2009 was a wretched year. On a personal level, it was full of injury, emotional rollercoasters of human interaction, far too much time spent on academics, and the deaths of some very special people to me.
And for the world, 2009 saw the entrenchment of superficially humanized global American military domination with the coronation of Emperor Obama. Obama was not only awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while continuing the Bush doctrine of American foreign policy, but also opened new “fronts” in the so-called “War on Terrorism,” whose connection to September 11 is even more nebulous than Bush’s oft-ridiculed “Axis of Evil.”
It was the year of the inevitable collapse of credit-capitalism and the gutting of working Americans’ pockets and wages to rebuild the tottering slum known as the US economy. Obama, far from re-working the bailouts to the benefit of average Americans, continued to hand over billions of dollars from US citizens to the wealthiest and most powerful segments of American industry in what has been called the single largest act of class warfare in contemporary American history.
Here at home, 2009 saw Canadian policy take a radical swing to the racist right, beyond what any “Tory/Liberal-All-The-Same” naysayers like myself could ever have imagined. Our government declared all-out war not only on public services and government social programs, but also on Canada’s nebulously “neutral” position in the Huntingtonian self-fulfilling prophecy of civilizational clash. Oh yes, and there were the two complete seizures of government power by the executive wing of our government against the one elected portion of our government, the legislature.
Here in Montreal, we saw the re-election of our profoundly corrupt municipal regime whose win makes Ahmadinejad’s election look clean and straightforward – though of course we polite North Americans won’t be pouring into the streets to protest. We also lost one of the greatest defenders of the poor, lawyer Natacha Binsse-Masse, to lung cancer at far too young an age. Binsse-Masse spent most of her career fighting police and state abuse of the marginalized and we citizens of Montreal are far worse off without her.
And finally, here at McGill, we saw the administration’s attack on student life and the campus community reach new heights. At the same time, our administration declared its commitment to sustainability while our principal was one of a handful of delegates advising the prime minister during his shameful and tragic performance at the Copenhagen conference, where Canada outperformed even the United States in the West’s race to the bottom rung of action on climate change.
But there is small sliver of hope for humanity that emerged in 2009. While not immediately impressive, I’ll take whatever I can get at this point.
That sliver was the release of a brilliant year of television shows the likes of which we haven’t experienced since the heyday of Seinfeld and the Simpsons. Of course, the world of pop culture was brought down by the untimely deaths of Michael Jackson, Brittany Murphy, Patrick Swayze, and Farah Fawcett. And the world is far worse off without the class and elegance of the one and only Bea Arthur.
But my internet TV watching – for better or for worse – hit an all-time high in 2009 with the release of groundbreaking shows like The United States of Tara and Modern Family. Beyond the new series, on-the-rise shows like True Blood and the Canadian-produced Flashpoint hit new levels of genius in 2009. Hell, there was even a new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm that reversed the downward trend of the past few years.
Now, the release of some great new shows does not make up for the tragic state of the world. It arguably compounds the brutal inequality that underlines global military and economic relations. But, in the spirit of the New Year and to avoid the calls of “cynic!” that follow me in life, I’ll take what I can get. So bring it on, 2010. With my arsenal of sitcoms, I’ll take what you can throw at me.