2016: An Opinionated Year in Review

Harambe can be the face of 2016 and I'll tell you why. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Arturo Hilario

El Observador 

As 2016 comes to a close there’s always feedback that can come from meditating on what occurred in the world, both in one’s personal life as well as humanity as a whole. Major events are what will shimmer when looking back at the bookmark of 2016 in five, ten, or however many years from now. 

This year of our lord two thousand sixteen was seen in the United States as one that will live in infamy, and in internet memes. The rise of the internet culture had its effects in both how we consume entertainment and news, as well as how our political and social views are shaped, as evident by our own election cycle. It has influenced us and changed the course of our world indefinitely, and I’m sure books about Pepe the frog and how we consume funny 6 second videos of animals will become collegiate discourse. 

The Olympics came back in Rio with controversy as well as memorable goodbyes to some of the greatest olympians in the last few decades. Around the world there were changes to politics, Fidel Castro’s death had a ripple effect on the world, while the UK just barely agreed to exit the European Union. In the United States, the unprecedented rise of Donald Trump as the Republican Presidential Nominee, and then ultimately winning the electoral college was shocking and leaves the details of the next 4 years a haze of questions.

With these references in mind I present a look at some thing’s that I will probably reflect back on years from now. As always, comment online and send any opinions or inquiries you may have to arturo@el-observador.com. Happy 2017, and may the force be with you. 

The Rise of Donald Trump: Whatever your opinion on the 45th President of the United States, one truth can be found amongst his unlikely rise. Donald J. Trump took the election campaign cycle and flipped it around a few times. His approach to winning a presidency is unlike any we have ever seen, but in this time when technology and the world is so connected, it’s a sign of the way things will be going from now on in politics. What he said on Twitter mattered to his millions of followers, begging the question, how many people believe everything in elected officials comments on social media? We approach his inauguration, and hopefully, something good can come from this, and that we may actually make America better than where we are now, because if you ask me, it was never “great” compared to where we are now, but we can definitely shoot for the stars going forward. 

The Lost Ones: For people around the world that have access to media and news, some of the impacting moments were the losses in entertainment and sports that 2016 came with. The entire Brazilian Chapecoense soccer team playing its “fairytale season” in the 2016 Copa Sudamericana final was lost in a plane accident. Early on in the year fans of film and theater suffered a loss in famed Alan Rickman. Most recently the daughter mother duo of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds died just 24 hours apart. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali also left us in 2016, as well as baseball player Jose Fernandez from the Miami Marlins. Legendary musician David Bowie passed on, then another revolutionary in music, Prince, did so too. Mexican darling Juan Gabriel also died in the midst of a middle of a tour. Basically, 2016 was a huge “L” for the entertainment industry, with a long list of media icons gone, some much too soon. 

The Refugee Issue: Humanity has always been a creature of curiosity, of going onwards and outwards, for better weather, better conditions, better opportunities, including safety. This year we saw and heard the brutality of the Syrian refugee crisis unfold. We also were exposed to other countries figuring out how to deal with the influx of people trying to come into their country for safety. The outcomes of the US presidential election, as well as Brexit, are examples of people’s uncertainty with the idea of taking on refugees. Muslim extremists in Europe and in the US tainted the reputation of these groups of people and it’s important to remember these extremists are not representative of an entire country or community, or ethnic and religious group. It’s a difficult issue to deal with, but one that should be looked at through the eyes of human intervention and protecting both citizens of one country but be thoughtful of those that are looking for refuge. 

Memories of Harambe, and the internet out in full force: Social media came into play more than ever. Recently, a CNN host talking about a viral video on the CNN cable network’s morning broadcast remarked after the video ended, “squad goals”, or as urban dictionary notes, “an aspirational term for what you’d like your group of friends to be or accomplish”. 

This year more than ever, as with our President Elect on Twitter, or with the rise of “memes” in the mainstream, the internet and our quick access and ability to spread information on it has changed the way traditional media works or affects people. On May 28th, 2016 the forced killing of a 17-year old Western lowland gorilla named Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo started an ongoing joke of sorts which reflected on the death of the gorilla as if it was a savior, a celebrity, or godly entity of sorts that was unjustly killed. In truth, the gorilla was caught in an unfortunate situation, alongside the zoo employees that had to make the life or death decision to put him down after a 3-year old fell into his enclosure. The gorilla lives on in cyberspace.