I've managed to distil all the worst things of 2016 into a short few-hundred words. Let's take it for granted that Farage, Mensch, Trump and all those other cunts are already burning in AdTurds' vision of Hell.
Saying Die Hard is a Christmas Film
Look, even if you think Die Hard qualifies as a Christmas film, the harsh reality of the situation is that no-one apart from you and 127,000 other 34-year-old men give a flying fuck. If you want to watch Die Hard, go and watch Die Hard. The rest of the world gives not one shit about whether you watch it or not, or wether people they've never met consider it a Christmas film.
I find the persistence of this meme across social media a vaguely passive-aggressive attempt for white middle-aged men (of which I am am one, yes) to reclaim some meagre crumb of control over their cultural life. In a world where we men are oppressed by X Factors, Gilmore Girls and soaps operas, insisting that Die Hard Is A Christmas Film and typing Ho-Ho-Ho Now I Have A Machine Gun into Facebook is the modern man's cultural Brexit vote: a tragedy that is both meagre and colossal.
Avocados can't be mentioned these days without recourse to them being 'smashed' - or being part of some hairbrained new diet proscribed by a man rejoicing in the name of David Avocado Wolfe. These health gurus, with their qualifications from the University of Instagram, are among the most maddening and idiotic trends of the modern world. They tend to fit into two categories: liars or wankers, though obviously the two are not mutually exclusive.
I'm prepared to accept the latter simply don't know that they're idiots. A couple of decades ago these people were confined to their own kitchen and self-publishing. Nowadays they're have more authority among people aged 15-30 than Jesus or David Guetta. The liars are simply using the same methods deployed by the Trumps of this world. Whether they believe what they're saying or not doesn't really matter. And their prescription for modern happiness is a simple one: eat avocados. A one-size-fits-all solution for people too dim to ponder the instructions of their new selfie Gods.
I should qualify this: I mean people who undertake on motorways, not people who bury the dead. Undertaking is such a bugbear for me because it's a touchstone for uncivil society. Our world only works if people observe a thousand minute rules every time they leave the house: holding a door open for the next person that comes through, putting litter in bins, returning your glasses to the bar when you leave the pub, finishing off your latest Tindr hook-up before you sheepishly leave.
There are hundreds, thousands, perhaps more of these micro-virtues and if everyone does them the world works a little better and everyone goes home a little happier. Reverse the situation - because you can't be arsed, want to gain some incremental advantage over your fellow human or, more prosaically, you're a cunt and our world simply cannot function.
Where this is most obvious is on the road, somewhere I spent a lot of time as I earn my crust. If you don't observe the rules - both formal and informal - here then there's a chance that other people will die. Driving through red lights, tailgating, cutting up and undertaking are both more prevalent on the roads than they ever have been before. They're all tiny little expressions of someone's belief that they are more important than you and they should be able to do whatever they want in prosecuting that belief. It's an infinitesimal microcosm of a world that seemed suddenly darker, more dangerous and fundamentally more cuntish than it had been before.
I immediately feel a little guilty here because Adam Hills is probably a very nice man. But he's the person I associate most with the concept of 'hot takes' - an instinctive, vituperative reaction to news or events that distinguishes itself by generally being wholly uninformed and written by a football team's worth of jobbing comics in time for Channel 4s latest bash at a topical talk show.
But hot takes are for morons. It's shorthand for the way that we now value emotional responses over facts, logic and reason. Hot takes are designed for Instagram, Vine, Snapchat... a social network invention for the terminally short-of-imagination who would prefer to receive rhetorical expressions of approval, disgust or anger instead of something as boring as knowledge, information or analysis. In a world where we make a virtue out of ignorance perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. If ignorance is bliss, a hot take is a cheap and unfulfilling orgasm.
I need to qualify this immediately by distancing myself from the silly petitions against the BBC Political Editor than sprung up throughout the year, carrying a nasty whiff of misogyny. What made the petitions and the misogyny worse is that there are clearly valid criticisms of Kuenssberg, who has taken the Westminster-gossip-as-politics model to a new level, even within the rarified atmospheres of the London media.
I'm not sure whether she recognises it or not, but the kind of tittle-tattle that journalists like Kuenssberg thrive on (I'm an addict, I admit it) has been weaponised by politicians and right-wing media to degrade political opponents. As such they've become pawns in a larger game, doing the bidding of David Cameron, Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre. They've played a vital role in perpetuating the corrosive idea that 'they're all the same' - it's paved the way for a total collapse in public faith in politics. And that's horribly dangerous. This utter failure of the BBC as a medium for informing and educating was exposed badly by the EU referendum, when even George Osborne reported that he understood the debate only 'slightly or not at all' in a poll on the cluelessness of the British public on Europe.
