Select Thoughts on 2016 Culture
I seldom wish to indulge in the seemingly recent trend of click-bait listicles (probably should've named this "You won't believe what these hot Asian chicks did before 2017!!1!" for the extra appeal), yet I surrender to the feeling that this format aptly suits my thoughts on 2016. An eventful year to say the least, highlighted by the theatrics of post-truth politics and a crippling disdain towards those who aren't complacent with monopolised culture, or so it feels, as I struggle to muster someone to watch Dangal with me before the year closes - shame it doesn't have the words, "Star Wars" attached to it. Regardless of the depressing atrocities that circulate social media and the news, the distinction between the two increasingly becoming smaller, the culture of 2016 has produced some beautiful gems which ring true and dear, that which deserves additional recognition. Thus, I present my first "listicle", showcasing the cultural products that has uplifted my spirit in these dire and strange times, clinging to my belief that through great culture, we can elevate ourselves from pre-ordained social dispositions which strive only to contain and capitalise from our conditioned tastes. Essentially, I'm just showcasing a few of my favourite pieces of art created in this weird and eventful year.
- Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name)
Motoko Shinkai has created something ground breaking, not just in the realm of anime, but in the world of film. The structure, a cryptic maze teetering with corners full of heart wrenching surprises, indulges the audience into a beautifully animated world packed with character and hopeful promise. Thoroughly recommend watching it on the big screen.
A beautiful, modern, Bollywood biopic constructed masterfully with superb performances and direction. With consistent pace, in-depth character development, and exquisite story-arcs, Dangal is undoubtedly one of my favourite films released this year. A cathartic and joyous experience for all to cherish.
An amazing documentary which contextualises how the current state of political affairs achieved the transition into post-truth theatrics; Adam Curtis' documentary hits strong and hard; the dope soundtrack is a plus.
Honourable mentions: I, Daniel Blake, I Am Not Madame Bovary, The Neon Demon, Toni Erdman, Arrival, Green Room, Operation Avalanche, The Salesman, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Free Fire, Anthropoid, Goldbricks in Bloom
- Va11 ha11a
This game is an intricate and well-versed visual novel, where you play a bartender in a cyber-punk society meeting many wacky individuals. The writing is extremely entertaining and the individuals certainly slapped a smile onto your face.
- Battlefield 1
Over summer, I re-watched Saving Private Ryan, and recently, I watched for the first time Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (probably my favourite Kubrick film to date). War is brutal, graphic and intense; Battlefield 1 captures these aspects well (maybe not to the dramatic extent of these films, but definitely with the visual intensity), immersing the player in the open-environment warfare which no game has achieved to such cinematic fidelity since.
This game is the crack cocaine which I find myself coming back to every night, trying to achieve my First win of Day, wanting to open 1 loot-box before bed. The plethora of unique characters, the art style, the fast team-based combat, active developers and community - well done Blizzard for producing a gem this 2016.
Honourable mentions: Abzu, Hyperlight Drifter, Furi, Doom, Shadow Warrior 2, Slime Rancher, Life is Strange
- We Got it from here…Thank you 4 your service - A Tribe Called Quest
When We The People premièred, I couldn't help but dig the politically charged messages, especially when revisiting Rage Against the Machine's first album in the light of contemporary political events. The album doesn't dwell solely on socio-political reflection, but presents an array of funky jazz-hop tracks of high production value, featuring artists of old and new in a collection of inseparable delights.
- The Party - Andy Shauf
After a friend from the band Magic & Naked recommended Andy Shauf, I listened to his album, The Party, on loop for a good part of the closing year. It is the most delicious blend of mellow vibes I've encountered of recent times. Listened to it eating my food, listened to it reading my comics, listened to it getting high in my chair and softly falling asleep. A carefully constructed mellow Rock album, its undoubtedly a special treat from 2016.
- Wildflower - The Avalanches
Although many claim it to be inferior to their legendary classic, Since I left you, give this album 10 years and people will in hindsight view this through the same rose-tinted glasses... Fuck 10 years, don those shades now. This was the soundtrack to my summer, with many great gems such as If I Was a Folkstar, Colours, and The Wozard of Iz.
Honourable Mentions: Childish Gambino - Awaken My Love, Injury Reserve - Floss, Chance The Rapper - Colouring Book, The Rolling Stones - Lonesome and Blue, Kendrick Lamar - Untitled unmastered, Esbe - Bloomsday, Pye Corner Audio - Stars Shine like Eyes, Preoccupations - Preoccupations, BadBadNotGood - IV, Mall Grab - Sun Ra EP, jinsang - solitude., Mild High Club - Skiptracing, DJ Boring - Winona
- The Night Of
One of Riz Ahmed and John Tuturro's best roles; this Breaking Bad-esque show delicately deals with themes of Islamophobia and eloquently highlights the corrupted bureaucratic nature of the social justice system.
- Stranger Things
Inspired from the Spielberg-kid adventures of the 80s mixed with Carpenter's horror and synth, taking techniques from Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin and story reminiscent of the video game series F.E.A.R, this is a beautifully executed collage of past culture that managed to evoke heartfelt moments of my childhood.
- Planet Earth 2
A stunning visual spectacle showcasing Earth in an unprecedented cinematic universe. Technological improvements and creative ambition allow for the minute details of actionpacked moments enjoyable and informative, exemplifying what the BBC does best.
Honourable Mentions: Black Mirror Season 3, Mr. Robot Season 2, Westworld, Erased, My Hero Academia
Comics and Books
- SAGA by Brian K. Vaughan and Fionna Staples
Vulgar and wacky, a science-fiction based universe at its best. Great characters, great humour. Gotta love anything to do with inter-galactic bounty hunters and fleshed out universes.
- Monstress by Majorie Liu and Sana Takeda
A complex world built upon rich fantasy, mythology, characters and art, underlined by a dark story with hints of Steampunk. This comic, bought on a gamble, is a textbook example of masterclass world building, one of my favourite comics to come out this year.
- Normal by Warren Ellis
Reminiscent of William Gibson's dystopia and futurist outlook, Warren Ellis provides a dark, anarchic, referential, mindfuck which is comically complimented by his prose - a great read.
Honourable mentions: Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Descender Volume 2 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, Dark Money: How a secretive group of billionaires is trying to buy political control in the US by Jane Mayer
A few Things I'm looking forward to in 2017
Midori Takada's Through The Looking Glass is getting a reprint in Vinyl - she's also preforming live in Glasgow. Run the Jewels - 3. Possible Arctic Monkeys album? Martin Scorcese's Silence, Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 and Nolan's Dunkirk. Stranger Things Season 2 and please make Quake good.
From the bosom of an edgy year, 2016 provided some amazing pieces of culture, despite the socio-political strife of a post-truth society. Hell, I don't even have a solid clue as to what's happening in the middle-east, with terrorism, Trump, Brexit, refugee displacement etc. leaving me, as well as many others, asking, "what the fuck is actually going on?" Wary of the provided answers, the only certainty stems from un-productive questions. The sweet stream of selected cultural capital cradles and ignites my concern for contemporary times, and I can only wish that 2017 is graced with more clarity, honesty and originality in the aftermath of this outlandish year.
I wish those reading the best of new years with much love and hope, enticing you to keep in touch with The Drunk Poets' Society for more content to come. Thank you for reading, thanks to my friends that recommended some of these great works, and thanks 2016 for being over. Here's to 2017...