2016 was a tough year. You would have to be living under a rock to not be aware it was one of the most divisive years in history also, especially for the United States. But I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about GOOD things. Because as awful as some stuff was, there was always the things we love, the great world of Pop-Culture, to bring us all together. So here are five things that made me happy in 2016. Five things that you can watch, read, discuss, listen to, and share with others to hopefully make things a little better.
The Cubs win the World Series
Even if you’re not a sports fan, it was hard not to feel something when the Chicago Cubs won that seventh game, in a 10th inning no less. It was like something out of a baseball movie. With that moment, the Cubbies 108-year-old identity as the “lovable losers” was shattered, and they instead became a real-life underdog story of Rocky Balboa proportions. It’s not hyperbole, as the Cubs had over the years been the butt of jokes and humorous references all through pop-culture. Who can forget the Back To The Future 2 scene, the infamous Playstation commercial, or the film Rookie Of The Year?
DC Comics’ launch of the ‘Young Animal’ Imprint
DC Comics was the first major publisher to try and appeal to older, more mature comic fans with the launch of DC/Vertigo back in the late 80s/early 90s. It was a gambit that paid off extremely well, as titles like Sandman and Preacher are now part of the mainstream. This year, DC once again tried a similar roll of the dice that also has begun to pay off. Young Animal, the new line of comics, curated by Gerard Way, does for the millennial generation what Vertigo did before. With four titles, flagship book Doom Patrol, reinvention Shade the Changing Girl, original creation Mother Panic, and Silver Age throwback Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye, the line has built an identity and shared cohesiveness without being bogged down by continuity. It’s a refreshingly daring and original project that is bringing both diversity in creators and readers.
Netflix/Marvel’s Luke Cage
Luke Cage may not have the mainstream appeal of the Marvel Cinematic Universe of films, but it certainly has the most distinct identity among the rest of the MCU catalog. The show’s themes about race and local politics are about as timely as you can get. And the series feels like it was truly the work of an auteur. From the excellent music and soundtrack to the powerful imagery, showrunner Cheo Hodari Cocker, a former hip-hop journalist, definitely, put a personal stamp on the show. The acting by all the leads, especially Alfre Woodard and Mahershala Ali as a pair of villains, was nuanced and layered. Luke Cage brought a maturity to the MCU that makes it stand out and one of the best things to watch on ANY screen this year.
Down the Darkest Street by Alex Segura
As a crime fiction/noir junkie, I am always on the lookout for great books in that genre. The best always use location and setting as characters. Writers like Joe. R Lansdale, and Dennis Lehane, have made their crime stories sizzle by not only creating memorable characters but having their respective home locations of East Texas and Boston as much a character as a place. Miami native Alex Segura, with his second novel Down the Darkest Street, about journalist/investigator Pete Fernandez’s hunt for a serial killer, has done this for the Magic City. As a fellow former Miamian, I was exhilarated reading this excellently paced, beautifully written, and meticulously plotted book. Segura brought out aspects of Miami only a “born and raised” person would truly understand, yet also made the city a major player and setting as a potential place in pop-culture. If you love great mystery novels, this is probably the year’s best.
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here
A Tribe Called Quest was always on the forefront of hip-hop, with head bopping beats and mind-expanding lyrics and rhymes. But with We Got It From Here, their final album, they sound the most urgent and necessary they ever have. Released after the death of founding member Phife Dawg, the album features some of the most political and relevant songs of the group’s career. In an era where hip-hop is the most mainstream of music, this album reminds you why it is still such a vital music genre and how powerful it can convey message and emotion. It’s my favorite album of the year and an instant classic of ANY musical style.
What are some of your favorite moments for pop-culture in 2016? Share and comment below!