The 2000s: Heyday of Thongs and Cocaine
Patricia Lockwood’s book “No One is Talking About This” is a chronicle of her experience on the internet. Throughout the book the narrator takes us through the “portal” where she navigates through a flurry of memes, news, shitposts, and hatred. The structuring of the book models the experience of internet use through a series of vignettes that mimic checking your phone occasionally. Some of these vignettes are related to each other, while others are random blips in the narrative which conjure the feeling of bouncing from topic to topic that takes place on a site like twitter. Throughout the book there are references to internet culture that almost any frequent internet user can catch on to, which create a sense of shared experience wherein the narrator is describing finding a meme which is an experience that the reader has lived in almost exactly the same way. Lockwood does an amazing job of poeticizing the experience of navigating the internet and condensing her experience of internet culture into a digestible novel. It is Lockwood’s grasp of what internet culture is and how it has changed that makes this book such a lively read, and her grasp of cultural evolution is vocalized when describing the context in which she grew up in comparison to her younger sister and the way it produced two very different people. Lockwood describes her experience of the nineties as “the heyday of plaid and heroine” while her sister grew up in the 2000s which she views as “the heyday of thongs and cocaine…when everything got a little chihuahua and started starring in its own show. That was when we saw the whole world’s waxed pussy getting out of a car, and said, more.” (Lockwood, 76). In this passage Lockwood does a lot more that pigeonhole the decades, she touches upon major cultural moments of the time, whose importance are inextricable from the use of the internet, which dictated a standard of image for her, her sister, and women throughout America.
The 90s grunge scene emerged in the music world, where grunge rock became popular as the pendulum swung away from upbeat pop/disc anthems of the 80s. From the world of music the grunge aesthetic of flannel shirts, doc martens, ripped jeans, and slip dresses graced the luxury fashion world in 1993 at the debut of Marc Jacobs’ women’s collection for Perry Ellis, which many regard as the introduction of grunge to mainstream fashion.
From here the decade is known for its wraith-like “heroine chic” models in smudged black eyeliner gracing the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. A time where magazine publishing was the primary medium for distributing cultural aesthetics and celebrity gossip/praise. The medium of the magazine is accompanied by an heir of manicure, carefully curated covers and edited interviews. It was a time when the relationship between celebrity culture and the average American was heavily mediated, but this relationship changed drastically in the 2000s.
The 2000s saw a rise in frequent internet use, and with this came with the widespread use of the internet as a news source including celebrity gossip news. Websites like Perez Hilton, Gawker, and TMZ gave people daily updates on their celebrities’ lives. The mediation that took place between fan and celebrity was gone, and without laws restricting paparazzi practices any and all celebrity gossip was available at internet goers’ fingertips the moment it happened. There is no better embodiment of 2000s celebrity culture than the “holy trinity”; Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan. The three celebrities became true socialites in the early 2000s, as their wealth, beauty, interpersonal drama, and “it-girl lifestyle” became the fascination of millions. Paris Hilton famously carried her chihuahua tinker bell with her in her purse (Marrone, 2019). The trio was spotted at every major party that there was participating in the glamorous Hollywood life of champagne, cocaine, and sex.
From the shaving head breakdown Britney had in 2007 to Lindsay Lohan’s arrest the three were constantly “breaking the internet” by having their lives broadcast through gossip blogs (Gay, 2019).
Whether intentional publicity stunts or true moments of candor captured and fed to the public, the attention that these women garnered was very real and shaped early 2000s fashion and culture in a very real way. From velour tracksuits to whale tail thongs, everything that these women did was “in” and the carefree indulgence in excess that the 2000s was known for was born. One of the most famous moments captured by paparazzi was Paris Hilton exiting her car without underwear, soon after the upskirt shots circulated around the internet Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears were also photographed this way multiple times. This “genre” of paparazzi photo became an evil manifestation of what celebrity culture, and the power of the internet were capable of. The women were all lambasted by the likes of Perez Hilton for being slutty, trashy, a mess etc. The unregulated circulation of these images also became a sort of cyber assault in which the women were given no autonomy over their body, an almost metaphoric representation of how much access people had to celebrities there was no aspect of these women’s’ lives or bodies that were off limits to the public. The desire for control of women’s bodies permeated discourse surrounding the young socialites which exemplified a darker side of the internet that Lockwood touches on. The internet is a daunting place full of funny, sweet, and engaging content, but it is also a place with very little regulation and lots of room for anonymity which is a recipe which can often bring out the worst in human behavior.
Gay, Chloe. “How Has Celebrity Journalism Evolved Due to the Rise in Social Media?” Medium. Medium, January 24, 2019. https://medium.com/@chloehgay/how-has-celebrity-journalism-evolved-due-to-the-rise-in-social-media-cd7833016a0d.
Jennings, Rebecca. “A New Era of Celebrity Tabloids, Minus the Snark.” Vox. Vox, December 11, 2020. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/22164190/deuxmoi-instagram-celebrity-gossip.
Lockwood, Patricia. No One Is Talking about This. Bloomsbury Circus, 2021.
Marrone, Olivia. “Trend Report: Animals as Accessories, Why This 2000’s Trend Doesn’t Need a Comeback.” BLENDED. BLENDED, September 5, 2019. https://blendednyc.com/fashion/2019/9/3/trend-report-why-this-2000s-trend-doesnt-need-a-comeback.