In the 1970s, we had Happy Days. In the 1980s, we had Bryan Adams’ “Summer of 69.” In the 1990s, we had That ’70s Show. In the 2000s, we had a post-punk revival. In the 2010s, ’90s nostalgia became so big that Nickelodeon started a programming block titled NickRewind, which was initially dubbed “The ’90s Are All That.”
There’s some apparent phenomenon wherein every generation waxes nostalgic over the generation that preceded it two decades prior, and as this natural succession has it, we are in a new wave of ’00s nostalgia. The first defining moment of ’00s nostalgia in the 2020s was easily the reunion of flagship emo/pop-punk band My Chemical Romance, and with 9 years, 11 months (not a very fortunate sequence of numbers when discussing the ’00s) remaining of the decade, it merits reflection on why the ’00s completely sucked, and why we can’t let ’00s nostalgia take such form.
The entire decade, and by extension millennium, started with a wave of hysteria that cost the United States $100 billion. We are, of course, referring to Y2K, which started because internet technology experts thought computers would interpret the year 2000 as 1900. While the world didn't come to an end, good music did —mostly. Speaking of the internet, we were at the tail-end of the dot-com bubble, and once we recovered, we were still making sure nobody in our homes was using a landline, because if they were, we wouldn’t be able to use AllTheWeb, Lycos, Dogpile, Yahoo! and Google simultaneously.
The 2000s were a time when if you wanted to listen to OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson” (one of the decade's few great outputs) you'd better have three hours to spare, because unless you wanted to shell out $20 for the record at the Virgin Megastore, you’d have to wait that long just for a corrupt mp3 of the song to download on Kazaa. And let's not forget the Bill Clinton impersonator who interrupted the listening experience to advertise a website call ifreeclub.com.
Speaking of Clinton, many political analysts argue that the Sexgate scandal affected the 2000 presidential election which — in case you don’t remember — was decided by Floridians and the Supreme Court in that order. Not even one year later, the 9/11 terror attacks happened, and nothing was the same since.
We also gave Lee Greenwood an undeserved space on the Billboard charts, and the whole tragedy made us so sensitive to media that Jimmy Eat World literally had to make their 2001 full-length album self-titled because the name Bleed American was somehow too offensive. Think about that next time you complain about “SJWs” trying to censor free speech.
There was also something about 9/11 that made country music unbearable. Like, imagine if Johnny Cash became most successful during his Branson phase. We all let Toby Keith serenade 'Murica as we invaded Iraq for weapons of mass destruction that weren’t even there, and when the Dixie Chicks dared insinuate that they weren’t huge fans of that George W. Bush fella, they were ostracized from the country music industry at large. Again, think about that next time you complain about “SJWs.”
It wasn’t even just country music that sucked, either. Thanks to bands like the Strokes and Interpol, labels threw contracts at any band that could remotely resemble Joy Division and Gang of Four. Sure, there was some of Radiohead's best work and hip-hop had some great artists like 50 Cent, Eminem, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Twista and Clipse, but our collective memory somehow omits the tsunami of one-hit wonders whose names you will probably laugh at just reading: Chingy, Hurricane Chris, Bubba Sparxxx, Fat Joe, Sisqó and Ying Yang Twins, just to name a few.
The era's music doesn’t even hold a candle to how bad our fashion sense was. Remember Ed Hardy? The tattoo-inspired brand was to fashion what Limp Bizkit was to music. Practically the entire decade should remain a blocked memory, buried inside a time capsule never to be unearthed again. The 2000s embraced bands so terrible that their ability to haunt and torture us seemed to have emerged from the fantasy of horror master Stephen King: Maroon 5. Nickelback. Avril Lavigne. Sum 41. Evanescence. Every single by Hilary Duff.
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Remember that time Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake wore those exceptionally tacky denim suits at the 2001 American Music Awards? Remember when you had to wear Livestrong bracelets to prove you were cool? Meanwhile, people shamed emo kids for wearing tight pants and eyeliner, completely forgetting the fact that they were wearing JNKO pants only three years before.
The ’00s sucked so badly that our only escape from its grating minutiae was subpar comedy in the form of Dane Cook, Not Another Teen Movie and “Scotty Doesn’t Know.” Even then, there was certainly no escaping the Great Recession, which we saw fit to remedy by reimbursing financial institutions after they tanked the global economy in speculating on subprime mortgage-backed securities. We also couldn’t escape the whole “Team Jacob vs. Team Edward” rivalry, the endless "reality" shows starring D-listers or the millions of Farmville notifications we had to sift through back when Facebook was all the rage.
When 2010 hit, it seemed like we had finally escaped this dreadful decade, but now that ’00s nostalgia lingers — in its worst form, by making Paris Hilton relevant again and revisiting God-awful fashion trends that should've never happened to begin with. What's next? A Jon and Kate reunion? — and waits threateningly on the horizon, it looks as if we’re doomed to repeat it, just like every other shameful chapter in mankind’s history.
But then again, will we be able to brag about this decade?