What have the 00's wrought? I've really wanted to write a post about the '00s for awhile, but it's pretty difficult to really say what I think the significance of the past ten years has been, because technology, the internet, and a the worldwide phenomena of globalization truly has made this past decade unlike any one before. What is weird to me is that technology has changed everything quickly and dramatically, yet it has also happened so quickly that people don't want to stop and take any time to examine it and its repercussions.
Technology itself is not "bad" or "good." There are great benefits to technology, as well as unrelated but obvious advancements politically and socially. There is a sense of ease-maybe even a sense of freedom- that we can enjoy. The internet and widely available knowledge snippets are useful not only for informational reasons, but because they can help free people from isolation, which might not mean much if you just want to find other people who like 40's dresses, but could be really helpful if you are the only gay kid in your small hometown or something. I also think "publishing" on the internet and having one's own space to promote yourself or your work or whatever (this blog is an example) can really give people a platform they otherwise wouldn't have and hopefully can help circumvent the typical and more hierarchical ways of getting yourself heard. And there are many other reasons to appreciate technology.
But with cultural awareness comes a huge shift in how things are created. I think art and culture have always had false pretense about them; the artist has always lied about who they were to sell their product. But now everyone is aware of everything- not just the history within their own culture or field, but everything- every subculture, every marketing scheme, every trend. I always read first-person accounts that were like, "Oh, growing up in the 70's, I loved Kiss, because they were the hardest thing around," but today, there is so much to choose from, and as a result, you doubt the authenticity of anyone's cultural experience. It's not so much that people seem like posers as much as everyone seems to be coming from the same place.
Besides the awareness of all different scenes and cultures, there is the awareness of irony, itself a real cultural hallmark of the past ten years. Everything has been rehashed and made fun of and then rehashed again- and the dominant pop culture scene is nothing if not an example of this. Remember the "garage rock revival" of the early 2000's? And everyone was like, "The Strokes are so great!" even though everyone realized they sucked like six weeks later even though I just read an interview with Julian Casablancas in New York in which "Is This It" was referred to as "masterful"? But The Strokes never seemed real. They seemed so self-consciously aware of what they were imitating, and of the history of these old New York bands even though New York didn't even exist in the same way anymore. It's like, sure Richard Hell was a poser in his own way too, but, back then, there just wasn't much to copy. You had to be sort of authentic in a way to start all these cultural movements because you weren't reviving anything. It was the first time. Punk hadn't been invented yet. But it's not like now you are ever like, "I've never, ever seen/heard/imagined anything like this before!" because most things are self-consciously ripping off something else.
Fashion is like this for sure. What did the 00's bring us that was new, besides cultural homogenization? The disparities between the high/low market really began to lessen, what with every designer's crappy collections for Target and the availability of cheap, trendy, disposable clothes from H&M and Forevs. I can certainly appreciate the fact that these stores are cheap and that many more people can afford to wear the newest and trendiest because of them, but they also contribute to an impending sense of overall uniformity. And it's not just because you saw 50 other people in that H&M coat (seriously, I had an H&M coat last winter and I thought about taking photos of every person wearing it besides me, which was a lot) but the fact that everyone's clothes were made in the same cheap, disposable way. I see the 90's being revived, and though they sucked sartorially, there was some new stuff there. But how will the 2000s be revived? There wasn't a strong enough perspective.
Obviously it doesn't bother most people, but to me the fact that everything got super, super ugly in the past decades is a real downer. It's depressing that my generation will leave so much (plastic, cube shaped) crap in its wake. People can say that it's stupid to collect records when you can have an ipod full of mp3s, but ipods are ugly and records are beautiful and make sense because they have aesthetic value, and aesthetics are an important part of the culture of music, and I would argue, an important part of the world at large because we use our eyes every day and all.
This is not to say that everything sucks and things are over and art is over, or that the rise and fall of The Strokes is an unparalleled and profound metaphor for our times, just that, if you view these large, sweeping worldwide movements, they certainly point to vast shift in our culture. Which is all a little futuristic for me. Why do movies set in the future always assume everything is going to look like a punk rock desert or something when clearly they should take place inside a Best Buy, man?
PS: Probably the biggest argument for technology run amok: plastic surgery face (and body.) It's not exactly a reflection of healthy times, you know? For all our advancements, our standards of beauty and what is valued are as rigid and terrible as ever, perhaps more. It's definitely a little dystopian for me.