Turn of the Millennium

aka: The Aughts
"We are the youth We'll take your Fascism away.
We are the youth apologise for another day.
We are the youth and politicians are so sure.
We are the youth and we are knocking on death's door.
Never knew we were living in a world with a mind that could be so sure.
Never knew we were living in a world with a mind that could be so small.
Never knew we were living in a world where the world is an open court.
Maybe we don't want to live in a world where innocence is sold short.
We'll make it up to you, in the year 2000."
Silverchair, "Anthem for the Year 2000"

The Year 2000. Flying cars, androids, faster-than-light space travel... oh wait, we don't have any of that yet. On the plus side, our computers didn't explode, after all. While New Years' 2000 came in with a bang, attitudes from The Nineties pretty much lingered for the first year. For the United States, the decade politically started on September 11th, 2001 with the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, which not only launched the United States into two wars, but continues to be a lingering specter in global politics. It is possible this decade may have ended politically in late 2008, which saw the start of the worst economic crisis since The Great Depression, followed two months later by the election of Barack Obama as President. Culturally, the decade kicked off somewhere between 2000 to 2002 with the continued rise of the internet, online music downloads, and reality shows. It ended somewhere around 2010 with the rising prominence of the smartphone and social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook becoming very popular.

See The War on Terror for the major wars of this decade. Note that, since The War on Terror has defined American and NATO-sphere foreign policy for almost all of this time, this decade has marked the arrival of Middle Eastern civilizations as societies to know about. For example, the Persian Gulf city of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, went through its boom during this decade.

The decade was a hard one for the United States, whose population suffered from, in quick succession: a controversial presidential election where the winner didn't win the popular vote, but did win in the electoral college; its worst ever terrorist attack, resulting in about 3,000 deaths; the Patriot Act undermining their civil liberties; two somewhat unpopular wars, one started on what turned out to be Blatant Lies; the worst electrical black out in American history; the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the second in American history and the beginning of the end of the country's manned space program; another controversial presidential election; the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans thanks to Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the federal government to properly respond to said flooding; a surge in both aforementioned wars as it became very clear that things were not going as planned; the gradual transformation from the largest government budget surplus in American history, to the largest government budget deficit in American history; and the start of the worst economic crisis since The Great Depression, with millions of Americans unemployed and many more struggling at the decade's end. There were also issues which stretched out for roughly the entire decade, such as the worst gas crisis since The Seventies, with gas prices quadrupling from 2000 to 2008; skyrocketing income inequality; a crisis over the increasingly large wave of illegal immigrants crossing the border; a continued trend of worse education performances compared to much of the rest of the developed world; the dollar losing value compared to other currencies along with other signs of the US losing its global economic power; and widespread polarization over issues such as global warming, gay rights, religion, health and obesity, and other issues. This naturally lead to growing feelings of cynicism and insecurity, which is reflected in the growing trend towards Darker and Edgier entertainment.

Of course, on the other side of the coin, a lot of the decade's entertainment instead went in the direction of escapism. Much of the decade's culture can roughly be described as a retread of either The Eighties or The Fifties, depending on who you asknote . As if overcompensating for the insecurity they now felt, the American public took comfort in materialism and conspicuous consumption. The "McMansion" became the dominant paradigm for new homes, and enormous SUVs, after getting their start in the late '90s, came to rule over the car market, despite oil concerns, and forget electric cars. Seriously, forget they ever existed and buy an SUV. In fact, the car companies were so eager to make the consumer forget about electric cars that those produced in The Nineties were not only canceled, they were repossessed by car companies and crushed, lest one get away to make the rest of their cars look badnote . It wasn't until 2011 and the debut of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf that electric cars would return to the roads. The tax breaks that, under Clinton, would've gone to electrics, now under Bush went to the heaviest cars, and the SUVs of this decade were certainly heavy cars.

