By Rassam Fakour-Zaker
Know Your Money Editor
There have been some amazing, life-affirming occurrences over the past ten years. But you don’t want to hear about those, do you?
Thought not. Here’s the most crushing letdowns of the decade…
10. The Y2K Bug: Crappest techno-crisis ever (1st January 2000)
The disappointments started early this decade. For years there had been rumblings about an impending IT meltdown due to the widespread (and rather short-sighted) abbreviation of years into two digits.
As media scaremongers counted down to the apocalyptic ’00 switchover, the Millenium Bug hype ramped up considerably and, as I remember it, people began stockpiling tins of analogue food and steam-powered hair straighteners in a desperate bid to stave off the annihilation of civilisation.
Now, I’m no apocalypse-yearning Luddite, but I was looking forward to a little post-millennial excitement – maybe some light looting, or the eradication of global credit card data. Plus I had a massive stack of unread books to catch up on.
Alas, the year 2000 arrived and what did we get? Problems issuing bus tickets in Australia. Rubbish.
9. Firefly gets cancelled: What a gorram disappointment (December 2002)
Joss Whedon’s quietly awesome sci-fi series was doomed from the start when Fox TV’s executive idiots decided to air the initial episodes in the wrong order before unceremoniously cancelling it.
It wasn’t necessarily up there with the best shows of the decade, but many lesser products have inexplicably clogged up our TVs season after season, year after year (*cough* Lost, *cough* Prison Break).
But not poor old Firefly, which ran for less than one of its intended seven years. That’s nearly three quarters of a decade of Cap’n Reynolds and crew’s wisecracks, bar brawls and bank robberies we missed out on. Instead we got the useless Dollhouse.
8. Indiana Jones 4: Further proof that George Lucas hates humanity (22nd May 2008)
George Lucas, the bearded Dark Lord of Disappointment, spent his early career lovingly crafting wonderful escapist fantasies that defined our childhood years and captured the budding imagination of an entire generation.
During the 1990s, however, he began his journey to the Dark Side by single-handedly engineering 20th century cinema’s most gut-wrenching disappointment: The Phantom Menace.
This decade, after further defecating over our collective childhoods with two more intergalactic kicks to the scrotum, he turned his Mephistophelian hand to overseeing the destruction of his other much-loved creation: Indiana Jones.
Nuclear blast-proof fridges, long-lost son clichés and alien conspiracies: this was not the rollicking, whip-cracking Indy of old, but a cynical, hackneyed, CGI-spattered sham. Why do you hate us so much George?
7. Windows Vista: Bill Gates validates Mac owners’ smug faces (30th January 2007)
The monolithic Microsoft Corporation has taken a lot of criticism over the years. All of which seemed fully justified after the release of their last operating system which managed to be even crapper than the previous one. Security flaws, hardware compatibility problems, draconian digital rights management – the list goes on and on (and it does, at length, on the Wikipedia page entitled “Criticisms of Windows Vista”).
However, the most disappointing thing about Windows Vista was that it justified the annoying self-satisfaction of Apple Mac owners, making them infinitely more irritating and punchable.
6. Duke Nukem Forever: Duke Nukem Never (2000-2009)
13 years. That’s how long we’ve been waiting for the triumphant return of the wise-cracking, decidedly non-PC video game action hero. After announcing Duke Nukem Forever way back in 1997, the developer, 3DRealms, subjected long-suffering fans to a hilariously protracted trickle of screenshots, rumours and bold proclamations of revolutionary content, with the odd teaser trailer thrown in to keep their increasingly tenuous hopes alive.
13 years? What the hell were they using to develop this game? The Antikythera mechanism ? Windows Vista?
Such ponderings – amusing though they are – were rendered irrelevant in May of this year when 3DRealms announced they were shutting down and that development on the eight-time winner of Wired.com’s annual vapourware awards had finally ceased.
Or maybe not? Rumour has it that DNF is still on the cards. Time to let it go people…
5. Large Hadron Collider gets switched on: Nothing happens (10th September 2008)
You can’t blame them for the hype, I suppose, for the LHC is nothing if not utterly esoteric. Therefore, in order to justify the staggering costs, and to let us simple folk in on the whole thing, they cranked up the media buzz generator.
