2016 in Review: Why this year was the most absurd year ever
The good, the bad, the ugly, the weird, and everything else.
Well, friends, another year’s gone by. The site has officially turned one years old, and I want to thank you all for sticking with me while I post various opinion after opinion. As I sit here writing all this down, and New Year’s Eve being on Saturday, I’m anxiously anticipating the entrance of 2017, and the exit of the year from hell, better known as the subject in question, 2016.
And a lot happened this year.
In fact, so much happened, that some of us may forget that January 2016 was actually part of 2016. It seems so far away that we might not remember it. But it happened.
It all began on New Year’s on 2015, with numerous Facebook posts and tweets about how “2016 is going to be my year!” and the typical “New year, new me,” or “new start.”
Boy, how we were sadly mistaken.
Because I am a sports guy, I will make a sports reference. I went to the Winter Classic (the NHL’s annual outdoor winter hockey game) at Gillette Stadium on January 1st, 2016. The game was between the hometown Boston Bruins, and their arch rival, the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens beat the Bruins in their own building, in front of 65,000 people, 5-1.
I would say that’s about how the year has gone for us, wouldn’t you?
In this article (which was going to be a top ten list, but then I thought I would just ramble on), I’m going to be examining the absurd things that made this year possible. It can be anything from music, to sports, to politics (oh, politics), to film, to the most miniscule thing in American culture. If it had something to do with shaping 2016, I will include it.
Because 2016 was absurd. The most absurd year ever.
First and foremost, to get it out of the way: We decided to elect-
I have to include another event to tie into THAT one in order to make it somewhat humorous.
The United Kingdom decided to exit the EU, or: Brexit.
It truly sounds a lot like “breakfast,” “Brexit” does. On June 23, the United Kingdom held a referendum on whether to keep itself in the European Union. In a 51% to 48% vote, the British people voted to leave the EU, with many citing the influx of immigrants from other European nations as a major concern (the EU allows people to move into and out of other countries with minimal customs or paperwork).
There was a lot of news circulating about more conservative British politicians deeming Brexit as their “Independence Day,” subtly hinting that they were going to give Britain “back to its people” (do you see where I’m going with this?), and being able to sever immigration travel, many of whom were refugees of different religions (hint, hint to the next point).
The morning after the referendum, global stock markets fell. A lot. UK Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, feeling he had let the British people down. And millions of people who voted to leave the EU flocked to Google to search “What is the EU?”
And, for a time, Britain was known as the imbecilic laughingstock of the entire world, as they showed they had invented a new kind of stupid. The worst kind of stupid.
And America said: “Hold my beer.”
The Election of 2016: A Shit Storm in Many Acts.
We decided it would be a smart idea to elect Donald Trump as our President. And on January 21st, that’s probably going to become a reality (trust me, uttering the phrase “President Trump” is very, very difficult for me).
To backtrack, we had Hillary Clinton, an extremely qualified former First Lady, Secretary of State, and senator from New York (she told you all this, right?), as the Democratic nominee, the first female nominee from a major political party in history.
She defeated Bernie Sanders, the outspoken, crazy-haired, socialist, Brooklyn-raised, Jewish grandpa senator from Vermont, in the Democratic primaries.
Sanders started a revolution online, gaining a mass amount of attention via social media.
Clinton stuck to her roots as a well-qualified, politically seasoned option for the presidency.
There were some rumblings of corruption within the voting system. There were emails (there were emails. Did you know that?).
And Clinton won. We were all with her. The first female nominee for president from a major political party. A defining moment in our nation's history.
And then there was the circus of the Republican race for the presidency.
Keep in mind, literally everyone thought it was going to be Jeb Bush before all this crap began.
Donald Trump knocked out Marco Rubio, then finally, Ted Cruz. John Kasich also hung around until the very end, I think.
Like or dislike Trump, but I will say it again: he correctly gauged the amount of anger that correlates with the lack of education of certain people in this country, and campaigned accordingly. You may hate him, but that tactic is what any politician would do.
The dude didn’t make his millions by being an idiot.
So, there we were. The election. Clinton vs. Trump. A race no one thought Hillary would lose.
At the Republican Convention, Trump entered to “We are the Champions.”
Queen was not happy about that.
At the Democratic Convention, Obama gave the best speech I personally have ever seen. Remember Vince Carter at that dunk contest one year? THAT’S how good it was.
And Hillary was rousing as well.
Then, the debates. Things got very interesting. We all thought Trump would implode. And he did, a little.
There was one handshake. One.
There was “locker room talk,” and “radical Islamic terrorism,” and “nasty woman,” and “you’ll be in jail.”
And then there was Hillary’s scathing comment where she complimented Trump’s kids instead of him.
Oh, and there was Ken Bone. I wonder who Ken Bone voted for.
And then a bunch of other malarkey happened and the election results came in.
We all know how that turned out.
Please read my election article HERE if you need any kind of comfort in this matter.
And here we are now, twenty-some days from having a Cheeto with a bad comb-over as our President. America is the best again- at inventing new kinds of stupid.
