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Gone with 2021: People, Objects, and Events That Marked the Year

What will make 2021 memorable? It won’t be either masks or empty streets-that’s so 2020!–but a combo of emotions difficult to predict in any other context

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Although for many, 2021 will be plain forgettable, the year we’re bidding farewell to leave us with memories possible only from the reality of lockdown and pandemic. This is my personal selection of the people, objects and events that marked this turn around the sun.

Bernie Sanders’ mittens. The U.S. senator from Vermont has no good or original ideas, so this controversial political leader will hardly be the character of the year, but the mittens he wore during the inauguration of President Biden broke the internet. Why? Social media works in mysterious ways, but perhaps the break, somewhat tactless, of solemnity in the midst of such a ceremonious event has something to do with it. If you have the same level of bad taste as the senator from Vermont, know that you can get your hands on (and in!) the famous mittens for the modest sum of $49.99.

The midlife crisis of billionaires. Branson, Bezos and Musk made a real display of their need for compensation in an unusual race into space to prove who has it bigger. We know that in the near future we will all see the benefits of this battle of egos, but let’s agree that there was a certain comic edge to this competition.

Evergreen cargo. We were so bored in 2021 with confinements that we ate popcorn following the tragic fate of a stuck ship. Yes, the Evergreen cargo jamming in the Suez Canal was one of the events of the year, and the memes the incident left us with will go down in history as living proof of our viral ennui.

Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend. I don’t know what my cousins are up to, let alone their friends; and honestly, I barely know who Nicki Minaj is, but of course, I followed Nicki’s cousin’s friend’s testicles soap opera! Minaj provided us with perhaps the weakest anti-vaccine argument floating around on social media, but no one can accuse the rapper (I guess she’s a rapper, must be why she’s a complete stranger to me) of being boring. Thanks, Nicki!

Elon Musk. Did you think I was going to forget the person of the year? Hell, no. Musk should be on every list for his contribution to humanity… on Twitter. Come on, we know it wouldn’t be the same without him. Most of the time we don’t know why we retweet him or why we like everything he says, but with Musk being the closest thing we have to Iron man, he’s well worth our somewhat excessive admiration.

NFTs. Ok, I admit I didn’t know exactly what an NFT (non-fungible token) was, but there is no doubt that it is the term of the year (and a hint of the future). Fortunately, at El American, we have Juan Felipe Velez, who explains that a fungible asset is something with easily exchangeable units. A non-fungible asset, however, has unique properties, so it cannot be exchanged. An NFT is an asset with unique characteristics that can be bought or sold like any property. In any way, ‘NFT’ is the acronym in every mouth and every tweet.

Vaccines. Heroines of the year (and of history), vaccines deserve a special mention. Not only did they prevent death and severe cases of COVID-19 at an unprecedented rate, but they also inspired the same photo (along with their respective hashtag) in 90% of their recipients (including me, of course). To all the doctors, paramedics and nurses who worked day and night, Monday through Sunday so that we could be more than two people around the table this holiday season, thank you! (And that’s a real ‘thank you’, unlike Nicki Minaj’s).

U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan Just as in life, it can’t all be smiles and sassy remarks. The Biden administration’s decision to hasten the withdrawal from Afghanistan condemned millions of people, especially women and girls, to the medieval obscurantism of the Taliban. The situation in the country, mired in misery, will also provoke another migration crisis for which Europe is not prepared.

Dune. Denis Villeneuve presented us with what is undoubtedly the film of the year (despite not being my personal favorite) whose mission was to save cinema after a confined 2020 and to prevent a handful of Democratic billionaires from becoming mere millionaires.

Zuckerberg’s metaverse. Facebook (remember Facebook, guys?) is now called ‘Meta’ and it scares the f**k out of us. Mark Zuckerberg, in a presentation in which he barely resembled a human being, introduced us to a reality that, at best, plunges us into the over-emotional artificiality of ‘Her’ (Spike Jonze, 2014) or at worst, into literally any episode of Black Mirror. Time will tell.

Let’s hope that in a year from now, the characters, events and objects of 2022 will be the manifestation of more positive times. Happy New Year!

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