Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 00's - The decade that took us back to zero

Y2k - what a joke that was.

Remember all that techno glitch jazz about how computers would think it was 1900 instead of 2000, wiping out power grids, bank accounts, satellites, and the internet in the process? That of course didn't happen, but when taking stock on this past decade, it does in some ways feel like someone hit the reset button and took us back to zero anyway.

From the terror attacks of 9/11, to the music industry & the global economy, to the rocky mental state of our beloved Britney Spears & Branjelina, these years have showered us with collapse.

Not to mention, the conflict in Darfur, the Iraq War and America's "War on Terror." Even Mother Nature joined in on the act, spurring cataclysmic events like the Indonesian Tsumami of 2004 and Hurricane Katrina which caused unfathomable havoc.

And let's not forget about Octo-Mom or Balloon Boy, or the alarming number of VH1 reality shows that featured Flava Flav making out with Bridgette Nielson. Or the Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved By Bell) sex tape?

Also, I graduated college, grew a beard and got a job with health insurance. The world would never be the same.

But despite this 21st century turbulence, there is little doubt that we are living in the future, and it's a future that glows promise (see also, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). Even if we aren't very well content with the job Obama is doing in office, there is something to be said about a United States of America that elected it's first black president in such a time of uncertainty and political unrest. Especially after the decade's two previous presidential elections were controversially split down the middle.

My favorite example to illustrate though, quite naturally, is the music industry.

Just look at how the decade started. Two of the biggest selling albums of 2000 were N*Sync's No Strings Attached and Radiohead's Kid A. Nearly a decade later, one of them is now regarded as a mere novelty, while the other still sounds like a masterpiece beamed in from the future. Kid A is regarded by many professional and amateur critics alike as "the" album of the decade - to which I cannot argue. These two albums are as symbolic as you can get, marking the peak of an era, and kicking down the future's door at the very same time.

The business free-falled from there. If you are the one person left on earth weeping for the music industry, look at who was turning the hefty profits before the business had it's spine ripped out, Mortal Kombat style, by the file-sharing internet world a few years ago. Limp Bizkit? Creed? Lip-syncing boy bands? Gangsta rap that had nothing to do with music or anything legitimate to say and everything to do with making money and living large? The record execs who fostered these "artists"? Trust me, it is not a BAD thing that these people are not shepherding the industry anymore. The music business, as it stood at the dawn of the decade, DESERVED to have the rug swept out from under it. And then kicked. And then spit on. And then rolled up in a cashmere rug and rolled down a steep embankment into oncoming traffic. And then nuked. It should be thankful to still have any pulse at all.

The artists left standing, now that the dust is beginning to settle, are making smarter music with more creativity, more hunger and more heart. And that's the only currency that stands to be tendered in a world where music is as fundamental to the passing generations as water is to life. (What? You don't think your heart beat is a song, or that birds, crickets, and whales all sing songs in search of peace, love and understanding?)

Don't get me wrong, we're not yet in any age of musical renaissance, but there is more out there than ever before and it's more accessible than ever before. To sum it all up in a word- CHOICE. Thanks to acts like Radiohead and computer programs like GarageBand and the ease of devices like the iPod - music is about as democratic and boundless as it can get. Music can be made by just about anyone and accessed and shared by even more. That creates infinite possibilities. If that's what it takes to keep Limp Bizkit out of the recording studio, I do believe that's a win for the human race.

And that's essentially what this past decade can be characterized by. Some of the biggest pieces of the world have crumbled beneath us, consumed by a weight of greed, power, politics, and just plain crap these past 10 years. But from the ashes, we are helping to build a whole new world from scratch, together. A world of more choices, more possibilities, more ways to share our hopes, joys and sorrow with one another. That of course, still leads to heinously bad movies, music, YouTube videos and motives - but I still call it a win for humanity.

This future we're building doesn't yet have flying cars, space colonies, or hover boards on the way any time soon - but it also feels like we, the little people, are more in control of what the future holds than we've ever been. And that's exciting. That's shelter from the storm.

That's why I've chosen to refer to this decade as "the zeros", as opposed to "the noughties" or "the ohs" or the "two-thousands." When you're at zero, there is no way, but up.

What about YOU? What did you love/loathe about the decade? Music? Reality TV? W. Bush impressions? FiOS? iPhones? Ex-girlfriends? Etc? Leave a comment about your 21st century break down!



Post a Comment

<< Home