There's something bizarrely cinematic about seeing Southern California engulfed in flames at the end of 2017. It's fitting that a tumultuous year that began with our newly elected president hellbent on inching us closer to the apocalypse would end in flames, as seen both on your local TV station and outside the window.
It’s been an impossible, improbable narrative of a year, one of those “you can’t make this shit up” plots that's loosely based on a true story. Yet it all happened, complete with subplots and twists and turns: The most powerful man in the world as villain to his own people and to the world, one who is as stupid and heinous as he is Shakespearean, prone to bigotry, political lies and (caught on video) encouraging sexual assault. Icons of industry, entertainment and politics — in some cases, well-respected, beloved men — tripping over their own dicks as if psychopaths in their own psychosexual subplots. Shock troops in frat-boy attire, spewing racist doublespeak and getting punched in the face by antifascist antiheroes. Let them burn. Whether Democrat or Republican, Hollywood liberal or alt-right, black or white, the president of the United States or a beloved TV dad from the '80s, let them burn to the ground as a result of their actions against those less powerful than they.
Sex, politics and natural disasters like this year has seen couldn't find their way into a Hollywood movie if you had an army of screenwriters writing it.
In a year that saw Wonder Woman fighting a delusional madman hellbent on destroying mankind, powerful women sprung up on our streets and online. Heroes with hashtags. Heroes with homemade signs marching through the streets of Hollywood, New York and places in between. The majority of these women brandished harrowing stories that echo the stories of countless women and men victimized by powerful, or just plain evil, men. Through sheer mobilization on the streets and on social media — in particular, our president's favorite weapon of mass disinformation, Twitter — women were being heard loud and clear for what seems the first time since feminism's second wave back in the 1960s.
In this brave new world where technology and community are intricately intertwined, there's no argument that the pen, especially when in contrast against a backlit screen, is swifter and mightier than the sword. As a society on the brink of a Copernican revolution based on gender equality and gender identity, we need to let those stories continue to burn like wildfires across the internet and around the world. Let those stories of abuse, stories of disenfranchisement burn into the fabric of our collective consciousness.
In a little more than a week, more than a thousand structures have been lost to fires in Southern California. The “fifth largest wildfire in modern California history” burns in the distance, fickle about which direction it wants to take. In its current course, Hollywood stars are leaving their homes, tweeting about it as they flee. In the opposite direction, we sit and wait, bags packed and ready in the event of an evacuation. Like embers gliding in the wind, there's uncertainty and hope in the air as the year comes to a close.
An Angeleno for life, Marvin Miranda has been writing about independent, foreign, grindhouse and art house films for the past decade. He's written for Cinemaeditor Magazine, Cult Movies and Examiner.com, was on the programming committee of the American Cinematheque’s Alternative Screen and hosted the show Stage 5, interviewing up-and-coming filmmakers.