A Decade Under the Influence: Summing up 2000-2009

Sometimes I don’t even have to think of ideas for my columns. Sometimes the ideas are neatly laid out for me and all I have to do is simply recall memories and ideas.

Well, that’s easier said than done when it comes to summing up a decade that shaped most of our lives in a big way. Never will any of us forget this decade, a decade where we spent our lives cognizant of what was going on but also oblivious of those looming responsibilities and ideas of that “real world” our parents kept talking about. After the millennium switch was flipped, good times were had and there was plenty to keep us entertained.

Music started off with bangs and whimpers. The boy band craze was still all the rage, and mainstream music was not only dominated by the likes of *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys but by other imitators that had hit singles based off sounding like them. At the same time, a band with loud guitars called Radiohead blessed and cursed the music world with the triumphant “Kid A,” not only permanently redefining their own sound but dooming every other band that had a couple of similar records to have to make their own “Kid A.”

Music ended the decade very differently than it began. Pop divas have evolved from Britney Spears to Lady Gaga, hip hop became a glorified term for pop and good rap was held underground, rock music splintered into so many different genres they’re not worth defining, and country music, well, continued to exist. A few 90s bands reformed and the majority of them just confused the masses with their existence. Independent music started merging with mainstream music so that maybe all of it will be found under the same umbrella soon. Music distribution has completely changed to the point where the next decade might make the CD as obsolete as the fading vinyl record is today.

Movies were also changing. At the beginning of the decade, Christopher Nolan was just an ambitious director who made a devilishly intelligent movie called “Memento,” and by the end of the decade he was at the helm of the biggest film franchise around in the new “Batman” installments. “High Fidelity” was thought of as a breath of fresh air at the beginning of the decade whereas it might be dismissed as being too “indie” at the end of it. Near the decade’s end, Martin Scorsese finally won an Academy Award for Best Director in what will ultimately be an average movie in his repertoire while Kate Winslet was handed one too after being passed over for superior performances. Just a reminder how meaningless the Academy is. The Coen Brothers had an excellent decade, going from cult favorites to being universally recognized. Brad Pitt went from a boring pretty boy to a pretty boy who could actually act. Charlie Kaufman wrote some of the generation’s defining screenplays that became some of its best movies. And many books were thrown into a grinder to be made into a movie because this generation has gotten too lazy to read. CGI has taken off and made visuals absolutely dazzling, and now 3D is becoming commonplace in a movie theater when before it seemed amazing enough that it existed in a theme park.

TV took quite a few turns in the ‘00s as well. Modern sitcoms have gone from campy children lessons to awkward mockumentaries. “The Simpsons” went from sort-of declining to definitely declining. Dramas have become more encompassing, from stopping a terrorist in a day to being lost on some island. Reality shows have become such a joke that having the word “reality” even associated with them is upsetting. The internet is also repackaging TV and movies in nifty streams that makes you wonder how long it’ll take for our laptops to run our lives.

So what have we learned from a long ten years in entertainment? Things change. Fads come and go and once you find out what’s cool it means that it’s not cool. We treat our celebrities like royalty because most of our politicians seem too scummy to be treated for things they haven’t accomplished. And we like watching those same celebrities crash and burn because we’re secretly jealous. But, they entertain us. The movies and TV we watch. The books we read. The music we listen to. The games we play. Everything. At least, for now they do. In another ten years, it’ll just be out of style.