By Marc Polite, www.politeonsociety.com
(HARLEM – December 23, 2016) – The year 2016 is almost over. For so many people, that sentence brings a sense of relief. This has indeed been a rough year on so many. It’s December, so everyone is in a reflective mood as they wrap the year up, and prepare to ring in 2017. Even though we have some challenging years ahead of us due to the political realities that we face, that is no reason to have a doomed outlook on everything. Anyone who has visited my social media spaces has known that I have been engaging with a number of post election analyses that I feel fall far short of truly explaining what happened in 2016 and why. I could do a whole series of posts about them from varying angles, but for the purpose of brevity, I will say this and keep it moving. I want people to realize that many of these screeds that pass for post election analysis are deliberately meant to mislead people. If you buy into convenient notions, and explanations that miss the mark, it only sets you up to trust the wrong forces and make the same mistakes in the future. That is the role that mis-leadership plays. Just some political food for thought. *Smile*
As you see from the title of this post, I have combined reflections with my opinions on the best of the year. Besides having the free reign to do that (It is my blog, after all) there’s another reason why I am doing this. While 2016 was definitely a savage year, I also feel as though there is this increase in quality and quantity of films that sprung up alongside all of the tumult we see in our society. I don’t exactly know why, but this is happening now and I felt I should make mention of it. It’s almost as if since reality is so twisted, that the arts and creative forces are finding a way to unleash themselves to “make up” for it. Yeah, I am pontificating.. maybe even reaching. I am allowed to do so.
First, I will start with my reflections. This was a difficult year for many of us, and those around me as well. Thankfully, a few of us are recovering from our various wounds, and gathering ourselves little by little. One of the things that helped this writer cope, is the output that I was able to maintain this year. The above picture is of me attending a poetry event at Barnes and Noble on December 8th. It was the last event that I had to promote my writing this year, and it was a high note to end it on. While all the madness with the politics going on, I spent 2016 promoting “Everything To Learn, Nothing To Teach” every where I could. I had the Spring and Fall tour, a number of radio appearances, conference presentations, and interviews as well. With a steady amount of interest shown by people, and with the help of my core supporters, I was very productive this year. I vended at the National Black Writer’s Conference for the first time, and wrote a few articles for Harlem World Magazine. I even ended up getting both of my books into three bookstores in Harlem and Washington Heights: Sisters Uptown Bookstore, Word Up Books, and Revolution Books.
Although a number of good things happened, it wasn’t all good even in this area this year. In the spring, I found myself under a personal attack and had to defend my reputation, around the time of my seventh year blogiversary. Some things that I was working on fell through, and it took me a minute to regroup from that. Also add to the mix that because of my honest political coverage I fell out with a few people, and you have some things that could throw you way off course. So yeah.. ups and down as I said.
At this point, I’d like to say thanks to those of you who have rolled with me as part of this readership, in a year where people wanted to hear what they wanted to hear. I figure it is important that I say my thanks here, before I tick some of you off with my “Best Of” list.
Secondly, I now come to the part of the post where I mention what I think was the best of 2016 creative wise. Fair warning about my best of.. I am only mentioning what I saw and enjoyed this year. If you think I am wrong, feel free to e-fight me in the comments about any omissions.
Best of 2016
Books- “I’m Judging You” by Luuvie Ajayi- A hilarious read from a veteran blogger and pop culture critic. Our president elect needs a copy of this book to work on not being such a terrible person. Bundle it with a dictionary, and it may help. Maybe.
The Lost Arcade– An ode to the arcade era. Those quarter munching days hold a special place in the heart of gamers, and this documentary shows you why.
Arrival– This film was slept on, but good. It was not Independence Day, it was a more cerebral science fiction film about the necessity of working together.
Civil War- The superhero flick of the year… what else could it be? Don’t get me wrong, I liked Doctor Strange as well, but this got me more hype. Suicide Squad was watchable, but not there yet.. DC is still building. Don’t even ask me about Batman v. Superman.
The Purge: Election Year – This was a sick movie. I hope it doesn’t end up being a post inauguration survival guide.
Birth of A Nation – This, I know will be controversial, but I don’t think its a good thing to run away from our history.
Snowden – With all the things we know about the NSA capabilities… you gotta wonder how Russian hackers got past their watch.. allegedly.
Black Mirror– Yes, I know I have mentioned this show like three times before on this blog, but it is that good to me. This near future science fiction anthology is in my opinion the best show on Netflix to drop in 2016. Creator Charlie Brooker is inspired by the Twilight Zone, and considering how upside down things are right now, I am sure that he will have no shortage of material to pull from. Whatever you do, don’t down vote me for writing this. I will be eagerly awaiting Season 4. At least the future of sci fi is bright.
Stranger Things– Speaking of the upside down, I have to mention this show as well. This show pulled from much of what I watched in the 80’s.
Luke Cage– This one is a no-brainer. Set in Harlem, and filmed in places that many newer residents don’t go, Luke Cage is an entertaining, show with a superpower that we as a people seem to need in real life nowadays. The music though!
The Get Down– Speaking of music, this venture into the early years of hip hop was awesome as well.
Sweet A story of two sisters dealing with the death of their mother, growing up, and sacrifices.
Ain’t Never Been Easy– A play put on by the Castillo Theater about communist organizers in Alabama in the 1930’s is a reminder that the struggle took many forms in the past. And out of necessity, will have to in the present.
I can’t end this off, without shouting out my favorite Facebook group of 2016, The Extraordinary Journey of a Black Nerd
I won’t even mention games or music, because I copped no music this year… for real. And I am only really playing Gears of War 4, and that’s about it. I’ll let my gamers and folks who keep up with hip hop chime in on that. So, I leave it open to y’all… am I leaving some stuff out? What were your favorites of 2016? Your experiences?