2016 was a simpler time. A year ago tomorrow, the happenings were much different than today: Republicans like Ryan and Romney were distancing themselves from Trump, the North Carolina bathroom bill was a problem, and Obama was commuting prison sentences.
Today? We’re in a terrible hangover of lost healthcare as our feet become entangled by the creeping vines of politics and religion. Violence in the Middle East—particularly Syria—continues on. Global warming is basically here to stay. President Trump has evolved many problems into bigger ones. People are resisting as others—like myself—participate while becoming increasingly exhausted by the onslaught of daily miniature attacks on the self.
There is a sense of hopelessness. Now more than ever, it feels like we will not get out of any of this shit. Our heels feel feel like they’re sinking further into the mess instead of out of it. Ironically, May 6, 2016 was also the day that musician ANOHNI released her now classic protest record Hopelessness, a statement of a dystopian preamble that verges on queer intergalactic apology. It is a masterpiece.
Thinking back a full 365 days since the record’s release, the album feels even more present than it was then. The hyperbole of songs like “4 Degrees” feels thin as the Arctic collapses into a spray today. “Watch Me” feels coy and silly as net neutrality enters its late stages for businesses and politicians to profit as people and information suffer. “Drone Bomb Me” and “Obama” inspire hand wringing shame considering the rise of bombings in Syria that are Trumpisms excusing Obamaisms. It’s just all bad. Hopelessness is the preemptive word of the year.
Thinking back to last year, our worries were undercut by happiness. We had hope that Clinton (Or Sanders) would follow Obama and business would continue as usual. Yes, there were anti-trans measures being taken and persons of color being killed by cops but those big problems seem so tiny compared to today. Perhaps we had it too easy. Perhaps things were simple then. Perhaps Moore’s Law is crashing the international political landscape to a rousing, flaming finish. Perhaps this is just how it was always supposed to be.
ANOHI went on to release many chilling videos over the course of the year leading to the release of March 17, 2017’s Paradise, the de facto “sequel” to HOPELESSNESS that included extra material and a bonus song sent out if you shared what you care about most with her. She has been a stalwart fighter for all causes and has evolved beyond a techno Gaia to an inspirational model of rebellion.
With eleven songs about losses that extend so much further than the personal, ANOHI’s Hopelessness became a prophetic warning through song. Her predictions are coming closer and closer to reality and, while some might not appreciate her sound, the message should be listened to. Hopefully, we still have some time left.