In Review: 2016

I think we can all agree that 2016 has been quite a fucking year. We’ve collectively, as a planet, been through so much—lots of good, lots of bad, lots of WTF. Here’s a timeline of some of the highs and lows; now we can all take a deep breath and hope that 2017 brings better days (It probably won’t).

  • On January 6, Star Wars: The Force Awakens overtook Avatar to become the highest-grossing film ever in the US and Canada. This is especially a big deal because it’s the most diverse Star Wars film to date. Starting the year off right with some representation!
  • On January 10, we experienced the first of many tragic big-name deaths this year; we lost the Starman, David Bowie to cancer. The world seemed to come together in mourning. He was immediately followed by Alan Rickman, known for playing Severus Snape in Harry Potter, on January 14th. The mourning extended—a somber start to the year.
  • On January 21, the EPA took over water testing in Flint, Michigan, where the water has been contaminated with lead. It doesn’t seem to have helped much, since Flint citizens are still struggling to this day.
  • On Jan. 25, the World Health Organization released the first major warning regarding the Zika virus, announcing that it’s likely to “spread across the Americas.” Honey, you’ve got a big storm coming. The virus, which causes birth defects when contracted by pregnant women, continues to be a problem. No cure has been found.
  • On February 14, Kanye released The Life of Pablo, resulting in a frenzy of Ultralight Beams. It was his 7th album and a highly anticipated one. Reception was mixed, but mostly positive.
  • On March 7, President Obama gave a speech in Selma, AL to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery. It has since gone down as one of the best speeches of his presidency.
  • On March 23, Governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory signed into law the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, more colloquially known as the “bathroom bill.” The law places restrictions on who can enter a bathroom based on a gender binary, essentially erasing the identities of individuals who don’t conform to any gender, as well as being a giant detriment to trans rights. Many public figures have spoken out against this law, and many artists have refused to do shows in North Carolina because of it, but the law has yet to be repealed.
  • On March 29th, The Fader published its first interview with Branden Miller, also known as Joanne the Scammer. Joanne went viral in late December of 2015 in the video we’ve all seen: “I just want to let you girls know that I’m a real messy bitch. A liar. A scammer. I love robbery and fraud. I’m a messy bitch who lives for drama.” Joanne’s fame has lasted throughout 2016, with another Fader interview in the August/September issue, this time featuring a killer photoshoot.
  • On April 21, the world experienced another tragic loss—Prince died due to a drug overdose. Stevie Wonder called him the “Emperor of Pop,” and videos of his interviews and reactions circulated the internet. We lost a true icon.
  • On April 23, Beyonce dropped her visual album, Lemonade. The album is an ode to black womanhood, and it was a landmark moment in pop culture. It explored a variety of genres, including country, and featured collaborations with everyone from Jack White to James Blake to Kendrick Lamar.
  • On May 28, a three-year-old child ended up in a gorilla habitat in the Cincinnati Zoo. We all know what happened next: the gorilla, Harambe, was killed in order to protect the child. Cue month after month of seemingly endless jokes and memes regarding the incident. I want everyone reading this to make me a promise: in 2017, let Harambe rest in peace.
  • On June 12, early in the morning, we experienced one of the deadliest mass shootings in US history. At Pulse nightclub, a popular gay club in Orlando, FL, 53 were injured and 50, including the shooter, were killed. This was labeled as both a hate crime and an act of terrorism, and had an enormous impact on the country—culturally, socially, and politically.
  • On that same night, June 12, Lin-Manuel Miranda won a Tony Award for Best Score. His acceptance speech was a poem dedicated to victims of the Orlando shooting, with the memorable line “And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.” For many, the speech provided comfort after a tragic event.
  • On June 26, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in the US in a 5:4 ruling. Americans rejoiced, and the White House was lit up in rainbow colors. This was a landmark moment for the country, and a major victory in the battle for gay rights.
  • It was a turbulent summer. On July 5, a video surfaced in which a police officer in Baton Rouge, LA, was shown shooting 37-year-old Alton Sterling five times at close range. Sterling was unarmed. The shooting sparked grief and anger, and protests started to spring up around the country.
  • The very next day, on July 6, Diamond Reynolds used Facebook Live to document the aftermath of her boyfriend, Philando Castile, being shot by police in Minnesota. Castile had been reaching for his wallet when he was shot, while Reynolds’ three year old daughter was in the backseat. This only added fuel to the fire of the Black Lives Matter protests that had already started occurring. The movement for change is ongoing and has been throughout the year.
  • On July 15, Netflix released Stranger Things, one of the most popular binge shows of the year. Watchers developed strong opinions on Barb, and even stronger opinions on favorite children.
  • On July 18, the internet went wild when Kim Kardashian released a video in which Taylor Swift OK’d the lyrics of Kanye’s “Famous”, which she had previously spoken out against. The event resulted in the #KimExposedTaylorParty hashtag, as well as everyone’s fave meme, “I’d like to be excluded from this narrative.”
  • On July 19, Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president. A tragic day.
  • On July 21st, One Direction’s Liam Payne signed a solo deal with Capitol Records. For many fans, this was a definitive sign that One Direction was breaking up for good.
  • On July 26, Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee for president. It was the end of a high-stakes primary, since Bernie Sanders’ grassroots campaign of passionate supporters kept Clinton on her toes. In the end, though, she did become the first female major party presidential nominee, and history was made.
  • Between August 5 and 21, Brazil hosted the 29th Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The Olympics were surrounded by controversy: the Brazilian government was in a state of turmoil at the time, the Zika virus posed a significant threat to many athletes, and favelas, or impoverished communities, in Rio had been destroyed to make room for Olympic facilities. Despite all this, it was a historic Olympics. Doaa Elghobashy became the first Olympian to wear the hijab while playing beach volleyball; Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win a gold medal in swimming for the USA; Simone Biles wowed us all and won pretty much everything.
  • On August 19, the wait was finally over. Frank Ocean released Endless, his visual album, first in a livestream and then on Apple Music.
  • When it rains, it pours. But in a good way. On August 20, Frank Ocean’s long-awaited album, Blonde, was released on Apple Music. Fans everywhere rejoiced, and “Nikes” was stuck in all our heads for at least a week.
  • On August 21st, reports of clown sightings surfaced near the Fleetwood Manor apartment complex in Greenville County, South Carolina. This initial sighting was followed by many more all across the country. Some of these “killer clowns” were just out to scare people, but others seemed to pose a genuine threat, causing schools to shut down and government officials to keep residents on high alert. The only clown-related known death has been of a sixteen-year-old killed by someone in a clown mask in Reading, Pennsylvania.
  • On September 24, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, D.C. Since Black history has historically been erased from school curriculums and mainstream media, it’s an important step towards better representation and a more accurate, fuller understanding of US history.
  • On October 5, the Paris Agreement to reduce carbon emissions was officially ratified by the EU, which took it over the 55% threshold necessary to put it into action. This happened way earlier than expected, and it’s an encouraging sign of progress on climate change.
  • On October 7, Ava DuVernay’s 13th was released on Netflix. The prison documentary explores the history of systemic racism and inequality in the US, especially in regards to the prison system. A must watch.
  • On October 13, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” It took a while for him to accept, but he eventually did. He became the first songwriter ever to win the award, and the first American since Toni Morrison in 1993.
  • On November 8, America fucked us all over. We elected D*nald Tr*mp for president. A day of mourning.
  • On November 25, the four-part Netflix series Gilmore Girls: A Day in the Life was released. Gilmore Girls fans everywhere rejoiced, but also cried a lot.

Art by: Taylor Roberts

A&E, In The MagazineKatja Vujic