2023 Horror Year In Review: A Passable Sequel In 2024

Horror seemed to be the order of the day when we talk about 2022, but then it spilled to 2023 and will 2024 inherit them just to complete the trilogy?

Summary: If I were a 19th-century journal keeper, I would have summarised last year as follows: “….I have still not recoiled from the utter horror as the entire year of 2023 has been nothing more, nothing less than the beastly compilation of innocuous incidents, inevitable expiration of lives, peaked by the tragedy of our premiership that was piloted by mere ambition, not heartfelt desire and drive to drag the countrymen out of the muddy turmoil of financial despair, diseases, and destruction of commercial endeavours.

If 2022 ended in the dreaded horror of fatal ailments, this year climaxed with explosive barbaric termination of lives, mature and green, men and women, and hope of humanity drowning amidst the muddy crevices between wheels and tripods of destruction machines. The horror… the horror… the horror…”

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Horror? Was 2023 any better than the dumbass of a year, 2022, which I subtitled a year of diarrhea in my review last year? In many ways, the fear of disease caused by viruses towards the end of last year is replaced by disgust at Zionism towards the end of this year. Call me anti-Semitic, but I have no idea which is the worst of the two diseases.

I am no longer buying Israel’s victim cry. You see, I am in the midst of reading a huge book on Mossad, its intelligence services centre, which brags about the deftness of the agents and how awesome it is. Oh, how the reputation is going to hit the ground splat like a foiled Wily Coyote.

Forget the last sentence I wrote in the intro, which I copied directly from Kurtz mouth in Joseph Condrad’s book (Heart of Darkness) and my all time favourite flick, Apocalypse Now.

To cry victim because it didn’t anticipate the October 7th attack sounds phony to me. I refuse to believe that some agencies have no hand in it, and other agencies, especially the Americans’, which managed to sniff Saddam Hussein out of some god-forsaken hole (they are good at sniffing out holes, all kinda holes, those wacky Americans), did not have anything to prevent this attack. It’s the attack that was motivational enough for Israel to go on a bombing spree as they wiped out civilians in Gaza. So the “victim” ended up not only killing Gazans but… killing their own people as well. Oops, collateral damage. Israel, a mighty military power, is now a Leslie Nielsen flick.

I detect another round of falling empires, namely the US and its boy wonder, Israel, both of which are not far off. The days of superpower bullies are numbered.

But that’s only a glimpse of the explosive finale over the years. Allow me go all the way back to January and watch the major foul-ups unfold.. Let’s go back to the beningging, err, beginning.

Horror At Home

Before that, how do major media view 2023?

“The year 2023 was marked by a weak ringgit that plunged through new lows against the US dollar on the back of a widening interest rate differential between the overnight policy rate and the federal funds rate,” says The Edge. It is a business paper, so they either report hopes or disappointments backed by numbers.

So, let’s drop that and let us have some pinches of optimism. Let’s start with the most important event that happened in 2022 in our country: the general election, where Anwar Ibrahim, whom I had dubbed Political Miss Havisham*, finally got to be our Prime Minister.

Aside: I remember, back in 1994, going to an official function with my uncle, who was an analyst at a think tank that worked for deputy Prime Minister (then) Anwar (the same). So, when Anwar was walking over, shaking hands, my uncle said, “You will be shaking hands with the future prime minister”.

Back to the review.

January arrived with hopes, as Malaysians expressed them in the media. Queried by The Malay Mail, Malaysians had stuff like better infrastructure (roads and potholes), better public healthcare, and the usual suspects. The news piece, however, neglects to mention if those interviewed had tongues firmly planted against the cheek (otherwise, how would they talk) or had their fingers crossed (perhaps out of fear of losing non-Christian readers).

But dammit, these sorts of “wishes,” which are actually “self-defeating sadistic hopes,” keep the world running. Then, everything remains the same.

Take UMNO, for example. The once-giant political party (the Republican Party, the grand old party, as they say, of our country) has taken beatings every other time since former Prime Minister Najib got out of office. UMNO is not only a shadow of its former self; it has become a parody. A kitsch. Stuff Chaplin forgot to include in his seminal satiric flick, The Great Dictator (1940).

So, how do they deal with it? Fire some asses. It was, as reported here, the month where “Umno president and current Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi in one fell swoop expelled or suspended those who had spoken out against his decisions for the party, including his decision to become bosom buddies with the party’s longtime arch nemesis DAP.”

