Oh, come on. This decade isn't that Noughtie

So what are the Noughties really like? As a general rule of thumb, a decade doesn't really get going until it's a about half-way through.

The Eighties, culturally, didn't really start until 84/85.

The Times October 31, 2005


Oh, come on. This decade isn't that Noughtie
Caitlin Moran

If Britain weren’t about to be wiped out by duck flu, it may well be that an epidemic of shame would have wiped us out instead. The Social Issues Research Centre has just announced that this is the most rubbish decade, culturally, that it has ever researched.

Casting a sorrowful eye over the collated Review sections of the Noughties, the SIRC concludes that there has been no defining music of the decade, fashion has contributed little more than the bare midriff, and that the rest of the first five years of the 21st century can by summed up by little more than “reality TV and iPods”. We have achieved less, culturally, than even our grandparents in the Forties, who were engaged simultaneously in fighting a war against fascism, and trying to make brown shoes the size of cats look good.

Of course, it behoves anyone subsequently inspired to jump in the lake shouting, “I am the blank generation!” to remember that it is only 2005. We’re only halfway through the Noughties. Frankly, calling cultural time on a decade at this point is a little like pitching up at a party at 10.30pm, morosely intoning: “This party is a disaster. You guys are over.” It's only 10.30pm! Half the guests aren't here! No one’s drunk yet! People are still too sober to get off with each other! And it hasn’t even occurred to anyone that you could get three people in the wheeled laundry basket and pretend to be a train. Collecting your hat and departing to watch Newsnight would be a little premature.

As a general rule of thumb, the cultural decade starts, by and large, five years after the calendar decade. The Fifties didn’t start until 1956 (Rock Around The Clock). The Sixties admittedly started in 1962 (Love Me Do), but the Seventies didn’t kick in until 1976 (punk). Acid House was 1988. Blur versus Oasis was 1995. The first part of any decade is spent trying to get over the last one, for a variety of reasons, most of them practical. Actually, it ’s due almost entirely to men. Men won’t throw away a pair of trousers until they’re at least ten years out of date. Working on the proviso that the Britpop boot-cut jean came into fashion in 1994 and went out in 1997, this means that the men of Britain won’t have space in their wardrobes for a new cultural movement until 2008. You could come up with a new movement that fused the euphoria of Acid House with the political wordplay of mid-Eighties hip-hop, and throw in a load of free tits, too — it wouldn’t do any good. Until 48 per cent of the population takes that bin bag down to Cancer Research, as a nation, we have cultural storage issues.

Besides, while something pleasantly diverting will doubtless come along soon enough, and make the SIRC look as silly as Tony Parsons dolorously declaring that “pop is dead” ten months before Parklife came out, the Noughties aren’t doing too badly. Among the “reality TV and iPods” the SIRC is so quick to dismiss we’ve been doing a lot of quiet but significant cultural spadework over the last five years. Fortysomething divorcees have learned to eschew the tapered trouser (What Not To Wear). Close-harmonied male vocal groups from Essex have learned that there is a limited market for their talents (The X Factor). Uri Geller has learned that the only way he can get on television is by crawling through a tunnel of rats with a waffle stapled to his head (I'm A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!). These were all small but important cultural chores that had to be attended to.

Similarly, claims that there has been no Noughties “look” are bizarre. Consider a stocky blonde with grill-pan highlights and a muffin-top, holding a fake Louis Vuitton bag. There’s your Noughties in a nutshell. In the gamer areas of Soho, even men can be seen sporting it. Most importantly, however, I think we have to ask: would it be so terrible if a big, overriding cultural movement never did actually materialise? If we just kind of pottered on as we are? After all, I can't be the only one who quite fancies a relatively quiet ten years, free from the pressure of getting into and keeping up with a new “grot rock” movement and accompanyingly diverting new style of jerkin. Imagine if nothing really happened until 2010. I could finally watch Heimat, read the complete works of Rev Sydney Smith, learn every Queen lyric and master a craft — maybe upholstery or tatting. I’ve always wondered what tatting is. It sounds like the kind of thing you could do while smoking a fag. That’s got to be more worthwhile than the prospect of a future filled with yet more “decade defining albums”.

Here's a fashion notion for the newest trendsetters. Bring back the codpiece

Similar Threads

The fear decade
by JBeee | Jan 6th, 2010
Is 2010 the start of a new decade?
by JLM | Dec 31st, 2009
by Haggis McBagpipe | Dec 31st, 2004
no new posts