It has been widely noted how terrible a year 2016 was. Bad things happened, worse things happened, and possibly worst of all, James Corden is still on television.
We lost some great people. Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, George Martin, Anton Yelchin, Andrew Sachs, Carrie Fisher, Liz Smith, Gene Wilder, Prince, and many, many more. The one that affected me most, and still does a year on, was of course David Bowie, but I realise how I felt about him was similarly felt by others when Prince or George Michael died too. It was not a great year for celebrities and their (mostly surprising and unexpected) deaths, Anton Yelchin perhaps most unexpected of all those I’ve mentioned.
Other Really Bad Things that also add to how terrible 2016 was include a number of high profile terrorist attacks, such as the Belgian bombings in March and the German Christmas market attack in December. As horrific as these were (and they were), we should remember that worse – far, far worse – happen more frequently further from home, with Iraq, Yemen and Syria being especially targeted. I don’t know how attacks like these last year compare to in other years, but the fact they happen at all in a supposedly modern world is frightening.
People hating people saw a public rise last year too, with fascism gaining increased acceptance across the West. The downtrodden, and those who believe themselves to be such, using racial hatred in such an open and public way, excused by false beliefs that all the wrongs in the world are because of those people. I’m certainly not saying that all those who voted Brexit or for Trump are racists, but the outcomes of those votes certainly outed a lot of them who used the results as a way of legitimising their views. The future looks bleak, not just because of the political and financial changes that have come about because of Brexit and Trump, but also because of the growth in popularity of right-wing figures and ideologies. I’m no historian, but even I can see the parallels with the start of Nazi Germany.
And fake news, fake facts, post-facts, “we’ve had enough of experts” and all that sort of stuff. Lies and rumours are reported and treated as facts, and facts are treated with scorn. Even when the truth is proven, it’s rubbished with a limp wave of a hand.
Also: they announced The Emoji Movie. Good grief.
We’re going backwards, people.
But was there any sunlight in those dark, dark days? It’s hard to recall any. Certainly, the only things I can think of are personal, minor, or video game related. It’s true that good news often isn’t news, or is in a very specific field that may mean little to many.
We did have the Rio Olympics, even if it was overshadowed somewhat by other events at the time, the worry of the Zika virus, and the Russian athlete doping scandal. Team GB did incredibly well though. Andy Murray, the world’s most under-excited man did his thing again at Wimbledon, and Leicester won some ballfoot game of apparent importance against all odds. Mind you, that did mean we had Gary Lineker on telly in his pants, so I’m not sure if that was all good. Wales had an amazing time at the Euros too.
There have been incredible strides in medicine, with some great advances in treatment of cancer (such as using T-cells, and discovering the four subtypes of pancreatic cancer which means better chances of targeting them), Alzheimer’s and strokes. As is the way with these things, it could be years, or even decades, before this new research actually starts to make a difference, but things are looking up.
So what for 2017? As the Klingons put it: The future is an undiscovered country. Let’s hope the discoveries are worth the horror that 2016 was.