“In Memoriam” segments at awards shows are sometimes gracious, other times garish and ineffective. This year, one thing is certain: it will be one of the longest in the history of the ceremony. 2016 was a year so awash in death that the moment we thought the worst was over, its icy claw reached out for another.
Sure, you say, every year has its share of tragedy, celebrities dying in threes and the odd mishap. What makes 2016 any different? Recent studies have shown, however, that even looking over the year’s first three months, there was a dramatic surge in obituaries.
As we’ll discuss soon, however, it wasn’t just people that died – but spirit, ideology, even the very nature of the entire industry of journalism. Just as the early half of the millennium saw the decline of print newspapers (prompting numerous thinkpieces to be written about the death of an era), 2016 saw a similar, more disturbing trend.
Before we get there, however, let’s continue our mourning of the once animated. Unfortunately, the first part barely scratched the surface.
37. Angus Scrimm – Aged 89
“Boyyyyyyyyyyyy!” With that bellowing call, Angus Scrimm haunted our dreams and was game to do it until the day he passed away. In fact, he was filming his final entry as the nightmare mortician of the Phantasm series when he passed. His towering height (he stood at 6’4″) made it difficult to find work as an actor and Scrimm toiled away at Capitol Records, writing liner notes for countless artists.
For his iconic role as The Tall Man, he wore platform shoes and suits several sizes too small. His contribution to the genre was recently recognized by superfan J.J. Abrams, who alongside director Don Coscarelli oversaw a new 4K restoration of the original Phantasm.
36. Arthur Hiller – Aged 92
Though he directed the much-maligned Love Story, Arthur Hiller may better be remembered for his comic contributions to cinema. He is, after all, responsible for the first pairing of legendary comic duo Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in the comedic Hitchcockian riff Silver Streak.
Hiller began working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in his native country before transitioning to television in the U.S., helming episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Gunsmoke. Later in life, Hiller served as President of the Director’s Guild of America from 1989 to 1993.
35. Stephen Hill – Aged 94
For ten seasons, Stephen Hill oversaw Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) on the original incarnation of Law & Order. Though long before Dick Wolf created his major hit, Hill starred as Dan Briggs, the original team leader of the Impossible Mission Force on the first season of Mission: Impossible.
“When I first became an actor, there were two young actors in New York: Marlon Brando and Steven Hill,” said M:I co-star Martin Landau. Some actors even thought, were it not for Brando, Hill’s place in cinema would have been far more pronounced. Nevertheless, Hill found steady work in television until he took a self-imposed hiatus in 1967.
In 1980, he returned to the screen, finding small roles in major motion pictures such as Heartburn, Raw Deal and Running on Empty. In 1990, Law & Order premiered and the rest of Hill’s career was set in stone.
34. Michael Cimino – Aged 77
Director Michael Cimino will be as widely remembered for his successes as well as his failures. He first got the chance to direct after script doctoring the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force. Star Clint Eastwood was impressed enough to appear in his first feature alongside Jeff Bridges, the heist/buddy picture Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.
His second picture, The Deer Hunter, was a roaring success, taking home Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 1978. His third film is a case study in perfectionism and megalomania. Heaven’s Gate, though widely reappraised as a classic, was a major flop upon release, leading Cimino to fall out of favour with studios. Though he worked throughout the 80s, he never reached the level of success he saw with his first two pictures.
33. Elie Wiesel – Aged 87
If you read a book about the Holocaust in high school, it was more than likely a heavily abridged version of The Diary of Anne Frank (with the excerpts in which she discusses her sexual discovery redacted) or Elie Wiesel’s Night. A survivor of Auschwitz, Wiesel’s autobiographical novel recounts his experiences with his father in the concentration camp.
He later helped build the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and founded the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. The foundation suffered some embarrassment when it was discovered that it had invested its endowment into the ponzi scheme run by Bernie Madoff, costing the organization $15 million. Nevertheless, the foundation is still running, most recently putting its efforts into Darfurian relief.
Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for speaking out against hatred and racism.
32. David Marguiles – Aged 78
This year claimed not one but two memorable Ghostbusters actors, the put-upon librarian and the uptight mayor. David Marguiles has been working on and off Broadway since 1958 and, prior to his memorable turn in both Ghostbusters films, had appeared in Dressed to Kill, All That Jazz and The Front.
Marguiles was one of those character actors whose roles (comprised of over 80 credits) rarely don’t begin with the title “Doctor” or “Detective.” He is also remembered for his role as Tony Soprano’s mob lawyer Neil Mink in the HBO series The Sopranos. He passed away on January 11 of unspecified causes.
