DEATH TO 2021 Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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DEATH TO 2021 Review

Alexander Wallace reflects upon another glorious year on planet Earth.
Another year.

Another god-damned year.

Perhaps the most biting line from Death to 2021 comes from a journalist, paraphrased roughly: “the thing I learned from 2021 is that nobody learned from 2020.” I do remember hoping, pleading to whatever providence there was in this miserable universe that 2021 would be better. Was it? In many ways, yes. I got to see friends again. I got to dance again. I got to hug people again. We got vaccines.

But in other ways, it was deeply frustrating. Too many people didn’t take the vaccine, and too many people died as a result. Biden couldn’t pass much-needed reforms. Boris Johnson continued to act like a clown. China continued to commit genocide against the Uyghurs. Russia saber-rattled over Ukraine. Abject lunacy unfolded at the United States Capitol (mere miles from me!); I propose to call the events of that extremely stupid day ‘The Inglorious Sixth of January.’

Death to 2021 is much like its predecessor, which roasted that entire awful proceeding called ‘2020.’ Many of the benefits and drawbacks held; many of the jokes are the sort of thing you’d see on your Facebook feed. The great benefit, at least on the surface, is the performance that all these actors give. Laurence Fishburne returns as the narrator, commenting wryly on just about everything. Joe Keery, of Stranger Things fame, returns as a social media influencer who clearly isn’t getting it. Cristin Milioti plays a ‘Karen’ type who is a master of Trumpist doublethink in a way that is both deeply familiar and utterly unnerving. Tracey Ullman dials up the crazy as Madison Madison, an utterly unhinged right-wing talk show host.

Like its predecessor, Death to 2021 is not the most original. What I realized about halfway through watching was that what in most films would be a drawback is here quite the strength. We’ve seen enough celebrities commenting on the pandemic in a way reminiscent of Marie Antoinette; not all of us can escape to private islands like Kim Kardashian can. What both films encapsulate so well is how these years were experienced by relatively more ‘average’ people.

We didn’t crack witty one-liners about the pandemic and the civil unrest. We didn’t run charity drives to launder our public personas. We didn’t run political campaigns. We didn’t reap record profits while others died.

We just muddled along, whining and whinging in a desperate attempt not to break down sobbing (and often failing). That’s how the vast majority of us experienced 2021, and that’s what this film captures so well: the feeling of hopelessness where we laugh to avoid being vulnerable enough to cry.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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