Music, Books, and Psycho Space Robots: Looking Back on 2001-2010
***”Music, Books and Psycho Space Robots” is a regular column published on Primary Ignition by Kevin Kenealy, staff writer and Nightmare Fuel Provider. The views expressed here are his, and do not reflect the views of the staff of Primary Ignition.***
I was a naive 15 year old in 2001, and I guess you could say the United States was a little more naive, prior to 9/11. It’s been a short 10 years, but a lot has happened. As we begin 2011, I’m going to attempt to go into all the pop culture events that changed my life over the past 10 years. What a long, strange trip it’s been…
It’s hard for me to recall pop culture events from 2001, because my memory is so clouded from the September 11 attacks. There were some quality movies, though.
1) Pearl Harbor
2) Moulin Rouge!
3) A Beautiful Mind — I thought Beautiful Mind deserved Best Picture at the Oscars, and thought Russell Crowe delivered just as good a performance here as he did in Gladiator.
4) Jurassic Park III — This movie never should have been made and there’s probably a reason Spielberg decided not to direct it.
5) Ocean’s Eleven – This was just a cool movie – an all star cast ready to do some deviant behavior.
7) Monsters Inc.
8) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
No disrespect to Lord of the Rings, but I still say A Beautiful Mind deserved Best Picture.
I kind of faded away from pop music that year. Creed was in my eardrums, but I remember listening to a lot of classic rock. I remember my friend putting on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” in the car. I asked him what song it was and he was astonished I didn’t know. I was sort of hooked to the music of yesteryear for a while after that.
I watched part of 8 Mile yesterday, and there’s part of that movie that I still carry with me: the song “Lose Yourself.” I think there’s a lot to say about yourself in that song. I saw that movie in ’02 and that song woke me up to this idea that I can do anything and be anything and no one is going to stand in my way. The song talks about opportunity but has an edge to it. Eminem is singing that he’s been through a lot of hard times and he’s going to go through more to get to where he wants. So that movie and that song definitely helped bring me to where I am today.
I was turned on to movies about superheroes that year too, as the first Spider-Man came out and just thought “Man, these superheroes aren’t just for little kids but they’re relatable.” I went on to watch the rest of the Spiderman movies, the Batman movies and have grown to even appreciate a few comics.
I also recall I had a strange crush on Avril Lavigne, but who didn’t when they saw her singing “Complicated?” It wasn’t just me, my whole baseball team would rock out to her.
I can’t recall much from 2003. I never got into the Harry Potter series or the Dan Brown books (Angels and Demons or The Da Vinci Code), but it was around this time I started to delve into classic novels, and really gained a liking for George Orwell. If anything really made a huge impact on me in popular culture then in 2003, it was hearing that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed copyright lawsuits against internet users for trading songs online. I used to be a Napster user in junior high when it was okay to do those things, and then when I heard about this, I knew it wasn’t okay to pick that back up again.
This was an instrumental year because I started to find more of my humor and started to branch out of my comfortable classic rock music tastes. One of my favorite movies that year was Napoleon Dynamite, which perfectly mirrors my sense of humor in that it’s quirky, awkward and corny. It was in this movie that Napoleon made it funny to be those things, and even though I developed this in high school, and it went to light speed in college. My musical tastes started to encompass more music that year as well as I remember listening to the Strokes album Room on Fire, along with more contemporary bands such as The Redwalls, who are a Beatles-sounding band. So I had this four-year sort of hiatus from pop music and then made my way back to it.
The White Sox winning the World Series will always have a special place in my heart, and the song “Don’t Stop Believin’” had new meaning to me. Aside from this memorable experience, I saw some great movies in 2005:
1) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
3) Walk the Line
5) Batman Begins
6) King Kong
I put Star Wars at the top of the list because although the rest of these films are good, this was the only Star Wars film I ever saw in theaters so it has a special place in my heart. I also feel it is one of the better Star Wars films. So just the thrill of seeing Star Wars on the big screen, it being the last one and it being a really good movie, gave it a special place in my heart.
I also attended my first concert festival this year at Farm Aid, and can still recall Woody Nelson forgetting the words to “The Star Spangled Banner,” and Dave Matthews singing: “One day ya’ll, the world will be nothin’ but flowers.” That’s special.
