In many ways, 2015 was a mess. As the final hours of the year tick down, we are left with a very divided political landscape, severe racial unrest, and the lingering fear that ISIS is going to show up on our doorstep.
But amid the uneasiness throughout the last 12 months, we forget that a lot of good happened, too. Don’t forget that this was the year that the Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples deserve equal treatment for marriage under the law.
However, what I like to think about at year’s end is the cultural items that caught the fascination of most Americans. And in that regard, there were aplenty.
One of the biggest ones earlier this year was the controversy surrounding whether New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady used deflated footballs to gain a competitive edge during the NFL playoffs last year.
The pretty boy quarterback, adorned in a wintry snow cap, was forced to defend himself in a highly publicized press conference after the accusations were made. He won the Super Bowl about a week later.
After brief excitement following a Saved by the Bell reunion on the Tonight Show in February, the world was saved from the cumbersome task of having to think about net neutrality by the emergence of a dress.
Ten months later, I still think it’s white and gold.
But that wasn’t before Brian Williams decided to lie his face off about his experience in the 2003 Iraq War, which landed him a suspension and then a demotion from NBC’s Nightly News to MSNBC.
He was just one iconic television personality to disappear from the air waves this year, joined by perennial funnymen Jon Stewart and David Letterman, who said goodbye, respectively, from the shows that they each built and groomed. And with their departures, America lost a major degree of honesty, humor and sincerity on television that is becoming harder to come by in today’s growing politically correct world.
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were discredited for their work on the 2013 hit “Blurred Lines,” the Secret Service continued to embarrass itself, a serial killer made the questionable decision of allowing himself to be the subject of an HBO documentary, and Starbucks tried to single-handedly solve race relations across the world.
And we’re not even up to April yet!
It was a tough year for One Direction fans, as Zayn Malik decided it was time to call it quits.
But it was a good year for Amanda Knox fans, as she was acquitted for murder by Italy’s highest court, ending an eight-year courtroom saga.
Johnny Depp was forced to extradite his dogs from Australia in May after government officials threatened to kill them if he didn’t. Yup, that was a real story.
An upstate New York prison escape enthralled us in June, which, predictably, did not end well for the escaped prisoners. The lesson, kids? Do’t wind up in prison. But if you do, just stay there.
Besides the legalization of gay marriage, the next most uniting American event was probably the U.S. Women’s team capturing the World Cup in dominant fashion. And they were promptly and deservedly celebrated with the first ever ticker tape parade for a women’s team in New York City.
A pretend political candidate named Deez Nuts brought some levity in August into what has otherwise been a highly depressing and uninspiring 2016 presidential campaign. A bigoted Kentucky clerk was jailed for failing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. And a Muslim boy was arrested for building a clock.
Playboy decided to stop showing nude photos, Belgians embraced cat memes, Mark Zuckerberg said he’s going to give away all his money to good causes, oh, and almost 200 nations came to a historic climate change accord that may potentially save our planet.
And motherfucking Steve Harvey. God bless that man. We needed a high note to end the year on. And he delivered.
Yes, there was a lot of bad stuff too. An ongoing Syrian Civil War resulting in an unprecedented migration crisis. Perpetual mass shootings. A German pilot killing hundreds by flying a plane into a mountain. Two journalists killed live on television. Ebola ravaging western Africa. The Paris attacks. San Bernardino. And Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric.
But with the year winding down, maybe it will help us all to focus on the good. The world united many times in the face of tragedy, and we showed that we are stronger people when we come together.
2015 wasn’t always bright, but it brought a lot of laughs and plenty of pop culture memes that will last us a lifetime.
And through thick and thin, it brought us hope that 2016 may not be so bad.
I’ll see y’all next year.