Remember When We Thought It Couldn't Get Worse Than 2016?

As 2017 draws to a close, there will be no shortage of retrospectives looking back on what has been without a doubt one of the strangest, most frustrating years in recent memory. And to think, there was once a time when we thought 2016 was as bad as it could get. There’s been a lot of talk about how the Trump era has sped up the metabolism of the news cycle—stories that would have been drawn out for weeks in any other year come and go, entire ecosystems of scandal being born and dying all within the span of one day—simply because there is too much for us to keep track of. With that in mind, Dave and Luke took a look back on the year that was.

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Luke:

I think one of the weirdest effects 2017 has had on me is that I don’t really seem to have a clear grasp on what time means anymore. Here’s a horrifying game you can play with yourself: Think of a bit of news from the Trump timeline, and try to remember if it happened a month or two ago, or a year and a half ago. It’s harder to get right than you might think at first. Remember when Trump moderately inconvenienced a parking lot in Syria with a “massive airstrike”? When was that? I have no recollection anymore.

There’s just too much, always. Everything happens so much, as the late @Horse_ebooks once said way back in—holy shit, that was five years ago? But I digress. When was Sean Spicer? When did he leave? Turns out it was July. Sean Spicer was in office for only six months. It seems like he was part of our daily lives for years.

And it’s not just my memory of Trump-related news that has become warped in the flattening of time. Remember when those kids crashed their dad’s BBC interview? Did you know that was this year? The one we’re still in?

Have you lost track of time as well, or am I just losing my mind?

Dave:

Luke, that whole “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen” North Korea soundbite was four months ago. Here’s the thing: 2017 feels like the longest year in history because it has been. Thanks to nightly panicked 2 a.m. wake-ups, and the time it takes me to calm myself back to sleep, each day of this year was about three hours longer than its 2016 counterpart. That time really adds up: 45 extra days by year’s end!

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Also, things are devolving at such a rapid pace, one cannot simply check out the way one could before. Each day is chock-full of horrifying developments, and you no longer have the luxury of not paying attention. You’re glued to your laptop, to your TV, to news and opinions on your car radio. You are binge-watching 2017, and it is terrible.

“You are binge-watching 2017, and it is terrible.”—DAVE

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It feels like the opposite of the 1960s. In 1964, The Beatles went on The Ed Sullivan Show and every adult had a fit because their hair touched their ears. And from that moment, a revolution in music and fashion, wherein things evolved so rapidly that five years later Marc Bolan was playing glam rock on television dressed like a space princess and nobody batted an eye. This year has been like that, but with the systematic destruction of American democracy, media, and the social safety net instead of music. (Music-wise, five years ago it was that one Imagine Dragons song, and now it’s that other Imagine Dragons song.)

Speaking of which, Adele got the Song of the Year Grammy for “Hello” this calendar year.

Also, remember the kid asking Twitter to help him get nuggets from Wendy’s? Doesn’t he feel like he should be 35 and managing chronic nugg-based health issues by now? That was April. Jesus, it’s been endless.

Luke:

Wait, what? “Hello” was this year? Don’t fuck with me like that.

Dave:

It wasn’t, but it was released just after the Grammy deadline in 2015, so it couldn’t be recognized until this year. The Grammy grandpas still move at an old-world pace.

Luke:

That is a pretty great analogy. People often remark how the Beatles managed to pack their entire career into like eight years and it changed pop culture forever. Trump is the Shitty Beatles of American politics but with stricter deadlines.

Did anything good happen this year? The closest thing I could think of was this guy who tried to stop a racist from shooting two Indian men in Kansas, one of whom died. I guess that’s what passes for good news this year, someone trying to help anyone, even if it still has a tragic ending. Man, this is depressing. Please remind me of a good thing that happened. Uh, that show Godless on Netflix was pretty good.

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Twitter

Ohh, Fyre Festival. We all had a good laugh about that whole disaster. And was Ted Cruz’s looking at porn thing this year? That was the last good day online.

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Wait, I’ve got it! Remember when Trump’s Twitter went down and it was the only happy five minutes any of us have had in like two years? I remember running into the bathroom and telling my wife instantly while she was in the shower, like it was V-J Day. Sailors kissing nurses in the streets and shit. Of course it was short lived.

Dave:

Of course it was too good to be true. And of course, he now has twice as many characters to tell you what he just watched on Fox & Friends. Nothing gold can stay.

The recent election of Doug Jones was a nice little window into a happier time. I had just arrived at an office Christmas party for a production company I’ve worked with, and we all got our push notifications at the same time. But even though it was a roomful of actual Hollywood liberals with drinks in their hands, the reaction was muted. It felt unfamiliar. It was like “…yay?” We are too wise to get too enthusiastic anymore. And sure enough, Roy Moore has not conceded, but has found a way to blame his loss on anyone who doesn’t do missionary-style hetero sex.

I can’t help but notice that your high points were someone else’s low points (except the Donald Trump thing, which we both know he didn’t notice, because he was reading documents). A banal and evil Congressman getting busted watching tame and very specific porn? Hundreds of Instagram influencers forced to eat disappointing sandwiches at great personal expense? Hilarious for us, but is schadenfreude the only true pleasure that remains?

It might be.

In just actual pleasure news, At Home with Amy Sedaris is great, and so is Talk Show: The Game Show, so, that’s something.

Luke:

Schadenfreude is a thin gruel indeed, but one can survive for a long time on gruel.

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“At the very least, we are one year closer to Donald Trump suffering the most humiliating reelection defeat in history.”—LUKE

The Jones thing is interesting going into 2018, especially following on the heels of the Virginia elections—oh, there’s another good thing!—a very diverse group winning up and down the ticket. Because once it’s 2018, that means the midterms are actually a real tangible thing that is approaching. We can galvanize ourselves behind progressive candidates. We can take swings at previously “unwinnable” seats that we never thought could ever turn blue before. There is the slimmest crack of light peeking through at the end of the tunnel. And, at the very least, we are one year closer to Donald Trump suffering the most humiliating reelection defeat in history. Maybe I’m scratching hash marks on the brick wall of my cell, but it’s all I’ve got left.

Dave:

If I continue to age at this rate, I won’t make it to midterms. I am 11 years older than I was when “Bad and Boujee” hit number one, and that also happened this year. (I don’t think I’ve heard the actual song yet, but the fact remains.)

Luke:

Maybe that’s something we can work on this year. Instead of being happy that bad things happen to bad people, trying to make good things happen for good people. Sounds crazy in this era, but there’s a chance it could work.

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Lifestyle – Esquire

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