It’s early December, which means two things: time to start recapping 2016 and predicting 2017.
While not as exhaustive as The Economist’s The World in 2017 or as doomsday-esque as some other lists that I won’t link to, this is my list of the headlines and stories I expect in the coming year.
Netflix Starts Original News Programming
I don’t watch Netflix original programming much. I think it is the most lowbrow of available television services, churning out binge-friendly quantity over quality that peddles in nostalgia as Buzzfeed peddles in cuteness. There are exceptions, of course, but the majority of their content is just good enough to keep you watching and just bad enough to end every episode with a cliffhanger.
That said, there is something I do like about Netflix: it’s a great equalizer. Republicans watch Fox News and Democrats watch MSNBC; young people watch Vice and old people watch 60 Minutes; everyone watches Netflix. You don’t need cable, money, or a confirmation bias. You just need a couple dollars a month and a desire for something to watch.
Which is why it’s time for them to start serving as a news source, and I think 2017 is the year we will see it. It’s not like it would be considered an untrustworthy news source: people are currently getting their news from spam websites shared by strangers on social media. If anything, Netflix becoming a news network could actually bring some reality back to the post-truth America.
Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart to Collaborate
This one was once unthinkable, but now I think it’s months away from happening. Both Stewart and Beck seem to be on introspective vision quests, two of the only American public figures seeking truths beyond the party line.
Beck defended Black Lives Matter in the New York Times and has been on a path of self-discovery for the last few years. Jon Stewart retired from The Daily Show in 2015, grew a beard and largely disappeared from the public eye. He has recently made more appearances, including criticizing the media, blaming a divided America on the length of our presidential campaigns, and stating that “not everybody that voted for Trump is a racist.”
I’m ready to see Beck and Stewart work together. Sure, I first learned of Glenn Beck when I saw him mocked on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.
But these men are showing us that there is middle ground. These are people we need these days, people who do not fall into line but instead question, seek, argue. People who find nuance. There are interesting things to come.
The Daily Show Hits Highest Ratings Since Trever Noah’s Debut
While we are on the subject of The Daily Show, let’s ponder Jon Stewart’s sucessor, Trever Noah. Let’s also recall what made Jon Stewart so good: he was one of the most consistent and trusted voices of reason in the Bush years.
Stewart designed himself and his show as a lens on Bush’s jingoistic, paranoid, post-9/11 America; what better opportunity for Noah to do the same than the impending Trump years?
Twitter Bans Trump
The cyber bully to end all cyber bullies has just landed himself a job in the White House. What will come of this?
We will eventually see an end to Trump’s tweeting, in one form or another. And there is a part of me that suspects it will happen when Twitter decides to end it and just kick him off their platform. There’s reason enough for it to happen.
James Bond Spinoff Television Series Greenlit
Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter. All the other franchises are doing it. Prequel films, reboots, loose tie-ins, and so on. So why hasn’t James Bond gotten in on the action? This will be the year when we finally get the James Bond television show that no one really wants but everyone knew would eventually happen.
I doubt this hypothetical television series (which will probably be on Netflix, as they seem the thirstiest and the most willing to drop the requisite dough) will star Daniel Craig, or even feature James Bond in every episode. It will likely be a ten episode espionage drama centered around either Moneypenny or a different double-O agent. It’ll be good, but not great, and there will never really be a good explanation for why it exists other than to make more money.
George R. R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter Officially Cancelled
I know, I’m being too pessimistic with this one. But Game of Thrones has officially moved beyond the A Song of Ice and Fire books, and there is no sign that a sixth book is arriving any time soon.
Perhaps it’s time to declare that this is it. It’s just a show now. Forget the books.
If you love George R. R. Martin, let him go.
The DC Cinematic Universe Finally Gets it Right
Too much optimism with this one? One can dream.
But I think Wonder Woman looks pretty cool, and there’s no way they’re sinking any lower than Suicide Squad ever again.
Petition to Tear Down the Statue of Liberty Hits One Million Signatures
One can argue that no American symbol is more outmoded than Lady Liberty. We have an incoming president who suggests Constitutionally protected action should result in revoked citizenship, a national wave of anti-immigrant hysteria, and an overall mood against civil liberties of all sorts.
At this point, what purpose does the Statue of Liberty serve? Is it simply a way to remind the rest of America that France is our oldest ally, as long as you ignore the whole freedom fries debacle? Is it a way to clarify that New York Harbor is less deplorable than the rest of America?
What did the Statue of Liberty once represent, you ask? Let’s take a look at the sonnet one can read when visiting the Statue of Liberty, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
“Boring! Irrelevant! Not my America! Keep this country safe! Tear it down! Those huddled masses can go breathe in Canada with Trudeau and the other commies!”
NBC Apologizes for Electing Trump
There are few institutions that have been more complicit in electing Donald Trump than NBC. Consider The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice, the two garbage reality shows that featured in the voting decisions of the many Americans who mistook Donald Trump for a shrewd businessman.
Then, consider Trump’s hosting of Saturday Night Live in the fall of 2015 and his September 2016 appearance on Jimmy Fallon. The performers on SNL can cry their way through Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” all they want, but they stood next to Trump and nicewashed him for the masses.
Of course, it’s probably delusional to think that NBC and its employees regret any of this. They knew what they were doing. They just got Arnold as the new host of The Celebrity Apprentice, after all.
Let Them Eat Freedom Fries
I’m not exactly sure what this headline would mean, but I think it’s a good one, and it’s about time someone uses it. Perhaps it could be used for an article about how Toby Keith’s still serves freedom fries in its few remaining locations. Or perhaps an examination of the rocky past that America and France have had over the last few years. Perhaps we will once again find ourselves on separate sides of the fence with France, or perhaps they will become our only remaining ally.
Only time will tell, but c’mon: someone better use this headline.
An age-old headline. I don’t know what it will be, who will start it, or how it will end, but I fear we will be seeing this classic resurface in 2017. I don’t want it to happen, but I fear that it will.
Is the list above too pessimistic? I apologize. I meant for it to contain hope. Netflix News could be a good thing. I hope I’m wrong about The Winds of Winter. I certainly don’t want the Statue of Liberty to be torn down.
The gyre has widened, the beasts slouch toward Washington, but there is always hope.