If there’s anything we can take away from 2017 it’s our constant, enraged reactions to the inhumanity of our godless world. With the year finally behind us like some repugnant bowel movement, looking back at ourselves during 2017 is a bit like staring at an old drunken photograph of yourself mid-blink. It’s shame, it’s misery, it’s embarrassment. 2017 was the year we loved to let ourselves down, again and again, with constant disappointment. But if there’s anything I know about outrage it’s that eventually, that anger, that bile – it just becomes white noise. Was 2017 the year outrage lost its edge?
Being angry is vitally important. Like your nervous system it interprets pain in emotional 1’s and 0’s that our biological computer hubs can understand – it gives us a good reading on what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s Donald Trump. It’s the reason we still aren’t punching our kids for accidentally breathing too loudly or hurling Witches into a big fire because they looked at you a bit funny. Outrage and anger is a natural impulse reaction to our moral development as a species, and as the times change, so does what outrages us. Such is the cyclical rotation of human life.
But in the case of humanity circa 2016, so many punches have rattled our brain cages that it’s getting difficult to see straight. Remember that muslim ban last year? Ha! Old news mate. This year we’re big on potential nuclear holocaust as this fascinating tweet from the world’s most embarrassing prick shows us. This fantastic exchange gives us an accidental (or is it?) glimpse into the broken vanity that is Trump’s ego who compares the size of his big red button to that of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s. The leader of the most powerful armed force in the world comparing his nuke button to a massive penis is almost impossible to stomach but, really, the whole ordeal is just too comically farcical to take seriously. We’ve gone far beyond bed-wetting nuclear nightmare and well into comical Brasseye satire realms by being too funny to be scared about. I remember when all we had to worry about was that stupid wall he wanted to build. Oh well. At least we’ll laugh as the radiation eats away our skin.
In the grand traditions of the 20th century’s greatest existential philosophers, the only option available to you, when faced with such hearty portions of misery, is laughter. That’s what 2017 has done to us. Its been a proverbial George Orwell boot to the face too many for good old humanity, and the horrible reality of nuclear genocide was one last step over the line. Outrage and constant abuse of it have rendered our pain receptors dull. We’re starting to tap out.
And every week there’s something new. If we’re not learning to duck and cover by next week then don’t worry – there are quite a few atrocities to come up before then. What about chuckling tomfoolery while standing next to a recently hanged human being? Logan Paul’s got you covered on that one. Or how about the cheerful news that the NHS is so overworked it’s been put on something called “black alert” which sounds a bit like some awful flesh-eating virus is about to rip through British hospitals any second now? And if that isn’t quite grabbing your attention by the balls and crushing them until you scream then what about all this Brexit malarky, eh? I know, I know, I’m bloody sick of it too. Not even a massive royal wedding is working at the minute. Usually a box office smash hit with the easily amused, even the royal wedding itself has been dogged by racism in some of the lower ranks of the royal family. It’s almost like there’s no escape. Don’t we know how to be happy?
Call me naive but I remember when George Bush was the worst thing we had to worry about. Remember all those stupid things he said? Tee hee! How cute! God, I wish that big stupid warmongering arsehole was still here stammering his way through press conferences. I remember when horse meat was a big scandal. Good lord, we were naive in 2013. And remember when we found out Tiger Woods was a big cheating bastard? Oh if only we knew then that some of our most beloved heroes would also turn out to be horrendous sex pests.
Outrage is a powerful and vital feeling. John Lydon, one of the greatest working-class musicians ever, once said “anger is an energy” and it is – that collective outrage at injustice and anger that our world isn’t the holiday home we thought it would be – that’s a vital part of the human experience. But with all the proverbial kicks to the nuts humanity has suffered over the last 2 years, I’m starting to worry that the anger is exhausting. That our collective howls have become uniforms in an invisible war. Person versus person. One versus the other. That all of this tension and bitterness has been turned inward on ourselves is, in itself, a silent outrage. As we tear each other apart, the Trump conglomerate – the stateless entity of greed – has run amok with a grin as big as the river Thames.
But let me not add to the dismal gloom we humans are so fond of. There’s a silver lining here: despite resistances from the alt-right, representation has come forward in huge, swaggering strides in the last few years. It’s not magically better, mind you, we still demonise and belittle “the other” like no tomorrow. But now more than ever are you likely to see and hear stories of marginalised peoples and voiceless cultures who would have previously been consigned to niche corners of the world, forced to eek out some minimal role in society. If our collective anger did something positive, it’s that. Beyoncé’s black panther infused super-bowl performance, as a very broad example, would have been met with stunned, gormless silence just 5 years ago. But in the nuclear glow of modern times, it’s downright refreshing and bold. Some of the greatest new talents in culture are telling stories about people from all over the world and thanks to that wonderful emotion we call anger we get to experience it and have it enrich our human experience.
Trump might seem bad now, but his wheels have been rattling loose for a while now. The CIA has been breathing down his neck about Russia for months and even ex-aide and professional full-time bastard Steve Bannon has turned on the man claiming the authorities are about to “crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.” That’s quite something. And necessary, too. Trump simply can’t exist. If he wins, democracy has been irrepairably broken. Something has to be done about Trump or we may never see a fair election ever again. It’s no wonder, then, that the CIA are sharpening their knives for Donald ‘American Dad’ Trump. Even amongst some of the shadiest of organizations, there are some lines that simply can’t be allowed to break. Donald Trump pulled and prodded those lines to breaking point.
The challenge for us, then, us poor plebian wage slaves, is to find some strain of sanity in a world that has gone for a bath in a tub full of baked beans. That’s where art comes in. Our laws might draw the lines in the picture books but our stories are the colours and we can use our anger to make those paintings scream and shout. As a life-long world-weary cynic, I sincerely think we’ll be fine. I sincerely believe we can wheather this storm. But we need to be careful about hunting for indescretions amongst our own allied ranks. Anger is an energy, but misplaced anger will only be the end of all of us.