31. Ron Glass – Aged 71
Television fanatics both young and old will recognize Ron Glass as either the intellectual Detective Ron Harris on the 70s sitcom Barney Miller or Shepherd Book in Joss Whedon‘s cult classic Firefly. Glass appeared in over 70 television shows since 1972, regularly making guest appearances as recently as 2014.
30. Richard Adams – Aged 96
“If there is no place for Watership Down in children’s bookshops, then children’s literature is dead,” claimed The Economist upon the release of Richard Adams’ novel. The classic adventure novel has been interpreted as religious or political allegory, however Adams insists its anthropomorphic characters represent nothing more than talking rabbits. Still, it’s lapine world is so rich and well-drawn its hard not to draw comparisons to very human hypocrisies and senseless violence.
Children may have been traumatized by the shockingly graphic 1978 animated film, but it remains one of the most interesting and richly characterized of its ilk. Adams spent two years writing Watership Down, and another trying to get it published. Though his novel is filled with rabbit-on-rabbit violence, the author served as president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals. His final story was published in a charity book to raise money for the Born Free Foundation.
29. Frank Sinatra Jr. – Aged 72
It couldn’t have been easy growing up under the shadow of the most famous man from Hoboken, New Jersey, but Frank Sinatra Jr. admirably followed in his father’s footsteps. By his early teens, he was performing in clubs and spending time with Duke Ellington, learning the music trade.Younger audiences were introduced to him via a few guest voice appearances on Family Guy.
28. Arnold Palmer – Aged 87
Arnold Palmer had been a pro golfer since it began being televised in 1955. He was the first celebrity of the sport, winning countless PGA tours. His working class, blue-collar, humble nature changed the perception of the game from an exclusive, elitist activity to something all could enjoy (provided they were white). Palmer is also remembered for the creation of your father’s favourite non-alcoholic beverage, a mix of iced tea and lemonade.
27. Antonin Scalia – Aged 79
Whatever your political views, there’s no question Antonin Scalia’s tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court was extremely influential. His conservative, letter of the law interpretation of the constitution often left him on what progressives consider the wrong side of history, and his dissenting opinions became legendary for their biting, grumpy old man language. When writing about global warming – an issue he “did not want to deal with,” – he mocked his left-leaning opponents for their “pure applesauce” logic.
In his dissent for the Obergefell v. Hodges case – which legalized gay marriage – he railed against the concept that spirituality and intimacy being considered freedoms, claiming that, “if intimacy is, one would think freedom of intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.”
His death also left an even 4-4 split on the court between liberal and conservative judges, making his succession much sought after on both sides of the aisle. The right has invoked a fictional standard claiming presidents do not fill Supreme Court seats near the end of the term, thereby blocking Obama‘s attempts to fill Scalia’s seat with moderate Merrick Garland.
26. Umberto Eco – Aged 84
Umberto Eco was a true renaissance man – a famed novelist, literary and film critic, philosopher, professor, anthropologist and semiotician. His best known work of fiction, later adapted into a film starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater, may have been In The Name of The Rose, though he also dabbled in children’s books.
25. Abe Vigoda – Aged 94
Every male is familiar with Abe Vigoda‘s turn as the treacherous Tessio in The Godfather. He won the role on an open call while still playing Phil Fish on Barney Miller.
Sadly, Vigoda was an actor who fell victim to repeated false internet stories claiming he had died. Though fans of various incarnations of Conan O’Brien‘s late night talk shows knew them to be false, as he would regularly appear on the show in various comedy bits. Some of those bits joked about reports of his passing.
24. George Kennedy
More than any other actor, George Kennedy appeared in the 70s disaster flick fad, taking on a different role in every Airport film while also showing up in Earthquake!, though Kennedy is best known for his role as Dragline in Cool Hand Luke.
Alongside Leslie Nielsen, Kennedy spoofed his more serious work in the Naked Gun films, nailing straight-man comic timing just as well as his co-star. In the 80s, Kennedy published two murder mystery novels. He made his final film appearance in the remake of James Toback’s The Gambler in 2014.
23. Garry Shandling – Aged 66
Garry Shandling re-invented television, paving the way for single-camera sitcoms without laugh tracks and meta-humour. His influence can be felt in the risk takers of television today such as Arrested Development, 30 Rock, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
What made shows like It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show work was how well-versed they were in sitcom conventions. It’s no surprise that Shandling got his start writing for typical 70s sitcoms Welcome Back, Kotter and Sanford and Son.
