Tuesday, 7 April 2009
The Long 1990s
Is it over-optimistic to see the closure of the print edition of Maxim as one of a number of signs that we are reaching the end of what Eric Hobsbawm might have called the long 1990s? Perhaps it's just that I don't get out much but it seems to me that the new Pete (sorry, Peter...) Doherty album seems even more like an anachronism than the last, and that the kind of lads-with-guitars-who-like-to-talk-about-tits cultural hegemony of the last twenty years has slightly less mass purchase than perhaps it once did. The charts and even the indie clubs seem to be full of electro beats and fizzy synths, and there is the growing suggestion in certain quarters that funky/wonky/dubstep signals the (final?) exhaustion of the hardcore continuum, that subterranean backbone of UK dance music culture since 1989. Aside from that, maybe the world recession will signal the end of the economic consensus of the Major-Blair years, that Obama in the White House signals a new kind of politics in the States, or at least a new way of presenting politics, from the Clinton-Bush years, and the importance on the world stage of China, Brazil, and India, though this has been talked about for years, is finally making serious material effect and being recognised as such by the 'old' major world powers. When even the more right wing heads of state (Sarkozy, Merkel, etc) are gunning for greater financial regulation, when more and more South American countries elect left-populists (Chavez, Morales, Lula, and now Mauricio Funes in El Salvador), when even the normally somewhat gung-ho Russian premier, Medvedev, is agreeing to a nuclear scaledown; it's easy, perhaps, to feel like a new kind of political culture is emerging. But if the 1990s is coming to a close, what is coming along to take its place? Where are the exciting new ideas for the 2010s? Well, maybe there aren't any yet, but maybe for the moment it's a relief just to clear away some of the detritus of the last two decades, and make a little space for something new to emerge. . .