Every genre of music, from Glam Rap to Post-Grunge, idolized lifestyles of excess and debauchery, with songs about how great it is to get drunk, have sex, and waste money ruling the air waves. Conversely, Darker and Edgier became the norm in music aimed at teens with a shift from squeaky-clean teen idols to pop-rock bands such as Good Charlotte, Simple Plan and Jimmy Eat World in the early part of the decade. This genre exploded in 2005 with the rise of Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and similar acts, all of whom shared a focus on lyrics about serious topics such as illness, sexual infidelity, and America's unhealthy obsession with tabloid stars. The subculture associated with the genre, known as emo, took high schools by storm with its sideswept bangs, skinny jeans, and heavy eye makeup even as artists tried to distance themselves from or even denounced the term being associated with their work - at different points members of Panic! at the Disco and My Chemical Romance actually called emo "bullshit" and "a pile of shit," respectively. Not that it would matter much, since in 2008 Fall Out Boy's Folie Deux showed a drastic shift in the band's sound and was met with mediocre commercial success, which started a chain reaction. By 2009, pop-punk began its falll from the mainstream thanks to several factors: bands drastically changing their sound, breaking up or going on hiatus (powerhouses Panic! At the Disco and Fall Out Boy both did this, although Panic's original sound returned on their third album), oversaturation by an endless string of one-hit wonders (including one performed by a band Miley Cyrus' brother was in), and the replacement of "emo" as popular music with electronic pop (Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry) and as a culture with the "scene" trend - basically emo with lots of '80s-inspired big hair, makeup, and neon. Media technology continued to evolve. CD gave way to MP3 in the music sphere. DVD put VHS out of business early in the decade, only to have Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, in a re-enactment of The Eighties VHS vs Betamax debate, battle it out over who got to replace DVD at the end of the decade. Blu-Ray won, but instead of replacing DVD the two instead co-existed, perhaps due to the economic downturn.

The Blockbuster Age of Hollywood reached previously inconceivable heights - pretty much every year at least two movies would gross over $750 million and, by the end of the decade, at least one each year would surpass the billion dollar mark. In 2002, for the first time, a movie made more than $100 million just on its opening weekend. Thanks to new computer technology, most of these were incredibly expensive, CGI-packed extravaganzas, with superhero movies (like Spider-Man and The Dark Knight) and fantasy epics (such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series) being the dominant genres in terms of box office success. Much of the reason why studios began to concentrate so hard on these types of movies was to keep drawing in an audience despite the advent of digital piracy during this decade; if there was so much stuff on screen, the experience would be lost if it wasn't seen on a big screen. Pretty similar to how studios in The Fifties tried to keep audiences away from television with 3-D and widescreen, really. Thanks to the size and scope of these films, smaller movies like comedies and romances lost their box office power, with some major figures in the movie world wondering if soon cinema would be entirely dominated by these colossal spectacles and people would lose interest in more down-to-earth movies. However, digital piracy, Netflix, and movie websites such as Rotten Tomatoes have brought attention to indie movies and foreign films which many people wouldn't have previously discovered, even if this didn't help these movies make a profit in theaters. Well, with one major exception - the martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became the first foreign-language movie to gross over $100 million in the United States.

Reality took over TV, with Survivor and American Idol in the US and Big Brother and Pop Idol/The X Factor in Britain launching hundreds of imitators across an ocean of reality TV subgenres, helped along by the explosion of cable and satellite television as a major outlet for original programming. Celebrity came to be defined not by an entertainer's accomplishments as a musician, actor, athlete, etc., but by the number of paparazzi following his or her every move and the amount of tabloid press that he or she had. It was something that could be achieved for seemingly nebulous reasons, as shown by the inexplicable rise to superstardom of such people as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, who built media empires on their status as socialites and reality TV stars. The societal implications of this were not lost on the world, with Charlie Brooker in Britain, the Chaser in Australia, and The Soup and The Daily Show in the US leading a wave of shows and blogs that satirized and parodied the decade's culture.