There's a smirk on the faces of people like Kuenssberg - David Dimbleby, John Humphrys and Jeremy Paxman are also guilty - that betrays how much of a game it is to them. 2016 delivered a message that journalists should heed: politics is not a game for most.
Invented in 2009, banter is now everywhere. What's very noticeable about it is that it's gained a formal currency. Look at any business aimed at young men - soft porn, sport, betting et al - and they reek of banter. It's a stench of Rustlers burgers, Carling and casual sexism. "Just banter" is the new "I was only following orders" - a catch-all term used to disguise a multitude of sins. Including a rich white man grabbing women 'by the pussy' and forcing himself on them. Banter, apparently. That's hypernormalisation for you I guess.
Look. I like banter. I actually invented the idea of 'banter credit' - that indefinable phenomenon whereby some people can get away banter and some can't. Think of some people you know: consider the person who can say anything with a smile on their face and get away with it; consider another who draws only frowns of opprobrium with the weakest dig. Banter credit.
But banter has been the delivery method for new forms of bigotry to take root - and I don't like it. If you tell racist jokes, make fun of peoples' sexuality or do gags about rape it's not banter. It's being a cunt.
The Daily Mail
The word 'Nazi' has lost its currency these days but there was a time, not so long ago, when to be thought of as espousing the same sort of views as old One-Ball himself would have been greeted with some typically British stiff-upper-lips and a straight right to the chin of Fritz. It's become clear that we Brits can no longer claim that moral high ground. The best example of this? The Daily Mail, a newspaper so horrible in its views that Adolf Hitler would put out a statement disavowing its support (for all we know he might have - it did support him after all).
It's very easy to write off the Mail as parodic or even beyond parody. And it's too easy to laugh at it. Lots of people who are reading it are not laughing. Lots of people who read newspapers like the Mail, Sun, Express and even the Telegraph - going as bonkers as one of the foaming old loons who typically reads it in its dotage - believe there's nothing wrong with refugees drowning in the sea or brown people being spat on in the streets, or women who were born in Rochdale being told to 'go home'.
Almost exclusively they're owned and written by rich white people. Elites, you could say. They're steadily tearing down everything that is still 'Great' about Britain for their own perverted ends and it's a fucking tragedy. These newspapers are growing bolder every day and seeping pure poison into the minds of the people who read them. Vicious, horrible poison vented against people of different race, sexuality and gender. It's time to stop to laughing at The Daily Mail and call it what it is.
The right doesn't have a monopoly on insane, fact-free clickbait. At first I saw The Canary as a useful attack dog to counter the insane propaganda of the Tory press and its many outriders in the blogosphere. But it quickly became apparent that fact and truth are subordinate to the need to generate clicks for The Canary.
Only so many times can you see a headline about Jeremy Corbyn 'destroying' May or Cameron at the despatch box before you realise anyone involved in writing it is either utterly dishonest or barking mad. You might think its heart is in the right place - I take the view that websites like The Canary share the blame for the legions of self-satisfied Corbyn clicktivists who are desperate to ensure the useless Conservative government never has an effective opposition ever again.
Coffee is perhaps the best example of the normalisation of insanity in our modern life. The other day I went into one of these post-modern gas chambers to get a cup of coffee and blurted out - for reasons I can't explain - that I wanted a 'medium'-sized cup of coffee. A carton made of stuff that won't biodegrade for forty billion years containing five quarts of boiling hot water that tasted very slightly of coffee was duly handed over to me. In exchange I forked out something like four pounds. Four pounds. You can buy a human being for that amount of money in certain parts of Kent.
Spend about four pounds on a jar of coffee from any supermarket and you can probably enjoy something like 100 cups of coffee. What's the actual cost of a spoonful of coffee and some hot water? Five pence? If a sandwich shop opened up and start charging the best part of 100 times the cost of the raw ingredients of an egg-and-cress sandwich would we buy it? The usual rhetorical answer is no, of course we wouldn't. But ten years ago we'd say the same thing about coffee, tea, a pint of beer...
Coffee is a metaphor in 2016 for how we're complicit in making the extraordinary normal. One day we'd recoil at the idea of paying the equivalent of half-an-hour's work for some bad coffee, or seven pounds for a pint of overly sweet lager; nowadays we won't. Once upon a time we wouldn't allow ourselves to be hoodwinked by charlatans, liars, racists and pussy-grabbers...
Blossoms, Jake Bugg, Mumford & Sons, Kodaline, Ed Sheeran, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Coldplay - music for people who would shit themselves if they heard an Iggy Pop album.
These TV programmes and films
Game Of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Star Wars, Deadpool, Suicide Squad, X-Factor. Go and read a fucking book.
