Oh my god, would this year just end already! 2016 has been so cruel. Why 2016? Why are you taking all our beloved celebrities and childhood icons?
If you’ve posted something to that effect on social media in recent days, kindly stop it. It’s really dumb, and the rest of us expect better of you.
Hey, spoiler alert, people will die in 2017. I’ll take any bet against it. Some of them, a great many in fact, won’t even get through January. Among the dead, there will likely be a celebrity or two. One of your all-time favorite childhood heroes, a heralded movie star, an iconic musician, an up-and-coming young talent cut short before his or her prime — any or all of them may die in the next year. None of it will be the fault of 2017.
This rhetoric about 2016 being so horrible and taking so much from us is rooted in something deeper. It’s not about Prince, Carrie Fisher, or Barbara Tarbuck. It’s not about David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, or Zsa Zsa Gabor. It is primarily about a generational sense of entitlement which this year’s events have profoundly challenged.
Much of that, likely most, emerged from the election of Donald Trump. It’s no coincidence that most of the people in your newsfeed rending robes over 2016 were also opposed to Donald Trump. It’s also no coincidence that this superstitious rhetoric about a cursed calendar year began to spike after November 8th. “Ugh 2016” has become the new “thanks Obama” or “it’s Bush’s fault,” just less explicit. It’s a subtle dig at Trump, and at those voters who elected him.
There’s more to the demonization of 2016 than politics, of course. It also has much to do with my generation, the late-thirties, early-forties crowd, agonizing over the fact that we’ve grown old enough to watch our peers and icons pass. Princess Leia? But I knew her! George Michael? But I listened to him in junior high! Yeah, you did. That was twenty years ago, and people eventually die. Surprise!
If you insist upon blaming a vague concept for celebrity deaths, allow me to suggest a few alternatives which might hit closer to the mark. Drugs. Poor diet. Freak accidents. The passage of time. Any of these were more likely to have taken your favorite celebrity from you than the number which happens to display on the calendar. You might as well blame gremlins or leprechauns. You might as well cite astrology. The passage of years certainly kills people. A particular year does not. Stop being dumb.