I already know what you're thinking...not another piece celebrating the midway point of the 2010s. You know -- our crazy decade. The one that everyone calls the Terrible Teens. Or is the Roaring Tens -- I'm not sure. The decade we'll always remember for that song. You know, that one that you heard in the supermarket aisle a couple of times. And that magical night that everyone in America stayed up late to all watch the same movie on Netflix.
OK, who am I kidding? We just killed off half of this so-called decade without a single person noticing. Even on social media, where I spend way too much of my time, I didn't see any mention of the 2010s passing the five-year mark, or any listing of the best songs or films or Twitter one-liners of the half-decade, or whatever. That's no surprise. How often does anyone mention "the 2010s" -- period?
The death of decades isn't a new phenomenon. Much was made during the 2000s about that decade's lack of either a defined identity or even an agreed-on name. (The English, it should be noted, sometimes call that decade "The Aughts"...a phrase so fingernails-on-blackboard-y British that any American who ever utters it should have his citizenship revoked.) I commented on this once and several folks emailed to insist that this same awkwardness happened in the first two decades of the 20th Century. Perhaps that's true. You certainly hear more about the Gay (18)'90s and the Roaring '20s more than the years between them, even though stuff happened (remember World War I? -- it was in all of the papers.)
No, I think the celebration of, and the nostalgia for, decades is a thing of the past -- killed off by the broader forces that have massacred the notion of a mass culture. Music is clearly the bellwether -- the long slow march from Top 40 radio to niche radio to iTunes to Spotify hasn't made music worse, but it's ensured that no one's listening to the same thing. That's not just an old-fogey-no-good-music-since-Hendrix-OD'ed thing; even my two music-loving Millennial children, two years apart, don't listen to the same bands or songs.
It's more than music. This decade has been a golden era for television -- but different shows binge-watched by different folks at different hours or the day or night. Beatles-on-Ed-Sullivan or "Wizard of Oz" moments are few and far between. I'll remember the 2010s for "Mad Men" and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.
You almost certainly won't.
Of course, there's a more ominous possible explanation -- that we've stopped celebrating decades because we want to forget them. When I think back on the 2000s, the first thing that comes to mind is color-coded terror alerts. Not exactly "hula hoops" and Mel's Drive-In, is it? Earlier today, I saw a video (see below) from the British social commentator Adam Curtis about how 2014 was marked by elites and the media conspiring to keep viewers in a fog about reality, from Syria to the financial markets. It dovetails with my thoughts the other day about CNN and its constant state of fear.
Future nostalgia for that? Hard to imagine. If you think there's anything that defines the Terrific '10s, I'd love to hear your input. Meanwhile, if the second half of the 2010s is anything like the first half, this child of the '70s may stay under the covers with his Pet Rock, listening to the Joe Jackson songs I just downloaded with my iTunes gift cards and waiting for my mood ring to turn blue.
Have a nice day. :-)