Shortly before the comedian’s death, he made a prophetic statement. “What I want at my funeral,” he said, “is an actual boxing referee to do a count, and at ‘Five,’ just wave it off and say, ‘He’s not getting up.'” Though he never did, Shandling managed one posthumous appearance as the voice of Ikki in Jon Favreau‘s The Jungle Book.
22. Harper Lee – Aged 89
Harper Lee never got a fair shake. Even her seminal novel To Kill A Mockingbird is rumoured to have been ghostwritten by lifelong friend Truman Capote. It was also frequently on the list of books banned by schools for what was believed to be “immoral language.”
And her second novel, Go Set A Watchmen, was released amongst a hotbed of controversy. Though Lee’s lawyer insisted that she was thrilled with the publication of the once-thought lost manuscript, friends disagreed. Questions arose about Lee’s competency to consent to the release of what was sure to be a bestseller on pedigree alone. Allegations of elder abuse surfaced, though they are still unproven. Nevertheless, post-Mockingbird, Lee led a life on the sidelines of some of the most significant literary and cinematic events of the last century – following Capote to Holcomb, Kansas and researching what would eventually become In Cold Blood as well as befriending legendary actor Gregory Peck.
21. Curtis Hanson – Aged 71
Curtis Hanson had been working in Hollywood since the 70s, beginning his career writing the screenplay for the H.P. Lovecraft adaptation The Dunwich Horror. He quickly became a director soon after, working on a series of comedies and thrillers while still penning scripts, including Sam Fuller’s White Dog.
Though his career in the 80s and 90s had some memorable curios such as Bad Influence and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, his crowning achievement wouldn’t come until 1997. James Ellroy’s novel L.A. Confidential was a massive, sprawling, often satiric noir. If adapted faithfully, the film couldn’t possibly have clocked in any less that four hours. Hanson and co-writer Brian Helgeland took to pairing down the work into a two-and-a-half-hour police thriller. The film would be nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and formally introduced America to Australian actors Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe.
Though Hanson never saw such success again, his smaller, character-based follow ups Wonder Boys and the Eminem-starring 8 Mile both enjoyed critical acclaim.
20. Sir George Martin – Aged 90
It’s easy to identify Sir George Martin, as Sir Paul McCartney even did, as simply the “fifth Beatle.” And no one can deny his work with the band is substantial; a lot of the most memorable touches to their songs, such as the string quartet on “Yesterday” and the Martin Bach-esque piano on “In My Life,” came from the producer.
But apart from his success with The Beatles, Martin was responsible for much of the sound of the British Invasion of the early 60s. Prior to that, he worked on comedy records with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. It was, in fact, The Beatles’ wit that attracted him to the band in the first place.
More than anyone else involved, Martin kept the band’s legacy alive, overseeing The Beatles Anthology and arranging and remixing songs for Cirque De Soleil’s Love show.
19. John Glenn – Aged 95
Before becoming the first American to orbit earth, John Glenn had already amassed a distinguished career serving his country. During World War II, he was awarded six Distinguished Flying Crosses as a fighter pilot.
In 1958, he was recruited by NASA, which led to his involvement in the Mercury program. Despite retiring in 1964, Glenn became the oldest man in space in 1998 as a crew member of the Discovery. After leaving the program, he never stopped serving his country. It was his friend Robert F. Kennedy’s suggestion that he run for Senate in his home state of Ohio that prompted his retirement from NASA (Glenn was a pallbearer at the fallen Kennedy’s funeral). After a few unsuccessful runs, he finally took office in 1974 and served until 1999.
18. Herschell Gordon Lewis – Aged 90
From the moment Herschell Gordon Lewis got into film, it was clear his movies would never be mainstream. His first directorial effort, Living Venus, was a fictionalized biography of Hugh Hefner and the founding of Playboy. It was 1961, and though the Motion Picture Production Code was in its decline, Lewis’ film was still censored.
He earned the title the “Godfather of Gore” after abandoning the nudie genre and focusing on films like Two Thousand Maniacs and Blood Feast, films with levels of extreme violence unprecedented in American cinema. Whatever your thoughts on violence in film, Lewis should be admired for his resourcefulness. Working around his low budgets, he would buy up unfinished films, complete them himself and re-title them.
