Rhizome asked writers and artists to help us count down the final hours of the year by sharing internet things to remember from 2017, because those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
This post contains semi-nudity.
After a year of death and doom, we all started 2017 hoping for it to get better and for things to make sense. So when Beyoncé, peace be unto her, announced her pregnancy via Instagram, on the first day of Black History Month, not only pregnant but with twins, there was joy and hope in the world (and the picture quickly became the most liked image on the platform).
Super Bowl LI
What better event is there to invest all the affective energy of the country’s political strife than a football game? This year’s Super Bowl was more than just football. It was symbolic with precise parallels to the real world: The New England Patriots as Trump, the Atlanta Falcons as the Resistance (their official slogan: “Rise Up!”) and Lady Gaga’s halftime performance as the Women’s March on Washington. The underdog Falcons gained a historic lead, Gaga’s performance was praised for its apolitical feel, and the Falcons blew their lead and lost. Having laughed my black ass off the day after the election, I was sad about the outcome of this stupid game and I was not alone.
Dana Schutz Fake Letter
The whole Open Casket controversy was a mess and grossly mishandled by the curators, the Whitney, the artist, and the powers that be in the community at large. Debates raged on and ultimately, nothing happened. During the media firestorm, an anonymous individual sent a letter to Art.sy, claiming to be Dana Schutz apologizing, which they published—as did many other sites—for a couple of hours, until word got out that it was fake. The art world got duped into believing that the artist had taken accountability, which never happened.
2017 was a great year for music and for rap music, even greater. There was one track, specifically, that exploded in the way a rap song hasn’t in years (no, it wasn’t “Bodak Yellow”). It was a 7-minute diss track by Remy Ma called “SHEther” in which she skewers Nicki Minaj in easily one of the most relentless takedowns ever, creating the most Hip Hop moment of 2017 (sorry, Black Thought). Nicki pretty much failed to effectively respond, which greatly harmed her credibility, similar to Ja Rule's withering away after 50 Cent's evisceration. Nothing was the same.
Speaking of Ja Rule, he came back in to the media spotlight this year, and not for his music, but Fyre Festival, a catastrophically botched music festival that he and venture capitalist Billy McFarland attempted to mount in the Bahamas. People paid hundreds and thousands of dollars, expecting luxurious amenities and headlining acts (red flag: those acts were Rule himself and Blink 182) but were met with tents and lettuce sandwiches. They were also stranded on a beach with stray dogs. The tragicomedy wrote itself.
Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner Ad
Pepsi also took an L in a failed effort to make a politically engaged ad starring Kendall Jenner in which she stops a riot by sharing a soda with one of the cops. It was one of many such tone-deaf advertisements this year, but was special because it was so absurd.
California congresswoman Maxine Waters will not allow Steve Mnuchin or anyone else to waste her time. The sentiment is one that people should and did get behind.
The Oscars was another metaphorical battle between the whiteness of La La Land and the Blackness of Moonlight as frontrunners to win Best Picture. Somehow, an envelope got switched and Warren Beatty mistakenly announced La La Land as the winner, but it was fake news and corrected (after waaayy too long, like minutes). This provided a perfect possible template for inserting more fake news, like Beyoncé winning the Grammy for Best Album, or The Falcons winning the Super Bowl.