The aughts.

Every decade has defining characteristics. The 20s - jazz. The 30s - the Depression. The 40s - WWII. The 50s - perfection. The 60s - postmodern freedoms. The 70s - disco! The 80s - big hair. The 90s - errgh...um...sigh...really crappy alternative music. (Except for Alanis)

And of course, there's much more that can be said about each of those decades; sub-characteristics, if you will, people and events and styles and landmarks that are instantly identifiable in their place in time.

And when you think about it, it takes a while for the new decade to shake off the old. For example, when I was born, the world was still living by those wonderful 70s standards of bell-bottoms, discotheques, disaster movies, orange shag carpet (though my mom claims it was 'rust colored,' it was my room so I should know), and Three's Company. God, I love the seventies. *moment of silence*

So I've been thinking, now that this decade is gently drawing to a close, what are those defining characteristics we will look back on in twenty or so years and nod our heads and say, 'Yes. Those were the aughts, all right'?

I've compiled a list.

1) I'd say the biggest one is the War on Terror. Or, the War in Iraq. Or, whatever we choose to call it whenever we figure out what's actually going on. September 11th was extremely early in this decade and so the proceeding events have had plenty of time to play out across the aughts; not to mention the fact that the War is as hotly contested and debated and reviled as Vietnam (though Nam, interestingly, spanned two decades).

2) The next biggest is American Idol. Whether or not you like it, it's the truth. It also came into existence very early, in summer of '02, and is still going very strong and has been incredibly successful both in ratings and in the commercial viability of its winners and finalists. Simon Cowell is an icon, although a strange one, and Seacrest inhabits a plane all his own. It is very difficult to imagine the aughts without this show.

3) Reality TV in general. There have always been reality shows, but it wasn't until the aughts that it became a phenomenon, and networks began developing reality over aging formulas of the past like situation comedies. We have seen more highs (AI, Biggest Loser, Survivor), lows (Paradise Hotel, Beauty and the Geek), awesomeness (What Not To Wear, America's Next Top Model, Real Housewives), unnecessariness (Run's House, Hey Paula!)and outright inappropriateness (Flava of Love and it's many spinoffs) than we ever imagined could exist in the universe.

4) Celebrity mania. I hate it. I can't go into it or I'll break something.

5) Blogs. Huh. Whodathunkit. And remember when they were called 'weblogs'? And all new and frightening? Good times.

6) Harry Potter. Even though the series was first published in the late nineties, the movies began coming to theaters in '01 and the hype as the fifth, sixth, and finally seventh books came out was unreal. Kids loved reading again. Parents loved reading with their kids. J.K. loved cashing her checks--err, I mean...writing. And every now and then, on warm summer midnights, the country--nay, the world--felt united by a boy in glasses who became really good at acting like a bitchy teenager.

7) Admittedly I'm not too taken with the world of high fashion, but notable styles that have come and perhaps already gone are huge sunglasses, Ugg boots, anything peasant (meaning ugly), graphic tees, and hurrah! Skinny jeans are back and hips are allowed once more. And if you happen to be wearing an outfit consisting of each of those things, you are either Mary Kate or Ashley. Who probably belong on this list too. Although way down.

So that's my take on it. Anything major that you think should have been on my list?


Rebel Mel said...

Social networking as a whole. Microblogging. Smart phones! Touch everything. Going green. Internet fame.

Epoem said...

What would life be without the iPod?

Saphron said...

And I forgot Obama and the recession!