I thought long and hard about doing a review of 2016. Last year I did a snazzy little gif that celebrated highlights of the year for me. This year… not so much.
Someone said in a comment to a Guardian article (and I wish I knew who, so I could credit) that 2016 was the year that made satire obsolete. Never were truer words spoken. 2016 has been a terrible year. It stinks, like a three-week-dead tuna fish rolled in a batter made from camel dung. It has dealt us little but loss, war and the death of innocents, vicious politics and the near-death of the values, such as tolerance and acceptance, that make humanity great. And all it gives in exchange is noxious politics, dangerous selfishness and bigotry.
2016 has been a cultural Ragnarok of cold and death. To name but a few, we lost Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughan, Peter Maxwell Davis, Neville Mariner, Victoria Wood, Jean Alexander, Pete Burns, Gene Wilder, Kenny Baker, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, Terry Wogan, Caroline Ahern, Ronnie Corbett, Mohammed Ali, Harper Lee, Elie Wiesel, John Glenn. Rick Parfitt and George Michael went at Christmas, and Richard Adams. When Carrie Fisher went two days later and her mother Debbie Reynolds died the day after… words fail. So many more died that I don’t have room to list here. As it is, I have to keep reopening and amending this post, because almost every single damn day someone who means something to us is ripped away. If you want to know how much of an arse this year was, read the BBC list here. 2016 went through our icons like the Grim Reaper on high-grade crack.
There were bombings in Brussels, in Lahore, in Turkey, in Iraq, and in a zillion other places, mostly in the Middle East, that I can barely remember, so desensitised do we become to death and destruction. We had dozens mown down by a truck in Nice and again in Berlin at Christmas. We watched Aleppo burn. 5000 desperate people drowned in the Med as they tried to escape with their families. There was the Zika virus, and Orlando, and… and… and too much else in the same vein.
MP Jo Cox was murdered by a far right, “Britain First” extremist, and yet only days later a small majority voted to leave the EU, to leave an (imperfect) attempt at peace and harmony because “we want our country back”. Listen, chuck, no one else had ever had it. It’s always been ours, and you’ve just sentenced us to decades of political and economic uncertainty because you’re yearning for a past that never existed outside of frail memory and mendacious imagination. You listened to the lies of unspeakable, immoral, unprincipled, unforgivable weasels like Boris Johnson and the Foul Farage. You helped foster the mentality that has people hectored in the streets, that has Muslim women thrown to the ground and their veils ripped away. Whatever you may personally believe (and I don’t think all Brexiters are racists), your vote gave those evil, racist and intolerant voices legitimacy. Yes, the country might limp on in the world, shorn of importance and dignity, and you can rejoice in your little Englander narrowness that you’re out of Brussels’ malign influence. But you leave me deeply, horribly ashamed to be British. Thanks for that.
And Trump. Dear god in heaven, Donald Trump. There are no words, other than what the everlasting FUCK, America?! If Brexit makes me ashamed to be British, then Trump and those who voted for him make me ashamed to be human.
If all humans can hear now are lies, then thank the lord that I’m technically deaf. Because 2016 and me? We’re done. Over. Finito. Let’s hope the door smacks it hard on the arse as it goes. I have never been so glad to see a year come to an end.
All over the world, the political right is rising. If once we thought we’d evolved, that we’d learned, that it was built into us now that gender, ethnicity and sexuality didn’t matter, that we were all equal… well, 2016 laughed that notion to scorn. We listened to the liars, or we were too damn complacent to fight them. God help us, we elected the liars and they hold all our futures now. If 2016 was hard, when humanity put intolerance, hate and a mean selfishness into the frame for the future, what will 2017 be like when we must reap what was sown?
We have to live with our mistakes, now. Individually all we can do is try and stand firm, to hold up the light, to speak out when we see intolerance and hate. All we can do is be kinder to ourselves and each other, learn to listen, learn to bleed when our brothers and sisters bleed and be more open to difference. Frankly, we have to put our money where our mouths are. Support the causes of women’s health and reproductive rights, of GLBT rights, and everything else under threat by our political ‘masters’. Speak out. No more sitting back. No more complacency. No more “I’m all right, Jack, and sod the hindmost.”
We can’t despair, because then the bad guys win. Stand tall. Stand firm. Fight.
Not so much Happy New Year, for 2017. More look the bastard right in the eye and dare it to bring it on.