On the surface, 2016 will ultimately go down as the year that did a Britney. Somewhere between the breakdown of a lifetime and the plot to Back To The Future Part II, the human race has staggered and crawled it’s way into 2017. Battered. Bruised. Disorientated. One could be excused for feeling somewhat shell-shocked by the Clusterfuck of events that Middle-Earth would have otherwise formed a fellowship to navigate.
Each day was like the script to a Game Of Thrones episode, as one by one, the lights dimmed over the most iconic names across the globe. You would be hard pushed to find a single person who didn’t feel a sense of personal loss towards someone, from the life of David Bowie to the iconic Carrie Fisher. 2016 was a bastard to the stars from start to finish, which has no doubt seen celebrity life insurance premiums hit an all time high. On a weekly basis the sounds on the radio were a tribute to another lost artist, their familiar songs having exclusive control of the airwaves for days to come, like some kind of glitch in the Matrix.
While Pop Culture saw headlines breaking at an unprecedented rate, it is ultimately the political stories of the year that will shape the world for generations to come. Not only does the election of Donald Trump bode terribly for our future, it also casts an uncertain shadow over the invention of time travel, given the complete absence of time jumping assassins. Our only hope now is for Sam and Dean Winchester to be spotted in Washington DC ahead of the inauguration.
This was the year that we were urged to “take back control” in order to safeguard our future, with campaigns seemingly doubling as history lessons, minus the historical facts. We were fed false ideals by false idols, whether they were to “Make America great again” or to “Put the Great back into Great Britain”. Neither could identify the period of greatness to which they referred, while evidence would suggest The Great Depression or World War II.
I suppose part of that makes sense. Is there a greater example of a nation coming together than when fighting against a foreign enemy, opposed to a domestic? In this instance, even a scapegoat will do. Refugees. Immigration. European Bureaucracy. Diversionary foreign policy is an effective means of distracting the population from its own domestic troubles, and hats off to Donald Trump, he’s played a blinder.
In a year that saw unemployment figures reach an 11-year low, the number of those working on zero-hour contracts, with no guaranteed income from week to week, let alone sick or holiday entitlement, rose to just short of 1 million people in the UK. It’s become increasingly clear that we’re far more interested in being assured that someone can fix the problem, rather than understanding the problem itself.
We were content to swallow manipulated figures and statistics as long as it conformed to our desired agenda. A pledge on the side of a London bus of £350 million to the NHS for leaving the EU, could have read “Free Blow Jobs” with the very same results. There’s a legitimate argument to every side of a story, but often those arguments are overlooked in favour of the controversial. The head turners. The bold headlines that fill up our news feed as we live our lives from one click bait to the next.
During the later part of the year, while many of us spent our Sunday evenings in awe at the wonders captured on the BBC’s Planet Earth II, we neared ever closer to the day we lose such wonders altogether. Donald Trump has threatened to tear up the Paris Agreement in his belief that climate change is a myth, discounting revered scientists across the globe in favour of the money pocketed from fossil fuels, an occurrence that is rife throughout the republican controlled Senate. Their ignorance towards scientific fact ironically has me questioning Darwin’s theory of evolution. As the threat of a “Waterworld” apocalypse approaches, prices for jars of dirt will begin to soar while we birth the last generation of humans to be born without webbed hands and feet.
While we have made it to 2017 and will in all probability make it far beyond, provided the child proof lock holds on the White House’s red button, we have made giant leaps in the wrong direction.
2016 was the year that the Empire struck back.
Trump. Brexit. Syria. Toblerone. 2016 was just the frying pan, with the unknown now beckoning faster than ever. While Optimism could be deemed the toughest loss of all the household names, I’m still willing myself to cling on to the faintest hint of hope. Any belief that things can and will be better. After all this time?
1st January – 31st December
“Zero Fucks Given”