A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
At the risk of clinging to a dead horse, I’m not finished with 2011 yet. I think it was such a cool year we should extend it for a month or two. I’ve got nothing against 2012. I hardly know it, actually. In fact, we’re barely acquainted, so I’m not going to rush to pass judgement. I’m willing to give it a chance but at this point, all 2012 has to offer is the reality show “Who Wants To Be The President?” and the Mayan End of the World. Tres boring! Meanwhile, 2011 had so much stuff going on it’s hard to imagine it’s over. It’s like when the rollercoaster comes sliding into the flat part at the end – you’re crying, your heart’s racing, you just about threw up and you’re going to need the Jaws of Life to deal with your underwear — but you’re kinda not finished yet, even though the ride is, and you want to go around again. That’s the way I feel about 2011. I’m like Oliver Twist, “Please sir, I want some more.”
The media echo chamber has done The Year in Review ad naseum and besides if you’re reading this you were obviously there, so it’s not like there are any surprises from last year. However, if we cast a more critical eye over it, I think you’ll agree 2012 is going to have to be one kick-ass year to top 2011.
First of all, we got rid of some bad guys. Ben Ali and Mubarak got tossed out of North Africa. Muammar and his kids didn’t take the hint in Libya and they got the boot, too – with extreme prejudice, I might add. In December, according to the local media, Kim Jung –il invented death in North Korea. However, the brightest black star on the In Memoriam calendar was Osama Bin Laden who got double-tapped in Pakistan in May. Too bad 2011 ran out before the people of Syria could turn Bashar al-Assad into a piñata and it’s going to take more than twelve months to adios what’s-his-name (I’m a dinner jacket? Ahmadinejad?) out of Iran. The same goes for Chavez in Venezuela, although …. Meanwhile, it looks like a remake of The Lion King in North Korea where a weird wicked uncle is running the show until all-powerful adolescent Kim Jung-un grows into his daddy’s jackboots. All in all, not a good year for villains.
The debt crisis in the United States proved that Republicans are just about as stupid as Barack Obama — which is going some — but it’s a great lead-up to 2012’s ultimate game of Survivor. The various tribal councils (read state primaries) will determine who is voted off the election island but the real question on the Republican side is whether tired ideology will beat out pragmatic reality. Stay tuned!
Across the Atlantic, in what was once the post Cold War European dinner party, the credit cards are starting to come back declined. The purveyors of the feast, Papandreou, Berlusconi and Zapatero have all conveniently found the exits and Frau Merkel is getting the sinking feeling she’ll be stuck with the bill. Good luck, Angela, and keep in mind, your date, Monsieur Sarkozy, might not be around long enough himself to help you cover the tab. The question in 2012 may very well be: how many Deutsche Marks does it take to cover a Euro-failure?
However, even though the Western monetary crisis isn’t global – yet — it’s already showing some positive results. There has been a serious cull in the herd of pretentious wine snobs that have plagued us for the last decade, and people are beginning to worry more about what they’re going to have for dinner than what Snooki ate. Every dark cloud has a silver lining.
Fortunately, the biggest load of crap from 2011 seems to be dying a natural death, although a few hangers-on still believe they can resurrect the corpse. The Occupy Whatever! Movement, which started out as a marketing campaign from Adbusters Magazine and ballooned into a half-inflated media beach ball has fizzled out. The onset of cold weather cooled the ardour of even the most passionate proponent of social change. Shivering for one’s ideals was just too much to ask of this generation’s activists. They tend to run more towards social media and sun screen than a sustained attention span. With any luck at all, the Occupier will continue to fade away and the whole thing will turn into a 2011 version of Woodstock: a “wasn’t that a time” nostalgic lie to tell the grandchildren. If not, the summer of 2012 is going to be another pain in the ass for the people who are actually working on changing our social structures.
However, time marches on. There’s no use living in the past even if it was only a couple of days ago.
Okay, 2012, show me what you’ve got!