The awfulness of the previous period of time

In my iTunes library, I have songs that mention the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, either looking back in anger or forward in excitement. “Goodbye, ’70s!” sneers Alison Moyet; “Heading for the ’90s, living in the ’80s,” notes one-hit wonders the Escape Club.

But what happened to the ’00s? Where were the songs from the late ’90s that looked forward to the new decade. Oh yeah – the millennium is what happened.

Instead sights were set beyond the next 10 years; pop music extended itself 1000 years into the future. The Backstreet Boys and Robbie Williams and Will bloody Smith all got visionary and futuristic about Y2K and beyond.

Then, suddenly, along comes 2010 with barely a dent made in the millennium, and the sudden realisation that a whole decade has past and it probably wasn’t as magical as it seemed like it was going to be.

Though, it would have been a major downer if someone had released a song in 1999 that imagined a new millenium of terrorism, financial crises and Susan Boyle. Yeah, imagine this in an R&B lite style, perhaps with a Fred Durst rap later on:

Aeroplanes flying into buildings.
Poor Wall Street tumbles to the ground.
Frumpy spinster becomes a pop star.
These are the things that will define the next decade.

Well, there were actually some good things that happened in the ’00s. It’s just a lot more fun to dramatically declare that the whole decade was awful and therefore bring on the ’10s because shit cannot possibly be worse.

Ditto with the 2009, which was also awful and 2010 will be better. But I seem to recall that 2008 was awful and 2009 would be better. Et cetera.

Somehow when I look back at the 2000s, the thing that sticks out the most for me is the three months I lived at my parents’ place in Hamilton (late ’01, early ’02), where I spent most of the time sitting on the couch, watching the strange choices of music videos on Juice TV (Heather Nova, wtf).

Perhaps this period sticks out because I was unenjoyably living in Hamilton and watching dull music videos all day. Or perhaps I remember it because I was fresh from the National Young Writer’s Festival in Australia, feeling confident and inspired about my writing talents, and being very productive.

I hope that when people look back at the 2000s and declare it to be awful that it’s really just about a couple of specific events, and that they didn’t actually live through 10 whole years of awfulness without any effort to make things better. Because that really would be awful.

The centuries that taste forgot

I came up with this in one of the NZmusic.com discussion forums. It’s about how we tend to look back at the bad old and good old days. Stuff goes in and out of fashion, then comes back in again. And really, how many decades “that taste forgot” can we get away with having?

Here’s the template. Apply it to any year.

10 years ago – too recent to have many fond or negative feelings about.
20 years ago – horribly embarrassing. “The decade taste forgot”.
30 years ago – new appreciation for the styles previously laughed at.
40 years ago – a golden age of innovation and style.
50 years ago – groundbreaking creative period, the likes of which may never be seen again

Update – August 2015

I didn’t know it at the time, but this is basically Laver’s Law, a theory of the cycles of fashion that English art historian James Laver created in 1937. His is stages are much more insightful than mine.

10 years before its time – Indecent
5 years before its time – Shamless
1 year before its time – Outré
‘Current Fashion’ – Smart
1 year after its time – Dowdy
10 years after its time – Hideous
20 years after its time – Ridiculous
30 years after its time – Amusing
50 years after its time – Quaint
70 years after its time – Charming
100 years after its time – Romantic
150 years after its time – Beautiful

Besides, I wrote that original post 12 years ago so therefore it is now hideous.