Dear 2017, Please Be Kind
Fuck, I go. I think this is the future.
It’s 2017, and the Old World slips away from us more and more every day. Fidel Castro and David Bowie are dead. Our phones control our lives. My local mall has a giant billboard suspended from the ceiling, with holographic advertisements on it, that looks exactly like the one in The Hunger Games Arena. You can get hamburgers out of the wall in Amsterdam.
2017 is a new year, new you, new president-elect. Everything’s coming up Milhouse. Obama’s last days in Washington are putting dough in all the meme doctors’ pockets. The planet mourns what’s passed, while scuttling around in this strange limbo that follows New Year’s and the silly season, all of us feeling shit-scared of what lies ahead. The new year yawns ahead of us like a clinical futuristic chasm, and I for one have genuinely no idea what to expect. It feels like the world has gone mad.
But then, wham, bang, bam. Meryl Streep’s Lifetime Achievement Speech at the Golden Globes. Straight up beautiful. A calm island in our overheated sea. That woman is a wizard. We are all muggles. Meryl stood up on that stage, and under the fake lights and mammoth camera lenses, under the vapid eyes of Hollywood big guns, beneath the botoxed lips and repulsively extravagant displays of wealth, she said a few things that were dead-set real.
Hollywood is notorious for being anything but. They, the red-hot centre of Western culture, have made us want happy-ever-after Marriages and yellow backless evening dresses and brooding dark men for the past 60 years, all set to a jaunty backing track that prohibits sadness or indignity. Formulaic and contrived, they shape our advertisements and our lives. They are responsible for the 21st-century curse of constant dissatisfaction and consumption.
But Meryl talked about the fat orange man in a suit who is probably, as we speak, cackling evilly while rubbing his hands together over a rotating globe model. She talked about the importance of art in dark times. She talked about integrity and compassion. She talked about Love.
It was a super unexpected, seeing a speech that seemed Resistance-like in nature, a call to action, a call to arms, in a context that is so usually synonymous with conformity and consumerism. She was basically telling us to fight back.
We sit on an uncertain precipice, with the realisation dawning on us babies from the early 90s and beyond, that some day very soon, this world will be ours to guide and control and protect. The baby boomers and politicians and speakers of our childhoods will, one by one, take their exit. And we will be in charge of this warming earth, the fractures of Syria, the terror attacks in train stations.
It is in dark times such as these, that we must, as Dumbledore once said, “Simply remember to turn on the light.” Instead of resolving to purchase an overpriced gym membership this new year, maybe you can resolve to protect and support journalists, artists, scientists, poets and speakers, in your country and world over. People who act as voices of reason and logic. People who are committed to spreading compassion and enforcing political and social integrity. If we band together, as Meryl, the God of Gods has spouted, we can survive this uncertainty.
There is always hope.
Look to the New Year with strength in your heart and fight in your fists, and resolve, like Meryl, to make our future a damn good one.