Matthew Reddin

2016: The Best of Times > The Worst of Times

The general consensus is that 2016 can eat a bag of dicks. So, let’s savor other fruits before we apathetically return to the bag for 2017 …

 

You might have noticed the Presidential election last week and that the winner was a man who has said some things that raised an eyebrow or two (or 60 million) in the lead-up. Following the result, a raft of outrage ensued, stemming from how unsuccessful candidate Hillary Clinton got more of the popular vote than her opponent, President-elect Donald Trump … and how she was not an unqualified, uninformed, tax-evading, narcissistic, racist, sexual predator. (It’s the little details that bug some people.) No, not all Trump voters are racist, xenophobic bigots. There is a misapprehension that they hate people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, women, and the disabled. It’s not that they all hate them; they simply don’t care about them. Their detriments as a result of a Trump victory was secondary to how the Trump voter would benefit. Yes, it’s likely that minorities will suffer from my vote, but how does that affect me, personally? It seemingly doesn’t.

Then there was Brexit. People living outside London (there are several) saw EU membership as not having any real benefit to them as individuals, and no snarky Guardian subscriber in Clapham was going to convince them otherwise. The white, working class voting bloc in vast swaths didn’t see any benefits to remaining, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t exactly giving the cause his all. The “Leave” vote’s success gave rise to disturbingly vocal Right-wing ultra-nationalist sentiment, legitimizing UKIP and, quite frankly, making the rest of us WASPs look like arseholes in the eyes of the non-white world. In the U.S., there’s been a swath of post-election incidents involving once-closeted racists seeing the Electoral College results as giving them carte blanche to openly be the pricks they always were, unfairly constrained by the shackles of political correctness (also known as “basic human decency”).


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The Australian federal election on July 2 had a similar, if smaller effect, with the return of the One Nation Party, and ONP leader, Pauline Hanson. They’ve had their own rationalizing arguments; how the ONP (UKIP, Trump) vocalize an abandoned, disenfranchised caste of voters for whom the political-chattering class simply do not speak. It doesn’t matter that middle class, middle income, middle-aged, straight white people don’t lack for social, cultural, or political representation in the same way that every other demographic does, because, I’m not going to go without, even though I never have and you always will.

If you look past the big-ticket political items of 2016, add to the mix the fact that David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Leonard Cohen, The Big Lebowski, R2-D2, Gene Wilder, and Prince all died. Terrorism remains a thing, as does climate change, and the bees are still dying, walking hand in skeletal hand with the Great Barrier Reef. Australia, once really quite good at cricket looks to have totally lost its mojo. (All out for 85? That’s only 85 more runs than I scored, and I wasn’t even playing.)

Therefore, it’s fair to say that 2016 can eat a bag of dicks. Hell, I got married and bought a house this year, and even I have to remind myself of these two merits to salvage myself from the global shitshow of doom happening around me. It’s a dreadful state of affairs.


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We can, however, take solace from knowing that during the Thatcher years, British art and music soared. Artists, per L. Ron Hubbard, bring about peaceful revolution (he said, in between communicating telepathically with zebras). We can expect a raft of protest via art and culture that will inspire millions for generations. Artists, musicians, and filmmakers will soothe the sting.

Look at the final scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Upset that he’s all alone, Ike (Allen) records an idea for a short story onto a tape. He says, “Why is life worth living? That’s a very good question. Well, Groucho Marx, to name one thing, and Willie Mays, and the second movement of the Jupiter Symphony, and Louie Armstrong’s recording of Potato Head Blues. Swedish movies, naturally, Sentimental Education by Flaubert, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, those incredible apples and pears by Cézanne, the crabs at Sam Wo’s, Tracy’s face …”


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We all have the things that make life worth living (2016 was a red-letter year for fans of the Western Bulldogs, Cronulla Sharks, Chicago Cubs, and Leicester City). For me? Aforementioned marital status and home ownership. The novels of Zadie Smith; the films of Martin Scorsese. And Arrival, that’s awesome, too. Bowie’s Low, Prince’s Purple Rain, Leonard Cohen’s Tower of Song, Blue Poles, and that scenery-chewing, star-making performance of Alan Rickman in Die Hard.

Remember, we lost the source of the joy, not the joy itself.

We have, and will continue to have, wit, snark, love, sex, rock ‘n’ roll, and tiramisu. Maybe Bowie, Prince, and Alan Rickman knew something we didn’t. Maybe. In the meantime, you can still enjoy what’s good in the world.

And hope for a better 2017.

 

 

Matthew Reddin

Matt Reddin has been writing nonsense about film, TV, books, music, and live theatre for a touch over 20 years. He’s gone from the halcyon days of street press in Perth, to regional dailies, national magazines, and major metropolitan newspapers. Now, in between bouts of sporadically yelling at clouds, he vents his creative spleen at www.lessercolumn.com.au

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