Graham Reid | | 5 min read
This article was written in early 2000 and appeared in the New Zealand Herald
With hindsight, it is interesting to look back on the past 50 years of popular culture, to the year 2000.
As this millennium began its false dawn, young people danced until sunrise, older people stayed at home and most people watched other people on television.
A few days later everyone went to "work," babies were born without fanfare and "orchestras" whined about not having enough public money to fund their curiously anachronistic art form.
But in those first years of this century interesting things happened.
Sport briefly became the new "rock'n'roll," although a series of tragic laser accidents finished it off fairly quickly. Most notable was the incident when the teams of Manchester City and Scotland's Hearts were cut to ribbons in 2003 to the tune of Oasis' dance-mix version of Abba's Waterloo, intended as the comeback single by Oasis, the biggest "pop" band in "Britain" during the 1990s.
The deaths in 2009 of 1960s icons Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Elton John and Sting (who refused a knighthood on the grounds that tantric sex practices didn't permit it), raised the spectre of "drug deaths" anew. Some likened it to the losses "pop" suffered when James Hendrix, James Morrison and some fat woman died in the early 70s.
"The best thing to happen in 50 years," said John Lydon, former Sex Pistol, then aged 53.
Whatever, the New Seriousness arrived, although many now attribute that to the international meltdown of the Internet on November 11, 2021.
"The best thing to happen in 50 years," said the late Bill Gates, who reputedly made $175 billion overnight after investing heavily in typewriters and ballpoint pen factories.
By the mid-2020s the breakdown of urban infrastructures resulted in mass migration to rural areas and the revival of the outdoor "rave" culture of the 1990s.
Young people gathered in fields, got smelly to the sound of amplified folk music - and promoters were declared bankrupt with alarming regularity. Without the Internet and e-mail young people found more modest entertainments. Acoustic jazz enjoyed a brief revival (it was bloody awful) and people read books, sometimes to the very end.
They also joined youth organisations and went tramping.
Celine Dion's Get Your Leg Over was adopted as the unofficial anthem of the Stile Jumpers, a popular neo-fascist youth organisation which liberated animals and genetically modified corn across Europe.
Radio and bicycles enjoyed revivals. So did 1970s "pop" group Abba, again.
The miniaturisation of technology continued and the Yamamoto MK3pk27 allowed people to load every piece of recorded music known to mankind on to a credit card.
Inevitably, young people everywhere then wanted vast stereo systems (known as "kaboom boxes") and the 2030s marked the return of vinyl records, clubs where people swapped CD sleeves and parties where people sat around a "television" and watched "videos." Drug-taking (yellow ones, usually) was not unknown at these "teleraves."
Dance music became big in the 2040s, especially Slavic folk and the popular American variant of morris dancing which included revivalist kung-fu moves and some "break-dancing" poses. Am-mor swept the globe for a full eight months until it was discovered to be the invention of former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren.
The Don King Jun-sponsored Am-mor World Championship was hastily cancelled, although the theme song by MenTWOwomen, Cross-Dressing For Life, which was used for the first worldwide neurocast (images broadcast direct to the brain via microchip), was an unexpected hit during the "global warming winter" of 2041. The remix by Moby and Sons for the Tide is High Relief Fund was equally successful.
Moby and Sons' success promoted nostalgia for the DJ culture of the 1990s, but it didn't last. No one could remember what any of them looked like.
2042 was a peculiar year: Bono was elected Pope and head of the World Bank (he declined both, working on some new DJ-influenced tracks, apparently) and the cryogenically frozen body of Elvis Presley was found in the freezer of a supermarket in Memphis.
However, an unfortunate error in the microwave-thawing process meant that on his comeback single - Wooden Heart - Elvis sounded like a duck on helium. Mr Presley mysteriously disappeared shortly after.
The NewMens Movement peaked with the 2048 Chestbare Tour, "the grossest bigging" tour in The Country Formerly Known As The United States (TCFKATUS).
But, in general, the late 2040s have smacked of desperation: the fashion for zeppelin racing in TCFKATUS looks as manufactured as the lounge music revival (we passed that way in 2023 ... yawn) and the annual Abba tribute album.
And the recent craze for random acts of mass murder seems just plain silly. The techno-hackers who last month shut down all major hospitals (latest estimate: 37.5 million dead within 24 hours) may be able to claim a personal best (previous record a paltry 12.7 million back in 2242) but their actions have largely been overshadowed by international legislation making euthanasia compulsory for anyone over 35.
As I "take my sleep" - I turn 35 next Friday - it's easy to feel glad to go. All cultures have been exploited (the IndoDance phase of 2043 after Rikki Mahan's Doin' the Hatha Yoga was rock bottom, no?) and efficient cybersex has been replaced by messy and uncomfortable actual sex after it was learned viruses could be transmitted via the Control/Delete action.
Former Oasis songwriter and current Poet Laureate Sir Noel Gallagher perhaps said it best when he offered, "I'm so bored with it all." (Typical of Gallagher, this wasn't an original line, they were the final words of Sir Winston Churchill).
As we enter the last half of the 21st century, I console myself with what a young person said to me recently about euthanasia: "The best thing to happen in 50 years. It's just that ... well, we don't know what to do next."
Another Abba revival, perhaps?
For other articles along these lines, but more humorous, check out Absurd Elsewhere here.