Why entertainment may have saved 2016 from oblivion

From a diverse set of blockbusters to music to the rise of the streaming platforms, there was plenty to enjoy on the cultural landscape this year

Ask a stranger aimlessly wandering the streets of your home town about their thoughts on the year of our Lord 2016 and chances are good that they will tell you that the last 12 months of human history are the worst on record. Irreparable climate change, the rise of far-right governments all over the world, the deaths of beloved pop culture icons, the proliferation of domestic and international terrorism, the Syrian civil war and its accompanying refugee crisis, and the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice have all led to the labeling of 2016 as the absolute shits. Never mind the year when the bubonic plague was trending on whatever stone tablet people aired their grievances on before Twitter was invented 2016 was way worse than that. Except it wasnt.

You know what people did for fun while their bodies consumed themselves from the ravages of the Black Death? Yeah, I dont either, probably because no one had had enough free time to devise the word fun yet. They were too busy losing all of their extremities to gangrene and pissing blood into a dry riverbed to worry about fun. This last year isnt even in the top 20 worst years in human history.

For starters, my God, Netflix. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon came into their own in 2016 further cementing their place at the daringly original programming table with HBO, FX and Showtime. Netflix released Stranger Things, Luke Cage, 13th, and so many other fantastic works in 2016. Hulu brought back the little-seen but well-made sitcoms Casual and Difficult People. Amazon stumbled a few times, most notably with the horrendous Woody Allen mini-series Crisis in Six Scenes, but Transparents incredible third season more than made up for those errors. In the 1300s, the only stream anyone cared about was the stream with all the dead bodies floating in it.

Film and TV casting also inched ever closer to something resembling national demographics. Its far from perfect, but lets stop to appreciate that mega-franchises like Star Wars and Marvel are even attempting to cast multi-ethnic movies. Sure, its crassly commercial pandering to global box office trends, but in the age of Trump, we might as well take our victories when we can get them while continuing to agitate for more. The director of Wonder Woman is a woman offers only a mild respite from the cavalcade of bummers, but at least we dont try to treat serious medical problems with bloodlettings any more.



figcaption class=”caption” caption–img caption caption–img” itemprop=”description”> Mahershala Ali one of 2016s many winners. Photograph: Robby Klein/Getty Images

Its not November any more, but Im thankful for Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler and all the film-makers of color who might not be where they are in a different time. Certainly not in the dark ages, before the advent of electricity. The most emotionally affecting, beautiful film of 2016 for me was Barry Jenkinss <a href=”https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2016/dec/16/the-50-best-us-films-of-2016-no-1-moonlight” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>Moonlight, a meditation on black masculinity that deserves to be showered with every award possible. Mahershala Ali, who plays the introspective drug dealer Juan, might have had the single best year of any actor in 2016. From Moonlight to Luke Cage to House of Cards, every role he touched ended up being memorable in some way. An Oscar nod for best supporting actor seems inevitable.

And the tech. Oh, the tech. I purchased an Amazon Echo Dot this year, a handy little device that functions as a voice-activated personal assistant. It can manage a calendar, play music, offer weather and news reports, and answer trivia questions all through the magic of the cloud. You can even order Dominos simply by asking Alexa, Amazons proprietary voice assistant, to please have someone deliver you a pizza. If you thought obesity was a problem in 2016, wait until 2020, when everything can be ordered with your voice. Sure, what you gain in button-popping convenience, you lose in privacy, since the Amazon Echo devices are constantly listening to you and can only truly be turned off if you disconnect them from the power source, but hey Dominos. Plug me into one of those pink goo baths from The Matrix. Im ready.

<figure class=”element” element-video fig–has-shares fig–narrow-caption fig–no-caption” data-canonical-url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVkkYlQNmbc” data-component=”video-inbody-embed”>


div class=”embed-video-wrapper” u-responsive-ratio u-responsive-ratio–hd”>

Just make sure I have some of Apples irritating, overpriced new wireless headphones so that I can listen to the hours and hours of great music that was released in 2016. Chance the Rappers Coloring Book was nothing short of a triumph, both artistically and commercially. That he continues to blaze trails through the music industry without succumbing to the major label system proves that if your talent is generationally significant and undeniable, you can do anything you want. Though I would not advise that, say, J Cole drop his label and go out on his own, if you know what I mean. The blockbuster acts Rihanna, Beyonc, Kanye, Drake and Lady Gaga all dropped albums this year. Plus, we were treated to splendid new work from more obscure artists such as Angel Olsen and Blood Orange. We lost musical greats including Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, but in Bowie and Cohens cases, they left us fresh work to enjoy before they passed away. In medieval times, the most popular form of music featured the playing of a lute, so I think we have them beat there too.

The state of the world could be much worse, but you could say that about any year since the dawn of time. Cavemen (and cavewomen. Cavepeople? After all, its 2016) probably sat around lamenting how much they missed the taste of saber-toothed tiger meat. Remember when you could just go up to the guy at the campfire next to you and just club him on the head with a rock and take his wife? Those were the days, a hypothetical cavemens rights activist might say. The true danger of human nature is to idealize anything thats already happened, be it the repressive 1950s or fancy-free Clinton era. Our politics look backwards. The cinematic parade of remakes, reboots, sequels and reimaginings is more backward than a Kris Kross baseball jersey (or that joke). Hell, the very act of writing this article is backwards. The excitement of the Obama era came from the idea that there would be a future and it would be better than what came before it. Lets mourn the failures of 2016, appreciate the successes, and move on. Please, please, please. Lets move on.

Oh, who am I kidding? Next year is gonna suck, too.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/dec/28/entertainment-film-music-tv-2016-oblivion

Comments are closed.

Copyright © EP4 Blog