And speaking of blogs, this was also the time in which the internet really became a part of society at large, instead of being limited to computer geeks and Usenet groups. Everyone got connected, with many people owning media storage devices, having access to the internet, etc. If you didn't have a computer with internet access, you were left behind. Technology was always getting better and less expensive via Moore's law, and you could walk into a department store and buy a computer which was at least a million times more powerful than the ones that put man on the moon. Video games finally started to gain mainstream recognition, especially near the end of the decade, with the release of the Wii. Games became Darker and Edgier, with much more mature storylines and realistic plots, although how mature and realistic they are is subject to debate (some see it as a repeat of The Dark Age of Comic Books). Meanwhile, the sports gaming industry was effectively monopolized by Electronic Arts.

Gaming's turn towards realism was reflected in speculative fiction. There was a great demand for more "realistic" depictions of what happens if we were to actually meet aliens or fight robots. If we are higher tech, there is a good chance that Humans Are the Real Monsters, and when we have the inferior tech, don't expect to come out of the situation alive or overcoming against bad odds. This shift is perhaps best exemplified by LOST and the remake of Battlestar Galactica, two of the defining sci-fi shows of the decade, which were both heavily focused on character-driven drama, philosophy, and gritty realism (the latter especially in BSG's case).

A lot of humor consisted of Crossing the Line Twice, and things which would have caused the Moral Guardians to have strokes just a few years earlier were seen as just mildly offensive. As such, an obsession with Japan and awareness of East Asian affairs (especially with China's rapid rise as a world power) became popular in the US once more. Movies tended to be more about adventure and self discovery than action and blowing things up. Of course, when you consider what started the decade off, it's kind of understandable why.

Note that this was only named as such because few can decide on what to call the 2000-2009 period. In Britain and Australia, this decade is often called the Noughties, as the word "nought" is another word for "zero." However, the word "nought" has faded from American English, which means that, to American ears, the term "Noughties" sounds like the more snicker-inducing "Naughties." note  As a result, Americans are more likely to refer to this decade as "The two-thousands" or "The double-o's".

See Also: The Edwardian Era, The Roaring Twenties, The Great Depression, The Forties, The Fifties, The Sixties, The Eighties, The Nineties and The New Tens.

Now has Useful Notes and YMMV pages.

Tropes associated with the time period:

