Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Personal Year/Decade in Review notes

What a weird, sad, maddening and wonderful decade. Trying to keep up with various cultural incidents — we've become too fractured to call them events, really — is just about impossible. The splintering of media channels, despite the various mergers and conglomerations, has left us with the possibility that developing an ADHD-like approach to artistic and cultural experiencing might just be evolutionarily advantageous.

How does a person make sense of what's happening in the world nowadays? When RSS first came out, it was touted as the best way to filter out the "useless" online content and get to what we're really interested in. The "good" stuff, so to speak. Now it seems to add to a burgeoning sense of self reinforcement, that is, what you find and read only reaffirms what you already believe as opposed to challenging those beliefs, testing them under the twin beacons of logic and emotion.

Fashion became a big deal under the Obama administration.

Journalism in America is undergoing an apocalypse.

I reclaim the meaning of "apocalypse" to be profound change or transformation, rather than the end of the world.

Yea to old-school, violent, and manipulative vampires, no to melodramatic, sparkly (!), brooding vampires.

Yea to zombies, whether they come in the form of movies (28 Days Later), comics (The Walking Dead), or classic literature (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).

Yea to comic books being part of the pop culture discussion, no to fanboy baiting and event exhaustion.

Lists about any section of culture, whether it's music, movies, TV or whatever, cannot help but reflect personal tastes. But if you gather enough of them and compile them into one master list, will that give you an "objective" view of what was good?

Simon Reynolds' Notes on the noughties: The musically fragmented decade.

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Hip-hop at the end of its tired decade

Before I began writing this entry, I read Simon Reynolds's "Notes on the noughties" series for The Guardian online, and was struck by his insights and odd sense of humor. (Beards as signifiers of musical authenticity, anyone?) I'm surprised at how much I agree with him, and somewhat annoyed and relieved that he put together observations that have been bothering me these last few years. Following the same vein, I'm going to put down my own thoughts on the decade in an effort to make sense of it all. For this first part, it might help to read the New Yorker article by Sasha Frere-Jones about hip-hop before continuing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wildlife year/decade in review OR My year in lists

I create a list of alternative Christmas songs for this week's WildLife. Twisted Sister, unfortunately, did not make the list.

I contribute to WildLife's list of the best movies of the decade. Of course, I am willfully different in my choices.

Finally, I give my list of the year's best comics and graphic novels.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Decade in Review

I contribute to the Daily Wildcat's Decade in Review issue, which was an interesting issue. (A shame it didn't have campus stories.) Of the four entries I wrote, only one made it to print while another was misattributed to me mistakenly. The rest went unpublished for various reasons too mundane to mention. Here's what I wrote:

Top National Stories - Contested Election of 2000

While this was not the most contested presidential election in U.S. history — that honor goes to the 1876 election between Rutherford Hayes and Samuel Tilden — the 2000 election was significant for several reasons.

It saw a major shift in the judicial branch’s power. Despite numerous media organizations declaring Democratic candidate and then-vice president Gore as the winner based on exit polls, by the end of Nov. 7, 2000, the U.S. still had no clear winner in the presidential race. It became clear that the contest hinged on the winner of the popular vote in Florida.

Gore called for a hand recount. The multiple legal moves left a nation of voters, many of whom had voted for the first time in a national election, anxiously awaiting a decision. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled 5-4 that the recount was unconstitutional, and could not be completed in time for the second deadline extension.

In the end, the U.S. had a new president, George W. Bush, who would have a profound impact on the decade, regalvanized Democratic and Republican parties and a new generation that discovered that every vote matters.