Ah, 2015, the year of the goat, but also the year of the bullshit. It’s not that it was particularly worse than any other year, but no year’s been the same since 1999. That was the one and only time Prince got to party like it was the correct year and we’re really just hoping to run out the clock now. That’s why people got so amped up about Y2K. That’s why everyone was wondering if the Mayans got 2012 right or forgot to carry the snake monster. And that’s why religious nutjobs keep trying to predict the end of the world with the same sort of zeal as Hollywood’s trend of teaser trailers to advertise the coming of trailers.
But have we traded up? Do we have a crystal ball to tell us if we should just try to sleep through this year and hope for 2017? Was 2015 really all that bad? Did anyone get a flying car?
Truthfully, no one cares. But as this is my first blog post back from a lengthy, forced hiatus (more on that later), I feel it’s my job to make…
The State of the Disunion
The answers to the questions no one asked are “not really”, “no”, “sorta”, and “definitely not”. If that sounds negative or even detached from the entire notion just remember that this is an arbitrary date we chose to acknowledge that the Earth completed an orbit without falling into the sun again. And, while it may not have been spectacular, I can safely say as a Californian that any year you don’t catch on fire is probably a keeper.
But really, not much else has much changed, ironically 2015 was the year we spent most of the time talking about the stuff we were waiting to happen later. People counted down to Star Wars, people got excited for trailers for movies that don’t come out until this year, people who upgraded Windows 10 waited for the cutoff date where they would no longer be able to get it free so things could get really interesting. Hell, even on climate, despite the fact it wasn’t doing all that great, we’re all now waiting for the big one and for someone to chime in with “no one could have seen it coming”.
Culturally, we didn’t change a whole lot over the course of 2015. While you could look at previous years and see some major milestones, 2015 was actually the year where old favorites came back to either numb us into a stupor or bite us in the ass. Jurassic Park, Star Wars, nostalgia skits about Back to the Future, riots and protests spurred by police brutality against black people – the hits just kept coming!
And that last one dovetails with the others as it brings me back to the fact that some things just don’t ever seem to change. The Academy Award nominations are out again and, once again, they’re so white that Saoirse Ronan, an Irish woman, blends in! Last year, Selma was given some pretty hefty snubs by the Academy Awards and, at the time, I said to everyone that what they really needed to do was make sure that if you were angry you needed to make sure you watched it too. The industry respects sales figures more than outrage, always have and always will. So while an award would do Ava DuVernay some good, sales figures would have done her better.
A year later, Selma has made only 66.8 million dollars, meaning it’s still languishing in the winter movie tundra. Even the home video sales were soft at only 10% what the box office was. Meaning not only did people not see it in droves in theaters, they didn’t even buy it on video! Way to go supporters, you got angry and didn’t see the movie you were angry about. Nothing says “this deserves your attention” like “but it didn’t deserve mine”.
However, let’s give props to those who went to see Straight Outta Compton, another biopic about influential figures in black culture which actually did manage to break 100 million (in fact, 200 million as of this writing). Along with the success of Creed, 2015 was actually a better year for black films than 2014 in some regards. And even better, Ryan Coogler, an up and coming young black director who wrote and directed Creed, is now slated to direct the upcoming Black Panther movie. And Straight Outta Compton’s writers managed to get an Academy Award nominati-
Well, that figures…
In less annoying news, apparently Sci-fi and Fantasy have come back from being pronounced dead no more than 6 years ago and needing to be rolled back. This is a real surprise given the Sad Puppies fiasco a few months ago with the Hugo Awards. Apparently, despite their outcry that the genre was getting ruined by the most recent crop, sales figures seem to disagree.
