Monday, September 07, 2009

The blah decade?
As autumn creeps in through the cool night breezes and the year and decade come to their ends I’ve already got an epitaph for the last. Fittingly the decade was the Noughties.

Part of it could be I’m old enough not to have even a passing knowledge of fads any more but it seems to me that while the ’20s through the ’90s each were ‘cultural decades’ (not necessarily matching the calendar decades: for example ‘the ’60s’ were from about 1967 to 1973) with defining features including popular music (’20s: flappers and hot jazz; ’40s, WWII and swing; ’50s, the Cold War, cars with fins, rockabilly and optimism/idealism helped with good old-fashioned discipline — I count JFK and MLK in the cultural ’50s; ’60s, hippies and psychedelic rock — self-indulgent destruction: decline; ’70s, disco; ’80s, Reagan, Thatcher, yuppies, synth-pop, ‘Miami Vice’, mullets and Members Only jackets; ’90s, grunge) the Noughties seem to have few defining styles or cultural icons. The collapsing World Trade Center towers on 9/11? Obama? Foreclosures and joblessness? I tend to agree with Steve Sailer that after the late-’60s disaster/cultural sea change (he says since 1979), except for little surface changes, like from the mid-’30s to the early ’50s, popular culture has remained remarkably the same. Again I simply could be old now and realise there’s nothing new under the sun. But when I look back on the Noughties all I see is decline. I like my computer (obviously and I see the irony of writing this way in this medium) and microwave but would rather put on a thin-brim fedora, hop in a two-tone Fairlane and go back 50 years (more). Given the popularity of ‘Mad Men’ I may not be alone in that.

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