  • All-CGI Cartoon: Disney and other animation companies abandoned traditional animation during this decade, though towards the end of the decade there was some hope that the two might coexist. Of course, anime is stronger than ever before and still averts this trope for the most part. Furthermore, this form finally began to break down the All Animation Is Disney stereotype beginning with Dreamworks Animation hitting the big time with their 2001 smash hit CGI feature, Shrek, becoming the first real feature animation company to challenge Disney over the long term, although it would have a period of artistic decline until it came roaring back in 2008 with a new quality commitment in 2008 with Kung Fu Panda.
    • Interestingly, Stop-Motion animation has also received a re-invigoration, as it's become apparent that some aesthetics are better suited to Stop-motion than CG (one of the best examples being Flushed Away, which had the character designs of an Aardman Animations character, but were CG - audiences generally said the animation looked weird because of it. It also may have something to do with genre, as darker, spookier family movies are often stop-motion - Tim Burton has had mainstream success with The Corpse Bride, and 2008's Coraline was also stop-motion.
  • The Alleged Car: The SUV of this decade got this reputation for much the same reason as cars from The Seventies did, because they were overweight gas guzzlers being sold during a Gas Crisis. One example that stands out is the Ford Excursion. The combination of its curb weight of 7230 lbs, and it's 6.8 L V-10 engine, make for the ultimate gas guzzling SUV, getting only 9.6 mpg.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Became less powerful due to the success of adult-oriented animated TV shows like South Park and Family Guy, and a large wave of adult oriented anime, but still exists to some extent.
  • Anticlimax: When people in the twentieth century imagined what the 2000's would be like, it would either involve futuristic technology, the apocalypse or both. Come the Turn of the Millennium and we get... nothing much really.
  • Auto-Tune: Existed before this decade with songs like Cher's Believe, but grew in popularity around the mid 2000s thanks to rappers like T-Pain, and soon spread to other artists like Rihanna and Snoop Dogg, as well as genres like pop and R&B.
  • Boy Band: Boy bands like *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys remained a 90's holdover, but generally faded away by 2002 or so.
  • But Not Too Black: Many of the Black Celebrities at that time, specifically the women like Beyonce and Rihanna and Alicia Keys.
  • But Not Too White: Despite increased awareness of skin cancer, tan skin was still in full swing as a beauty standard in this decade, as demonstrated by the likes of Carmen Electra, Jessica Alba and Paris Hilton, among others.
  • Defective Detective: Started in 2000 with Monk, the trope namer, and spread with Psych, Life and Bored to Death. The Good Guys and Terriers seem to be continuing this trend.
  • Digital Distribution: The "legitimisation" of downloadable music thanks to iTunes, the success of Valve's Steam platform for PC games and client/server shops on all the major consoles and the advent of On-Demand TV and film services have made this a reality.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Or is it? But as with the aformentiond Digital Distribution this is when it became mainstream and super-easy.
  • Digital Piracy Is Okay: The prevaling opinion among everyone who wasn't a multi-billionaire media tycoon.
  • Emo: Though a rock movement originating in the 1980s, it became something of a subculture of its own in this decade.
  • Nu Metal: Similar to the aforementioned Boy Band craze, it carried over from the '90s with some of the biggest acts such as Linkin Park and Evanescence emerging from that decade. Also similar to the boy band craze, nu metal's place in the mainstream died shortly after in 2004.
  • Post-Grunge: Most of the mainstream rock music of this decade falls into this category. In fact, it was one of the few genres that wasn't Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, or a derivative thereof that saw major airplay on mainstream radio. (Not counting oldies or classic rock stations of course). Though by The New Tens, this genre had worn out its welcome.
  • Reality TV: Not invented in this period, but it exploded in popularity thanks to shows like Survivor, American Idol, and Big Brother.
  • Rhythm Game: Spearheaded by the rivalry of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, music games had a massive burst of popularity from around 2006 through 2009 before suddenly dying off due to market stagnation, and the 2008 Recession souring interest in games with expensive peripherals. Most rhythm games have now reverted to their status pre-Guitar Hero, being smaller, more niche games revolving around using regular controls rather than emulating it with peripherals.
  • '70s Hair: Redux. Long male hair made a significant comeback among the decade's youth, thanks in no small part to the booming skate culture and The Lord of the Rings.
  • Shaking the Rump: This was quite common in many hip hop music videos at that time.
  • Stripperiffic: Just about every female pop star was expected to do at least one video in a bikini's worth of clothing or even less, and street fashion in real life sometimes imitated this.
  • Tsundere: The concept existed before this point, of course, but really seemed to take off in this decade, becoming a prominent character type even in Western media.
  • When the Planets Align: May 5, 2000 was the date of a rather famous planetary alignment which included from Mercury all the way through Saturn; naturally, this figured into many Conspiracy Theories. Eternal Darkness even worked this alignment into the plot.
  • Who Forgot the Lights?: The Great Northeast Blackout of 2003, the largest in North American history, left millions in the United States and Canada without electricity for days, which happened during the US war with Iraq, and caused many to believe that America was under attack.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Was one of the main genres of The Sixth Generation of Console Video Games thanks to the popularity of Grand Theft Auto III and its sequels.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Most of the biggest celebrities in the 2000s like Paris Hilton.
  • Uncanceled: Increased during this decade, especially after Family Guy was brought back thanks to DVD sales.
  • Zeerust: All those science fiction movies taking place in 2000 look so old now.

Works that were made in this time period:

Alternative Title(s):

The2000s, The Two Thousands, The Noughties, Noughties, The Oughties, The Aughts