Nando's, Burger King, McDonalds, Wagamama, Prezzo, La Tasca, Turtle Bay, Domino's, Starbucks, Subway, Costa, Cafe Rouge, KFC, Byron, Jamie's Italian, Yo Sushi, Las Iguanitas. Burgers; fries; slaw; anything pulled. Like going through life thinking your first fuck is as good as it gets.
A growing trend on social media and, increasingly, internet conversation, is a deep and vicious dislike of being told what to do, think and behave by other people. To some extent this is wholly laudable; on the other it's one of the most idiotic and perilous facets of modern life. To varying degrees and across the political spectrum hatred, mistrust and frustration are fuelling the successes of Donald Trump, Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage and dozens more. And this can all be explained with a short clip from venerable science-fiction show Red Dwarf.
The Mainstream Media (MSM) is one of the banes of our modern existence - the vocal part of the military-inudstrial complex determined to keep us down, tell us lies and advance the wishes of our masters. It wants us to stay in Europe, stay in NATO, get rid of Jeremy Corbyn and feed us messages inimical to our own interests: from climate change to Europe to Donald Trump.
Or is it? The belief that the media is working against our interest through bias, selective reporting and outright lies is one of the prevailing beliefs of our times. Yet the reality of this situation is far more complex that the black-and-white certainties of the modern age. Another prevailing phenomenon is a deep mistrust of those identified as elites, and this is another difficult situation to explain.
Cynicism can be healthy, vital even. But at one extreme it can mean that people are inclined to ignore the advice of scientists, economists, doctors... people who have spent their lives devoted to knowing what they're talking about. This reached its apotheosis during the Brexit campaign when Michael Gove said these actual words: "People in this country have had enough of experts".
Had enough of experts. Just consider that phrase for a few moments. In a world where knowledge, experience and judgment have become dirty words we might as well start playing with lead soldiers, take up smoking when we're 12 and driving without wearing seatbelts again.
Saying that I have a few fantasy scenarios where Michael Gove might 'ignore the advice of experts:
A sherpa: "I wouldn't walk out onto that slippy precipice overlooking a 1000-foot drop Mr Gove."
A fireman: "Your plan to unicycle into that burning building while doused in petrol is an error, in my opinion, Mr Gove."
A physicist: "Juggling plutonium bars is likely to blast your body in harmful radiation, leading to a painful death, Mr Gove."
Pshaw. What do these 'experts' know anyway?! They are elites so anything they say can be disregarded. It reminds me of an early episode of Red Dwarf, Confidence & Paranoia, where two elements of Dave Lister's psyche are made real. Confidence, the positive side of the coin, eventually tries to convince him that he doesn't need oxygen in deep space and anyone who tells him otherwise is a 'loser always trying to make you feel small'. In an attempt to prove that what he's saying is true, Confidence takes his own space helmet off - and explodes into a million pieces.
That, in a nutshell, is the modern discourse across politics and the media. Doctors. Teachers. Scientists. Politicians. Anything any of them say can now be ignored, ridiculed or attacked because of anti-intellectualism, inverse snobbery, jealousy or contempt. And in every newspaper, on every TV channel there's a modern-day Confidence telling us that there are losers around every corner trying to make us feel small.
Donald Trump and the Brexiteers (surely a pub-rock band name) are the most obvious examples of this, despite the fact that they are some of the richest people in the public eye and are demonstrable liars. But their willing accomplices are the newspapers and echo-chmber TV channels. The MSM. So why do I object to the denigration of the mainstream media?
Mainly because it's a kissing cousin of the same paranoid attitude towards 'so-called experts'. The media can be a dangerous beast: Fox News, Russia Today, The Sun, The Mail and The Telegraph are all organs of vested interests, compromised to varying degrees and with different editorial lines and standards. And most media in the United Kingdom is shown again and again to be unconsciously biased through the editorial focus they give to certain issues, or choose to present tinfoil-hatted fringe nutters as valid sources.
Mistrust of these media sources - the BBC, Guardian, Times, Economist, Washington Post, Der Spiegel, Channel 4, anyone - means that we're inclined to instinctively reject anything that we don't want to hear, because it's 'bias', in modern parlance.
In the news vacuum have sprung up people to promise to give it to us straight, unvarnished and with a distinct lack of political awareness. Unfortunately they tend to be complete crazies, attention-seeking careerists or the sort of people you wouldn't sit next to on the bus. They are, frankly much less trustworthy than most of the sources they rail against.
What exists in modern distrust of the MSM and those identified as elites (those so-called experts) is a very Marxist critique of the media and bourgeoisie. But it's something else too: a misdirected, dangerous and fundamentally stupid rejection of advice from very clever people who know exactly what they're talking about.
Reject it and you risk disaster. You may not literally explode into a million pieces, but a fate just as grisly awaits those who dismiss out-of-hand the messages they don't want to hear.
Trump image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr