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

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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
Romanokopny / Getty Images

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
NBC

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.

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

If this happened today, no one (probably) would bat an eye, but back then, parents were livid. As a kid, I was probably too busy being hyped for Missy Elliot, who came out right after, to care.

Frank Micelotta / Getty Images

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.

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
Robert Bertoia / Getty Images

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.

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
Scott Gries / Getty Images

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.

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
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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

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
Aleksandra Piss / Getty Images

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.

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
Getty Images

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.

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.

Aftermath Records

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."

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
Getty Images

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:

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

Martha Stewart escorted by police
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

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.

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
Jamie Squire / Getty Images

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.

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
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

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.

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
Dave Benett / Getty Images

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).

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
Frank Micelotta / Getty Images

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?

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"
David Silverman / Getty Images

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.

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
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

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.

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
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

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:

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
Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

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

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
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

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.

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