It was, to my slippery and wayward mind, one of the wonkiest, wobbliest, most sputteringly interesting years in ages, full of sound and fury and shrill, insufferable conservatism signifying nothing, but in a way that makes it seem like, you know, everything.
Do you remember much of 2010? Is it already a big blur, a fading Polaroid, a smeary dreamscape of pain and wonder and random celebrity deaths? Do you remember, say, Mel Gibson's sociopathic rants, Gary Coleman's sad demise, Christine O' Donnell's ditzball witchcraft? Do you care much anymore? Of course you don't. Then again, in a way, you totally do. Because you remember. It's all in there, somewhere. Ain't it strange?
This is the astonishing thing: All end-of-year lookbacks at the major stories, scandals, dramas and traumas contain one shared ingredient, one bizarre commonality built straight into their media DNA: How insanely fast we forget all about them. No sooner are we all aflutter, enraged and atwitter over one issue or conflict, then we shrug it off and leap onto the next Incredibly Important Thing, barely remembering what all the fuss was about in the first place.
It is your great reminder, repeated here for the 1,000th time: All those events and spectacles we think are so imperative at the time, so mandatory to our very survival, vanish in almost an instant. The 24-hour news cycle coupled with our short attention spans and hooked into the fact that life is a ridiculous mystical circus dreamgasm of joyful futility means, well, we don't understand nearly as much as we think we do. Also, the Great Play is still unfolding exactly as it should.
Do you remember the hissyfit over the Ground Zero mosque? Completely gone now, all that melodrama and Islamophobic puling reduced to ashy nothingness. Do you even know the final outcome? If the mosque is still going to be built or if the space will instead become something far more patriotic, like a Designer Shoe Warehouse or maybe 10 Starbucks outlets all in a tight little row? It's OK, neither do the Islamophobes.
How about the grand iPhone 4 "Antennagate" scandal that paralyzed the nation, shut down schools and had every geek screaming that they found a tiny flaw in Steve Jobs' magnificent, infallible ego? Indeed, Apple suffered horribly for that silly melodrama, didn't they? Didn't sell a single iPhone after that. So very sad for them.
Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was killed in a plane crash. Dick Cheney still refused to die from another heart attack. A leathery hunk of confused hate named Terry Jones didn't burn the Koran outside a rancid little "church" somewhere in Florida, but not before he got the attention of the president himself, which is bizarre and disorienting in a way that makes you sort of cringe. And then shrug, sigh and move the hell on.
It's all fun and games until someone loses a perspective...
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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the SF Chronicle and SFGate. Get it at Amazon and beyond. He recently wrote a fine letter to whiny young Democrats, a column about the adorable ignorance of the Tea Party, and the trouble with the Arcade Fire. His website is markmorford.com. Join him on Facebook, or email him. Not to mention...
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