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Memos for the millennium

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January 3, 2009 by Liz Jorgensen

What cultural sites will be the signifiers/signposts for the first five years of the millennium?
Why will they be remembered? What is the spirit of the age?

The SMS
An object so small it can be held in the palm of our hands … yet its daily use so huge, its presence so all-pervading, that we seem to forget that sometime last century we got by without them. When I think of SMS-ing as a 'craze' or 'phenomenon', I see images of heads bowed, thumbs racing, and minds focused elsewhere instead of looking ahead - and not bumping into things! No longer just a great way of keeping in touch with friends, 'Short-Message-Service(s)' are increasingly being used in the everyday. Schools can now discreetly contact you with suspicions about your child truanting. The local video store can inform you of the latest releases and bonanza sales. We can even vote for the next pop-Idol or least annoying housemate and fulfil an 'important' new role in reality television without moving from the couch. The language used in SMS has fast become a problem with regards to literacy and grammar. Children using abbreviations and 'emoticons' to get their message across have created headaches for teachers. Perhaps the future will be full of people with injuries from RTU (repetitive thumb use) :(
R we losing touch with ppl face2face?

Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton appears to be a captive entity into which all media saturation can be poured and set free to ooze out into gossip magazines and the world of MTV. It seems our eyes cannot be diverted from the glamour and gloss of the 'others', the celebrities. Paris epitomises the very essence of what fame could possibly bring to a person's life - but then, the inevitable question arises: What is Paris Hilton famous for? It seems she is famous for being Famous - she has perfected the pose and hailed the exposure. Aside from being an heiress to the Hilton Hotel chain, Paris presents herself as a young woman making her own way in the world with millions earned from modelling, movies, television and personal appearances. There does however reach a point where too much is already enough and over-exposure tends to make the entire picture a little distorted. No one can seem to pinpoint Paris's actual contributions and substantiate the level of celebrity she has achieved. This very conclusion was reached with friends during a game of 'Celebrity-Head', ably assisted by the ingestion of alcohol, when the poor participant trying to guess who they were (read: Paris Hilton) could not get any clear answers as to what this female was actually famous for. Ambiguity, mixed with alcohol, revealed that Princess Paris was a questionable celebrity - lacking in both substance and style.

Michael Moore
When the world braces itself against the shock of a terrible tragedy there often falls a sobering silence. Hopelessness has seemed an insurmountable topic to discuss over the dinner table, particularly as so many minority voices seem to go unheard. Michael Moore entered the forum of free speech and fuelled debate about the things our society was hesitant to examine. Bowling for Columbine (2002) searched for answers to the problems with guns and violence in the United States - it also won the 2003 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. Moore's acceptance speech is a fine example of the right to freedom of expression.

We like non-fiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man send us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition [sic] of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr Bush. Shame on you, Mr Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Moore [accessed 12 August 2005]

And the great part is that not everyone has to agree. There is the freedom to create websites which condemn everything Moore produces; there is the right to analyse his films and disclose any disparities; and these choices are choices made by citizens who are free to form opinions and have them heard. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) hit the screens sizzling and stirred the pot. In a time when increasing numbers amongst us are questioning the ideology of a 'war-on-terror', Michael Moore articulates another side to stories which need to be told. His writing and film production are sites through which currents of controversy flow and connect people in debates about choice and consequence. Whether views expressed are compatible with your own, it still remains that the best kind of world is one in which everyone is free to speak their mind without fear of persecution.

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