Irish Examiner Saturday - Irish Examiner - Weekend
Reeling in the years: Pop culture from past decades
As a new decade looms, Suzanne Harrington takes a look at the anniversaries we’ll be marking in 2020. So sit back and enjoy the nostalgia...
Anew decade looms! Will it be even nuttier than the last one? Let’s not think about that, but instead wander down an avenue of anniversaries and remember some moments from popular culture, because frankly we are exhausted and could do with a bit of nostalgia.
It’s been 10 years since...
■President Obama and his Russian counterpart sign a deal reducing nuclear war heads to their lowest level in 50 years, before politics moved to Twitter.
■ A volcano in Iceland with an unpronounceable name shuts down flights over Europe, stranding millions. People are forced to spend an extra week on holiday.
■ Apple release a new gadget called the iPad. It proves popular.
■ Time Magazine name 26 year old Mark Zuckerberg Person of the Year, as The Social Network, a movie telling the fictionalised origins of Facebook, is released. Facebook is already seven years old, but not yet famous for data harvesting and tax evasion.
■ 33 Chilean miners are successfully rescued after one of the most nail-biting global stories of the decade. The world faints with relief as the last one emerges unharmed.
■ Lady Gaga wears a dress made of meat to an awards ceremony, and a matching steak head piece. Nobody is sure why.
■ Kathryn Bigelow is the first ever woman to win Best Director at the Oscars, for her war movie The Hurt Locker.
■ An earthquake in Haiti kills 230,000 people, and an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico known as Deepwater Horizon does unquantifiable damage to the environment.
■ Prince William and Kate Middleton announce that they are going to marry.
■ AVisionary couturier Lee Alexander McQueen, the working class South Londoner who ended up creative director at Givenchy, kills himself aged 40. The world loses a creative genius.
■ The Vietnamese Javan rhino becomes extinct.
It’s been 15 years since...
■ Hurricane Katarina decimates the Gulf states of the US, leaving 1,600 dead, as government response is catastrophically slow. Kanye West accuses President George W Bush of not caring about black people. These days there are hurricanes every other week, and
Kanye is a vocal supporter of the current president.
■ Prince Charles finally marries his true love Camilla Parker Bowles, 34 years after first meeting her in 1971. His son Harry turns up to a fancy dress party in a Nazi uniform. We are not amused.
■ Live 8 happens in July, on the 20th anniversary of Live Aid. Bihran Woldu, the young Ethiopian woman shown as a starving three year old, arrives on stage with Bob Geldof and Madonna.
■ On July 7, four suicide bombers carrying rucksacks of explosives kill 52 people in four busy commuter areas of central London during rush hour. Londoners keep calm and carry on.
■ The Kyoto Protocol comes into effect in an effort to curb carbon emissions. The US and Australia refuse to join in.
■ Three former Paypal employees have an idea about a platform where videos can be uploaded by anyone online. YouTube is born, and is bought by Google just a year later for $1.65 billion.
■ Microsoft release the Xbox360, resulting in an entire generation refusing to leave the house. For those who do, Brokeback Mountain is in the cinema, breaking new ground for gay cowboys and straight audiences everywhere.
■ The less subtle Mr & Mrs Smith, starring what will soon become known as Brangelina, is released, as is Brad Pitt from his marriage to Jennifer Aniston, who is henceforth known as Poor Jen. For a brief period, people wear t-shirt declaring allegiance to Team Aniston or Team Jolie.
■ And on Orpah’s daytime sofa, Tom Cruise jumps up and down, as he tells her about being in love with fellow actor Katie Holmes. We all know how that turned out. Ditto Lance Armstrong winning his 7th Tour de France.
■ In Saudi Arabia, Zakaria al-Hindi becomes the first woman in the kingdom to gain a commercial pilot’s license, although Saudi driving licences for women will not be issued until 2018.
■ The Selmunett wall lizard becomes extinct.
It’s been 20 years since...
The world survies the Y2K bug,
largely because it doesn’t exist. Hurrah.
