research.

    Elmo in a suit at Capitol Hill

    The images themselves would have been meme material...or maybe it would have just been people supporting Elmo's cause!

    Elmo testifies in Congress for the House Appropriations subcommittee, espousing his support of music education and research in public schools. (2002)

    Twitter: ampol_moment / Photo by Scott J. Ferrell / Congressional Quarterly / Getty Images / Via Twitter: @ampol_moment

    19. Richard Hatch won $1M on Survivor, the first show to award $1M that wasn't just a simple game show, but a must-watch reality competition. It was trailblazing TV, and many competition-based reality shows still copy the format to this day.

    Survivor competitors stand together at a red carpet event

    Much like American Idol, a show with voting would've had plenty of people tweeting out who they would have voted out. Hatch also became a topic of conversation after winning the $1 million.

    The first ever winner of Survivor, Richard Hatch, won US$1 million but got jail time (4 years) for tax evasion.

    Twitter: @_one_roy_ / Via Twitter: @_one_roy_

    Did any of these moments stand out to you in the early 2000s? Were you even alive for them? Comment below!