Yep, it’s happening. Starts Sunday July 8.
Man. I think in this case “too soon” could be a gross understatement. The whole damn reason CNN could talk about Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, the JFK assassination, or the Rural Purge was that enough time had passed that the screaming reactionary numbnuts had died, faded into obscurity, or moved on to new ridiculous obsessions. Yes, Bobby, it’s okay to be critical of an endless aimless horrific blood-drenched money-gobbling national nightmare now; the “we woulda won if the government let us” morons are old and feeble enough that we can just tune them out now. Compare that to how The Nineties turned out. I know CNN is the most centrist cable channel, like ever, but so many missed opportunities (which I covered), and all because they didn’t want trouble from the psychopaths who think Rodney King deserved to get beaten or Timothy McVeigh is a national hero or George HW Bush’s face should be on Mount Rushmore. Now they’re going to tackle an era which we literally just emerged from, and, looking back on it…wow. It’s going to be an big, big uphill climb.
For now, a quick look at a few of the big ones sure to come up:
George W Bush. No retrospective of the Aughts is complete without a thorough treatise on him, and…I’m sorry, I’m not seeing how this one doesn’t completely, royally suck. Before he came along, even our worst presidents had the absolute basics down: give a decent speech, follow the party line, keep up appearances. Dubya was just clueless. There was not one day of his administration where he looked like he had any idea of what he was doing. I’m actually somewhat morbidly curious as to just what posture CNN is going to take here. Evasiveness? Whataboutism? Gloss over everything?
9/11/Afghanistan & Iraq. Two good signs: 1. The right wing we-can-now-do-whatever-we-damn-want-forever framing has aged extremely badly, and most of the American right is currently more concerned about irritating everyone on the planet not like them than drumming up support for endlessly military misadventures; 2. Most of the country is so, so completely burned out on treacly pap like praying for the poor innocent souls lost and supporting the troops etc. that it’s unlikely a major news network is going to bang that drum again. If CNN puts the main focus on the military response, in particular how misguided it was and how it blew ALL the goodwill we got from the attack, this could be really good, and there were enough guilty parties that they don’t even have to be that critical of Dubya if they don’t want to. Definitely have my hopes up.
The dotcom bubble. Tech stories have always been a reliable strong point of these series, and I expect this to be very good as well. A major movement with no political baggage that had a huge impact on an industry. Can’t-miss. One thing that it has to include is how it ruined so many lives due to a combination of taking stock options as payment and Alternative Minimum Tax.
Reality TV. Honestly, this one could be hit or miss. Ideally it should get into the real nuts and bolts: What made it appealing to the industry in the first place, how and why it got so huge, why so many people want to be on it, the big controversies. A fascinating subject, but might be too big to adequately handle in 2 hours.
The bank bailout. Speaking truth to power has always been an iffy prospect for CNN, and given that this the era the big commercial banks got the most obscene amount of power in their existence…I’m not optimistic. I expect some coverage of subprime loans and mass defaults, but not much else. Much more likely to be part of an overall economic discussion, if not glossed over entirely.
Barack Obama. Definitely keeping my expectations very, very low. I’ll be surprised it this goes past election day.
Music. I’m intrigued by how this is going to turn out, mainly because between things like ITunes and YouTube, music had become democratized in a way it never had before, and there was no ginormous ubergod the media absolutely refused to ever freaking shut up about. No Beatles, no Queen, no Michael Jackson, no Madonna, no Kurt Cobain. I remember there being plenty of songs I liked, but no one band or singer that I absolutely loved. I’m expecting to like this one a whole lot, and I doubt I’ll be disappointed.