17. Phife Dawg – Aged 45
For an affectionate, elegant obituary for hip hop legend Phife Dawg and his legacy, we turn to hip hop journalist Darcy MacDonald. MacDonald is currently working on a podcast and a forthcoming book regarding death in the industry, both entitled They Reminisce Over You.
“Hip hop’s highest profile loss this year is, relative to the genre, comparable to the sudden departure of an icon like Bowie or Prince. At 45 years old, the NYC rap legend (born Malik Taylor), one fourth of A Tribe Called Quest – pioneering barrier-breakers who were seminal in bringing both jazz samples and train of thought wisdom to the foreground of 90s hip hop – passed away suddenly of complications brought on by a lifelong battle with diabetes.
Quietly and calculatedly, ATCQ – which prominently features rapper/producer Q-Tip, perhaps more of a household name – set aside the differences that had kept them largely apart for 17 years at that point, and went into Tip’s home studio to record what was to be their final album. Released quite suddenly on November 11, it stands not only as an amazing comeback but one of 2016’s best hip hop records, no mean feat this late in the year. Sadly, Phife wouldn’t be here for the accolades, but the result, ‘We Got it From Here…Thank You For Your Service,’ serves as a living tribute to his talent and his legacy.”
16. Pedals The Bear – Age Unknown
This year couldn’t be finished without animal cruelty, could it? Pedals was a beautiful black bear who earned his nickname due to injuries to his front paws – causing him to walk on two legs. There were numerous sightings throughout the New Jersey area and, after it was posted to YouTube, a movement to move Pedals to an animal sanctuary received over 300,000 signatures. Jersey has a history with the brutal eradication of animals, dating back to the 1916 Jersey Shore shark attacks.
Pedals never hurt anyone. On October 17, Jersey EPA officials announced they believed Pedals had been killed on a five-day, state-sanctioned bow and arrow hunt. The hunt also permitted muzzle-loaded rifles. Pedals was most likely among the 562 black bears shot. His death is one of many unnecessary animal slayings including the better-known Harambe case. Pedal’s crime? Walking.
15. Jon Polito – Aged 65
Fans of the Coen Bros. will no doubt rejoice whenever Jon Polito’s massive bald head appeared on the screen. No matter the role, Polito brought about an almost cartoonish level of gravitas, charisma, and humour to his performances. His over-the-top portrayal of an Italian gangster who rivalled Albert Finney’s Irish political boss in Miller’s Crossing is a testament to how well Polito mastered the tightrope walk that the Coen’s dialogue often proved to be.
Elsewhere, Polito is remembered for his role as Detective Crosetti on Homicide: Life on the Street, whose bizarre obsession with Abraham Lincoln’s assassination led him right to the Ford Theatre alongside fellow conspiracy nut Richard Belzer. NBC didn’t find him photogenic enough for the show, and he was foolishly written out via a suicide in the second season.
14. Bill Nunn – Aged 62
Bill Nunn is perhaps best recognized as Radio Raheem in Spike Lee‘s Do The Right Thing, whose death by excessive force by the NYPD incites the film’s climactic riot. It’s a role that’s become even more significant in recent years, as police brutality has taken centre stage in the media. He displayed his vast comedic ability as Dennis Leary‘s put upon partner in the short-lived cult favourite The Job. He was a character actor of the highest calibre, making appearances in everything from Sam Raimi‘s Spiderman films to Runaway Jury.
For this writer’s money, his most accomplished role is his scene-stealing turn as Harrison Ford‘s physical therapist in the otherwise forgettable Regarding Henry – whose unkillable enthusiasm was matched only by his no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners approach to therapy.
13. Garry Marshall – Aged 81
Oh, the impressions that Garry Marshall inspired. He embodied the whiny, neurotic gentleman long before the likes of Jerry Seinfeld. He was also responsible for directing Pretty Woman and movies that attempted (and failed) to invoke the spirit of every holiday. But let’s not focus on his failures. Marshall was a comical actor, a writer for shows as early as The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days, and Mork and Mindy. That’s already a resume any talent would kill for, not to mention his hysterical turns as an actor in such films as Lost In America and cult-favourite Orange County.
12. Muhammad Ali – Aged 74
There’s so much that can be said about Cassius Clay – his legendary boxing career, his conscientious objector status during the Vietnam war that led to a Supreme Court decision, his amusing trash talking of opponents that was as playful as it was threatening, his scary right hook… There’s so much to love about this man, that rather than waste words, we thought we’d show you Ali as his most playful.
In this clip, he has his wife convince 60 Minutes anchor Ed Bradley that sometimes he falls into a trance, thinking he’s in the ring and its best not to disturb him. The results show just how playful Ali could be.
