Today, in journalism, the anniversary is king. With the present (and future) a difficult and terrifying place, even the most insignificant milestone can give us a chance to escape into the warm embrace of the past in the name of having something to write about.
Of course, it's not only journalists reaping the rewards of the throwback tactic; everyone's complicit. Film companies crank out anniversary edition DVDs and Blu-rays; record labels plug re-mastered copies of seminal albums; governments and political interest groups use emotive dates to recruit and convert.
With that in mind, I thought I'd save you a little reading time this year by telling you how things are going to pan out anniversary feature-wise in 2015.
12th: Bereft of any obvious nice round number Nirvana or Kurt anniversaries to really go to town on this year, the 25th anniversary of Kurt and Courtney meeting at the Satyricon club in Portland will have to do. Resourceful hacks unearth eyewitnesses (Krist Novoselic). Courtney Love's mental health is discussed. The phrase "fateful night" never goes unused.
24th: It's been 50 years since roaring wartime orator/talking dog Winston Churchill rode his Spitfire off to the great Gentleman's Club in the sky, which means that, with the exception of one Guardian piece, Britain's "greatest leader" (Telegraph, Times, et al) is lauded by the country's media. A functional alcoholic, author and wearer of finely tailored clothing, the feature opportunities range across the spectrum, from "Drink like Winston" lifestyle pieces to "Get the Churchill look" spreads. All features are recycled in the summer for the 75th anniversary of his appointment as prime minister.
31st: What better way to follow up last year's great big World War 1 centenary love-in than by celebrating the centenary of the first large-scale use of gas as a weapon?
2nd: On the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison, the great and the good of the Western world line up to write about the "Nelson I knew". Bob Geldof releases a star-studded version of The Specials' hit "Nelson Mandela", a song he has mysteriously acquired the rights to. The profits are dedicated to making sure Africa will always be there to serve the philanthropic needs of the West.
6th: The 70th anniversary of Bob Marley's birth sees food features on where to eat jerk chicken competing with long reads on the truth and fire of the reggae great. Island Records founder Chris Blackwell shares the same tried and tested stories about how well he and Bob got on and reminds everyone that, despite what they might have heard, he definitely didn't rip Bob off. Bunny Wailer's increasingly worrying state of mind is ignored, though the Marley family's decision to sell the rights to "Marley Natural", the world's first cannabis brand, to three rich white Americans definitely isn't. Pop stars who only ever listened to Legend talk about what an "inspiration" Bob was to them.
27th: If Russell Brand hasn't been trending consistently since the beginning of the year, the first anniversary of the The Trews gives everyone an excuse to post some videos of him having a good old barney with Fox News.
2nd: To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of The Sound of Music, the BBC sends Julie Andrews back to Austria to relive the experience of making the film. The resulting documentary is unexpectedly harrowing. Von Trapp-themed fashion pieces are everywhere. Serious film critics make the case for its enduring cultural significance and the "lost Europe" that was once defined by serenity and calm.
5th: The third anniversary of Kony 2012. Joseph Kony is still at large. Invisible Children founder Jason Russell gives a "raw" interview to a serious newspaper in which he talks "honestly and emotionally" about his problems with drink, drugs and Christianity.
15th: Thirty years ago, Symbolics.com became the first ever registered website, and this anniversary gives everyone a chance to let you know all about Symbolics.com (this takes two sentences) before talking about how wonderful/terrible the internet is (this takes thousands of words, hundreds of gifs and lots of bad intros about cats).
15th: Fourth anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian Civil War. It will never end. The Western media tries to work out which group of bad guys is the most bad. They settle, as usual, for Islamic State.
4th: Third anniversary of the birth of Grumpy Cat. If he's dead, think pieces speculating on whether the internet was his real killer are penned, alongside a well-stocked photo gallery of the little grumpykins in action. If he's alive, just the photos.
25th: "They died so we could live," intones the Telegraph, marking the 100th anniversary of the horrors of Gallipoli. The Mail celebrates Anzac Day and the "unbreakable bond between the Queen and her subjects".
Pictures of the young Mel Gibson in the film Gallipoli provide the internet with an endless stream of "You won't believe how hot Mel Gibson was when he was younger" listicles. "Remember Gibson as a handsome young man, not as a drooling racist," we are told. The film's anti-imperial message is conveniently ignored.
5th: Two days before this year's election, the 10th anniversary of Tony Blair's third election triumph prompts a series of pieces about how unelectable Ed Miliband is. Ed's latest piece of weirdness (something will have replaced the staring or the bacon sandwich by then) will be contrasted to the oily, people-pleasing smoothness of King Blair.
