21st century breakdown

21st century breakdown

The end of the decade is nigh, and we’re still not sure what to call it. The “noughties" sound trite for 10 years that were very serious, and while the “oh-ohs" possess the right ring of alarm, the phrase sounds a bit awkward.

So how do we look back at this decade without a name? Ten years that saw too much tragedy and violence; divisiveness; and fractured opinions.

Maybe we should have released our decade lists earlier—by the time this issue hits the stands you’ve a) taken a much-deserved break to a place where Lounge isn’t delivered to your doorstep or b) you’re fed up of year-end, decade-end lists.

You already know that Kate Moss was crowned the best dressed woman of the decade (Vogue), Unitech was the stock you wish you had bought a decade ago because its share price has since increased by 30,900% (Rediff) and The Lord of the Rings trilogy was voted the best movie of the past 10 years (Entertainment Weekly).

You’ve disagreed with many of the specifics on these lists (as you will with ours, we’re sure). While some might argue that lists are a reductive exercise, they do help clarify the complicated—showing us a cross section of what, we have to admit, has been a beast of a decade. So why should you read ours? Because we decided to do something different with them.

We identified five broad cultural mediums—music, movies (only Hindi movies, we’ll do Tamil next year), books, style and advertisements—constituted balanced panels of four people for each of them, and asked them to pick 10 items that best represented this decade (in no particular order). We watched the debate unfold, and recorded our own behind-the-scenes view. So, instead of armchair musings, we pitted insiders and experts against each other to distil the best of the decade down to 10 items.

For other mediums—comic books, video games, technology—we opted for personal views. The authors discussed strands that they felt ran through the last decade.

There are some things, though, that couldn’t be explained in bullet points. How has the way we eat or travel changed? What has cricket morphed into? For answers, we chose to go with essays that attempt to chart the uncertain waters the new millennium seems to have left us in.

Write to us at lounge@livemint.com