Nick Triani looks back at 2016 and discovers that the year has ushered in the kind of honesty we didn't want to hear.
It’s hard to write a review of the past year without sounding cynical and lacking in hope for humanity. So bearing this in this mind, perhaps looking for some positives amongst the carnage is an endeavor worth pursuing. Can I find good amongst the celebrity deaths and the incessant bad news that seems to have shaped 2016 for many? I call out this year for being the year of honesty. The shackles have been thrown off. If anything we know where we stand in 2016. In a political sense, the public have voiced serious grievances about a system that no longer even comes close to representing the majority. On these terms a voice has been heard that can only be classified as brutal. Yes, this brutal honesty reared its head in Brexit discussions, where race became such an issue, the concept of the ‘other’ within our societies a focal point for consummate rage and unconditional anger.
In Finland with the seemingly effortless and continued presence of the True Finns, no one really questioned to any real degree that this was not OK. They passively exist in our midst whilst actively dismantling the welfare state and change legislation for the worse . A moral compass to counter such dialogue has seemingly been misplaced. Yet from the right the voices of honesty could be clearly heard, with no countenance among the mainstream media, no howl of indignation that ideas and policies put forward were against the grain of human decency. By rights we should be on the streets everyday, trying to change things and bring down this nasty government. But we’re not. Or at least not enough. We just don’t care it seems. Now that’s an honest assessment of where we are.
2016 has unleashed a new guilt-free explosion of the ‘me me me’ society. It’s a bracing kind of honesty, a bare-faced knuckle-duster hit to the senses that society can have no sense of compassion. Whilst refugee boats continue to sink and traffickers trade in children, we pursue with the signs saying NOT WELCOME HERE. We are all complicit in this charade, we all bypass what little coverage this receives so we can continue our consumerist crusade before the fading light of such endeavour is extinguished to be replaced by what? This new level of honesty that we revel in makes us uncomfortable, yet we do so little to counter its growing influence. Our self-obsessed lives and consumer immersion offers a false blanket of ignorance to the greater ills.
I started 2016 by facebooking my displeasure at the new David Bowie album, Blackstar. A contentious kind of honesty, I’ll agree, but what are we without opinions? Sadly, the news of Bowie’s death eked out a few hours after my inopportune posting. Boy, the level of indignation and almost anger I recieved for my post. The year for me started with a startling riposte of honest offence because I dared to suggest I didn’t like a record (ok, I agree, the timing was off, but how was I to know?) Sometimes honesty can backfire.
But this seemed to set a trend of people getting worked up by the utmost trivialities in 2016. Bowie was a hero to me, yet I felt guilt for my objections and unable to express my own personal grief that someone who was so important in my life had passed away. But this also made me question my own sense of being and my own honesty. I still think Blackstar is overrated, despite what we’ve learnt since the record was released. But Bowie’s death set a precedent for what kind of year 2016 would be, at least for the majority of a privileged Western populace. A year of massive disappointment.
Bowie’s death set a precedent for what kind of year 2016 would be, at least for the majority of a privileged Western populace. A year of massive disappointment.
I became obsessed with Jeremy Corbyn and the well-being of my former homeland. But still the Labour party rejected my application to join. A new kind of rejection based on my personal circumstance. It’s not easy to support the thing that means something to me it seems. Football has played a large part of my life in 2016. The good/bad fortune of my team dictating my mood (win good, a loss = bad). I love vocalizing my football opinions on threads and Facebook, I’m an armchair chronicler of the beautiful game. Yet the world of football with its immoral flaunting of money and poor values can somehow be rationally excused in my world, spouting nonsense about football being a great unifier. My honesty hokum has been extinguished with one foul rationale. It’s the ultimate privilege of the under-threat Western male; watching other men kick a ball around.
But where are the positives in this? If I’m only saying that the right-wing media and public have kicked off the shackles of PC inertia and can willingly just spout racist rubbish and I call this honesty, where’s the positivity in that? Remember, we know where we stand now. Things have never been so clear.
