We will, in the closing days of this wretched decade, list the Top Ten reasons why it sucked. We’re behind schedule, so here are four for the price of one. Previous reasons here, here, here, and here.
6. Fashion: We stopped trying, outsourced our clothing trends to stars. 50’s: Pegged pants, poodle skirts. 70s: Elephant bells, blow-dried hair. You can easily spot other decades by their fashions. They weren’t always pretty, but they showed people were at least trying.
So how will costume designers recreate the ’00s? By dressing actors in styles from other decades — because that’s what we did: now hippie, now grungey, now neo-wave, now Flashdance: We seemed to grab everything off other eras’ racks. Our signature innovations: the butt crack and the trucker cap. And the snuggie.
Not even New York magazine could make anything out of this shit. No wonder Lady Gaga is so popular: she wore all the distinctive clothing for us.
5. The Yankees. We thought we were rid of them at last. The Diamondbacks throwing Schilling and Johnson (in relief) at them in Game 7 2001 was like the H-Bomb at Hiroshima; we expected no championships would ever grow in Yankee Stadium again. When the Red Sox stunned them with four straight wins to come back from 0-3 in the 2004 ALCS, and went on to reverse the curse of the Babe, it seemed like destiny.
4. The Mets. That they even got to the 2000 Series was miraculous, so we figured more miraculous things were in store. And they were! Who knew they could choke so catastrophically in the stretch two seasons in a row? Who knew they could acquire so much great talent and produce zero championships? Even God seems to hate them now. Plus they have a boondoggle stadium, too — named after a bailed-out bank. Fuckers.
3. Everyone had to admit they’re racist, except for racists. The last decade ended with high hopes for America’s racial attitudes. Young people were more color-blind, we heard; soon all that would be behind us. Shall we overcome? 55 years after Brown v. Board of Education, we still have to ask.
Yeah, we have a black President, which got everybody choked up. But he was running against a fatally weakened GOP, and we needed Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact (which presented America in similarly desperate straits) and Dennis Haysbert in 24 to soften us up for it first.
And Obama’s campaign and election now seems to have ignited a renaissance of racist imagery of the most old-fashioned sort, though aggravated by Photoshop: Obama as a monkey, Obama with watermelons, Obama as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose, etc, etc. (Michelle Obama isn’t spared, either.)
Reaction among those who most hate Obama has generally been to insist that the President is the real racist, that he and his supporters are using the “race card” against innocent whites, and that any imputation of racism against them is an unreasoning cry of RAAACIST (alternately, RAAAAACIST or RAAAACIST), as popularized by Michelle Malkin. Even Rupert Murdoch, whose New York Post ran one of the more infamous Obama-monkey cartoons, accuses Obama of racism. Increasingly, they see racism as something practiced by regnant blacks against defenseless white people.
The revival of racial obsessions once thought to be vanishing from the land has to be embarrassing to most white Americans. But the people who have the most to be embarrassed about are proud of it. Like some cunning virus, racism wasn’t eradicated in the ’00s; it just mutated to evade our defenses.