Well, we all survived.
At this point, that’s the only positive thing to say about 2016, a year that dispensed bad news the same way McDonald’s dispenses McNuggets: one after another. (Seriously, have you ever been to a McDonald’s that ran out of McNuggets?)
Yes, this year will definitely go down in the books as a lousy one. Name a horrible, disastrous thing that could happen, and it happened in 2016. Floods? The August flood in Louisiana was called the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy. Terrorist attacks? There were more than a hundred of them, including the suicide bombings in Brussels, the cargo-truck attack in Nice and the mass shooting/hate crime that took place at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, our deadliest mass shooting yet. Violence in the streets? Remember that hellish week where videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile getting shot dead by cops surfaced, followed by that sniper picking off cops during a peaceful protest in Dallas? Plagues? Well, here’s the Zika virus for ya!
And I’m not going to talk about the presidential election. Whether you are happy with the outcome or not, the process was just a lot of nasty, negative business.
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And then there were the icons we lost: Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Merle Haggard, Gene Wilder, Garry Shandling, Phife Dawg, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Sharon Jones. You know it was a bad year when Leonard Cohen, arguably the most depressing singer/songwriter of all time, chunked a deuce to this godforsaken place by peacefully dying in his sleep. (He died the day before Election Day. It’s like dude knew what was coming!)
How did we get to have a depressing, abysmal year? James Wolcott recently pondered in Vanity Fair that when the Mayans prophesized that the world’s end would happen four years ago, they might have been a few years off. (“Maybe the calendar was simply off by a few earth orbits, because 2016 has had all the trimmings of apocalypse,” he wrote.)
Believe it or not, there were some good things that made 2016 not so hideous. Television became a treasure trove of continuously rewarding storytelling, whether it came from a true-crime throwback like “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” a retro supernatural yarn like “Stranger Things” or fresh new sitcoms like “Atlanta” or “Insecure.” There were also a lot of great tunes that made it to the streaming-music platforms. Beyonce and her sister Solange each dropped a black-and-proud album. De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, co-founders of the immortal Native Tongues crew, returned to the hip-hop fold and released two long-overdue comeback projects. Frank Ocean, that brilliant recluse, shut up everybody who thought he was never gonna release another album by releasing an album (“Blonde”) and a visual album (“Endless”), all in the same weekend. Even Bruno Mars came with some decent pop on that “24K Magic” release.
If anything, 2016 seemed like it was full of bad vibes mainly because trolls were out there making it so. I don’t know what lies ahead in 2017, but here’s hoping we’ll have less people out there making things more painful than they already are.
Reach Craig Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org