And the 2016 Awwwards Go To…

Pop Culture

And the 2016 Awwwards Go To…

The last day of the year should be reserved for some introspection. Yes, it was the real-time illustration of the phrase “up shit creek without a paddle”, but there were some saving graces. For starters, a tiny tot from Afghanistan, with no real hope of ever meeting his idol Lionel Messi, got to kick a football with him. Another wee one dressed up as a hot dog to a princess party, sticking it to the patriarchy and junior school in one gesture. And we have the internet to thank for these little mitigations. It’s time to cut 2016 some slack. Calm down, take a deep breath, light a few scented candles, and look back at what made this year a teensy bit better.

The Messi Miracle
In an emotionally exhausting 2016, one of the most cheerful moments of the year came from Afghanistan. This January, a little boy wearing a blue-and-white striped plastic bag with “Messi 10” scrawled in ink on it, settled the debate on who was Lionel Messi’s most passionate fan. The boy, who became an internet sensation after being photographed, was tracked down to rural Afghanistan. Images of the smiling five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi wearing the makeshift jersey and dancing, were enough to melt a million hearts. They gave the cynical peeps on social media a chance to take their minds off the usual mudslinging.

Messi sent Murtaza a signed jersey and if that’s not enough to make you go awww, the football superstar even met his little fan in Doha ahead of Barcelona’s friendly match against Al Ahli this December. Murtaza wouldn’t leave Messi’s side after accompanying him to the pitch. Much to everyone’s amusement, the boy had to be carried off by the referee. The adorable video of little Murtaza meeting Messi is enough to make you believe in Christmas miracles. In a year that has had more downs than ups, a year that took away Harambe and gave us Trump, it is stories like that of Murtaza that reaffirm our faith in humanity. If there’s one way to sugarcoat the year, this is it.

– Gauri Ghadi

Obama and Biden, BFFs 4lyf
This has been an embarrassingly divisive year for American politics. As the world watched, Bernie crashed and burnt, Ted Cruz’s reputation and marital life faced a lot of mudslinging, the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was deemed “crooked” and a “nasty woman”, and Voldemort with a wig was elected the President of the United States. It seemed like all the candidates and their supporters were incapable of polite political discourse. It didn’t help that the entire season scrubbed off America’s veneer of tolerance to expose its epidermis of xenophobia and misogyny.

So in these bleak times, the internet decided to fix its own misery in the sweetest possible way. Images of Biden and Obama started emerging all over Twitter, then Instagram and eventually, all over the internet – celebrating their mutual love and admiration for each other. Hashtags like #CrookedHillary and #FuckTrump were disrupted by a flurry of #couplegoals #BFFSforLife #Brobama #JObamaForever. Honestly, our hearts felt gladder than they have been in a while.

Not only was the duo the classiest President and VP team in recent history, they also seemed to share a camaraderie that went beyond the professional diktat of running a country together. A lot of Pete Souza’s pictures capture candid moments of Obama and Biden sharing a sandwich, a laugh, or even a glance. In a year of frigid handshakes and terse exchanges, Jobama has restored our faith in the inherent goodness of people – even those that are in power.

– Nimisha Misra

The Queen at the Princess Party
It’s hard to think of anything uplifting at this point of the year. Even the abundance of panda cub videos on the internet aren’t enough to thaw our cold, dead hearts. But in times of trouble, one must think of a hero, and for many netizens, it was this little girl dressed in a hot dog costume. It wasn’t just her choice of attire that won her praise, but the fact that she wore this on Princess-Freaking-Day to her dance-freaking-class.

And while I have confidence in sunshine, and I have confidence in rain, I also have a whole lot of confidence in the fact that kids can be mean as hell. It takes all the courage in the world to be a five-year-old who chooses to dress differently, especially when your peers are wearing frilly skirts, ribbons, and fairy wings, and you show up as street food.

Little Ainsley should be an inspiration to anyone who feels uncomfortable conforming to societal norms, and wants to break free. You protest in a brave, yet harmless way, and in the process, win the hearts of many. Because let’s face it. If a five-year-old can muster this much spunk, goddamit so can you.

– Tanvi Dhulia

Justin Trudeau’s Panda Diplomacy
Those of us stuck in the boondocks, between a Prime Minister tripping on power and an opposition leader tripping balls, Canada is a sort of loca sancta. It has the nicest, most culturally inclusive people (have you heard their Hockey Night Punjabi commentary); their musical contribution to the world includes Leonard Cohen (also Justin Bieber, but never mind); and they have the world’s most handsome man in power.

The other Justin became Prime Minister in November 2015, wresting office from a Conservative government with a campaign made of hope and sunshine. Since then, he’s convinced the world that he can do no wrong, with his efforts to legalise marijuana, identifying over and over again as a feminist, and his heart-warming apology for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident.

And then he went ahead and hugged a couple of pandas. The incident took place at the Toronto Zoo where the twin cubs were born in March, when Shitstorm 2016 was still building up. The incident was dubbed an “unmitigated disaster” by an unusually prescient Borowitz Report, that believed the picture would lead to an influx of even more American immigrants. That might not have gone as expected, but it did help many of us melt into big bowls of mush. Many months later, it is still helping us forget his government’s stance on the General Dynamics Land Systems Canada arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

– Karanjeet Kaur