On January 20, 2016, the prophet Kylie Jenner predicted this year will be the year of "realizing stuff." In a video posted to her YouTube channel, she said, "Everyone around me, we're all just, like, realizing things." True! One platitude is worth a thousand words. And with a little less than three days left before 2017 comes barging into our lives like the gigantic Kool-Aid pitcher it is, the time to take stock in what we've realized has never been more appropriate.
They say you have to think something into existence, but no one could possibly have thought Harambe would happen; the same can be said of Kim Kardashian West's CVS-length "Famous" receipts. And the election? Sheesh. Perhaps the youngest Jenner simply uttering that simple phrase was enough to set the gears in motion. Either way, we've come to realize some real lies with our real eyes... among other things, of course. Read on for our discoveries.
Don't Mess With Kim Kardashian West
Taylor Swift said she was going to take time off after her 1989 World Tour wrapped. "I think people might need a break from me," she said. Then Kanye West released his album, The Life of Pablo, which featured the song "Famous," which contained the lyric "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why?/ I made that bitch famous," which did not sit well with Team Swift. The months-long ordeal found Swift playing the victim to Kanye West's predator... again. West said he personally called Swift to get her approval of the lyric; Swift said he only called to see if she would release the song on her social channels. Kardashian West told GQ there was video proof of the phone call; Swift allegedly threatened legal action if the Wests didn't get rid of the tape. Come July, after an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians that featured Kardashian West fuming over the Swift ordeal aired, she uploaded clips of the phone call video to Snapchat. I-C-O-N-I-C.
Twitter immediately started the #KimExposedTaylorParty hashtag, reveling in the veil being lifted off of pop's pristine princess. Not only was Swift exposed for lying and playing the victim, she was exposed for manipulating the press. The exposure didn't do much damage, though. Her tabloid-making relationship with Tom Hiddleston, which ended not too long after that, wound up buzzing longer than her exposure, but forget the #KimExposedTaylorParty we will not.
Our Icons Are Mortal
The death of David Bowie left the world stunned. The subsequent passings of Alan Rickman, Prince, and Muhammad Ali, too, forced us to confront our own mortality; these otherworldly figures were human after all.
White Male Privilege Prevails
So, Ryan Lochte gets intoxicated and lies about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio only to get a "boys will be boys" slap on the wrist. Meanwhile, three-time Olympic medal winner Gabby Douglas didn't put her hand over her heart during the National Anthem and got bullied over social media and told to smile more. Something's running amok here, and that something is called white male privilege. Thankfully, Lochte's dealing with the consequences now, as he's been dropped by nearly all his sponsors. Douglas, on the other hand, is thriving.
The World Is Made For Exploring, Thanks To "Pokemon Go"
What did people do before "Pokemon Go," the augmented reality smartphone game? Sit inside and stare at a blue screen. But with the introduction and wild popularity of "Pokemon Go," those people took their screen-staring to the great outdoors where the Pokemon are. Wow! Technology rules. Now, people look like they are constantly texting when really they're trying to catch 'em all. Sometimes this leads to robberies and discovering a dead body, but hey, at least people are going outside and getting fresh air. That has to count for something, right?
Harambe And The Meme-fication Of Serious Topics
Nothing is sacred on the internet—not even the death of a zoo animal. Harambe, a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, was killed after he grabbed a child who had wandered into his enclosure. What started as outrage from animal rights activists gave way to ironic social media posts claiming "Bush did Harambe." What's fascinating is how long the Harambe meme has lasted. At this point, people sharing the meme aren't talking about Harambe, the gorilla, they're talking about the meme. The internet has a funny way of using memes to make sense of difficult, often troubling situations. We've seen it with Donald Trump's presidential campaign and even the conversation around who Becky was, following Beyonce's release of LEMONADE, which revolved around issues deeper than rumored infidelity. It's too early to tell how problematic this all really is, but many argue it highlights the best and worst qualities of us as humans: the ability to ignore serious topics in favor of ironic ones in order to cope.
The Summer Blockbuster Is A Bust
We were promised a summer of bombast at the movies. What we got were flops—both critical and financial. Suicide Squad didn't live up to its year-long hype, and the Ben-Hur remake became the summer flop to end all summer flops. Ghostbusters didn't do too hot either, and who even remembers The Legend of Tarzan and Independence Day: Resurgence coming out? Not many, sadly. Perhaps next year, Hollywood. Perhaps next year.
Celebrities Can Only Take So Much Trolling
Internet trolls say terrible things to get a rise out of someone. Oftentimes, they troll celebrities, thinking their subjects won't read their comment. If this year has taught us anything, it's that celebrities do read your hate and do get affected. Justin Bieber deleted his Instagram because his fans were rude to his girlfriend; Leslie Jones retweeted the racist things people were saying to her before briefly leaving the platform; Fifth Harmony's Normani Kordei left Twitter after a slew of racist remarks were thrown her way. The list, unfortunately, goes on. The hate does, too. Hopefully, people wise up and realize their words, whether delivered virtually or not, aren't shouted into the void willy-nilly.
