Not everything that happened this year was desperately depressing, honest
News loves two things: animal stories or disaster. If you’ve been sat scrolling Twitter all year and you’re anything like us, it seemed like the world has been falling apart one tiny piece at a time. But there have been some gems, some moments of hope that retrospectively made life worth living. Since there’s absolutely no chance you can think of them now off the top of your head, we’ve compiled the ten best to take away from 2015. No need to thank us.
It’s such a pain when your phone gets stolen or lost, mainly because the likelihood of getting it back is irritatingly minimal. So imagine Matt Stopera’s surprise when his iPhone was taken in New York City, only for selfies of an Asian man standing in front of orange trees to appear on his photostream. “I noticed a bunch of pictures I hadn't taken. Like, a lot of them,” said Stopera. “They were mostly of this man taking selfies with an orange tree. To be honest, it was pretty funny but also terrifying because I didn't take the pictures.” The phone had made its way half way around the world to southeastern China and into the hands of Li Hongjun, who quickly became known as “Brother Orange”. Hongjun had received the phone as a gift but whoever had given it to him forgot to wipe its contents.
Once the story hit the internet, Chinese Twitter users successfully hunted down the man, who then invited Stopera to come and visit. Cue lots of cute tourist couple photos of Stopera and Brother Orange travelling around China.
The lesson to be taken from this? “Never judge a man by his selfies,” said Stopera. ”Because in his selfies he looks so serious, and in real life, he was just the warmest, funniest, very smart guy.” And also, something about the world being small and having lots of good people in it.
And the winner of News Story You Should Have Heard About But Probably Didn’t: Akon started a mission to bring electricity to 600 million people in rural Africa. Despite being best known for “Smack That” and once going in the Big Brother house, the singer decided to bring solar energy to people who are in serious need by opening a Solar Academy. Located in Mali, the academy’s aim is to help engineers produce power from the 320 average days of sunshine a year. Akon: the unsung hero of the year. Think about that the next time indisputable floor filler “Bananza (Belly Dancer)” comes on during a noughties club night…
2014 was so about labels, man. 2015 has truly been the year where “gay” and “straight” as sexual identities started to look beige. From Miley Cyrus who came out as pansexual, Cara Delevingne and Kristen Stewart openly dating men and women and then resisting media’s attempts to label them as bisexual and Lily-Rose Depp shrugging off heterosexuality, celebrities (mostly female, admittedly) have taken a visible role in this changing sexual landscape.
This movement towards sexual fluidity has swept the UK too. This year, we reported that half of young people don’t identify as “straight”. Women in particular are far more likely to bisexual (three times, in fact) and take a fluid approach to their sexuality. Whichever way you cut it, this year has shown we’re increasingly comfortable with the idea that sexuality is not something we need to make a concrete decision on, and that can only be a positive move.
We’ve all had the old pre-party nerves. Suddenly realising maybe you’re not actually that popular and your venue is too big for the handful of people who owe you the favour of popping in. If you’re 10-year-old Camden Eubank and you genuinely don’t have any mates because you’re home schooled then the prospect of having a party must be a bit terrifying.
In addition to that, Camden has a speech delay, known medically as Apraxia. Very aware that their kid is a lone wolf who sadly finds it hard to put words together under pressure, his parents posted the event as an open one on Facebook, asking anyone to come. It went viral after being posted on Reddit and more than 300 people showed up in their backyard for the shindig and Camden received hundreds of gifts over a two-day period. It turned into a mass water balloon fight with the local fire department blasting water over the crowd from the fire engine and strangers brought thousands of water balloons. “He is happy, the happiest I've seen him in a long time because he has people to play with,” Camden's mom Traci Eubank said.
If that doesn’t warm your heart, you’re not human.
The fifth of December 2015. That date will forever go down as the date that a Saint was born. The announcement: a black guy emoji, a woman emoji, a little girl emoji and a baby emoji aka the whole West family. After having quite serious difficulties in pregnancy, what better name than Saint to confirm the new child’s position as a miracle.
