2017 has been a pretty strange year in a lot of ways. And that’s been as true on a personal level as it has been politically with the fallout from Brexit and a UK General Election, or the sad realisation of how widespread the exploitation of women still remains. But there are also reasons to be positive. I’ve been more committed to supporting change when it comes to politics, sexism, and other worthwhile causes. And managed to make some improvements to my own life, including finally ditching smoking for good by vaping, and recently moving house.
And Disposable Media is steadily growing, whether that’s our audience here, or a growing social media audience on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. One major aim for 2018 is to continue to increase the number of diverse writers and contributors to ramp up the quantity and quality of our articles and videos, so if you’ve ever fancied creating something or want to reach an ever-wider audience, let us know. Anyway, time for my Disposable 2017 rundown.
Gaming in 2017:
Is there still a place for annual lists in videogames, considering the longevity offered by DLC and updates? By hours invested, my top game of 2017 would be the same one I picked out in 2016, as Overwatch continues to keep me involved due to the depth of teamwork and social aspects. The only flaw so far has been a slow release schedule for new maps, but that seems to be picking up now with the recent arrival of Junkertown and the new Blizzard World map coming soon. And in the meantime, new characters like Moira have added a new skill set to learn. The same is true of Battlefield 1, as the new Turning Tides DLC will lead me back into the epic surroundings of World War 1.
So what personal highlights are there for me in gaming in 2017? Well, if I’m honest, I was fairly disappointed by most major titles. Step forward Call of Duty: WW2 which typically didn’t make the most of returning to a historical setting.
And there were flaws in many of the other major titles I’d looked forward to, whether that’s Forza Motorsport 7 still solving clean online racing, or Destiny 2 not building enough on the previous game. And let’s not mentioned Star Wars Battlefront 2 and loot boxes.
So what has been a highlight? Well, first up comes Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, which isn’t perfect. But it is the most interesting Wolfenstein title I’ve ever played, simply due to the stand the game and developers have taken regarding Nazis. I’ve never been a particular Bethesda fanboy, their work with developers MachineGames might have converted me.
Then there is PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds, preceded on consoles by imitators like Fortnite. I haven’t fallen in love with PUBG as much as some of my friends, but even if it’s not my favourite title, I can understand why it has captured so many people.
And one ‘sequel’ that did work was Sonic Mania. It’s particularly curious as it’s so close to the original games, but came about via external developer Christian Whitehead.
From the indie world, there’s obviously Cuphead, if you’re a fan of run and gun games. My advancing age and slowing reactions means it’s somewhat frustrating, but still worth trying out. And for something story-based and around exploration, there’s Night in the Woods. I’m generally not patient enough for exploration and puzzles, but finally got around to playing Gone Home when it was free for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. And it made me wish I’d played the PC release back in 2013, given the 3-year delay for console versions. Fortunately the next game by The Fullbright Company, Tacoma, was released in 2017, and shares the same focus on emotional connections with the characters in a relatively short package. And while some may criticise the relatively short lengths of Gone Home and Tacoma, for me it makes them much more accessible in my limited gaming time. I’d rather complete both and want more than give up halfway through and have it sitting guiltily on my hard drive.
Movies & TV in 2017:
It’s been largely about the sequels when it comes to films, too. We had Guardians of the Galaxy 2 early in the year, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the end. Both were decent, but not perhaps as interesting as the other big follow-ups of Blade Runner 2049 and Logan.
In terms of decent action films, there’s also been Baby Driver and Logan Lucky to appeal, and a list of movies released late in the year which I really want to see as soon as possible, including The Florida Project, The Death of Stalin and Mother! But of the films I did get to see, the most interesting highlight had to be Christopher Nolan’s take on war with Dunkirk.
It’s not realistic in portraying the diverse forces, the scale of the evacuation over multiple days or the timespan of the movie. And the audio motif of a watch ticking can get annoyingly distracting at times. But as a general fan of ‘traditional’ squad and story based war films, whether they’re historical or set in the future (e.g. Aliens), the impressionist interpretation was fascinating. And definitely lets you feel the potential emotions of the situation.
Television continues to have a lot of standouts. For me, 2017 was mainly a fond farewell to Halt and Catch Fire, which is one of the best series I’ve seen recently. A mix of the tech industry meets Mad Men, it’s not only accessible due to the characterisation and acting. But you can also almost smell the resistors, dust and packaging of each tech era the show has passed through due to the excellent attention to detail when it comes to the sets, music and other atmohspheric elements. A Guardian farewell to the series describes it as the ‘best show that nobody watched’, which can still be rectified thanks to Amazon Prime video. Along with Black Sails, which also finished this year, and remained eminently enjoyable until the very end.
For the future, there were good continuations for the likes of Mr Robot, and the new series of Vikings – which is managing to remain as good as ever despite the loss of a major character. Preacher remained great fun. And there are the likes of American Gods to get into alongside big names like The Handmaid’s Tale, Outlander, etc.
The Vietnam War stood out as a documentary series which offered a lot of potentially new insight into a war many of us think we know about from movies like Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. Even having done a degree based largely around the conflict, I gained some new information and perspective.
To end on a happy note, there have been plenty of good comedies in 2017, but the highlight really has to be the output of Sharon Horgan, considering the triumph of both Catastrophe and Motherland. Supported by the slightly more gentle comedy of the Detectorists.
Music in 2017:
Kendrick Lamar has been rightly praised almost everywhere, along with the likes of SZA, Lorde and more. But my personal highlights start with Charly Bliss, whose power-pop sounds like someone distilled most of the best female-fronted bands of the 90s into one record. I always love distinctive vocals, and you’ll probably either love or hate the yelps of Eva Hendricks, which one Youtube comment compared unkidly to Chuckie from the Rugrats. Personally it’s one of the records I found myself not only playing on repeat, but also humming when I wasn’t listening to it.
Speaking of the 90s, the other personal highlight is also linked to that decade by including a former member of Kenickie. The Cornshed Sisters are a four-piece from the North of England whose first album was largely traditional English folk inspired. Their new album Honey & Tar has taken a while to come together due to the commitments of each member, but it was worth waiting for. It keeps the same folk inspiration and great harmonies, but opens itself up with elements of pop, prog and more to make something truly memorable.
It’s also lyrically brilliant, with more cutting and insightful looks at relationships, family and more.
And to round off the highlights, there are a couple of albums I’m really looking forward to in 2018, based on singles already released. The first is the debut from Dream Wife, whose Anglo-Icelandic art punk just gets better and better.
And the other is the new album from the Screaming Females. All At Once is the 7th album from the trio and first single Glass House shows that it’ll be up to their typically high standards.
So that’s an attempt to pack 12 months into words. There’s loads I’ve probably missed out, and there’s been a notable lack of recent books and comics over the past year simply due to the fact I’ve run out of time. Although I did make time for Gillen and McKelvie’s ‘The Wicked and The Divine’ which would be in any highlights list no matter how much I’d managed to read.
Also published on Medium.