Despite the current political quagmire, Britons at the close of 2018 seemed spellbound by Christmas festivity, with the New Year’s fireworks by River Thames, momentarily blinding the audience from the drama, confusion, and turmoil they have witnessed over the past year. Just like that, as always, the first sun of a brand-new year rose upon us.
Now that Christmas lights have been taken down, and fireworks have been dismissed for another year, let’s go back and briefly review 2018. What comes up in your mind? Trump? Brexit?
2018 was a year of continuity. It was a stream of breaking news notifications buzzing our phones, with a lot of disappointment and some bitter smiles on our faces. The leaders of North and South Korea met President Trump after shaking hands to progress the denuclearisation talk, and Irish citizens voted for scrapping the constitutional clause that has banned abortion in the country. The #Metoo seemed like an unstoppable surge beyond Hollywood and the West, while the US saw yet more victims of gun violence as we listened to Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’. World politics continued its march towards the far-right with the introduction of new leaders like Jair Bolsonaro, and Russia never seemed mightier while the traditional West led by Trump, May, and the European leaders witnessed anger and resentment in their own countries.
Regardless of what it is that you remember, whether it be politics, economy, or society, 2018 was surely overwhelming. Overwhelmingly exhausting. There is no single word to sum up the series of events, but many will remember 2018 as a year of brimming negativity. And just like how sceptical we all have become with the concept of ‘New Year’s Resolution’, no one is to be blamed for their doubtful gaze in their eyes as we begin 2019. Not so surprisingly however, Antonio Guterres is also aware of this plague of scepticism among us. The UN Secretary General delivered his speech at General Assembly in September, stating, “Despite the chaos and confusion, I see winds of hope blowing around the globe.” Can this really be the case for 2019?
Culture and entertainment have been one reason to keep hopes high. While the international political scenes were a constant let-down, the film industry has progressively and conspicuously embraced the wind of change that will possibly carry on in 2019. Movies like Black Panther, Hidden Figures, and Crazy Rich Asians raided theatres while enjoying unprecedented theatrical success. After the #OscarSoWhite campaign pointing out the lack of racial diversity in Hollywood, we began to notice so many more coloured actors dominating the red carpets, including at the Golden Globes most recently. Netflix’s numerous original series have also portrayed its willingness to maintain its gate open to greater diversity. After the worrying rise of hatred and antipathy towards racial and ethnic minorities over the past several years, films and TV productions of 2018 were not intimidated by global narrow-mindedness, but have instead chosen to send out altering messages as opposed to the political trend across the globe.
Now let’s talk politics. I do not blame you if you are specifically fed up with American politics, because the US-departed news in 2018 had remained saturated with President Trump’s obstinate and childish rhetoric. The American mid-terms however, gave the House back to the Democrats. It also gave Americans Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the newly elected Congresswoman for New York’s 14th District. Often emotionally reacted upon and harshly misrepresented by the Republicans and right-wing media outlets, Ocasio-Cortez and her taxation plan has been a ‘game-changer’ in American politics. Instead of reacting to every single one of the President’s tweets, and being blind sighted from the issues that really matter, Ocasio-Cortez unveiled her tax proposal that outlined 70% ‘marginal’ tax on the super-rich whose earnings are above $10 million, indicating roughly 16,000 of the wealthiest Americans. If implemented, her plan is expected to produce $720 billion in over 10 years, which she desires to invest in combatting climate change. Not only that, but the increased tax revenue from those who reside at the top of the socioeconomic ladder is predicted to contribute in reconstructing the American welfare system, and rescue thousands of people existing in dire living conditions. Successfully addressing potential methods to tackle climate change and inequality in America, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the like-minded movements in global politics symbolise change that is fast approaching us, which yet another reason to keep hopes high.
Aside from culture and politics, 2018 was still a year where we have seen more inclusiveness, more scientific innovation, greater tolerance, and more efforts to change things from how they are at the moment. This is probably because most of us probably agree with what Yuval Noah Harari, the author of ‘Sapiens’ says about humankind: “We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural or inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we imagine.”. Sandra Oh at the Golden Globes was one of the people to remark on this possibility as she was witnessing diversity in the industry that has remained stagnant for so many years. She said, “Now this moment, is real. All this change and all these faces, it’s real because I see it. And now, everyone else will.”
Let me ask you again, how hopeful are you for 2019?