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Ed Said - Spoiler alert: More of the same in 2021



From what I hear, more people than usual stayed up to see the end of 2020. Seems they just wanted to be absolutely sure the year actually came to an end. If they were both around today I’m guessing Hillary would have exclaimed to Tenzing: “Well, we knocked the bastard off!”

Such is the sentiment around 2020.

While New Zealanders enjoyed the usual frivolity seeing the new year in, the rest of the world wasn’t so lucky as lockdowns and strict social distancing once again kept many town and city streets empty.

It’s a peculiar human trait, where we expect the tick of a clock past midnight will take us magically from a crappy yesterday into a future full of hope and prosperity. The fact is that people, on the whole, are often eternally and naively optimistic, and maybe that’s not a bad way to be, although optimism is like potential – it’s infinite in amount, but never fully realised.

After such a harrowing 2020, many will be looking towards 2021 with trepidation, uncertainty, unable to look, watching it approach with one eye closed and through their fingers. And despite hindsight being 2020 (yes, pun intended), we are poised to repeat it.

Life was rosy in the early part of 2020 when all at once the US seemed to be bedridden with Covid, much of California was on fire, the internet was awash with conspiracy theories, chaos followed the death of George Floyd, and the Trump administration was blundering its way through all of it. Then followed an election that continues to fracture the un-United States still.

No matter the circumstances we eventually get to a point where we can see the lighter side of our world situation. Our ability to laugh at our situation, plight, hopeless or otherwise, is something very cathartic. All the seriousness, the global events of 2020, particularly the theatre of American politics, have become comedy fodder in a new Netflix mockumentary ‘Death to 2020’, a satirical reflection on a year that was so bad you couldn’t make it up.

There’s a cast of characters played by big names like Samuel L. Jackson, Lisa Kudrow, Hugh Grant, and Tracey Ullman, mixed with real life archival footage of people and events, and narrated commandingly by Laurence Fishburne.

Although it’s been shredded by critics, I’m convinced that truly enlightened audiences will easily see that truth is so much funnier than fiction: Fake news, conspiracy theorists, anything to do with Rudi Giuliani, Boris Johnsons hair, Trump suggesting we drink disinfectant. It simply dares to say what most of us are thinking but are sometimes afraid to say out loud.

There are some choice lines in the film. ‘Average citizen’ Gemma Nerrick (played by hilarious English actress Diane Morgan) is interviewed in her lounge, and parodies the effects of isolation and social distancing on the human psyche: “I live on my own, and after a while I got so lonely I developed a multiple personality disorder on purpose so I could keep myself company. Then of course I also had to try and keep two metres away from myself at all times. Don’t know if you’ve ever tried doing that, but it’s a bloody nightmare.”

In the real media world, without Covid it’s likely Meghan and Harry would have been the top newsmakers of the year.

There was a little light relief in this country when Dunedin’s Baldwin Street reclaimed its status as the steepest residential street in the world.

Fast forward to tomorrow, and the world is still in a spin, like a fairground ride that just won’t stop and makes you want to bring up all that candyfloss you’ve been eating – the UK is alarmingly infected and with a new strain, Sweden’s herd immunity is failing, the US has huge Covid numbers and unprecedented civil unrest.

In Mangawhai, and the rest of the country, well, life is pretty darned good. After a week of soaring temperatures in the north, and recent news that water supply businesses are already in full swing, outside in the night steady rain is falling. Not a bad start to the new year after all.

Rich Pooley

The Mangawhai Focus is the only 'Mangawhai' community Newspaper and is the paper of choice within the local area.

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