Saturday, December 31, 2016

Annus Horribilis

Annus is not quite anus but in 2016 it might as well be; it has been a butt-hole of a year in many respects (never mind that I published a book and become a stand-up comedian of sorts; my little life is of no matter).

The Queen of England famously described 1992 in this fashion, that year being the year Lady Di was killed escaping the paparazzi, a situation she was largely driven to by the Queen's son. I think there was an expensive fire in one of the palaces that year as well.

The dramatic and sudden death of Lady Di was heavy and horrible to be sure, but on a world stage it doesn't compare to the election of the one human being on the planet who is least suited and qualified to run the most powerful country in the world by a completely corrupt system and a populace that is even more sexist and racist and plain delusional dumb-ass than we had ever imagined it was, which was just one of the horrible highlights of 2016.

The violence and destruction being meted out in Europe and the Middle East by a band of bearded men who seem to think that the beard maketh the man, oh and a gun and a grenade and maybe a truck too aimed at civilians, including children at play, to cause as much bloodshed, mayhem and misery as possible wherever and whenever they feel like, has given us more hapless and horrible horror this year than almost any other.

This horror of course could not happen without the assistance of various elected and unelected, bearded and unbearded politicians, but that's the same as it ever was, if the refugee crisis it has caused this year is the worst the world has seen since WWII, or so I read in the media, which I now barely trust.

Then there was BREXIT and the arrogant and narrow minded beardless men who largely brought it about and then jumped ship for a woman, who hadn't supported it, to deal with. Good luck with that!

BLACK LIVES MATTER! That we should still have to shout this statement of the obvious from the covers of our magazines and with placards out on our streets and the worst of the whites don't and won't get it, 2016 has shown us with the gruesome cold-blooded murder of unarmed black men by armed white policemen.

Stars have fallen too in greater numbers than in most other years, or so it seems, including the mother and daughter, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher,  who died one day apart and in the wrong order.

But, to end on a note of hope, as all things must try to end even if the year itself will not, thanks in part to social media and some prominent women and men speaking out against racism and sexism, more people than ever before are learning the hard truths about our messed up world and being prepared to step up in their small and big ways to try and change it.

The wide world of art that will save us if anything will is taking the lead in this battle for real social and cultural change, employing more women than ever before to write the script and tell the real story in a way that I have never seen before, and I have been looking. Fewer stock macho heroes and excuses for men being men and the rest of us putting up with their shit have been made in 2016 than in any other year, and so, fewer stock sexy evil/passive angelic females have appeared on our screens than ever before.

There are more female comedians this year than any other, with Netflix doing much to promote them and diversity on all fronts on our screens. Chelsea, the first nighttime talk-show in the US to be hosted by a woman, is making great strides in the direction of exposing and fighting discrimination on all fronts, but especially the systemic misogyny that is perpetrated around the world by men and women. The fact that Chelsea herself more or less became a feminist while hosting this show and interviewing a range of people in the know, shows the power of the entertainment industry to challenge, or reinforce, the discrimination status quo. 2016 did more to challenge than reinforce this status quo.

Recreational cannabis was decriminalised in California, the state that overwhelmingly voted with their brains and hearts instead of their butt holes. Hopefully this decriminalisation of the peace and love drug will mean fewer non violent, mostly black and brown people are imprisoned in the US and around the world.

And finally, closer to home a woman judge in Queensland Australia has handed down an unprecedented ruling exposing the systemic racism in the Australian police force against the indigenous Aborigines and forcing compensation from the state to be paid in the hundreds of thousands to the indigenous peoples of the land to make up for some of this racism. It's a start.

And so, here we are, the last day of this Annus Horribilis with a tiny twist of hope. 2017 will probably be worse, possibly much worse on the political front (god help us), but with the arts leading the way in showing us that we can live much more fairly and equally, while still having a whale of a good time, there is a tiny twist of hope that we will survive it. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger? Maybe.


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