Some thoughts: The general discussion amongst a disenfranchised public has turned to question the position of the middle-aged white men running everything. This is no longer OK and accepted, this status quo is under threat. The old white male centered desire to lead is being questioned. And yes, some men don’t like it. This has coincided with a new wave of feminist ideals being flaunted in the face of the ‘under siege’ male demographic. All of a sudden men are having to be careful how they talk about women, gender, transgender and more importantly the question of equality is pursued with ardent fervour. And so it should be. The tables are turning guys, are you ready? Can you handle it? I hope so.
A new sense of injustice has also reared its head. #BlackLivesMatter, #injusticeboycott and other more visible movements. To counter the rise of right wing ideology some people are voicing opposition. The dawn of a new protest is emerging. We must embrace this and make the difference how we can. Protest is our final voice, our tool for influence. People are starting to be heard between the lines and through the noise.
Protest is our final voice, our tool for influence. People are starting to be heard between the lines and through the noise.
In the spring of 2016 Prince succumbed to that old dreaded ‘drug dependency’. It’s beyond a cliché and incredibly sad. He joins a growing list of casualties who somehow can’t find the help they need. Pop has an issue with mental health and the well being of artists. It’s not talked about. The derision and mocking Kanye West received for being hospitalized last month was shocking. Another great indicator of 2016’s ‘brutal honesty’. We struggle to empathise. Why? Perhaps we believe these people to be the real ‘super heroes’ that walk amongst us. But hey, even superheroes express their own anxieties. Maybe we just don’t want to hear it.
Kanye found the words on ‘Ultralight Beam’ to not only bring me my personal cut of the year, but reach an emotional truth that hasn’t been so forthcoming from popular culture in general. Why is the artistic community so silent? The concept of art as a force for change and a new way of thinking is under threat. A commercial state of mind has hindered debate and creativity. No one is looking for a corny protest platitude but relating to people’s everyday concerns could work for many. Who’s speaking to me, or you?
I’m tryna keep my faith
But I’m looking for more
Somewhere I can feel safe
And end my holy war
I’m tryna keep my faith
Why is the artistic community so silent? The concept of art as a force for change and a new way of thinking is under threat. A commercial state of mind has hindered debate and creativity.
If Kanye expressed my personal anxieties eloquently, 2016 managed to also bring its own trivialities and important issues simultaneously. For me the following left an undeniable mark on the year (in no particular order of course): Pokemon go, fake news, Dylan vs Nobel, Sanni-gate, England lose to Iceland, Donald Trump for President, Chilcott, Hillsborough, Muhammad Ali dies, Putin and cyber infiltration, RIP in general, refugee crises, the death of neoliberalism, Pikku Poika, Aleppo, Leicester City, Brexit, Game Of Thrones, Black Lives Matter. These were our concerns. I had an ongoing one called One Quart Magazine.
This magazine has been all consuming for me in 2016. The idea was to create a platform for self-expression in its many forms. In the six months since we launched the magazine, we’ve covered amongst a wide range of topics: the value of cinema, talked to Cuban designers, analyzed I Love Dick, fulfilled all your AOR needs, brought you the hottest podcast, got lost at Burning Man, posed the question of what is fashion good for? whilst recommending the only jeans you need. Meanwhile we’ve tried to find the safest spaces, and not feel the white guilt of liking Lemonade, tell you we love you, related to Stranger Things 80s tropes, taught you coding for kids whilst covering the PL season. We’ve sang in the rain, followed Pokeman Go, entertained Dylan’s nobel and Neil Young’s environmentalism. The calmness of poetry , Modern Sky’s choices and also bought you the weekly sounds to lighten your heart (and so much more) … and did I mention the amazing artwork?
This has been our honesty.
My Big Thank Yous:
Astrid for putting the idea in our heads and then putting up with a lot. Kaarlo for helping us find a look. Timo for helping us navigate the seas. Pinja for so much good will and spirit and hard work. Fiacha for the copy delivery and Aki for the calm when the shit is being lost. Mark and Tytti for diligence and saying yes. Karstein for so many last minute saves. Everyone else who’s contributed for giving your time and yourselves.