Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Decade reviewed (3): world events

Some of the international events that marked the noughties.

10) Jacko's death, June 2009
After a whole decade of speculation and media obsession over his life (see ITV's 2003 documentary and the court case that followed), Michael Jackson's sudden heart attack became the perfect tabloid godsend, giving the Sun & co something else to write about, including ghost appearances and coroners mysteriously holding onto Jacko's brain.

9) Big Brother
Like it or not, the arrival of 'reality TV' changed mass culture for at least a generation, influencing a whole range of TV programmes and giving a new meaning to the notion of 'celebrity culture'. Popular all over the western world (certainly in Britain), it literally monopolised entertainment throughout the decade.

8) Tsunami, December 2004
With a massive human toll, like Hurrican Katrina in the US a few months later, it reminded the world that something's not quite right with the environment.

7) Climate change
Scientists report temperature rose by nearly 0.3 degrees during the 00s, with the 10 warmest years on record since 1997. Still people at the Daily Mail and the Express maintain it's been a very cold week and it's all a loonie leftie fabrication.

6) Beslan, 1-3 September 2004
One of the creepiest and cruellest terrorist attacks in history, it was textbook in the way it alienated international sympathy towards a cause - in this specific case Chechnya's independence. In 2002, a Chechen "suicide squad" had held almost 900 hostages in a Moscow theatre for four days. This time, the same group took more than 1,100 people (including 777 children) at a school in North Caucasus, Russia.

5) George W Bush in the White House, Nov 2000
One of those political watersheds that make history. When Bush (just about?) beat Al Gore, power was handed to the most reactionary and warmongering lobby in American history, including chaps like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Cheney. Their disastrous handling of the economy, most confrontational foreign policy since 1961 and bible belters-inspired social policies had only one merit: that of later on handing the White House to the most progressive US President as the pendulum swang again in 2008.

4) The London bombings, 7 July 2005
As much as both 9/11 and the 2004 Madrid attacks prepared the country for a terrorist attack on home soil, this appalling atrocity still proved a massive shock. It claimed the lives of 52 innocent people on the London underground as well as a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Its impact on both community relations and national security has been literally devastating. Also shocking was the glaze-eyed way in which Tony Blair denied any connection with the Iraq war.

3) The Iraq War, 20 Mar 2003
George W Bush and Tony Blair's gamble quickly turned into the biggest political and military blunder since VietNam. The way the pro-war lobby went about it destroyed trust in politicians for a generation. The war unleashed massive international tension, triggered a terrifying humanitarian crisis (one example: there are 5 million orphans in Iraq as of Dec 2007) and killed hundreds of thousands of people, including almost 4,500 US troops and 176 British ones. It also cost the UK £4.5 billion.

2) Lehman Brothers bank collapse, 16 Sep 2008
When the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States filed for bankruptcy, the expression 'credit crunch' gave way to the worst economic crisis in 60 years. For evidence of casualties, look at all your mates or family who have been made redundant or take a walk down your high street where Woolworths, Zavvi, Borders and Threshers are all still lying desolately empty.

1) 11 Sep 2001
Unfortunately, 9/11 is already in the history books. Not only for the sheer scale of the most atrocious and calculating terrorist attack ever, but also for how it altered our perception of security forever. Also, it messed up international relations for god knows how long, paving the way for two wars and religious tension last seen worldwide decades ago. Unintended or not, number 3 and 4 on this list were both a consequence of 9/11.

To follow: culture in the Noughties.


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

SLightly off topic but Merry Christmas to you Claude, glad our paths crossed this year.

claude said...

Likewise, mate, glad we met. Have a nice break and get pissed. When's the Ikea stuff scheduled for?

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

No idea, Italy only after Xmas I think, not seen final cut yet but sure it'll be grand.

Take care.