Vocal Coaching Leads To Passion Projects
After teasing her album to the point it became near-fable, Rihanna finally released Anti. And with it, unveiled a new sound and vocal strength audiences hadn't ever heard. Anti wasn't the album people wanted in the beginning, but boy, does it have legs. "Work" stayed at the top of the charts for weeks. "Work" collaborator Drake also dropped his album, Views, which featured stronger vocals and more nuanced deliveries. In the same vein, Britney Spears' ninth studio album, Glory, shaped up to be one of the best pop albums of the year. Her voice has never sounded more alive, and the bops truly bop. It just goes to show what a little effort and practice can do for an artist's legend status.
Your Vote Counts
If Britain's decision to leave the European Union taught us anything, it's that our vote counts. One U.K. citizen went on record to say they thought their vote wouldn't have mattered. Well, it did, and now Britain is on its own. You may feel like your vote is just a number in a crooked system (that popular vote, man...), but it matters—really and truly. Exercise your right. Hey, there's something exciting about having a say in our future.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Oscar Winner
It happened, everyone. It really did. Leonardo DiCaprio won the Oscar he's been vying for, for what feels like forever. Now, whenever his name comes up in a trailer, it will say "Academy Award-winner Leonardo DiCaprio." How... validating.
Some Things Aren't Meant For You
It's as simple as that: Some things just aren't meant for you. 2016 was a year of black empowerment just as much as it was about black disenfranchisement. The All Lives Matter bull that some people argued didn't (and never should or will) fly. Musically speaking, since music is truly the universal language, 2016 saw the release of a handful of albums made by and for people of color. Despite its mass appeal, "Formation" is a song about black female empowerment. Solange's stunning album, A Seat at the Table, is a meditation on seeking safe spaces, solace, and maintaining a sense of dignity in a world built to keep you down, as told by a black woman for black women. Dev Hynes' latest Blood Orange LP, Freetown Sound, too, explores otherness and disenfranchisement. They're albums that have the ability to move any listener, but they're not speaking to just any listener. And that's a-okay. It should and deserves to be that way.
The Bubble Was Real
Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election. Donald Trump won. How did this happen, when everyone, especially those living in metropolitan areas that lean Democratic, seemed so sure Clinton had the election in the bag? Ignorance. The left-leaning bubble that surrounds America's two coasts was popped by the flyover states. Turns out it doesn't matter if a candidate is openly misogynistic, racist, or xenophobic to name a few execrable qualities. Enough people wanted change and saw Clinton as a continuation of Obama's administration. (That, or they just plain detested her.) So they elected someone different—not fit for office, but different. And just like that, the reality of how far our country has to go in terms of acceptance and seeing eye to eye became loud, clear, and infuriating.
Facts Are Irrelevant
Hey! Did you know that you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet? Crazy, right? You'd think there'd be a better way to sort through what's real and what's not, but a snowball in motion will only get larger and faster, destroying whatever may be in its way until a force strong enough to block it does so. I could make something up right here and someone would believe me, go to their friends with the made-up news, and suddenly you're caught up in the adults' version of the telephone game. Luckily, social media sites are tinkering with algorithms to help us parse through the junk (or so they say), because studies show we sure as hell can't.
Celebrities Are People, Too
Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint in her Paris hotel this past October. A spokesperson for her at the time said she was "badly shaken but physically unharmed." Of course, she was; being tied up and held at gunpoint while crooks steal your possessions in a space in which you're meant to feel safe is traumatizing, to say the very least. That didn't stop people from saying Kardashian West deserved it and claiming it was all publicity for their family's empire. How callous can our culture be? Where is the empathy? (These are questions HBO's Westworld certainly raised.) The disheartening mood didn't stop when Kardashian West retreated from the public eye to recover; a little over a month later, her husband, Kanye West, went through a very public mental breakdown that had many making light of the situation. We don't know what's really going on in West's world. We won't ever, but poking fun and trolling him during a time of clear mental unrest is just a low blow. A little compassion and respect can go a long way.
Despite all the garbage we've had to sift through this year, the feeling of hope still hangs in the air. The world was galvanized by the presidential election. A government is only as good as its people, and Trump's victory has inspired many to rise up and do more than post a Facebook status or electronically sign a petition. People are standing with Standing Rock and peacefully protesting the DAPL pipeline. There are protests against various state bills banning abortion. More and more people are coming out to donate money to support homeless LGBTQIA youth. "What do you give your kids if you can't give them hope?" Michelle Obama asked during her recent final White House interview. Hope is a concept more than a slogan used by the exiting administration. Hope is what's underneath all the anger and confusion many of us still feel. It's why we rise up and work together to make a difference. We're living in charged times, yes, but charged times that, thanks to how connected we all are, are bringing us closer together—slowly but definitely.