When disco people did that weird basketball referee "traveling" motion dance and licked their cocaine-stained gums while a sparkly disco ball twirled overhead, they probably felt like the party would never stop. But stop it did, in grinding and ugly fashion, when the hedonistic days of Studio 54 ran headfirst into a very un-far-out recession in the early 1980's. Some twenty-five years later, we find ourselves in a similar situation. The early aughts saw the rise of the Tara Reid and Lindsay Lohan mentality, one that celebrated and encouraged hard, rusty-jointed partying (and simulatneously loved to condemn it). Sure there was a war on and the world seemed to be ending, but when one thing ends another begins, and these folks wanted to hurl themselves, underpantsless crotches first, into the big new whatever. And now... well, now we're staring down the barrel of a serious recession, Crazy Britney is dead, and Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, a Rooney and Garland for the iGeneration, are puttin' on a show to the glittery tune of trillions of dollars. Like the dirty bliss era of disco before it, is this new party era being killed by a recession? We think so!
It was a good run while it lasted! For years Tara Reid, an actress whose only talent was to remind you of that one babysitter you had that used to sneak menthol cigarettes in the back yard, made a whole career out of dousing herself in Blue Curacao and setting herself ablaze. Lindsay Lohan, a slightly more chaste version of that same babysitter, became famous not really for her roles in movies like Mean Girls and A Prairie Home Companion, but for her hard partying, her various automobile accidents, her splendiferous fire crotch. Sure she eventually banked steeply, the left side of her fuselage ripping off, and exploded over the Andes, but it was a glorious journey for a while. And these ladies, along with Paris Hilton and every dim bulb heir to something or other boy who creaked after them, helped create a new industry of Perez Hilton bloggasm and InTouch magazine shriekery. Everyone was dancing and dancing as fast as they could, spinning themselves into Butter and then suddenly! Poof! It feels kinda over, right?
For one, the economy is in the pile of shit that's buried under the shitter. And to mirror that, Poor Tara is doing sad, "mistakes were made" magazine interviews. Lindsay Lohan is comfortably dating a deejay named Samantha Ronson (yes, dear readers, that's a woman! Maybe they'll get "married!" Keep reading Page Six to find out more!) and she's partying like a lot, lot less than she was before. And Britney is making a quiet little comeback and caring for her kids as best she can (one of them almost exploded last night, but whatevs). Doesn't it seem kind of passe now, all of that crazed going out and drunken slurring for the wobbly cameras of TMZ? It does to us! All the celebrities these days are about causes and whatnot, and so what if it's just bandwagon trendiness. If it means less reality shows about dumb idiots getting their hair dyed and chewing gum and more about people with jobs, then we're OK with it. These are very troubled days, and (finally!) the jewel encrusted partying doesn't just seem silly, it seems irresponsible and unforgivably tacky. Which means, maybe, that the terrible Perez and TMZ monsters will be slain by this economic Bellerophon once and for all and we Gawker people will just start offering tips on, like, urban gardening or something (I know a guy). They've been the ones fueling this whole wickedness. They should go first.
For further proof, just look at the mega success of the most recent High School Musical movie, which opened in actual movie theaters this time and has raked in $75 million in just three weeks. It's a rolling-up-the-sleeves tale of good kids being good and putting on a show. There's nary a swear, swill, or sex moan to be seen or heard in the squeaky/freaky clean enterprise. And for once that kinda feels OK! At its frizzy, tired, Cheez Whizzy heart, that party culture felt awfully cynical and lazy. Though there's plenty to be cynical about these days, there is also, um, Hope! and Change! and the chance—for the first time, I'd argue—for the younger generations to begin the work of making their mark, of rubbing Tom Brokaw's nose in it and saying "there's no Greatest, Tom. They're all Great in their own way." So—maybe a little early, there's probably some defrib still to be done—we're calling it: the greasy rococo party culture of the early aughts is dead and gone. Replaced by a new can-do, a spirit of hope, change, lesbian relationships, shuddering babies, and reality shows about people doing things. Not quite a Brave New World, sure, but it's something.