Not only is December a time of yearly reflection (Best Of, Worst Of Lists abound), but anything -9 on the calender gets to be a time of looking back upon an entire decade... 1989 focusing on The Eighties, 1999 focusing on The Nineties (overwhelmed by a case of centennial reminiscing for the whole 1900s). So now it becomes time to look back upon an entire decade: the 2000s, also known as the Aughts.
Each decade comes to be known for a particular theme: 1930s = Depression/pre-War years; 1940s = The War Effort; 1950s = Rise of the Boomer teens, Rock music, The Atomic Age; 1960s = New Frontier/The Nam/Woodstock Nation; 1970s = Nixon, Disco, Urban Blight, National Malaise (in short, the 70s Sucked); 1980s = Reagan Era of Good Feelings; 1990s = Post-Cold War/Dawn of the Internet; 2000s = ?
This came to me when I posted a comment to Flick Filosopher's post asking which film defined this decade. After giving it serious thought, I came to realize that a lot of the movies - even the good movies - seemed bereft of passion, of any amount of dedication to craft on the part of film-makers. It was just... throwing mass spectacle up on the screen and trying to see what sticks. I realized the films of this decade all suffered - and for the ones that tried to enjoy themselves - from a form of numbness.
This got me looking at the decade itself. And indeed, there was a kind of "God, Please, just let this go and not bother me anymore" feeling encompassing all. The era of scandal-plagued Clinton years finally awashed with Clinton Fatigue (just stop yelling about the BLOWJOBS, you wingnuts!). We got as a result one of the most dull, predictable Presidential campaigns in 2000 that ended up with a jaw-dropping questionable vote count (the Butterfly Ballot doomed us all) in my home state of Florida (I was in Broward - Ground Zero 2000 - for the insane recount) that ended with a questionable result (Bush wins in a 5-4 vote). By the end of all that, people just wanted to move on...
And then 2001. No space odyssey for humanity. Just a coordinated terrorist attack that killed thousands and drove the United States into the GWOT.
Everything in the political arena was pretty much consumed by the War on Terror, which mutated into a War on Iraq, which mutated further into an Occupation of Iraq and a growing schzoid madness in our Mainstream Media (half obsessed with justifying an increasingly unjustifable invasion and occupation, the other half terrified of being label unpatriotic). In the meanwhile, a GOP majority in control of Congress and the White House went on a spending spree that would have made LBJ blush, disregarding ethics and regulatory concerns (even in the wake of a massive corporate scandal involving Enron, WorldCom, criminal accounting tricks and more). All concerns for reform: none, and that lack of concern fed down into the whole of society, to where everyone is just shell-shocked at the large unemployment, the growing corpulence of the financial industry even in the wake of a global recession they caused, and pretty much everything else.
We're at 10 percent unemployment, and despite the Media talking heads trying to convince themselves the worst is over, there's good signs the worst ISN'T over. And yet, no one's marching in the streets about that. We've got more unemployed people since the 1930s and the streets are not crammed with protestors screaming for jobs, for job security, for ANYTHING from the government to help us.
The only ones marching? Teabaggers. And *they're* obsessed over SOCIALISM ZOMG, or Obama's BIRF CERTIFICATION ZOMG, or DEATH PANELS THAT DON'T EXIST ZOMG. In short, they're obsessed over b-llsh-t stuff that ain't true.
We're facing massive economic collapse with our current health care system, but the bill is close to death in the Senate all because of egotistical morans wanting their pretty pony presents. And past the outrage on the progressive blogs and on Olbermann's show, what else? Again, the streets are empty of people FOR the health care reform. Even though there's good evidence there's a lot of people out there who WANT AND NEED it.
It's like there's a kind of numbness in us. A refusal to work ourselves out of our homes, our cubicles. Not entirely fear of losing our homes or jobs, even though that can (and will) happen (if nothing gets fixed). Not enough anger, perhaps. Definitely not enough passion to see it done.
I dunno if it was the Clinton Fatigue from the 1990s that led to this kind of political apathy of letting the loudest idiots win the arguments just to let it end, even when those loudmouths are criminally wrong. I dunno if it was 9/11. I dunno if it was the Bush administration letting its ignorance and toadying permeate into our cultural consciousness. All I know is, we've been numbed into a lull. As a nation. We're just sitting here, waiting for the end. Of what, we all know. But we're at the point we don't care.
And that doesn't even terrify me. It did, once... See?