Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My final thought on 2016

Look, some people have been arguing with me or stating on social media things akin to: "These people who are blaming 2016 for celebrity deaths are going to be bummed when they keep dying in 2017."

Here's the thing, since I've had to talk about this a couple times since yesterday.

2016 doesn't suck because we lost so many celebrities who were not only influential, but also iconic.

It's always about context.

Alan Rickman most importantly taught me that it's never too late to follow a dream. To always believe in yourself.

Gene Wilder was a vulnerable and sensitive actor who made us laugh despite his pain.

Carrie Fisher didn't give a fuck about what you thought of her aging, her strong feminism, her drug addiction, and her mental illness. She unashamedly talked about things that society constantly told us we should be embarrassed over.

Prince, David Bowie, and George Michael were music artists and icons who were always up front about who they were, building personas and careers out of pride for their personalities, abilities, and uniqueness.

Muhammad Ali was an incredible and accomplished athlete at a time when that was not something achievable for a black person in sports. He was also incredibly outspoken and uncompromising in the face of a media that thought he was coming off ungrateful for the opportunity to compete in "legit" (white) competitions.

Leonard Cohen was one of the most amazing poets and musicians ever. He weaved poetry, politics, theater, philosophy, and religion into imagery and music that inspired hundreds of artists.

Alan Thicke and Florence Henderson played two sitcom parents who taught audiences, particularly the children among them, to be ourselves, to be strong, to stand up for what is right, and to never be afraid to be open, honest, curious, vulnerable, and defiant.

In a year like 2016 where fear seems to have won out over common sense and decency all over the world, where Brexit, Trump, Putin, Duterte, and continuing horrors of intolerance, persecution, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism - all forms of suppressing individuality, liberty, freedom, and truth - are reigning supreme, that is why losing figures like these and so many others is so incredibly tragic.

They were voices of truth. Of honesty. Of uncompromising strength and will. Whether they expressed that through their art, music, sportsmanship, or accomplishments.

They were people who gave confidence and assurance to hundreds of thousands of people who feel marginalized, subjugated, powerless: people of color, LGBT, women, those told they couldn't follow dreams because of who they are.

To lose those voices at a time when they were so important to a fight that is so much bigger than any one of us,
That's what is so incredibly tragic about 2016.