This means that for years, those who had been supporting UMNO, badmouthing DAP, or basically kicking DAP in the nuts when they were down are now forced to lick back their spits and rejoice over this great “union.” Many did. Equally, many were disgusted.

On the international front, somewhere in April, the world saw the mighty US shoot down a balloon.

“An operation was underway in U.S. territorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean to recover debris from the balloon, which had been flying at about 60,000 feet and (I kid you not) was estimated to be about the size of three school buses.”

That is an actual description. Americans who have never embraced the metric system, despite the fact that they have been the number one superpower in the world for about, er, three donkey ages,.

Somewhere in May, the United Nations – which has always been as useful a comb to balding guys, when it comes to world peace, stability, and shared prosperity – declared that COVID was no longer a threat. Many rejoiced that they no longer have to wear those damn thing on faces that made them look like thieves or labour nurses.

The Comeback Disease

And guess what? Like all great, successful bad movies, the damned virus is making a comeback right now, as I type this. We love great comebacks, whether in filmssports, or music. But dammit, we ain’t gonna welcome the bloody disease that killed millions (almost 7 million now) and helped to create juicy scandals, even here. But what the hell? Malaysia’s top glove manufacturer, err, Top Glove, which saw a slump in their glove sales during the non-Covid time, is in for a treat, just like their glory days.

Speaking of the comeback story, our PM Anwar made it to the headlines when reality smacked him in the face like a used condom after all the promises he made when he had to deal with a student’s question on the Bumiputera quota system.

Netizens erupted in displeasure and dissatisfaction with Anwar’s response. Among others, according to the news report, Anwar cut her off before she could explain and then said he had already answered a similar question previously. He said the student should have refrained from discussing the quota system. He also allegedly criticised the student for being unfair to Bumiputera students in rural schools.”

The student should have known better than to ask a question to a man who said that if he (and his party) win today, the fuel price will go down tomorrow and gave a lame explanation for it. You gotta love that “you fellers are dumber than me” condescending look he had mastered, arising from years of self-delusion.

Speaking of “you are dumber than me” demeanour, the world was shocked… oh well, not really, considering that scandals afflicting churches are dime a dozen. But this one, the whole church had to declare bankruptcy, amidst “… potential sexual abuse lawsuits.”

According to the linked report, “The Maryland Attorney General’s Office released a 456-page report identifying 158 clergy, teachers, seminarians, and deacons who allegedly abused more than 600 minors in the Archdiocese of Baltimore since the 1940s.”

Under the purview of God almighty? Cool.

The Fiery Tesla

Speaking of the almighty, Tesla faced backlash when the company performed poorly at the stock exchange. Oh, who am I kidding? No, their bloody car kept catching fire. I mean, for heaven’s sake, look at these headlines:

Though I must admit that the driver-ejected story looks honourable, as if the Tesla sacrificed itself and pushed the driver away heroically.

Royal Muppets

Speaking of heroes, Britain finally got herself a king. Like Anwar, poor Charles was waiting at the corridor for decades to take over his mother so that he could wear funny clothes.

Apart from being the source for the success of many tabloids, King Charles is an assurance that the citizens would feel a lot better if they were to put a dumbass on the throne. Even the coronation was an indication of what was to come, especially when it featured—wait for it—the muppets.

Speaking of little ones, India finally became the most populated country in the world, beating China, which had actually started panicking earlier when they knew that the end of the race was near and there was no way they were going to compete with the horny Indians. So, they dropped the one-child policy and have adapted the three-child policy. Despite helping to boost the sales of toys and diapers, the people were having none of that. Nobody tells ’em what to do with their privates, so basically the plan failed.

Otherwise, to me, the most significant event of the year has to be the Barbieheimer. Yes, it has its own Wikipedia page. The healthy competition between a live-action film about a doll, and the one about the inventor of the nuclear bomb was most unlikely. They had nothing to do with each other, except one was a blonde bombshell and the other was a bomb in a shell, and that facilitated the success of both films (the duo ended up in the top ten highest grossing films).

A lot has happened, of course, but I am running out of patience and am just too glad that that year is over. How do I feel about this year? I already put a picture up there. Welcome 2024. Be kind. Keep Tesla and Gaza fire-free.

*At least Havisham saved from bad marriage if one existed. Malaysians are not so lucky.NMH

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Rakesh Premakumaran Kumar
A movie buff, as opposed to film connoisseur or aficionado, because the last two words are hard to spell, Rakesh has been in the field of writing for more than two decades and hopes that one-day movie “buff”ing is lucrative enough to afford him a Batmobile, the Michael Keaton one.

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