Whore Next Door: The Power of the Dead

RIP ... Everything?

(Photograph by Isabel Dresler/Isabeldresler.com)

On Christmas morning, we awoke to news that the pop star George Michael — who gave so many people faith that being gay and liking sex was not a death sentence — had left us. We unwrapped our presents anyway, tearfully listened to Wham’s rendition of “Last Christmas,” and tried to have a happy holiday in spite of the bad news.

But the next morning, we learned that Carrie Fisher, whose CGI ghost of Star Wars past had just given us new hope in the triumphant Rogue One, had also flown away forever to a galaxy far, far away.

“Is this the end of days?” my little sister asked after she heard the news that Debbie Reynolds, America’s sweetheart and Fisher’s mother, had perished just 24 hours later, from (what else?) a broken heart.

Our heroes are dead, and our enemies are in power. I’ve seen sex workers, queers, and even plain old vanilla-flavored Muggles echoing this sentiment as we enter what should be the bright optimism of a new year. So many of us feel heavy with the loss and sadness that rained down in 2016.

Around this time last year, we were mourning the Goblin King (David Bowie), who was snatched from this world just eight days in, followed soon after by our favorite wizard antihero, Severus Snape (aka Allen Rickman).

Then, blow by blow, icons from Hollywood, music, politics, sports, and literature began to drop like flies. Though most of us never met those whom we mourned last year, they were more than just celebrities. Our culture experiences these losses as the deaths of archetypes. In the absence of a political system we can have faith in, I know in my heart I would be more likely to take up arms and fight for the ideals represented by Beyoncé or Dolly Parton than I would for the current president-elect.

The rise in media saturation starting in the mid-1960s created more celebrities than ever before, and as television, the internet, and now social media became more and more integral to almost every aspect of our lives, those stars became more and more meaningful to our identities, histories, and traditions. But now, those stars are dying. Age and hard living are starting to be realities for the Baby Boomer generation of rock ’n’ rollers and revolutionaries.

There were more than a fistful of losses on the side of the conservative agenda as well, including “Just Say No” creator and former first lady Nancy Reagan, Roe v. Wade-hating Justice Antonin Scalia, the crack-smoking and racial slur-slinging Toronto mayor Rob Ford, and arch-antifeminist Phyllis Schlafly, who ensured the death of the Equal Rights Amendment in the late 1970s. However, the bulk of the lives claimed last year were liberal icons of arts and culture, symbols of revolution, justice, and magic.

Before we lost General Organa, 2016 had already claimed two heroes of the Rebel Alliance: Admiral Akbar and beloved droid R2-D2. No one was safe, not even Muhammad Ali, the “greatest” boxer, Black Muslim minister, and antiwar activist of all time. Communist leader Fidel Castro as well as Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as attorney general, were also among the body count.

Willy Wonka, the voices of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, and Sir George Martin — often called the fifth Beatle — also ascended. We lost Harper Lee, the woman who gave us Atticus Finch; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? playwright Edward Albee; and Elie Wiesel, the man who brought the searing memory of the Holocaust to generations with his masterpiece, Night.

Femme icon Zsa Zsa Gabor, who slapped cops and collected husbands like trophies, also abandoned ship, as did the Emperor of Pop: Prince, who wore eyeliner and brought gender-ambiguous sex to dance floors and strip clubs across the globe.

The year 2016 fought dirty, claiming the spouses of both Liza Minnelli and Celine Dion, as well as the world’s first flesh-and-blood Lois Lane. Chyna, the boundary-smashing World Wrestling champion and adult-film star, lost her life, too. Even early-aughts television psychic Miss Cleo didn’t make it.

Unfortunately, the guiding lights in our media-saturated solar system will continue to fall in 2017. People get old and sick, tragedies happen, people die. But set against the dystopian backdrop of a billionaire man-baby and Putin-puppet soon to take charge of the Free World, we need heroes now more than ever.

That means the time has come for us to be our own heroes, take the ashes of what we lost last year, rise up like Fawkes the Phoenix, and burn this Nazi-addled idiocracy to the ground, using the powers of our fallen soldiers of yesteryear.

Welcome to 2017. It’s go time.

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