In the Teens, I’m looking forward to…
…the career arc of LeBron James.
As of right now, the basketball populace seems more sure that LeBron James is the Player of the Next Decade than that Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan or Shaquille O’Neal is the Player of This One. We know that LeBron James is phenomenal now and that he will only continue to get better. But we still don’t know the extent of that improvement or where it will take place. Will James stick with his hometown Cavaliers or spurn them and become the most significant free-agent signing in sports history? If the latter, is it for the bright lights and crappy teammates of Madison Square Garden? The allure of eclipsing Jordan in Chicago? Or teaming up with Wade in Miami or Durant in, gasp, Oklahoma City?
This last question leads to the next one: Who will be James’s primary rival? Will Wade or Durant or Carmelo Anthony raise their games to the required levels to consistently compete with LeBron? Or will he, like Jordan, be too far above them to even be compared to another individual?
LeBron James will be the most culturally significant athlete of the Teens; it’s all a matter of how and where.
…a culturally relevant NBA rivalry
Like it or not, the NBA is the most culturally relevant sport in America today.* Since an overdue scheduling overhaul seems unlikely, the best way to make the league watchable again to the people who fall in the “not” category above is for a rivalry—probably involving LeBron James—to reach proportions unseen since Bird and Magic in the ‘80s.
*In the sense that it’s far more tied to other aspects of culture such as music or fashion than baseball or football.
…after a brief renaissance, a fitting conclusion to The Simpsons.
John S and I had an argument earlier this month about The Simpsons Movie, which he called one of the biggest disappointments of the decade. I defended the movie, as I still do, while acknowledging that my expectations for it had been lowered dramatically by the disintegrating quality of the show. My thought entering the theater in July 2007 was not, “This is gonna be great!” but rather “Man, I hope this doesn’t suck.”
Aside from that brief summer interlude two years ago, The Simpsons has not been culturally relevant in a very long time. In recent years, it has displayed an inability to confront topical issues with any type of insight, originality, or basic humor. It has also played with the very fabric of the show in ridiculous flashback episodes that alter Homer and Marge’s past, like their first meeting at a camp or their college years in the ‘90s. Furthermore, once minor characters have become seemingly ubiquitous and guest stars almost always play themselves or a close approximation thereof.
That’s why I hope Matt Groening, Al Jean, and Co. finally come to their senses and give The Simpsons the conclusion it deserves. I don’t want any more kids growing up thinking one of the greatest series of all time is an unoriginal and unfunny look at the American family. It’s better to be dead and remembered than alive and ignored.
…the Arrested Development movie.
Because my thought entering the theater will almost certainly be “This is gonna be the greatest movie ever!”
…your NFL Franchise of the Decade: the St. Louis Rams!
Bear with me here for a few stats. The Franchise of the ‘70s was the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 1969, the Steelers went 1-13. The Franchise of the ‘80s was the San Francisco 49ers. In 1979, the 49ers went 2-14. The Franchise of the ‘90s was the Dallas Cowboys. In 1989, the Cowboys went 1-15. The Franchise of the ‘00s was the New England Patriots. In 1999, the Patriots went 8-8. They are the exception. The Franchise of the ‘10s will be the St. Louis Rams because in 2009, the Rams are going to go 1-15. Write it down!
…a third consecutive decade without labor interruptions in the NFL.
Idealistic? Yes. Implausible? No. I have never had to deal with a football strike, and I don’t know if I could.
…the fulfillment of every single hope I had on November 4, 2008 and January 20, 2009.
Idealistic? Yes. Implausible? Even more so. But I’m young enough to still have HOPE.
…the end of Sarah Palin’s prominence on a national stage.
I think America has fulfilled its quota of “Unintentionally Funny Presidents” for the century already. And for glorifications of Tina Fey.
…authors being bold enough to try to write the Great American Novel again…and that one will succeed.