13th: The 150th anniversary of WB Yeats' birth encourages a bunch of journalists who don't read contemporary poetry to write about how bad contemporary poetry is. Quotes from the great Irishman's poems are extracted and funnelled into lists broken up by generic pictures of his homeland.
18th: The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo is marked by a series of re-enactments. Most of the coverage un-ironically celebrates our thrashing of the cheese-eating surrender monkey frogs.
19th: Eight hundred years on from the signing of the Magna Carta, Britain's enduring commitment to human rights/the demands of small groups of rich men is celebrated by one and all. Politicians from all sides fight for column inches in which to proclaim their love of Britain, freedom and great scrolls of parchment. Stephen Fry bemoans the lack of decent Latin readers left in the country. None of the writers will have ever read the hallowed document.
But have we capitulated to the bankers in the same way King John capitulated to the feudal barons, only with less reason and less benefit, some commentators ask?
(Similar sentiments will also be expressed for the 750th anniversary of parliament earlier in the year, in which the use of "Westminster" as a term of abuse evocative of a hive of paedophiles will be discussed.)
29th: The one-year anniversary of Isis's rebranding as "Islamic State" and their announcement of the formation of a caliphate. The group wins a media award for most covered organisation. Media outlets compete over who has the scariest, most piratical pictures of IS fighters.
7th: Ten years since the 7/7 bombings in London, the media, backed up by the government, talk darkly of the probability of something similar happening again. New anti-terrorism measures are announced. New types of terrorist are written about. Fear spreads. The 9/11 NeverForget # is co-opted.
14th: To celebrate the first ascent of the Matterhorn 150 years ago, music sites host Mousse T's "Horny '98", which has been re-released with a video of people mouthing the lyrics while pretending to fuck the Swiss mountain.
29th: The 125th anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh's death. Countless features ask whether you have to be mad to be a genius. Someone goes too far and publishes a guide to chopping your own ear off.
4th: The 55th anniversary of Psycho. Not the frame-by-frame re-make, alas, but the original Hitchcock version. Every weekend supplement carries a large feature on the film. Will it ever be bettered, critics ask? No, they dutifully answer.
6th: On the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, most of the Western media solemnly recounts the horror of what happened before insisting that America would never do anything like that again. A number of outlets disagree and publish polemics reminding everyone that America continues to be a bastard abroad. Those who already think this read the polemics, agree with them, get angry and then feel hopeless.
7th: "The Riots – what have we learnt?" asks every single broadsheet on the fourth anniversary of the shooting of Mark Duggan. News channels interview "real Londoners" and ex-cops talk about how Duggan was really just a gangster who had it coming. Ferguson analogies are made. Russell Brand does something.
22nd: Twenty years on from Rancid's "seminal" album …and out Come the Wolves, music sites analyse the phenomenon of pop-punk and ask if the album was the genre's highpoint. They conclude that no, the highpoint was probably something Green Day did.
30th: Rolling Stone, Q and Mojo all dedicate entire issues to the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited. The New Yorker publishes a 36-page piece entitled "In Search of Highway 61". Middle-aged white men queue up to discuss the genius of old raspy voice.
1st: The fifth anniversary of Wiley joining Twitter lets everyone compile some of his greatest Tweets and watch the traffic roll in.
20th: The Lord of the Rings turns 60 and the cast of the films are brought together to wearily recount the three decades they spent in New Zealand making them.
25th: Six hundred years since Agincourt. British thesps are forced to record a version of Shakespeare's Henry V.
27th: A year after British troops left Afghanistan, the government, backed by much of the media, continues to insist that Britain "won" the war. Evidence to the contrary is largely ignored, but Afghanistan's "inability to govern itself" is noted. Perhaps we should go back because they don't understand democracy? A Tony Blair opinion piece agrees.
1st: The 40th anniversary of the release of Kraftwerk's Radio-Activity leads to a series of long think-pieces that will sit in a few tabs in your browser for weeks before you finally admit you're never going to read them.
4th: The 40th anniversary of the Sex Pistols' first gig. Punk was "a clarion call for the working man" says the Observer. NME's cover story heralds the "most radical band ever to spit into the audience". In a Britain that was on its knees, the Pistols were a blast of fresh air. John Lydon gives some grumpy, no-nonsense interviews.
24th: "It's been 20 years since the release of GoldenEye, but Pierce Brosnan hasn't changed a bit," purr a collection of lifestyle magazines.
12th: The 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra's birth allows for some gossip-heavy biographies of the crooner, while Ronan Farrow's parentage is questioned. A series of "The woman he loved" pieces, all about different women, are published.
25th: Anniversary of Jesus' birth overshadowed by coverage of football, weather conditions and presents. Vicars complain. The light dies.
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