The opening decade of the 21st century draws to a close. In a few hours it will be midnight and 2010 is here!
At the turn of the millennium, the Y2K bug fear turned out to be a non event, even a let down, as midnight came and went and 2000 was upon us. But this decade is hardly a non event, let alone a let down. The world as we knew it changed. I changed.
911, Sars and H1N1 all changed the way we travelled. The warming of planet Earth was the inconvenient truth looming larger and more real.
What were the milestones? Sept 11, the humbling of the financial system and the South East Asian tsunami will be prominent because the repercussions spared no one.
Economic recovery, or escape from total collapse, may have happened too easily but each economy will draw lessons appropriate to it.
What troubled and baffled us? The untold sufferings from earthquakes and hurricanes, the ambitions of North Korea, the continued captivity of Aung San Suu Kyi, the suicide bombers and the elusive weapons of mass destruction.
The way we interact changed forever with the ever-expanding dominance of ‘socialised’ technology through the likes of Google and Wikipedia, the camera phone and what is by now the quaint e-mail.
Technology is the hands-down champion of the decade. The upwardly mobile and trendy were kept guessing what was next from the ailing Steve Jobs, who transformed the computer, music, movie and mobile phone industries.
Reality TV democratized communication and how media stars were minted. The most extreme examples were Jennifer Hudson who went on to win an Oscar and Susan Boyle who shamed the judges then her crtics by topping the charts with her first album. Effects in films also made the movie stars a collective endangered species.
Through the media, the world collectively mourned the deaths of super stars. When Elvis and Marilyn died, they were just major news. By the time of Princess Diana’s fatal accident, the media was ready. Now the deaths of super stars were multi-media events. He might have been one of the best marketers of his time, but even Michael Jackson himself couldn’t have anticipated how the world reacted with his passing.
The YouTube generation found its answer to Madonna in Lady Gaga. Election campaigns went viral and the result was a black president in the white house. As if that was not enough of a miracle in our lifetime, no one foresaw Obama winning the nobel peace prize.
The cyberworld became the real world where online personalities crossed over offline to take centre stage. New media was the media in a time when the digital divide gave way to mass digital consumption.
In Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong took over as the Prime Minister. With the re-making of Singapore, the Integrated Resorts and Formula One night race permanently changed our skyline and the way the world would look at this red dot. For the first time, the PAP government dipped into national reserves this year to fund a stimulus package to tackle the economic crisis.
Singapore became one of the most expensive cities to live. The divide between the rich and poor became more pronounced. The new rich had libraries of wines at home and yachts in their backyards. The poor felt less belonged to a city-state focused on bottom lines and business models.
The local media showed signs of extending its reach. We had our very own Singapore Idols. And our own public persecutions of people running charity organisations.
AWARE caused more than a media commotion, tipping the balance of religious harmony while surfacing the uncomfortable issue of sexuality. Singaporeans rose to the challenge and took a stand on civil rights. They spoke up, voted and drew the line on the sand. It was liberating and the government was right not to take anything for granted, including the apathy and civility of civilians.
Foreigners flooded into Singapore. PRs and Non-Residents now formed 35.8% of the entire population of just under 5 million. Singaporeans are greying but the numbers don’t show up clearly when the immigrants are factored in. Population density reached 6,814 per sq km. Visitor arrivals hit 10.1 million!
Singapore ended its 48-year-long Olympic medal drought by winning a silver in Beijing. Amid celebrations came criticisms of dominance of China-born athletes.
The decade will be defined by the reawakening of China, and to a lesser extent, India. Barring internal mishaps, their urbanisation will reshape the world, its markets and cultural benchmarks. Among the flood of books that appeared on China is one entitled, When China Rules The World!
In the world of movies, China became the most important market, even for Hollywood. Global cinema was no longer a catch-phrase. Crouching Tiger And Hidden Dragon and Slumdog Millionaire broke the glass ceiling for the Oscars and world-wide box office.
Departures also won the best foreign film Oscar for Japan. Ang Lee made a film everyone called ‘the gay cowboy movie’. Until they saw it. In the end the love story wasn’t gay or straight. Just human. Martin Scorsese finally won his Oscar, but only from directing a remake of Infernal Affairs from Hong Kong.
Avatar restored faith to big budget filmmaking and rounded the decade on an all time high, bringing global box office to new records. In China, people were queuing in the snow, all waiting to watch this 3-D spectacle in their spanking new digital cinemas!
Personally, this decade was dedicated to filmmaking. Last year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Raintree Pictures. In the last months of the decade, Homerun Pictures was set up.
I welcome the new decade with open arms!