On the other hand, eBooks have actually stagnated. So people have happily cheered the oncoming success of niche bookstores once more. I’m not quite convinced, but it does seem to me that in a year where we happened to have a lot of flashes back to the 90s. As such, it seems appropriate that those came back too. Next we’ll be trading pogs and talking about our love of Digimo-
Okay, that’s a little freaky – but let’s face it, it’s to be expected. This last year wasn’t exactly the year of progress, it was more the year of the chickens coming home to roost. Things that had been left unfixed for years, even decades, came back to bite us in the ass (hell, the gas leak in San Fernando right now apparently roots back to a part removed 30 years ago). It was the year where we just decided to remix old years and see how many things we could check off along the way. The only thing different really was…well… the politics.
Of course you can’t talk about 2015 without addressing the elephant in the room. With 2016 being an election year, 2015 was the year where we all talked about the election year. This is also a remix because we do this every 4 years and the elections only get longer and more insane with every cycle. Last year was of particular note for the sudden arrival of a shaved Orangutan who had miraculously learned to speak English but couldn’t understand why people were laughing at the last bolt of orange hair on his head.
This Orangutan, who like most talking apes would spend most of his time flinging shit and grunting his name at people, would go on to capture the imagination of people far and wide as he went on to state a bold strategy for the future. Yes, it took little time for this ape to go on to publicly speak of his hate of those unlike himself – essentially the human race itself, and find more dumb animals to do the same. It was like people got sick of waiting for the next Planet of the Apes and decided to reenact someone’s fanfiction of it. Vote Koba, Koba hate humans, Koba keep humans out, Koba love gun.
This would be perfectly terrifying if not for the fact he seems so against certain demographics that I’m pretty sure it’d be easy to get asylum after the fact via a simple conversion. I don’t think I can tan well enough to be a minority but I’m pretty confident that religious conversion is a fairly simple task.
But all of this is fairly moot, since none of the debates are really addressing what’s most important to me as of late. Sure, they’ve glanced on it, but we’re still in a day and age where climate change is not only being denied but outright called a hoax. To a Californian, this is baffling, seeing as our state is now regularly on fire and we’ve run so low on water that the fire fighters may have to start improvising soon.
Having lived in the desert my whole life, I’ve always expected some level of dryness, fire, and dust. In fact, I can’t remember a year of my life as I was growing up where we didn’t see the snowpack on the nearby mountains and try to guess how much water we were going to get from that. So when I tell you that the water levels here got severe last year, I’m speaking from a significantly lower bar than you. Toilets stopped flushing for half a town only a half hour from where I live. Our ground is currently sinking. We’re being told by some deniers that this is simply cyclical and has happened throughout history, something they keep repeating as a forest older than written history caught on fire and burned for three months.
While most of the country was fearing the dreaded oncoming of El Niño, the sea’s angry belch of torrential rains and fucked up weather, my local community was actually kind of hyped about it. “Maybe it’ll end the drought” we said to ourselves, followed by “last time it was this big we had mudslides”. That’s right, people were happy about the concept of storms that could cause mudslides. Considering there’s a good chance that an idiot could be the GOP candidate, 2016 may be the year where we go full steam into Idiocracy.
But what had to be the punctuation on my year was that my computer, a long time friend and close co-worker, decided to kill itself by fire. After years of heat, dust, and heated dust, the mother board decided to literally burn itself apart. This sudden but inevitable betrayal should have been seen coming, as it has happened to me in the past, but I was still caught quite off guard. All of a sudden I had a very valuable paperweight and reason to start that drinking problem all of the classical writers suggest I should have had. But instead I just took a long, forced hiatus, and fought to resurrect my old beast to get its ass handed to it for a while longer.
So what’s the verdict? Well, there’s an even chance it could go to shit or turn out really well. We could be on the precipice of a sudden enlightenment, maybe even a cultural awakening. Maybe Trump is the last, angry death rattle of a defunct ideology. Maybe the Sad Puppies were the exact same thing. Maybe we’ll see a golden age of new media after a minor dip in the last couple years. Maybe we’ll even see just a golden age overall. But here’s the thing that’s the bad sign to me, in the first month of 2016 both David Bowie and Alan Rickman have passed away after quietly fighting cancer without much notice…
And my theory at this point is that someone was finally raptured.