Amber Rose is the reluctant role model for sluts. From stripping at the age of 15 to becoming an unknown video model, she later became Kanye’s girlfriend in 2008. After their breakup in 2010, she expanded her career by becoming a model and B-movie actress. She married Wiz Khalifa and had a son with him, later divorcing. But at every turn, she’s been demonised for being every gender-based derogatory term from whore to gold digger to slut. Kanye West genuinely said on live radio, “It’s very hard for a woman to want to be with someone that’s been with Amber Rose…I had to take 30 showers before I got with Kim.” Khalifa kept things equally classy by rapping on a song about “hoes” that he fell in love with a stripper, but fell out of love quicker.
But this has been Rose’s year. As Lauren Nostro at Complex explored brilliantly, Rose has done what she can to reclaim what was taken from her. She appeared in a hilarious walk of no shame video showing her strolling down the street after a one night stand, challenging the misogynistic double standard when it comes to enjoying casual sex. She stepped out at the VMAs in an outfit plastered with the hurtful names she’s been branded with. She organised a brilliant SlutWalk where she broke down in tears during her speech during which she forgave the men who had shamed her. And finally wrote a book called How To Be A Bad Bitch.
The UK government got shown up big time when Canada’s new leaders were unveiled last month. Justin Trudeau’s cabinet made history as the first in the country’s history to be made of equal numbers of men and women. Canada’s new parliament will also include a number of Muslim Canadians and 20 Punjabi-speaking MPs, making that language the third most common in the House behind English and French. In case that wasn’t revolutionary enough, they also have a colonel and an astronaut joining the ranks.
In comparison, women have just under 30% representation in the British House of Commons. Chew on that over the holidays, Cameron.
When Anson Lemmer went out for his last delivery order of the night, he didn’t know he would perform CPR and save a life. “This was my very last order of the night. I expected to just run right out there and back,” Lemmer said. Instead, when he arrived at the address in Glenwood with a hot pizza, he saw a man turning blue outside the house. “When I pulled up there, I knew something was wrong, and I had to act. [People] asked me if I knew CPR,” Lemmer said. “I jumped in right away to do those chest compressions.” His manager thought he had gotten lost, wondering what had taken so long. Soon after, he called his parents. “I called my parents and said this has been the craziest pizza delivery ever. I left a pizza boy and came back a pizza man,” Lemmer said. “They were proud of me. Totally unexpected thing.”
Seriously, though. Do you appreciate how statistically rare that is? You’re far more likely to break a person’s ribs and impale them in the lung killing them than get their heart beating again. Three cheers for pizza.
It may have been back in mid-2014 that Laverne Cox appeared on the cover of TIME magazine with the cover line “The Transgender Tipping Point”. But arguably the trans Orange Is The New Black star paved the way for 2015: the real trans tipping point.
Tangerine, the movie starring two trans women of colour, premiered at Sundance to critical acclaim. Transparent – with Hari Nef as the brilliant Tante Gittel, has been one of the breakout shows of the year. More than 100,000 trans people and allies signed a petition calling for an end to trans and gay conversion therapy following the death of trans teen Leelah Alcorn and the White House responded. Jazz Jennings established her reign as the most famous trans teen in the world. And of course, Caitlyn Jenner made the classiest trans debut of all time on the cover of Vanity Fair in that now infamous white bodysuit.
Terrorism thrives on the root of its name: the unbridled fear of the public. The antidote to this arose on the internet and it was simple, cheap and accessible: humour. From Japan’s strange photoshopped pictures and Belgium responding to terror attacks with cats to Anonymous declaring cyber war on Isis which mostly just accumulated in a rickrolling meme, this was a worldwide response, which made it all the more vaguely heartwarming. When even members of the idiotic and violently emasculated bulletin board 4chan got involved, putting rubber duck heads on pictures of Isis, it was confirmed: humour is the only way to face something so unpredictably evil, a common denominator for us all.