11. Jo Cox – Aged 41
The assassination of Jo Cox will be remembered as the first in a slew of acts of violence – the kind of violence that could only be borne out of a Trump-centric geopolitical nightmare.
Cox was shot and stabbed on June 16 outside of a library in Bristall, West Yorkshire, where she was about to hold a constituency clinic. Her assassin, Thomas Mair, was reported to have shouted “Britian first!” This took place shortly before the controversial Brexit vote and Mair had ties to nationalist and Neo Nazi groups.
The tragic death of Cox has eerie similarities to the attempted 2011 assassination of Arizona senator Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, a sad reminder that you can’t keep the level of rhetoric and discourse so vitriolic without the crazies wanting their say. Unfortunately, their say comes in lead.
10. Leonard Cohen – Aged 82
As a resident of Montreal, I’m furious. I’m quite possibly the only resident of this city who does not have an “I met Leonard Cohen” story. It’s sort of an unspoken tradition in Montreal that if you hung out long enough, he’d walk into the bar/cafe/bookstore you happened to enjoy.
Cohen was a wandering poet, but Montreal was always home base. And his song “Suzanne” or his wonder that is “Hallelujah” are probably his best works, though he enjoyed a prolific career that poetically rivals only Bob Dylan.
9. Gene Wilder – Aged 83
Young Frankenstein. Silver Streak. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Those are just a few ways Gene Wilder left a mark. He was alternately hysterical, charming, sweet, and off-putting. His work can never be rivalled. Wilder had retired from acting long before his passing, but his character work is held in the highest honour – one shared with the likes of Edmond O’Brien or John Lithgow.
Always an eccentric person, his most entertaining work might have been alongside Richard Pryor – in films where we never did quite figure out who the straight man was. He was a joy and a pleasure.
8. Prince – Aged 57
Much has been written about the musical innovations made by the short-statured man in purple, as well as his eccentric personality, that there’s little new ground to cover when discussing his work. Though his career began in 1975, his biggest success remains Purple Rain – both the album and the film. He followed up the movie in typical Prince fashion – which is to say atypical – with an anti-screwball, black and white comedy that featured barely any new songs.
Though decisions like Under The Cherry Moon are often looked on as lesser points in his career, right next to his drastic decision to change his name into a symbol that could not be pronounced, they also represent his daring willingness to alienate and even turn off fans in service of his own curiosities.
7. Carrie Fisher – Aged 60
Everyone will forever remember Carrie Fisher for her work as Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars franchise, but we would like to speak of her more unsung works: her hysterical lunatic assassin in The Blues Brothers, Hannah’s rival for Sam Waterston’s affections in Hannah and Her Sisters, and most significantly, her work as a screenwriter. Very few are familiar with the fact that Fisher was a script doctor throughout the 90s, rewriting or adding to such scripts as Lethal Weapon 3 and Die Hard With a Vengeance. Then came Fisher the memoirist, who lovingly and hysterically recalled the life and crazy times of a late 70s, early 80s celebrity, the era during which they basically handed you a shoebox full of cocaine at the entrance of 30 Rockefeller Centre.
While Lucasfilm and Disney struggle to figure out how to continue the franchise without Fisher, let her be remembered beyond Star Wars, for she lived in this galaxy and contributed to it in ways no other living being could.
6. Debbie Reynolds – Aged 84
One day after the death of Carrie Fisher, her mother, Debbie Reynolds suffered a severe stroke. Her death later that afternoon led the media to call attention to “broken heart syndrome,” or stress cardiomyopathy. But Reynolds leaves behind a legacy as significant as her daughter’s.
Her first major role, at 18, was alongside Gene Kelly in the Hollywood classic Singin’ In The Rain. In 1969, she would have her own short-lived NBC sitcom The Debbie Reynolds Show. Mortified that NBC was running cigarette ads during commercial breaks, she had a falling out with the studio and simply walked away.
5. Morley Safer – Aged 84
The era of classic 60 Minutes has officially died. We’ve lost Ed Bradley, Andy Rooney, Mike Wallace, and finally, Morley Safer. The names on the ticking clock of the finest hour-long news program in television history have left us awash in Anderson Cooper. But Safer’s passing represents the end of the old guard, those bastions of hard-nosed television reporting. Mike Wallace may have been the biggest thorn in the side of industry and politics, often surprising CEOs and senators with unexpected questions, but fellow Canadian Safer conducted interviews in a friendly manner, soliciting answers to tough questions through kindness.
