Emmet's top 10 events of past decade for teens

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 defined our decade in great and tragic ways.

If you’re a graduating senior this year, you were only 7 or 8 years old when this past decade began. Today’s teens grew up during the first decade of the 21st century. Reporter Emmet Kowler nominates these events and cultural changes as some of the things that had the greatest impact on teens.

If you’re a graduating senior this year, you were only 7 or 8 years old when this past decade began. Today’s teens grew up during the first decade of the 21st century. Reporter Emmet Kowler nominates these events and cultural changes as some of the things that had the greatest impact on teens.

EVENTS

9/11

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 defined our decade in great and tragic ways. With 3,000 Americans dead, the Pentagon severely damaged and the World Trade Center towers gone, George W. Bush raised the national threat level to orange.

The attacks of 9/11 spawned a war in Afghanistan, the rise of Al-Qaeda, and the downfall of the Taliban. The word “Muslim” became mixed up in some people’s minds as “terrorist” or “extremist.”

Flying became both a hassle and seemed more dangerous than in the past.

9/11 defined the decade from the very beginning.

One of the first signs of blood
in economic waters was the
collapse of Bear Stearns.

Economic trouble and government bailout

In March 2008, America’s economy reached a crisis point after many banks and investment agencies made risky investments in home mortgages.

Low-interest rates on loans increased the number of people buying homes, and investors were eager for the profits. But many people ended up with loans they could not afford.

Demand for investments in mortgages was higher than the number of people who could actually afford to take out a loan. Many of those loans were called sub-prime loans and had adjustable rates, which means the interest on the loan — and payments on the loan — started out small, but soon jumped to levels people were unable to pay. When people stopped paying the loans, America’s economy took a big hit. Companies failed. And lending in America almost came to a halt, which was called the credit crisis.

The federal government stepped in with a $700 billion “bailout plan” and made loans to companies deemed “too big to fail” because of the overall impact on the economy.

MOVIES

The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan’s action-filled superhero epic smashed box-office records, and featured Heath Ledger’s final complete performance on film, for which he won a posthumous Academy Award.

One of the biggest, best reviewed, and most popular films of the decade, “The Dark Knight” stands out from the competition because it is an exemplary case of the comic book movie, one of the defining features of entertainment of the decade.

The Lord of the Rings

Peter Jackson’s nine-hour fantasy epic was a pioneering force in moviemaking technology, as well as an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. In thinking back and remembering all the many conversations we had about how much we loved Legolas, Smeagol, and the Shire, we decided The Lord of the Rings defined a decade of cinema more than any other work.

TV

Family Guy

Fox’ raunchy sitcom, brought back from cancelation by popular demand, has found popular support nationwide, mostly from a teenage audience, since it’s return to TV. With it’s odd tangents, sometimes tasteless jokes, and frequent comedic musical numbers (one of the most recent being “Prom Night Dumpster Baby”), Family Guy brought the decade’s sense of humor to broadcast television.

LOST

No pop culture event has sparked as much discussion in recent years — good or bad — as J.J. Abrams’ action-packed, notoriously confusing drama about a mysterious island. The influence of “LOST” in the pop culture arena of ‘00s TV is unparalleled.

TECHNOLOGY

The iPod

Since its introduction in 2001, Apple’s revolutionary mp3 player has taken the digital music market by storm. Along with the accompanying launch of the iTunes music store, Apple commandeered the digital music empire, and created one of the biggest trends of the decade.

Social networking and texting

The year 2000 marked the beginning of widespread Internet usage among consumers, and soon after social networking was born. MySpace, email, and texting ushered in a new era of communication, soon followed by Facebook, Digg, Twitter, YouTube, and a horde of other websites offering byte after byte of information to the world at large.

PEOPLE

Barack Obama

The historical elections of 2008 resulted in the nation’s first African-American president taking office in January of 2009, alongside the first Democratic majority in Congress since Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Soon after he won a controversial Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in diplomacy, announced a surge in the war in Afghanistan, and signed one of the most important pieces of legislation of the decade: the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Obama became a symbol of hope to Americans as he ushered in a new decade of politics.

George W. Bush

Though Barack Obama easily defined the politics of the last couple of years, George W. Bush was the figurehead of U.S. politics for the vast majority of the decade, and though many Americans didn’t agree with all of Bush’s policies, one has to look no further than what Bush left in his wake — two unfinished wars and an economy in ruins, to name a few — to see that his influence on our country and the world is decidedly more severe than anyone else’s.

The South High “Southerner” contributed to this report.

All images either public domain, or provided with permission of Michelle Clark, New Line Cinema, and Fox Broadcasting Company.

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