along with parties and celebrations, late December always leads to reflection. While 2009 offers its share of looks back, most centering around celebrity deaths and tea baggers, what many seem to forget about the final days of this year, is that it is also the final days of an entire decade. But unlike 1989, or '79, or any other year ending in nine, this doesn't seem to be an end of an era. Of course it wouldn't be fair to compare the final moments of 2009 with that of 1999. Obviously that year also marked the end of a century and an entire millennium, not to mention the religious or Y2K cries of an end of modern civilization as we know it, but still, how did New Year's Eve 2009 become an even smaller event than New Year's Eve 1989?
The Eighties sucked but the winds of change were blowing by decade's end. Even before Grunge, groups like the Pixies, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More and Fishbone marked the end of crappy, MTV, suburban-friendly hair bands. As Spike Lee, Gus Van Sant, and the Cohen Brothers were leading an indie movie revolution, and Bubba Clinton was positioning himself as a new, third way type of Democrat, there was a sense that change was right around the corner.
No one could have envisioned the rise of Kurt Cobain, Quentin Tarentino, or hip-hop's overall dominance, but by late 1989 there was a feeling that something was about to happen. Perhaps the something-right-around-the-corner feeling is now missing because of all the change that already happened in 2008? Perhaps as a result, 2009 was destined to be a bit of a let down. Still, that doesn't explain the lack of awareness that this decade is just about over. Why?
Is it that the end of this 10 year run is being overlooked because it was, to paraphrase VH1, the worst decade ever?
A decade which kicked off with the burst of the original dot-com bubble, but more memorably, the Coup of 2000 where the US Supreme Court ruled to not recount all of Florida's Presidential votes, thus securing the Bush/Dick regime. This despite the fact that except for Fox News, every major news network had originally called Florida for Al Gore. A decade which then brought us the 9/11 attacks, two wars, an illegal occupation, an untold number of war deaths, war crimes, wide spread torture, federal domestic surveillance, multiple natural disasters, and finally, the Great Recession.
Pop culture, America's great escape, also suffered with the return of big budget Hollywood crap, an overflow of bland, overly produced, pseudo-dance, pop music, an infinite supply of reality TV shows, and the slow death of the print media.
Or is it that the end of this 10 year run is being overlooked because the digital age is stealing the type of moments that usually unite society?
Between highspeed internet service, Web 2.0, Friendster (remember that?) MySpace (or that?) YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TiVo, Guitar Hero, iPods, HD cameras, blogging, BlackBerries, texting, and sexting, digital entertainment and digital networking has both brought people together while trapping them deeper into their own, little, isolated worlds. The communication explosion of this decade has everybody talking, but no one is saying anything. And they're not saying anything in fragments while using 140 characters or less. If Carrie Bradshaw thought getting dumped on a post-it was a bit impersonal, imagine the 2.0 created horror of a goodbye tweet.
True, the digital age has made entire movements possible, its often kept these movements from having any legs. Facebook helped elect Obama and make Lady GaGa the world's biggest pop-star. But are people tuning into state of the unions or waiting for cd's to drop the way they did in the Nineties? Maybe the digital explosion of this decade has individualized society to the point where everyone is too busy entertaining themselves to have realized that this decade is almost up?
Or is it that the end of this ten year run is being overlooked because it simply never had a name?
"Eighties" and "Nineties" are names, "Two-thousands" refer more to a millennium or century than a decade. So far there doesn't seem to be a name for the next decade either. "Tens" and "Teens" might be thrown around in the future, but even after the ball comes down on Times Square, chances are we'll still be saying that we're living in the Two-thousands. Fittingly, 2010 simply seems to simply be another new year, but not a Pixies-like bridge to something bigger. Despite the best efforts from the cast of Jersey Shore (which is really a throwback to 1980's Guidos) the waning moments of this decade will not end in any Y2K-esque hoopla. There is no Z2K buzz to fear or laugh off. Too bad considering that the decade which brought us George W. Bush and John Mayer truly was the worst decade ever!*