The popular press excitably proclaimed that humanity was on the cusp of discovering the unifying theory of everything ever in the history of everything (ever), while doomsaying nutjobs predicted that we were about to be sucked into a black hole of our own making.
But dammit, the hype succeeded: it was an undeniably exciting time – absolutely baffling, yet pregnant with the wondrous possibilities of human endeavour. The LHC looked like a Bond villain’s lair for Christ’s sake. They had made particle physics sexy.
But then they switched it on. And there was no black hole, and no instantaneous scientific epiphanies, and our MTV-addled, instant-gratification-seeking brains just switched off.
And then it blew a fuse.
4. The Matrix sequels: The Wachoswkis disappear up their own rabbit holes (May/November 2003)
Thanks to the deluge of dire movie sequels, cinema historians will look back on the Noughties as “The Decade That Imagination Forgot”. But while most were pointless, cynical continuations of past-their-prime or previously-concluded franchises (see number 8), the Matrix sequels were of a much more disappointing nature.
The original movie ended the 90s in a hugely satisfying synthesis of existential angst, visual flair, innovative action and intellectual depth that seemed to herald an exciting cinematic future of the new millennium.
But instead of delivering on this promise, the Wachowskis blew it. Twice. The first movie’s inventive action was replaced with tired and overblown CGI exercises; the playful deconstruction of notions of reality gave way to annoyingly oblique cod-philosophy and heavy-handed religious mysticism; and what did we get in place of the original’s effortless cool? That ridiculous rave scene.
3. 2004 US presidential election: Rest of the world slaps forehead (November 2004)
OK, vote-tampering aside, in one way it almost made sense. I mean, the Democratic candidate… umm… hold on… John Kerry (I just Wikipedia’d it), was hardly a memorable candidate. But from every other logical (and illogical) standpoint it was brain-meltingly confounding. Bush? Again? WTF America?
There’s a saying where I come from: vote for a fool once, shame on… shame on you. Vote for a fool twice, umm… everyone… everyone will be really, really disappointed.
2. The financial crisis aftermath: Time for a change? Erm… no (2007 onwards)
When the financial crisis struck in the latter part of the decade, bombarded by grandstanding political bluster about economic reform, I found myself gripped by a fleeting moment of delusional optimism, during which I almost believed that our perfidious, vote-pandering leaders were actually capable of instigating tangible, positive change.
“Finally,” I thought, “the world has accepted that our global economy is a ridiculous sham, our benevolent leaders will surely rip it down and in its place we shall build a progressive, sustainable and just system and our planet will exist in peace and harmony for aeons”. Embarrassment and disappointment soon followed.
To use Homer Simpson’s neologism, the economic crash was a quintessential “crisitunity”. It provided a real opportunity for genuine change. We could have slapped the smug look from the bankers’ jowls and told them stick their damned derivatives and reckless greed.
But with our hands greased by impotent political rhetoric, public apathy and the hegemonic influence of the banking sector, the chance slipped through our fingers. Instead, we allowed the bankers to go about their greedy business, risking global economic security in the ceaseless pursuit of growth and profits. This time, however, with us footing the bill.
To quote Homer again: D’oh!
1. No contact with alien life forms: Seriously, this is getting boring (2000 onwards)
We know you’re out there you little green bastards. A simple “hello” would have sufficed. We’d spent the previous decade with Mulder and Scully pretty much proving your existence, stamping the notion of your imminent arrival onto our collective consciousness on a weekly basis. And you don’t even have the decency to turn up.
Here’s an idea for you: give up the covert cavity probing, grow some balls – or the extra-terrestrial anatomical equivalents – and stop disappointing everyone.
You better show up next year with a good excuse and some sweet gadgets or you’ll make Arthur C. Clarke look like a right dick. And that’s not cool.
Were your hopes and dreams brutally crushed in the last ten years? If so, let us know what your biggest disappointments of the decade were in the comments thread below.