The first housemates of the International Space Station move in – two Russians and an American.
Back on earth, the first house
mates of a new reality show called Big Brother grip TV viewers with their on-camera shenanigans (remember Nasty Nick?), and make us tear up when the winner, a builder called Craig, gives his £70K prize money to a friend who needed a heart and lung transplant.
The first ever working draft of
the human genome was announced by Bill Clinton. Science felt exciting.
Literature welcomes the aston
ishing Zadie Smith, with her debut White Teeth. Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire become the fastest selling book ever.
Kylie gets everyone excited with
her comeback, Can’t Get You Out Of My Head (aka La La La), and the horrifically catchy Gangham Style breaks YouTube’s max views count, with 9 quintillion. Which is a real number.
Billy Elliot does for ballet what
Educating Rita did for literature, Ali G is everywhere innit, Coldplay release their first album, and – oh innocent times – Britney is still dating Justin Timberlake.
The Olympics happen in
Sydney, which makes everyone feel good. As does Nigella Lawson, who makes baking hot with her delicious How To Be A Domestic Goddess book.
Flooding happens in Mozam
bique, displacing a million people, and killing hundreds. A University
of East Anglia report into climate breakdown predicts a global increase in drought and floods, and the planet becoming upto six degrees hotter in the coming century. Nobody listens.
■ The Pyrenean Ibex becomes extinct.
It’s been 25 years since…
■ Time magazine writes about something called ‘cyberporn’.
■ OJ Simpson is found not guilty of murdering his ex, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. His lawyer, Robert Kardashian, has three daughters whose first names all start with K. We will hear quite a lot more from these people in the future.
■ eBay goes live, initially called Auction Web, its founder motivated to start an online flea market to help his girlfriend track down vintage Pez sweet containers.
■ The Srebrenica massacre horrifies the world. 8,000 Muslim men and boys, in a supposedly safe zone in the Bosnian war, are butchered under orders from Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic in what becomes called “ethnic cleansing”. The Hague later calls it genocide.
■ In Oklahoma, a terrorist blows up a government building, killing 168 people.
■ Hugh Grant is arrested for “felonious fellatious activity” with a sex worker called Divine Brown in a car on LA’s Sunset Strip, which does much to dislodge public perception of him as stuttering fop. In terms of career boost, it pre-empts George Michael in that Beverly Hills public loo three years later with an undercover cop.
■ South Africa win the rugby world cup, with Nelson Mandela famously wearing a Springboks shirt as a symbol of post apartheid unity. Later, the film Invictus will retell events.
■ Toy Story, Pocahontas and Clueless rock the family film box office. The Superman actor Christopher Reeve falls from a horse and is paralysed.
■ The Sardohoratia Sulcata, a Mediterranean mollusc, becomes extinct.
It’s been 50 years since…
World population is a paltry 3.63
Bangladesh is hit by a cyclone
which kills half a million people, and in Peru an earthquake leaves 67,000 dead.
■ The US Environmental Protection Agency comes into being, and the first ever Earth Day is celebrated.
■ In the interests of balance, Concorde lands at Heathrow for the first time, deafening local residents, and the Boeing 747 makes its first commercial flight.
■ In space, Apollo 13 sends that famous message: “Houston we have a problem”, after an online oxygen tank explosion. After landing in the sea, all crew survive.
■ The US invades Cambodia, carpet bombing much of the country for no discernible reason. 100,000 people protest in Washington against the Vietnam war, and several students are shot dead by the US National Guard at Kent State university.
■ The first New York marathon is run.
■ The Isle of Wight festival sees 600,000 people turn up to see Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, The Who, Joan Baez.
■ The Beatles break up, and Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both die age 27 of drug overdoses. Although from different drugs.
Simon & Garfunkel release their first album, Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
■ The LCD screen is invented in Britain.
■ Mariah Carey and Matt Damon are born.
Model Naomi Campbell is born in London, as is another future model, Melanija Knavs, in Slovenia, who one day will be known as Mrs Trump.
■ The Caspian tiger becomes extinct.