As we say goodbye to 2017, there are a few other things we'd like to say goodbye to as well. Sure, the idea that a new calendar year will suddenly bring about positive change can be seen as overly optimistic and a little naive. Who can honestly say that they've never given up on a resolution a few weeks into January? But given some of the major news stories that defined the past year, we do have some hope that our society is losing tolerance for these seven things going into 2018. Will it last? While we can't predict the future, we certainly hope so.
1) Sexual harassment and assault
For years, the misbehavior and abusive actions of men in positions of power existed as an open secret, one that allowed them to continue living in the comforts of success as their victims stayed silent, often out of fear for their futures. But in 2017, the culture around sexual harassment began to shift in a profound way.
A New York Times article published in early October revealed decades of serious allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and in the weeks that followed, nearly 100 women came forward with similar stories of harassment, abuse and rape involving the film producer. As other women started to add their voices to the conversation, it quickly became apparent that Weinstein was only the beginning. Dozens of high-profile men across a variety of industries soon faced similar accusations.
For most of these men, real consequences were not far behind. Weinstein was fired. Matt Lauer was fired. Charlie Rose was fired. Kevin Spacey was fired. Mario Batali was fired. The list continues to grow, and with it, so does the number of women inspired to speak up. The #MeToo hashtag, first started by social activist Tarana Burke and popularized this year by Alyssa Milano, encouraged women to share their experiences via social media.
Burke just announced that she'll be kicking off the New Year's Eve countdown in Times Square, and it's a fitting transition into 2018. And Time chose "The Silence Breakers" as the magazine's 2017 Person of the Year, honoring the bravery of all of the women who helped to set this movement in motion.
2) Stigmas surrounding mental illness
There's no denying the widespread prejudice against those suffering from mental illness. Conversations about mental health have often ranged anywhere from unproductive to downright harmful and discriminatory. As a result, many people feel ashamed to get the help that they need, not wanting to be judged by their peers, fired from their jobs or viewed as dangerous by society.
But in late April, Logic brought the topic of mental health to everyone's playlists with the release of "1-800-273-8255." With the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's phone number as its title, the song tells the story of a call to the hotline that ends up saving the person's life. "I made this song for all of you who are in a dark place and can’t seem to find the light," Logic tweeted. According to the NSPL, they've experienced a significantly higher call volume as a direct result of the song.
The music world experienced a tragic loss in July when Chester Bennington, the lead singer for Linkin Park, committed suicide. With his death came a spotlight on the importance of suicide prevention awareness. Linkin Park created a tribute website that included information on suicide prevention resources, and during National Suicide Prevention Week, Bennington's family appeared in a series of videos encouraging people to seek help before harming themselves.
3) Glorification of drug usage in music
Drug usage has long been glorified across all genres of music. So, no, it's probably (definitely) not going anywhere in 2018. But throughout the past year, song lyrics about prescription painkiller abuse became a familiar part of the mainstream music scene. While some of these lyrics are backed by a theme of depression rather than true glorification, there's an undeniable element of normalization present.
But when Lil Peep died of an overdose in November, many started to take a harder look at the popularity of Xanax and other prescription painkillers in cloud rap and other forms of hip hop. Lil Uzi Vert tweeted that he was taking steps toward sobriety and shared his struggles with his followers. And reaching far beyond the music scene, Lil Peep's overdose brought increased attention to the country's opioid epidemic.
4) Intolerance, particularly in regards to transgender rights
Again, the fight here is not over. But 2017 showed some promise, right? In November, Danica Roem became Virginia's first openly transgender elected official and the first openly transgender person seated in a U.S. state’s legislature. Roem beat Republican candidate Bob Marshall, who introduced an anti-transgender bathroom bill earlier this year and refused to debate Roem during the race.
Andrea Jenkins also made history during the elections by winning her bid for Minneapolis City Council and becoming the first openly transgender black woman elected to office in the country. Two other transgender candidates, Lisa Middleton and Tyler Titus, won races in Palm Springs, California and Erie, Pennsylvania, respectively.
The November elections also saw victories for women, people of color, and other LGBTQ candidates, breaking down barriers in the battle against intolerance.
5) "Prank" videos
Pranks are supposed to be lighthearted. But in the quest for viral fame, some YouTubers have been taking things too far. And it turns out that if you exploit your children in these "prank" videos, your viewers probably aren't going to put up with it.
The parents behind DaddyOFive YouTube channel made a name for themselves by screaming at their children, making them cry, and somehow trying to pass that off as funny. Several of the videos showed clear evidence of violence. Although DaddyOFive reached some level of success in building its subscriber count, concern for the children began to build as well. When Philip DeFranco, a popular YouTuber, posted a series of videos about the channel, the story took on a national spotlight.
Ultimately, the Maryland couple lost custody of two of their children and was sentenced to five years of probation for child neglect.
6) High in-game purchase prices
Let's be real, no one has ever liked spending money on in-game purchases, right? But the release of "Star Wars: Battlefront II" inspired a negative reaction like never before. After a Reddit user posted a detailed breakdown of the immense amount of time it would take to unlock a hero or villain within the game, many speculated that EA was trying to force players into spending real money. EA's attempt at a response quickly became the most downvoted comment in Reddit history.
"The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes," the comment began.
Following the controversy, EA's share price dropped, and it turned off all microtransactions within the game.
7) Halfhearted responses to disasters
It's really, really easy to respond to a disaster by posting a picture of a country's flag on Instagram and writing that you're "praying" for the victims. It's also not always super effective. Sure, it might raise some awareness if you have a large enough following, but in 2017, a ton of celebrities responded to the year's three major hurricanes by actually putting their time and money toward relief efforts.
After Hurricane Harvey, it seemed like almost every big-name star stepped up to help with recovery. Kevin Hart started a campaign on Instagram that raised well over $1 million. Beyoncé, Selena Gomez and George Clooney were among the celebs who participated in a hurricane relief telethon. Kristen Bell performed in a hurricane shelter and kept elderly residents company during Hurricane Irma. When Hurricane Maria hit, Pitbull donated his private plane to assist with the relief efforts. And those are just a few of the many examples.
In the spirit of continuing optimism, it's time to find out your future! Winter can definitely be a tough season. It's cold, it's dark, and it's gray. For a lot of people, that makes it pretty depressing. And it seems like it drags on and on and on. But we have some good news! Something amazing is going to happen to you in the next few months. Curious about what's in store? Take our quiz, and we'll let you know exactly what you have to look forward to.
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