Tag Archives: 2016 sucks

It’s The End Of The Year As We Know It

© 2016 Jimmy Margulies, http://jimmymargulies.com (Click to embiggen)
© 2016 Jimmy Margulies, http://jimmymargulies.com (Click to embiggen)

It’s The End Of The Year As We Know It:

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A couple of days ago I saw a comment on Tumblr (but haven’t been able to find it again so I can credit the person who made it), espousing the theory that in a future season of Doctor Who, there would be an episode where it is revealed that 2016 was a sentient year that fed off of destroyed hopes. Which seems like a good way to sum up most people’s feelings about how this year has gone.

Okay, so I understand that a year is a completely arbitrary thing. Humans who use the Gregorian calendar refer to the 366 days which are just ending as a year, but not even everyone on the planet agrees to when years begin, end, or how long they are. It’s the 31st of December 2016 for me, but for people observing the Hebrew Calendar (which varies in length from 353 to 355 days plus some years have and extra month) it’s the 2nd of Tevet AM 5777, and the end of the year is still months away. And people who still follow the Revised Julian Calendar (members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, for instance) it’s the 19th of December 2016–they’re still looking forward to Christmas! And Chinese New Year isn’t tomorrow, it’s still four weeks away.

But humans organize the world and their lives by categorizing things. We give meaning to our experiences by creating narratives. So we categorize one collection of days as this year or last year or next year. And w assign some meaning to our lives during a particular collection of days as a good year or a bad year or some other simplification. And for a lot of us, a horror movie is the narrative that most sums up 2016:

2016: The Movie (Trailer):

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Yesterday I mentioned specifically the election, and the sorts of laws Republicans are planning the pass now that they have someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about other people (let alone democracy) weilding the veto pen, and others have focused on the famous people who have died, the rise of hate-motivated crime, various refugee crises, political problems around the world, and new scary diseases. But there’s a lot more to it than that. From four deaths in our family this year, to changes in work situations and living arrangements, to family members explicitly telling me why they want to take some of my civil rights away (and getting angry at me when I take it personally)… it’s been a pretty unhappy year personally.

I am under no delusions that somehow the arbitrary turning of a calendar page is going to bring a better tomorrow. Or that somehow when that balls drops and I kiss my husband and we wish each other a Happy New Year that any of the unpleasantness we’ve been dealing with is going to end.

But I can still take a bit of solace is saying “Fuck you, 2016!” Because sometimes venting anger is all we can do.

Good-bye and good riddance, 2016. Source: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver https://youtu.be/-rSDUsMwakI
Good-bye and good riddance, 2016. Source: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver https://youtu.be/-rSDUsMwakI

Couldn’t we just make love instead

George Michael and Carrie Fisher were each taken from us too soon.
George Michael and Carrie Fisher were each taken from us too soon. (Click to embiggen)
I didn’t become a George Michael fan until September, 1991. I had been aware of Wham, the pop band, but hadn’t been very impressed with their music. Admittedly, I had only heard those singles that became hits or were played as music videos on MTV (this was back when MTV played music videos all the time). There was a point at the end of the 80s when it was impossible to go to any gay bar that played dance music and not hear “I Want Your Sex,” one of the singles from George’s first solo album. And while I liked both that song and at least one other single from that era, I don’t believe I’d ever heard his first album all the way through.

Until the night of my first date with my late husband, Ray. Ray was wearing a t-shirt from George’s Faith tour on the night of our first date. And during our conversation it had come out that I wasn’t a big George Michael fan. The end result of all of that is that the first time Ray and I made out, it was while Faith was playing. Call it Pavlovian if you want, but since that night, George’s voice has always made me think of sexy times.

George wasn’t out at that point. It wasn’t just that he wasn’t out publicly about his sexuality, he was still struggling with it himself. He famously fired the director of one music video which he felt had too much homoeroticism in it and re-edited it himself. Most gay guys I knew at the time assumed he was gay and closeted. I remember one epic rant a friend of mine went on one night about why George should come out and how it wouldn’t hurt his standing as a pop star because, “all the screaming girls will still think he’s cute!” Which I think says more about that friend’s view of pop music than anything else.

When George did come out, it wasn’t voluntary. He was arrested after a cop solicited him for sex at a notorious public cruising location. But once he was outed, rather than try to explain it away, or go into rehab or do a media tour seeking penance, he embraced it. He was tired of hiding his queerness, yes, but he was also tired of society’s really messed up attitudes about sex. When asked about the arrest in one of the first interviews, he talked about the double-standards of our laws. Why is it legal for a cop to wave his dick around and ask someone to have sex, but the person who takes the cop up on the offer is a criminal? Why is sex, particularly queer sex, criminalized and ostracized to the point that people wind up believing the only places they can engage in it are sketchy, dangerous situations?

And he wrote a song about it (video at the end of this post), “Outside.” The music video is especially a big F-you top the many double-standards about sexuality society still wallows in. “Outside” isn’t my favorite George Michael song (that honor goes to “Hard Day”), but his attitude and beliefs expressed at the time, and in numerous declarations later that he wasn’t ashamed of not just his orientation, but of sex period, and that no one else should be, are among the reasons that I’ve counted George one of my heroes since then.

carriebipolar1carriebipolar2My relationship with Carrie Fisher is very different. I was a very closeted queer teen-ager when the original Star Wars came out. I wasn’t just keeping it a secret, I was fervently trying to make it not true. Star Wars should have clued me in, because looking back it is painfully obvious that I had an enormous crush on Han Solo right from the get-go. And while I loved Princess Leia, it was because of her badass attitude (“Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader’s leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.” “Into the garbage, flyboy!”) not because I wanted to date her. I wasn’t one of the guys drooling over her in the slave costume after The Empire Strikes Back came out, either.

I liked her in The Burbs, and then I absolutely loved her in Soapdish. But even more, I loved her outside of the acting. Whether it was the time she explained bipolar disorder to a little boy at question-and-answer session at San Diego ComiCon, or when she talked about Hollywood’s double standards for older women actors in many interviews, or dishing about the weirdness of growing up in Hollywood while struggling with drug and alcohol addiction (if you haven’t read her book, Wishful Drinking you really should; it covers serious topics while being hilarious; another of her books, The Best Awful, is an equally fun while still serious look at Bipolar Disorder).

And I was so happy to see her playing a Commanding General in The Force Awakens last year. I have been looking forward to what General Organa would do in the later films.

So, yeah, I’m not feeling at all festive this week. I’m really not enjoying saying good-bye to George or to Carrie. And it’s not just because they’re celebrities. Both of them were people who weren’t ashamed to be flawed humans, weren’t ashamed to be authentic, and weren’t willing to put up with nonsense.

Both heroes.

George Michael – Outside:

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