Overrated/Underrated: Goodbye, 2018 — take Toto’s ‘Africa’ and Facebook with you

A figure carrying the logo of social network Facebook is viewed in Paris.
(JOEL SAGET / AFP/Getty Images)


TV escapism: The ever-shifting news cycle of 2018 often made tuning out the news or your Twitter feed feel like a dereliction of democratic duty. And while at times jarringly topical entertainments like the brutal second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the amoral Manhattan power plays of HBO’s “Succession” had their merits, here’s to the many options that gave the brief impression everything was not burning down around us. “The Great British Baking Show,” “High Maintenance,” “Big Mouth,” “The Good Place,” “Queer Eye” and even the bloody great “Killing Eve” — we couldn’t have gotten this far without you.

2019: Of all that we lost over a year that often felt far more marked by hardship than hope, we can at least take comfort in realizing that the repeated year-end declarations of “worst year ever!” seem to have gone missing as well. Maybe it’s wrong to celebrate what may be a little ingrained pessimism at work in recognizing that pretty much every year is difficult. If we keep this up, 2019 might be able to surprise us after offering, at the very least, one fewer “Fifty Shades” movie.



Toto’s ‘Africa’: As we approach a merciful conclusion to a surreal year, let us hope that 2019 also brings a new random resurgence for an overplayed song from the pop charts of yesteryear. This glossily produced 1982 hit enjoyed a revival this year as a goofy fan campaign to force Weezer into covering “Africa” was finally realized. Now, Hollywood has jumped on board as Pitbull has released “Ocean to Ocean,” a thumping quasi-cover of the song for the “Aquaman” soundtrack that no one asked for. The joke’s time is up, and everyone should now switch to Philip Bailey’s “Easy Lover” for their ’80s retrofitting needs.

Facebook’s durability: After more scandals pointing toward Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual interconnected maze of humans and their easily shared personal data, and that the social media site has been — surprise! — far more concerned with making money than building a better world, there’s a growing sense that our actual need for Facebook or Instagram may be reaching a tipping point. At one time, empires like MySpace, Friendster and Blockbuster Video seemed eternal as well, but should you feel anxiety about resolving to quit social media in the new year, fear not: There will probably be plenty in 2019 to make you feel bad that won’t require a WiFi password.

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