I Sez: About Time for “I Love the New Millennium”
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 1, 2008
No country for old nostalgia
In my last few minutes backstage in my VH1 sojourn, I was talking with either WSOPC exec producer Michael Davies or someone else who worked directly for the station, I can’t remember. I made an insinuation that when the channel got around to doing I Love the 00s, they should call me and the other two TMers to be commentators. “Well, I’m not sure if we’re going to be doing one of those…” the guy insisted. “Oh, come on,” I responded, “you know you guys aren’t going to be able to resist.”
Well, doesn’t seem like they followed my commentator advice, but at least I had them dead on in their nostalgic clip show impatience. VH-1 announced recently that later this month, they will be debuting their latest entry in the I Love the ______ series, and sure enough, it’s I Love the New Millennium, looking back with rose-colored glasses on the last eight years in pop culture. According to the press release, topics will include My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl, and Sisqo’s “The Thong Song,” among many other PC relics and relics-to-be. The show will take place from June 23rd to the 27th, done two episodes a night like all the others.
It’s rare–well, maybe not that rare, but yeah–to see satirical punchlines so openly embraced by those satirized, but with characteristic aplomb and shamelessness, VH1 has responded to criticism and jokes about them bottling nostalgia for events almost instantaneously upon their occurence by doing just that. Hey guys, remember when Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run? Or when police and medical procedurals ruled the airwaves? Or when that Flo Rida guy had a #1 hit? I know, it feels like it was just last year!!
And oh man, what about those GEICO Cavemen commercials, or when Dick Cheney shot that guy? Hell, I must’ve only been, like…20 when that happened!
It’s understandable, of course. The I Love the ____ series is about as reliable a bread-and-butter show as VH1 has in their arsenal, and they’ve just about exhausted all their other decade options–two 70s, three 80s and two 90s, so unless they wanted to resort to talking about Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Living in a Box and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, they were probably going to have to find some new material to cover. They might’ve been able to get away with doing the 60s if they had started with them six years ago, but now they’re more or less committed to the Decade Under the Influence and onwards, so that doesn’t leave much left but the double-0s. And to their credit, culture is so accelerated these days that it really does feel like a pretty long time since the Yanks-Sox ALCS, or when “Vote for Pedro” shirts swept the nation, or when I was forced to learn what the word “Uggs” signified.
But really, why should I even have to make excuses for VH-1? Regardless of the era covered, it’s still an I Love the ____s clip show, and that means I’m going to be watching. After all, it was the original I Love the 80s and I Love the 70s series that first got me thinking about pop culture in canonical terms, when I first realized that there was just as much to the history and timeliness of popular entertainment as there was of the critically acclaimed music and movies I was digesting almost exclusively at that time. And more importantly, they made me realize just how much fun pop culture, and the discussion of pop culture, could be, how engaging it was, and how much greater the possibilities of reviving such items were than evoking shallow nostalgia.
These shows, for better or worse, helped make me who I am right now. So even if I Love the New Millennium asks me to feel nostalgic about stuff that feels like it happened a couple hours ago, I’ll still be watching it opening night, a smooth drink in my hand, clicking my tongue and rhapsodizing “Ah yes, I remember it well…“