2016 isn’t a person or a monster, but the collective assholery of all we experienced transcends the normal rules. Here’s to you, 2016 – and good riddance.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
For several months now a lot of us have been talking about 2016 as though it were sentient. A malevolent demon with a festering, hateful consciousness, bound and hellbent on the destruction of all things good and noble in the world.
And why not. While we all have good years and bad (2010 was a bitch for me, and it came hot on the heels of a few other down ones), it’s rare for everybody to agree that yes, that year sucked really hard.
- The Democrats cheated, lied and kneecapped their best candidate, Bernie Sanders, in favor of Hillary Clinton, a corrupt neoliberal Dem machine apparatchik hack who’s probably the only politician in Washington who couldn’t beat…
- President-elect Donald Fucking Trump. I don’t know where to begin, really. A gleefully cynical, racist, misogynist, xenophobic, sociopathic, narcissistic buffoon of unprecedented proportions. Trump is what would happen if you genetically engineered a mashup between PT Barnum, Anne Coulter, a syphilitic hyena and the Breitbart comments section. And we elected him president. Now most of us are sitting around praying we can survive until the midterms and then find someway of wresting at least one house of Congress out of GOP control. And sweet hell, may all the gods preserve Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the rest of the Supreme Court’s center and liberal wing. This is what most of us are thinking. The rest haven’t yet realized how badly they’ve been punkd. They will, though. Some of them, anyway. Maybe. Decision 2020 ought to be entertaining, at least.
- David Bowie died.
- Prince died.
- Muhammad Ali died.
- A lot of other brilliant people died.
- Syria melted down.
- The police got ambushed in Dallas.
- Innocent minorities were gunned down by the police all over the place.
- Zika happened.
- Brexit happened.
- A lot of terrorism happened.
Want me to go on? Apologies for not linking and elaborating on all these stories, but honestly, it’s all I can do to force out a bullet list.
Oh, wait – one more thing. As a result of all these tragedies, the ambient stress level permeating our culture has, if what I see around me is any indication, shot through the roof. I don’t know when I have seen so much sheer anxiety, if not outright terror. These are not happy times.
We have this innate tendency to anthropomorphize. We ascribe human characteristics to inanimate things, or animals, or insubstantial statistical constructs like calendar years. 2016 goes from being a simple measure of another trip around the sun to being – sentient. Evil. It has become, in the informal collective consciousness, a stalker of the good, the innocent, the joyful, the hopeful. It has eaten our present and threatens, literally almost, the possibility of a non-apocalyptic tomorrow.
No, of course 2016 isn’t sentient. Worse, all signs point to baby brother 2017 – slouching now toward Bethlehem to be born, as it were – being an even more malicious motherfucker.
The staff at S&R debated and agreed that this year, unlike most, we simply can’t identify one person who captures the full measure of the world’s assholery in an appropriate fashion. Even Trump, who probably comes closest, falls short (despite his
best worst efforts). I mean, he didn’t kill Bowie. Or Prince. Or the Champ. Or Harper Lee or Edward Albee or Carrie Fisher or Alan Rickman or Elie Weisel or John Glenn or Gwen Ifill. He isn’t responsible for the humanitarian disaster in Syria (yet).
In the end, it was decided that 2016 was special, that the wall-to-wall assholishness we have endured this twelvemonth transcended conventional pronouncements.
It is thus, with great sadness in our hearts for what has happened and what is yet to come, that Scholars & Rogues names 2016, the year, as our Asshole of the Year.
Hopefully next year will go better than expected so we can scale it back to something as innocuous as, say, a Kardashian.