In conclusion, the last three major elections (2016, 2008, 2000) will be talked about for AGES to come.
I promise I’m doing all the bad things first, and we’ll get to the good stuff at the end. It’ll be okay, I promise.
I have to address the elephant in the room now, and that’s the amount of bad things that happened to human beings this year. Really quick.
This year, I heard maybe ONE major news network cover Flint, Michigan’s water crisis this year. John Oliver did a masterful segment on it during Last Week Tonight. I encourage you to check it out above.
Essentially, Flint had no clean water. The drinking water had been contaminated after the city changed its water source from Detroit (which got its water from Lake Huron) to the Flint River, to which health officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors. This led to a series of problems culminating in lead contamination, as the pipes were not properly treated.
6,000 to 12,000 children in the city have been exposed to contaminated drinking water in the city. There was an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease that killed 10 people and affected an additional 77.
President Obama declared a federal state of emergency, and several lawsuits against the city were filed. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder promised to fix the problem, donating millions of dollars to families affected by the medical issues associated with the water. We’re two years into this thing. Let’s get these people some clean water, now.
The Orlando Nightclub Shooting
A sad, sad event indeed. It does need to be touched on, however.
June 12th, at Pulse, a primarily gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a 29-year old Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured another 53 in what has been deemed a terrorist attack and a hate crime.
Many people questioned Mateen’s motive- they thought he could have been gay himself. Others considered a possible allegiance to ISIS; more specifically, a reaction to the killing of ISIS militant Abu Waheeb in an airstrike the week before.
Regardless of the motive, the gun control conversation was opened up again and magnified intensely, as was the “radical Islamic terrorist” door.
It remains the deadliest mass shooting by a single perpetrator in American history, the
second most in American history as an event only to September 11th, 2001.
What struck me, however, is what happened after the event. As I will reiterate more, I’m sure: there was more love being spread than I’ve ever seen before, in spite of all the hate.
People came out in throngs to show support for those in the LGBT community. There were vigils. There were public showings of support (like the Tony Awards that evening, for example). Even in the dark, love shines the strongest light.
Standing Rock, North Dakota
The government was trying to build an oil pipeline, known as the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL. Its purpose was to run from a set of oil fields in North Dakota, underneath the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, to Southern Illinois. The pipeline was supposed to go through a residential, more urban area in North Dakota, but the people there wouldn’t have it.
Instead, the builders wanted to go through some lands underneath the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. It would potentially contaminate local water supplies, as well as cross though sacred Native American burial grounds.
The people there didn’t like that either.
Except this time, we finally broke through as a people, and told the government trying to push us around to go shove it.
The grassroots movement lasted into the early winter, as thousands of people (supported by millions on Facebook) endured freezing temperatures, muddy terrains, and cold water being sprayed on them by authorities. Eventually, the hard times paid off. In early December, President Obama’s administration deemed that the Pipeline could not be built through the Standing Rock plantation, and that the engineers developing the project would have to find alternatives.
In a year filled with events like Orlando and Flint, it was nice to actually get a victory for human beings for once this year. I don’t mean to make it sound like the fight at Standing Rock is over (because it’s not), but it’s a step in the right direction.
I’m going to try to combine death and love into one section here. Bear with me.
Too many celebrities died this year.
Just for future reference, here’s a list of just a few of the celebrities who died in 2016:
It makes you think about the crazy amount of people who have given so much to this country and to this world in terms of culture, the way we can connect with one another.
While it is a terrible thing to see such a long list of awesome people leaving us, we know that: A) they certainly knew when to get out (hint, hint, the next president, hint, hint), and B) David Bowie is obviously creating a new world and is hand picking his perfect society one by one.
There are many other events that happened in the rest of the world this year. I don’t mean to leave them out, but there are only so many things I can write before getting too depressed to stop. And, I want to get to the happy things.
But first, we get to the really absurd things that happened this year.
Everyone lost their shit over a gorilla.
Okay, so preface time. Yes, it’s sad that an endangered gorilla was gunned down at a Cincinnati zoo. It’s bizarre that a child was even in the cage to begin with. You can make the argument that the gorilla should or shouldn’t have been shot (hell, people are still fighting about it). You can make the argument that it’s poor parenting, but you can also make the argument that real people don’t have their eyes on everything all the damn time.
Harambe is, admittedly, a symbol of 2016. It’s inspired both good, constructive conversation about animal rights and good parenting, but it’s also inspired enough memes to fill even the dankest of tumblrs, twitter feeds, and Facebook pages.
All of a sudden, various body parts were being whipped out for Harambe.
PEOPLE CAST VOTES. FOR PRESIDENT. FOR HARAMBE. A GORILLA. A DEAD GORILLA.
And this event is so bizarre, I’m not sure if we’ll get anything to get us away from Harambe for a while.
But give it a rest. We get he’s dead. We don’t need you to remind us how shitty we are as people. Harambe wouldn’t want you shaming people for cursing his name, now would he? Think of Harambe.
Clowns were a thing.
