Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Let's return, wistfully, to 2009, the glory era of American pop culture

Illustration for article titled Let's return, wistfully, to 2009, the glory era of American pop culture
Photo: Will Ragozzino (Getty Images)

Social media’s ruined everything, hasn’t it? Not only have Facebook and Twitter negatively impacted discourse, news dissemination, and international relations, but they’ve also created entirely new, devious ways of bullying people. One thing they’ve irrevocably changed that nobody discusses, however? Tabloid culture, which you might not have realized you miss until this very moment.


The Outline just put out a piece declaring that “pop culture died in 2009,” a piece that’s linked to Matt James’ popculturediedin2009 blog, which aims to whisk us back to a time that, while deplorable in its own ways, nevertheless exudes its own kind of innocence. As writer Allie Volpe puts it, the blog and its various arms—there’s a Tabloid Walking Tour and an artistic project called the THNK1994 Museum—serve as a “time capsule into socialites’ past, a simpler time when tabloids reigned supreme, before social media broke the barrier between celebrity and fan and thus democratized prestige with the birth of the influencer.”

Volpe further clarifies just how much celebrity culture has evolved in the last decade:

The convergence of art, celebrity, and experience showed how multifaceted tabloid culture of the early 2000s truly was. The places mattered just as much as the players in these scandals, and the chasm between the haves and the have-nots provided intrigue rather than condemnation of overlooked influencer privilege, and superfluousness. “For me, I’ve always been focused on recreating the experience of a particular scandal for my followers,” James said. “It’s one thing to write about something that happened in 2007, but to show the tabloid articles from that time, or a paparazzi video, or the location where it actually happened, just adds another layer to it and helps someone understand the story and our fascination with it in a way that a simple write-up can’t.”

To follow the blog (or its excellent Twitter account) is to regularly treat yourself to vintage clips and videos of scandals past—James Woods has always been a creep—as well as updates regarding the lives of former tabloid stars like Tara Reid, who, as the blog points out, has been giving some very unhinged interviews as of late.

Where else, after all, can you revisit Sienna Miller’s weird summer fling with Balthazar Getty, Lindsay Lohan’s much-publicized relationship with DJ Samantha Ronson, or Meghan McCain’s close friendship with Tila Tequila.

Yes, really.


“I think in the past, it was easier to consider a celebrity’s life art,” James told The Outline. “There was so much we didn’t know about them, and so many blanks waiting to be filled, that it was easier for us to create this romanticized idea about them and create iconography from it. That’s pretty much impossible today.”

Trump, after all, was born from this very culture. It’s no coincidence that David Pecker, the chief executive of the company that publishes the National Enquirer, not only had a hand in getting Trump elected, but is also currently embroiled in our president’s criminal activities.


“It created [Trump] in some ways, our celebrity obsession,” says Alex Harris Goldberg in The Outline’s piece. “The Apprentice was on during this era and we were creating a monster, unfortunately, with our consumption.”

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.