2016 was a shit show: a mess of an election, there are no full-time jobs, and we lost Prince and everybody else. I for one won’t let a slight like this past year go without some finger pointing, and I believe you are all with me. So far blaming everything on millennials and baby boomers has gotten us nowhere, and holding ourselves and each other accountable for our own actions is too scary and divisive. Surely a scapegoat can be found that for once unite us all and save the year.
1. An Evil Wizard
Although the final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published in 2007, us muggles will still not shut up about it. Hollywood has kicked off a new five film franchise and Universal Studios keeps spreading The Wizarding World of Harry Potter throughout its theme parks. Our weird, clingy obsession is more than enough motive for a real wizard to passive-aggressively hex an entire year. It’s our fault for liking a magical class that are notoriously assholes.
2. Steve Rogers from Captain America: Civil War
Steve Rogers had his reasons for moving to Wakanda. First off, who wouldn’t want to live in Wakanda? They have a cure for cancer over there. Also, he had to because the Avengers and the U.N. consider him a criminal. Point is, I get. Yet Captain America bailing on America this year is something I do not think we have recovered from as a nation. I do not believe we can heal until at least February 2018, when Black Panther is finally released. In the mean time… what the heck, Steve?
3. Dr. Robert Ford from Westworld
The futuristic theme park Westworld is a fully immersive experience where wealthy people can harken back to a simpler time without gun regulation, political correctness, or consequences from unprotected robot sex. One cannot help but wonder if perhaps 2016 is its own artificial playground for wealthy citizens of the future to visit. Perhaps this technology already exists and we’re now living in a simulation built only for the enjoyment of Donald Trump. Shooting someone the middle of 5th Avenue and still becoming president, as Trump claimed he could do, definitely sounds more realistic as a Westworld storyline.
4. Eris from Greek Mythology
Eris is the goddess of strife and is generally a total asshole. Ever hear of the Trojan War? That was her. She threw a golden apple inscribed with the phrase “For the most beautiful” among the gods. This incited an argument between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite over who was indeed the most beautiful, and ultimately killed thousands. Eris seems like a pretty strong scapegoat candidate because while 2016 was characterized by a lot of needless bloodshed it also was characterized by incredibly petty hardcore trolling. If she were around today she’d probably be getting a $250,000 advance from Simon & Schuster.
5. That Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey
I don’t know what the monolith “means” in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece. The film is an experience, not an answer. But we never did have a space odyssey in 2001 and that seems real suspicious to me. What the fuck, monoliths? I don’t care if you’re a benevolent or nefarious force in the universe, if Earth expects you to be on the moon by 1999 and you never show up that is a dick move. Or the monolith did show up and that’s why we have twitter now. Either way, humans got real screwed over. It just goes to show you, you can’t trust an imposing slab of cosmic knowledge with jack-shit anymore.
6. Charlie Brooker: The Real Life Writer
Charlie Brooker is a mad prophet and a modern Cassandra and he must be stopped. If you don’t know him by name you’re probably heard of his show, Black Mirror. If you don’t know the show by name you’ve probably at least heard of “the show where the prime minister fucks a pig.” Black Mirror’s pig fucking episode aired in 2011, quite some time before Piggate in 2015, a scandal where Prime Minister David Cameron was accused of fucking a pig. Coincidence? Watch Brooker’s 2005 show Nathan Barley and then tell me he isn’t writing future events on a magic typewriter that trap us all in a nightmarish social satire. When the zombie outbreak happens you know who to blame.
7.The Man in the High Castle
Although I hear this Amazon series is good, I can’t help but see it as an ideal scapegoat. I used to see zero Nazi imagery in my everyday life, then this show’s tone-deafNazi saluting advertising campaigns started, and now suddenly the alt-right is here. It is possible that I’m blaming art inspired by the real life rise in global fascism as the cause of a rise in global fascism. However, the show is about Nazis messing up history and creating alternate timelines so I can at least blame the show for giving ideas to neo-Nazis with Amazon Prime accounts.
8.A Cursed Monkey’s Paw
I don’t know who made the wish. Maybe some bored teen wished “something interesting would happen.” Maybe Aaron Sorkin bought it at auction and wished to increase The West Wing DVD sales. Maybe Jeb Bush wished something would happen to overshadow “please clap.” We just don’t know. What we do know is that cursed monkey’s paws are incredibly dangerous and impossible to trace to the source. The perfect scapegoat.
9.The Berenstain Bears
There is a popular theory that our universe and an almost identical parallel universe merged, leaving some people with alternate memories of the former timeline. One of the most commonly shared “false” memories is the conviction that The Berenstain Bears series was called “BerenstEin.” Another popular shared memory from that lost timeline is a movie called Shazaam where Sinbad the comedian plays a genie. I have no idea how the phenomenon of either alternate universes or adults not remembering their childhood in perfect detail can be blamed for this dumpster fire of a year. However, the idea that we might soon merge with a universe where the year 2016 was fine is the only hope I’m holding on to.
10.Love, Time and Death
Consider this idea so crazy I’m sure America will love it at the box office: A grieving father wrote letters to the abstract ideas Love, Time and Death and to his surprise they answered him as flesh and blood people. Yet, they don’t stop with him, they decided to teach all of us a hard lesson about life’s Collateral Beauty. Yeah, now that I read it back, I see that it’s completely horrible. Even a year as awful as 2016 won’t tolerate this nonsense.
11.Barry Allen from The Flash
Barry Allen, aka sometimes the fastest man alive, has a bad habit of running so fast he runs into the past and alters the future. He is basically a mad god in vans and flannel. Where was Barry Allen May through September of 2016? He was creating the alternate timeline Flashpoint. See, in Flashpoint the most famous superhero in the world is Wally West, a young black man, and the richest man in the world is Cisco Ramon, a Colombian-American. I suspect Donald Trump did not win the election in Flashpoint. Way to go, Barry.
Sara Ghaleb is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. She takes pop culture much too seriously. You can see her sketch team The Burbs perform at The Nerdist School Stage every month. Follow her at @saraghaleb.