My musical tastes widened again to include the likes of heavy and progressive metal. I enjoyed bands such as Between the Buried and Me this year, where I never would have believed I would have appreciated them before.
This year was a transition between community college and the university at Eastern Illinois University. Ever since Napoleon Dynamite, I noticed I was attracted to more films with quirky characters that made light of family structures. So Little Miss Sunshine was a perfect look at this. The film taught me that it’s okay to laugh at family dysfunction and that we shouldn’t conform to societal norms.
In ’07 The Simpsons Movie finally came; for a few years there was talk that “They should just make a movie.” When I saw it, it had a similar impression on me as the Star Wars film, except it wasn’t as good a movie as Star Wars. It has its funny parts, but the plot doesn’t flow well together in a feature length movie as it does in a shorter episode. Nonetheless, I will never forget seeing The Simpsons Movie in theaters. There were only a few popular songs that year that I actually cared for. “Cupid’s Chokehold” by Gym Class Heroes was one and “Stronger” by Kanye West was another. I originally didn’t mind “Hey There Delilah,” but then everyone played it everywhere and it made me want to gouge my eyes out. I ended up buying Kanye West’s Graduation album that year, which I didn’t mind, but would later give up on West when I became turned off by his ego.
This year is memorable because of the TV show LOST. Even though the show started in 2004, I began watching it in ’08. I told the person who handed it to me that I don’t really watch TV shows, but she insisted and from the first episode came the second. Before I knew it, I was lost in LOST. My roommate at EIU left for a party one night at around 10 p.m. and asked if I wanted to go. I said, “No, I’m kind of tired. I’m just going to watch this last episode of Lost and go to sleep.” He came in real late (or early) around 3 or 4 in the morning and I was still watching LOST. I really appreciated the suspenseful writing and character profiles on the show, and the theme of survival present throughout the series. As opposed to 2007, 2008 brought a delightfully addicting and play heavy song “Paper Planes.” I never heard a voice like I heard from M.I.A. and was instantly tuned in.
This was an introduction to 3D movies with Avatar, a movie I didn’t really care for all that much actually. While everyone was so impressed with the film, I saw it as sort of a ridiculous story that was slapped together and ‘saved’ with 3D. My favorite part in this movie is when birds are attacking the huge military machines. It’s like the writers came to a part in the script and decided: “Okay how are we going to beat these guys? Spears aren’t going to bring them down. But we have these big birds. Bingo!”
The Hangover was my favorite movie of the year for reasons largely in thanks to Zach Galifianakis. With stars like Jim Carrey fading out of comedic roles slowly, it’s refreshing to see new blood and Galifianakis was simply hilarious. I attended a modern day Woodstock in ’09 called Rothbury Music Fest in Rothbury, MI, where I saw the likes of Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, the Grateful Dead, and everything else that comes with a modern day Woodstock.
I think where pop culture affected me most in 2010 was with Toy Story 3, Lady Gaga, John Lennon and the Pitchfork Music Festival. Toy Story 3 brought me back to my childhood, but for the sake of this column in 2000 I was in transition of childhood and adulthood. Toy Story 3 really made me remember those days when I was letting go of that childhood skin and growing into a more adult skin and looking back over the last ten years I really grew into that skin.
I wrote about Lady Gaga once in this column, where I basically said I was not a fan of hers. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why, but I think it’s simple to say that my roots are in rock music with the likes of Creed, and Lady Gaga is not anything like Creed. It’s very true that I appreciate other artists and other types of music, but I’ve noticed that 2010 appears to have a heavier emphasis on dance music than in 2000. There seems to be this takeover with club music and techno not just with Lady Gaga but with the likes of artists like DeadMau5 who, to me are the furthest thing from my roots.
John Lennon meant a lot to me this year, because it was the 30th anniversary of his death and it made me take another look at his life and his death. I gained a new appreciation for a man I admire. Finally, I attended Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park this summer in Chicago where I got a taste of indie bands and this impacted me in that I was able to gain new appreciation for all these new bands that perhaps go unheard of by the mainstream.
That’s my thesis on the events that have affected me in the last decade. But now the question is: What are the events that have affected you?
Front page image from rottentomatoes.com.