Friday, December 31, 2010

Wrapping up 2010

I think it's good to reflect on what's happened this year. I'm not going to be exhaustive, but here's the things I'll remember this year for:
  • BP's Gulf Disaster. This was so bad, we can't possibly know the half of it. We need to know everything about this mess, and make sure the American people know everything, too. Quite frankly, I'm a little disturbed that we've heard very little about what's being done to make sure something like this never happens again. 
  • If you want to win, argue from strength. 
    • The Democrats kept negotiating with themselves, before they ever negotiated with Republicans, and not only did we get less because of it, we constantly lost the messaging war. 
    • The Democratic National Committee never had a cohesive message to campaign on (or even strategy) and we were scared to talk about the few accomplishments we did bring about. Contrast that with the lame-duck session, when we made clear, concise arguments and held things together, winning the hearts and minds of the American public. Do that over the next two years, and we'll win a helluva lot more than we lose... and may even win control of the government back.
  • Massachusetts is leading the way. We bucked the entire national trend of voting for the Party of No, crushing them when they did well nearly everywhere else. We're first in education, really one of the only states in the country that stacks up with the international leaders. We're pushing the envelope on combating climate change, not only making ambitious goals, but coming up with the tools to achieve them. We're getting out of the Great Recession quicker and stronger than the rest of the country, poised to take advantage of it. We're creating entire new industries in Green Tech, which may just position us to become the Silicon Valley of renewable energy.
  • We've learned transparency is the most important thing in government. The government is so scared of its lies being leaked, that it's gone far beyond the law in order to silence and discredit Wikileaks and its leader, Julian Assange. It's torturing a Bradley Manning, without charge, for months beyond the military's written standards to hold people. It's trying to make up any sort of charge to get at Julian Assange -- not prosecution, but persecution. It's colluding with businesses around the globe, ensuring they don't allow their costumers to donate or otherwise aid Wikileaks, despite the fact that they've brought no charges against them. This is an existential crisis for our democracy. 
  • My favorite thing this year: Netflix Instant. Comcast tried to go after it, complaining its a bandwidth hog. The real reason for Comcast's pursuit of Netflix is more sinister than that: Netflix delivers a better product for less than a 1/10th of the price. For $9.99 a month, you get a huge swath of unlimited streaming movies online and a no-cost-to-ship DVD for the (increasingly-rare) new release that's not online yet, which ships fast and you can keep as long as you want. On Demand is as dead to me as Blockbuster, and if I can find a way to get Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and not have cable, Comcast will be, too. In a world where cable is becoming crazy expensive, and renting movies costs upwards of $5 or 6 bucks apiece, Netflix could just become the next, great equalizer.
  • Finally, it sneaked up on us, but we had one helluva year for movies. 
    • Like a real, good movie? The Social Network, Black Swan, and I'm even hearing The King's Speech belongs up here. I'm sure there's more. I've been too scared to see the anorexic version of Christian Bale to try out The Fighter.
    • How about animation? Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon and Tangled were all great movies that work for just about all audiences. 
    • Or how 'bout a back-to-the-basics, fun movie... that's actually good? The Town and Unstoppable were both awesome and proved you don't need special effects to create a thrill for the audiences, or wildly elaborate plots (and after last year's Taken, hopefully Hollywood will continue to deliver us more of these kinds of movies). 
    • Big Blockbusters? Inception had the rare ability to be big and beautiful without taking its audience for granted, or skimping on the script or acting to make up for explosions. Heck, even Harry Potter 7 Part 1 was pretty damn good, with an intelligence and trust for the audience that all the other Harry Potters have lacked thus far.
    • How about crazy fun? Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim were both great, funny flicks that will be cult hits for a long time to come.
    • Into Indie films? 127 Hours is getting rave reviews, and The Kids Are Alright is almost a lock for a couple of Oscars.
    • You know the year has to be good when you get a great horror film and a great, remade foreign import -- and they were the same movie. Let Me In is really creepy and not at all about vampires, even if it's all about vampires.
As far as years go, I don't think 2010 was a particularly good one, but what should stand out to everyone is how bad it could have been -- and how much fun we've had along the way. The Second Great Depression was avoided and Massachusetts is leading the way. We, the people, aren't where we should be, but at least we have something to build on.

No comments:

About Ryan's Take