Citizen Journalists (06:38)
On December 16, 2004 an earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a massive tsunami; Nate Berkus and Phil Squire describe their experiences. The New York Times picked-up on Rick Von Feldt's reports sent via text messaging. Juju Chang says that this was one of the first times she saw how the media could use personal photos and videos.
Finding Saddam Hussein (06:16)
Hussein was found hiding in a bunker near his home town, Tikrit. The capture of Hussein was a morale booster for U.S. troops and the Iraqi people. Hussein was executed in December 2006.
Beginning of YouTube (05:17)
During the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed on TV, causing a media frenzy. Jawed Karim says one of his prime motivations in starting YouTube was so people could find videos of the “wardrobe malfunction” more easily. YouTube’s sharing platform changed consumption of entertainment, information and news.
Abu Ghraib (06:24)
Sergeant Joe Darby leaked photos of prisoner abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison. Despite assurance of anonymity, Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld leaked his name, forcing him to relocate. Beyond harming the reputation of the U.S., the photos became a recruiting tool for opposition forces.
Accepting Gays (05:32)
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and the film "Brokeback Mountain" helped mainstream gay culture into American society. Mary Cheney’s sexuality and support for gay marriage impacted Republicans and conservatives. The 2004 amendment to ban gay marriage failed and within ten years, same sex marriage would be supported by a majority of Americans.
2004 Presidential Election (04:10)
Because of the rise of the Internet and viral politics, Howard Dean lost the Democratic nomination to John Kerry. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth pushed the election into a close race. Osama Bin Laden’s video address four days before the election helped George Bush win.
Hurricane Katrina Hits (04:09)
Hurricane Katrina was predicted to be a major hurricane and mandatory evacuations were ordered. John Keller stayed and learned that many of his neighbors were unable to evacuate. He tried to get the attention of passing helicopters by writing a sign on the roof.
Tragedy of Katrina (03:56)
Geraldo Rivera says that the federal and state governments ignored the ongoing tragedy because of race and economic status. John Keller states help did not come until he put wheelchair-bound white residents on his roof. Dick Cheney believes the problems of Hurricane Katrina were because of a shortfall at the local level.
No Place Like Home (04:54)
TV shows like “Trading Spaces” and “Martha Stewart Living” represented Americans’ obsession with their homes. The real estate market was soaring but the housing bubble burst in 2007.
In 2007, Steve Jobs introduced a product that would make Apple the richest company on Earth. Several phones were secretly used during the launch to give the impression of an integrated functioning system. The iPhone was integral for fueling social media.
Spreading Gossip (05:04)
Interconnected smart phones made it easier to send information and harder to hide bad behavior. Miss Universe Tara Conner had a drug and alcohol problem that became gossip-fodder. After Michael Jackson died of a drug-related death, the Internet was overwhelmed by users looking for anything related to him.
Iraq War Continues (06:43)
By the end of 2006, the anti-war movement was growing in the U.S.A. The 2007 troop surge stabilized things by spring 2008. The building of a concrete wall around nearby Sadr City became a turning point.
Zombies and Vampires (02:23)
Zombie and vampire moves become popular in the 2000s. Zombies represent mindless consumers and vampires are shown as sexy and wealthy. Lehman Brothers and CEO Dick Fuld are presented as real world extensions of these ideas.
Lehman Shock (03:47)
Lehman Brothers stock went into meltdown. Failing at receiving a bailout, the company declared bankruptcy, throwing the world economy into freefall. The U.S. government agreed to free up $780 billion to bolster the economy.
"An Inconvenient Truth" (03:13)
Al Gore’s documentary brought awareness to global warming. The issue became politicized, with the right wing denying it. President Bush led the U.S. to be the only country to not ratify the Kyoto Protocol; Governor Sarah Palin sued the federal government for putting polar bears on the endangered species list.
2008 Presidential Election (07:21)
Barack Obama's charisma, energization the youth vote, and use of new media technology gained him the presidency. The popularity of Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber fed his opposition. Obama's election had a profound effect on progressives and black voters.
Fall and Rise of Heroes (519:01)
The decade saw the fall of idols, sports figures, and celebrities to scandals. Chesley Sullenberger became a national hero when he safely landed a disabled passenger airplane on the Hudson River in 2009. Airplanes used as weapons on 9/11 and the Miracle on the Hudson are metaphors for the contradictions of the first years of the 21st century.
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