Pop Culture on Speed…or, "I Love The New Millennium"

Remember low-rise jeans?!? Or when that Ken Jennings guy would not stop winning at “Jeopardy”?!? Or that crazy time Mel Gibson got arrested and he was totally wasted and spit out all that anti-Semitic hatred?!? OMG. I was, like, 28 when that happened. I remember it so well…

Because it all happened three or four years ago.

Now look, I’m about as big a pop culture junkie as you can get, obviously, and I’m the first to admit that 90 percent of the crap I write about on this blog is most likely irrelevant in terms of global impact and political importance. Fine. That’s why it’s pop culture.

But you know, I think pop culture does serve a certain kind of purpose, especially when it comes to reminiscing with a person of a similar age over some generational touchstone or marker that united kids in the suburbs for five minutes (e.g. Garbage Pail Kids trading cards, Day-Glo jelly shoes, and knowing all the lyrics to the “Facts of Life” theme song, for example). These events, these benchmarks, these symbols all serve to build a sort of web of understanding between people who came of age at a similar time. A set of signs that remind us…hey, we’re all human. Sort of like a Grapes of Wrathian oversoul concept via Members Only jackets, you know what I’m sayin’, English majors?

The problem, in my opinion, is that when that pop culture is forced upon us, shoved down our throats before it’s had a chance to mellow in its juices a little, well, it’s just not very good. Pop culture needs to stay in the fridge for a bit just like leftover Tex-Mex. It needs to be missed for a while.

And that’s what’s wrong with VH1’s new “I Love the Millennium” series, which premiered this past week and stars talking heads like Shana Moakler and Perez Hilton blabbing on about Sudoku. Seriously, “I Love the New Millennium”? We are waxing nostalgic about the GEICO cavemen commercials? I think they’re still on television for God’s sake!

We need time to elapse before pop culture is worth looking back on. Because let’s be honest. Most pop culture reminds us of how stupid we as individuals or we as a collective America truly are. You can listen to Air Supply 25 years later and laugh about it. But you try to reminisce about the trucker hats you still have hidden in your closet, and the faux-nostalgia kind of stings.

So please, VHI, consider holding your episodes of “I Love the New Millennium” in the vault for at least another five or six years. It’s not that we don’t want to remember “The O.C.” and Martha Stewart’s prison scandal. We just don’t want to remember them right now. – Jennifer Mathieu

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Jennifer Mathieu
Contact: Jennifer Mathieu