4. Anton Yelchin – Aged 27
It’s always tragic when a young talent dies early, particularly at that so-called cursed age of 27. Anton Yelchin‘s senseless passing hit particularly hard. A young actor born in Leningrad before moving to America as an infant, he transcended the worlds of indie, geek, and mainstream film, striking a pitch-perfect balance between the latter two by taking over the role of Chekov in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. He moved seamlessly between projects. His final major roles defined his versatility clearly, playing Chekov one last time and a nervous, gullible punk rocker in Jeremy Saulnier’s instant cult hit Green Room.
3. Alan Rickman – Aged 69
Rarely has an actor broken out in his first film role the way Alan Rickman did. After just a handful of appearances on BBC television, he burst onto screen as the villainous, sardonic Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Were it not for Rickman’s droll line readings and back and forth between he and Bruce Willis, John McTiernan’s film may have never earned the cult status it did.
In his later years, between various Shakespeare appearances, he’s best remembered as the male half of numerous collaborations with Emma Thompson. Their work culminated in Love Actually, in which he plays her sneering, unjustifiably miserable husband. One would be remiss not to at least mention his work as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, guaranteeing a new generation of fans.
2. The Fallen in Orlando – 49 Dead
On June 13, the day after Omar Mateen walked into Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, both political parties took to their respective corners. The left blamed the dangers of allowing automatic weapons, specifically the AR-15. The right preached about the looming threat of Islamic terrorism. And Donald Trump said he “called it” and blamed Obama.
It wasn’t enough that the victims were a group already constantly under fire from conservative and religious ideologues since the beginning of history, or that 49 families would forever grieve. Instead, arguments from both sides ended the way they have after every mass shooting: an unproductive stalemate that assured only similar tragedies would occur in the future.
And occur they did and occur they will. Five days later, Dylann Roof entered a church in Charleston, South Carolina and opened fire. As this was being written, CNN is in the background announcing a mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport.
1. David Bowie – 69
The hardest to take was also the first, ringing the dinner bell for He Who Carries A Scythe. The classic rock and roll icon with the ability to morph, contort, and transform into whatever piqued his interest at the time, had been secretly suffering from lung cancer.
It didn’t matter whether you were even a fan of his music – though its hard to imagine someone who didn’t find themselves enjoying at least one song. Cinephiles could appreciate his unique, eccentric acting roles, from his hysterical hitman in John Landis‘ Into the Night, his bizarre Southern accent in his inexplicable appearance in David Lynch‘s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, or his excellent turn as Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan‘s The Prestige. As a musician he was every bit the chameleon, as an actor he was a cipher.
For his fans, Bowie left us with the best album of the year – not one of sentiment and reflection or farewell (though it’s hard to deny the lyrics of “Lazarus” are painfully relevant), but one just as experimental, curious, and celebratory of any of his finest work. Blackstar mixes
0. Facts – Age Uncertain
CNN was a great idea. Founded in 1980 by Ted Turner, it was a promise to the world that 24 hours a day, anywhere you were, no matter what part of the country – maybe eventually even the world – you could find out what was happening that mattered. This was prior to cell phones, internet, and other fancy things you youngins have at your disposal. It was groundbreaking, it was awesome, it was…pretty boring if you tried to tune into it for more than 20 minutes.
Because, and today works the same as yesterday, it doesn’t work like that. Something will explode here and there and things will get frantic, but in between that, it will be iterations of the same facts with perhaps a minor detail thrown in every hour. This lead to shows, real time shows like Crossfire and I’ll Kill You With Knives or whatever the hell else they thought would keep the audience rapt.
Jon Stewart famously put the death nail in Crossfire by appearing and declaring it “horrible.” But the world didn’t get better. Rather than seek higher, we sunk further and further into the rabbit hole, and 24 hour news networks got so lazy by this election that they allowed their programming to be dictated by tweets, half-truths, and empty podiums just waiting for candidates to do, well, very little that mattered.
We got so hungry for things that mattered over the years that the younger generations took to fake news, sometimes promoting it the way their racist grandmothers used to through chain mails, other times writing it themselves just to make a dime. Narratives were skewed, or more often just muddled by the constant nothingness that the media came to accept as newsworthy. And so we’re left with a world void of fact. Unless we all dig through the rubble, soil our hands, and uncover it on our lonesome, there’s little chance of re-animation.
Welcome to 2017. And, on a personal note, screw you all for Bowie, Trump, and what lies in the future.