There was a brief time around Halloween where people were dressing up as clowns with knives and other threatening objects and following people around. Because of course there were. As if this year could get any weirder.
The Olympics were a mess, and then they weren’t, and then they were again.
The Olympics happened this year! Remember the Olympics? This Olympics was just like any other Olympics at the outset. People made a huge deal about some kind of human rights violation (2014 in Sochi) or medical concern (2008 in Beijing), and then it magically disappeared just as the games started and was never heard from again.
Of course, the Olympics began with reports that construction crews were months behind in preparation for the athletes’ arrivals.
This year’s medical fiesta was the Zika virus. We had many golfers drop out of the games, fearing getting stung by a mosquito. The U.S. basketball team stayed on a private cruise ship for the duration of the games. The only people who spoke the word “Zika” during the games were the Brazilian fans taunting U.S. soccer goalie Hope Solo after she posted a picture on Instagram covered in bug-resistant clothing, stating she was “Ready for Rio.” Other than that, we didn’t hear about it for the rest of the summer.
Officials were also complaining about the toxicity in the water for swimmers and sailors, saying that it would actually kill you if you went in the water.
Last I checked, nobody died.
But then, of course, no summer Olympic shenanigans would ever be complete without Ryan Lochte.
Also, watch this video of John Oliver (again). Because he sums it up in a way that I could not.
The puppy dog-disguised-as-a-swimmer was caught red-handed lying to Brazilian officials about being held at gunpoint during a robbery at a Rio gas station. The problem was, he wasn’t being robbed. He vandalized a gas station by peeing outside of the restroom area, then tried to bribe two security guys who confronted him about the issue. Not to mention all of this was caught on camera.
The Olympics were a mess, and then they weren’t, and then they were again.
I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble we get into in 2018. They’re in South Korea, and we’ll have a crazy person as our president. Yay!
And finally, here are three good, pop culture-y things that happened in 2016.
Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar!
It finally happened. The man nobody thought would win finally won, for his brilliant (and disgustingly real) performance in the adventure-drama The Revenant. It’s a shame that DiCaprio hadn’t won for performances in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, or The Wolf of Wall Street, but the fact that he can add “Academy Award Winner” to his title now is something fans have been waiting for a long time.
A hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton became a cultural phenomenon.
Every so often, a musical like Rent comes along: Great new musical vibes, interesting characters, compelling storylines- something that’s never been done before. In mid-2015, we got Hamilton, a musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda about the life and adventures of one of the most underrated founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. The three-hour long (did I mention it’s entirely sung- or rapped- through?) show finally transferred to Broadway, and really picked up steam heading into 2016, where it finally caught fire.
It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2016, the first musical since 2009 to win the prize, where it joins such company as Rent and A Chorus Line.
At the Tony Awards, it was nominated for a record 14 awards across all categories it was eligible for. It ended up winning 11, just one short of the record held by The Producers, but won awards for Miranda (Best Score and Best Book), Best Actor in a musical (Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr), Best Featured Actor and Actress (Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson and Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, respectively), and the all important Best Musical.
It’s kind of absurd that the musical is sold out until late 2017. But it also goes to show that theatre is alive and well. Who knew a show about a founding father set to hip-hop and rap music would become such a cultural phenomenon?
The Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series!
Okay, one last sports thing. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series in 108 years. They hadn’t made it to the World Series in 68 years before this year.
In sports, the term “wait till next year,” is a common phrase for teams that get so close, but never taste the sweet nectar of victory.
For the 2016 Cubs, next year is this year.
Down three games to one in a best of seven World Series against the Cleveland Indians (a team also searching for its first Championship since 1948), one game from losing it all, the Cubs miraculously came back to tie the series at three games apiece. In one of the greatest World Series games ever played, the Cubs outlasted the Indians, 8-7 in 10 innings to win their first World Series title in 108 years.
And believe it or not, there are fans that were alive to see the Cubs win in both 1908 and 2016. Rejoice, Chicago. The Cubbies don’t suck anymore.
Okay, so I actually did make this article a 10-item list.
You just went back to check.
I know. I’m great.
In conclusion, I would give 2016, on an A to F scale, around a D. There were some good things that happened, but it really seemed like there was more bad than good happening every single day.
Of the good that I saw, there is one thing we can take from this year and run with for 2017. We can love each other more with our full hearts. I have never seen so much love and support pouring out from all corners of the internet, from the news on my TV, and in real life.
The road ahead is tough, we know that. There are fights to be fought and won, and there are lots of hardships that we must face if we are to grow as a society.
But we will still love.
We can get down on ourselves for a little bit. But after that, we need to stand up and dust ourselves off and say to ourselves that we will not go quietly into the night.
We will support one another.
We will put the past behind us and release ourselves from it, because holding onto it will only make the bitterness linger.
So, we’re now going to wave goodbye to 2016.
And, starting Sunday at midnight, the ball will drop.
And that’s when we start to make 2017 the best fucking year we can.
Have a happy and restful New Year, everyone.
Up for reading more? Check out According to Andrew's complete "Best of 2016" spread HERE.