Last night while I was laying in bed, I realized that this decade is coming to a close. Now, I remember a time in my life where I thought my parents were so old for living through decades, and now I’ve managed to live through TWO. When did this happen? Regardless, it’s still crazy to me to think that 2003 was six years ago, because I feel like it was just yesterday.
Therefore I’m creating my top moments for pop culture this past decade. I feel these are the most shocking or momentous events that have occurred from 2000-2009.
2002: American Idol commences as an engaging, fight-for-the-underdog television program
I know it might sound odd as being a “top” moment, but many things spawned from this one show. Stars were born from this new take on the “reality show.” We were reintroduced to Randy and Paula, not to mention we officially met Simon Cowell, the judge we had all been waiting to see on TV — a man who actually spoke the truth and was right, albeit mean and cruel at times. Stars were born: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, Jordin Sparks, Adam Lambert, Kelly Pickler, Daughtery, David Cook; you didn’t even have to win the contest to be a huge star — take Jennifer Hudson who took 7th on the third season of the show but won at life by being awarded an Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, NAACP Image and Screen Actors Guild award for her performance in “Dreamgirls” (she has a Grammy as well for her debut album).
Ryan Seacrest was also a shining star from this competition. He might not have been competing, but he ultimately beat out his co-host Brian Dunkleman in sustaining a long lasting career. People joke that Ryan has about 87 jobs and you would think they were kidding, but it’s pretty close to the truth. Besides hosting his own radio show (“On Air with Ryan Seacrest”), he also hosts the Top 40 on the weekends, American Idol and E! News. He also produces shows such with high ratings like “Keep Up with the Kardashians.”
Not to mention American Idol was a different form of reality. Contestants weren’t being scrutinized for getting drunk and taking their tops off; they were being judged on their musical ability and stage performance. And although the judges could give their input, it was up to the audience to make the difference. This didn’t necessarily fare well for seasons one and six when Nikki McKibbin and Sanjaya Malakar succeeded up the totem pole regardless of their hideous performances.
2003: Paris Hilton’s sex tape is released
Rick Solomon, Paris Hilton’s beau for a brief stint in her life, released a sex tape upon the premiere of her reality TV show “The Simple Life.” Although many speculated she released the tape herself for publicity, Paris as stated many times of her shame and embarrassment that the movie was released. This tape started a slew of other sex tapes to be “released” like Kim Kardashian’s, among others. The difference is that once Kim’s was released, her mom and manager Kris Jenner worked with Vivid Entertainment to receive profits from the movie sales.
2005: Nick and Jessica file for divorce
Considering their widespread fame was based off of their show “Newlyweds,” it came as a shock when Thanksgiving of 2005 Jessica Simpson told Nick Lachey she wanted a divorce. I guess you could have seen it coming based on the way Nick was constantly berating Jess; or how dense Jess was around Nick. In my opinion, this was the first real shocking divorce for people my age because “Newlyweds” resounded with such a widespread following of viewers.
2006: Hannah Montana and High School Musical debuts on The Disney Channel
I was a die-hard *NSYNC fan in the ’90s. Who am I kidding, I saw them in concert up until 2002 before they split up. Anyway, I remember in the first half of this decade thinking, “where are all the great pop artists? Where have they gone?” Britney was on a minor hiatus, most of the boy bands were turning into men and possibly about to break a hip, and it seemed as if pop music had seen it’s dying day. But then in 2006 Disney turned out “Hannah Montana” and tweens everywhere rejoiced. Not only was Miley Cyrus made into a international superstar, but this made room a whole slew of other Disney artists who I like to refer to as the D-Pack: The Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato. They’ve all sucked the money out of parents across the world and the Mouse had risen back to the top.
As for “High School Musical,” let’s just say it was the highest rated television program since God-knows-what and it allowed for people to actually start caring about Vanessa Hudgen’s naked photo scandal. Not to mention Zachariah (Zachary, rather) Efron graced us with his beautiful face. Plus it had been the biggest TV musical since “Grease.” Singing and dancing around high school was finally cool again, Praise Jesus, because what’s high school without a good break-up number in the hallway? This made-for-Disney TV movie would go on to break more records, go on a concert tour, sell Barbies of the characters and have a blockbuster film release.
2006: Ryan Seacrest joins the E! team.
Again with Ryan Seacrest. The man basically owned the past decade! But with this three year, $21 million deal with the channel, he was able to create an empire for himself. Ryan Seacrest Productions had created several shows for the channel (as I have previously mentioned — “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Bank of Hollywood”). A smart and strategic move on behalf of E!, the network is now known for being the celebrity know-it-all station with great reality shows and plenty of award coverage. Plus Joel McHale has plenty of material for “The Soup” with Ryan on staff. When you think of Ryan, more than often you’ll think of “American Idol” and E!
Ah, how could you forget. I remember when Paris got sentenced to jail time. The judge was clearly trying to make an example out of her since everyone else was running around drinking and driving as well (Lindsay Lohan, Khloe Kardashian and Nicole Richie for example). The difference between those girls and Paris is that she was in jail for a month and LL, Khloe and Nicole got release after something like 88 minutes.
2007, 2008 and 2009: Anna Nicole Smith dies, Heath Ledger dies; Michael Jackson dies, forever lives as the King of Pop
In 2007 it was a shock to hear that Anna Nicole Smith had died. She had just given birth to her daughter and was mourning the loss of her son. Unfortunately Anna Nicole’s untimely passing mimicked that of her idol, Marilyn Monroe. It was said that Anna Nicole died of a lethal mix of prescription medications, prescribed to her in illegal doses.
In January of 2008, I remember hearing that Heath Ledger died. I was in TNT at the TCU rec when I received a text message: “Heath Ledger died?!” I ran to the nearest tredmill and watched CNN for an hour while I ran. I consider this a top and shocking moment of the decade mainly because Heath was rising to the top; he was a well-respected and loved actor by so many girls my age. He was about to premiere in his acclaimed performance of The Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Every time I watch that movie I feel sad that he can’t and won’t be around to give more performances like that one. This was the second death in 11 months that was an accidental death as a result of prescription drugs.
Most of the world mourned the death of Michael Jackson in 2009 when reality of his untimely passing surfaced. People blasted his music, congregated on streets and danced his choreography in his memory. His death brought to life the sad realization that Michael was a man scorned by humankind; that he was suffering not only physically but mentally from the tribulations brought against him.
Michael’s death also recognized what so many stars have lost their lives to: prescription drugs. Like many before him (Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Pressley, Anna Nicole Smith and Heath Ledger, respectively), Michael’s death brought reality to the illusion of fame: many celebrities are learning to numb their stress, anger and sorrow with the use of drugs and they are using their own fame and power to bribe certified practitioners to medicate them over the prescribed limit. Or they’re misusing the drugs prescribed.
I definitely would have to mention 2001 and the tragedy that was the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. That one event shook the world. I don’t consider it pop culture, but I do feel like it deserves to be recognized.
What moments did I miss that you would have included?