It doesn’t seem as if we even talk about this ambition anymore, as if Twain and Fitzgerald and Faulkner and, dear God, Hemingway and Melville were that much better than the current generation can be. Without David Foster Wallace around, it’s down to guys like Michael Chabon and Dave Eggers and Jonathans Franzen and Safran Foer and Lethem to capture the American moment. Or maybe Philip Roth will take a few years off between publications and write one last great novel.
…the discovery that J.D. Salinger has been writing novels all these years—and that they’re really good.
Salinger has been living in seclusion since his last published story appeared in The New Yorker in 1965. Those 44+ years had to comprise some writing, right? And some really good writing at that? The discovery of a heretofore hidden Salinger canon would more than make up for the lack of a Great American Novel from this decade.
…the rejuvenation of the serial novel.
I don’t know if I like this idea as much as I’m intrigued by it. With the publishing industry hitting a bit of a rough patch and a low entry barrier to online platforms, it’s only a matter of time before an enterprising author attempts to pen an entire novel on his blog or Twitter—and does it successfully. The idea of a novel being worthy of watercooler discussion (Did you read this week’s installment yet?) would be more than refreshing in an era where our music and television tastes have become less and less unified.
…the Yankees’ comeuppance.
Because baseball can’t survive like this for long.
…the potential Hall of Fame speech of Chad Whatever-His-Name-Is-By-Then
Rickey Henderson’s was a bit disappointing; Chad Ochocinco’s, if he manages to raise his level of play and actually get in the Hall of Fame, won’t be.
…that the retrospective on the next decade (with a clever title, I’m sure, with the frontrunner already being “The One-der Years”) doesn’t have to spend any time on the Iraq War.
Because we know, we did so much on it for this series.
…the expansion of the YouTube canon to include every sporting event I’ve ever wanted to watch and/or rewatch.
I used to sit on the floor in front of my VCR every Selection Sunday, waiting anxiously for CBS to show the montage of the greatest moments in NCAA Tournament history. It’s unbelievable to me that I now have access to so many of those moments any time I want. But they’re still not all there. If I want to watch the entirety of Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS or Super Bowl XLII or Federer-Nadal ’08 Wimbledon, I want it at my fingertips.
…Barenaked Ladies getting back together but still being unpopular enough so that they can play at my wedding for an inexpensive amount.
This is pretty self-explanatory.
…a James Cameron film that integrates the technology of the Epcot Center ride “Soarin’” to create a completely immersive experience for the viewer…
…with a good plot, too!
…continued competition between the Nolan Brothers and the Coen Brothers for the title of “Greatest Filmmaking Pair of Brothers, Especially Since We Can’t Really Call Them the Wachowski Brothers Anymore, Am I Right?”
It will be interesting to see if the Nolans can possibly top the near-perfection that was The Dark Knight, although having an entire film without the character of Rachel Dawes is a good start. Whether or not a villain can ever be made as compelling and vile and enjoyable all at the same time as Heath Ledger’s Joker remains to be seen. The Coen Brothers, meanwhile, continue to churn out great cinema, and I’m not even the one who ranked two of their films in my top ten for the decade. I have no idea what they’re going to do next; I just know I’m going to see it.
…a film adaptation of another Alan Moore work.
I don’t know what’s left (Swamp Thing?), but adaptations of Moore’s works gave me my favorite movie of the decade (V for Vendetta), my favorite of 2009 (Watchmen), and the underrated From Hell. Furthermore, much of The Dark Knight—easily a top five film of the Aughts—is derived from Moore’s “The Killing Joke.” As much as Moore disassociates himself from these films, I can’t wait to see them keep coming out.
…the end of the BCS.
…the first No. 16 seed to win a first-round game.
So long as it isn’t by beating Duke. I’ve been waiting for this for years, and I know it will live up to my expectations.
…the professional failures of Tyler Hansbrough and Tim Tebow.
I’m man enough to admit this one’s just flat-out mean. But if I’m anything, it’s honest.