The end is here! Yes, we’ve finally hit the bottom of the Persephone Magazine writer barrel, at least age wise. I, Elfity, am here to bring you the glories (kind of) of the year 2004, as seen through my barely-teenaged eyes. I should mention that I was actually 14 for the majority of 2004 rather than 13. It doesn’t seem to matter now, but 14-year-old me probably would have had a fit if you had told her that. Anyway, onto the tops!
You can blame 2004 for being the year that started the sequel craze. Three out of the five top grossing films for the year were sequels, which is a little bit ridiculous if you ask me. And they were so successful that now we have nothing to watch in theaters but sequels and remakes. Curse you, 2004.
- Shrek 2 was the highest grossing film of 2004, raking in over $919 million worldwide. I remember going to see this with my best friend one evening in a packed theater and liking it nearly as much as the original. A worthy sequel, in my opinion.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came in second, which honestly shocked me a bit. I expect HP movies to rule the theaters, but that might be my fangirl talking. Most of us remember this film as the beginning of the dark turn of the HP movies. Also, Gary Oldman.
- Spider-Man 2 was probably my personal favorite from 2004, signaling the beginnings of my love for superhero movies. Seriously, it’s my favorite genre. It’s arguably a better movie than the first Spider-Man film, but we can blame its success for giving us the nightmare that was Spider-Man 3. It’s also the movie where I first discovered that heights in movies give me vertigo.
- The Incredibles came in fourth by showcasing true Pixar genius and all around adorableness. I saw this one with my aunt and some family friends, and I still remember most of it, despite it being almost ten years ago. What’s not to love about a family of superheroes?
- The Passion of the Christ edged into the top five, thanks to a blend of religion and controversy. Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism was on full display during this time, earning the movie some negative publicity. I’ve heard the film itself had some beautiful moments, but I was forbidden from watching it. Apparently my mother thought my atheism meant that should I see it in theaters, I’d start cheering during the crucifixion and throwing popcorn at Jesus. Note to mom: atheist â‰ rude asshole.
According to the Nielsen ratings, not much has changed in ten years. I sometimes wonder if the major networks are playing jokes on us. My own personal favorite of 2004, House, did not pop up here. My biology teacher introduced me to the show, and though I rarely watched television as a teenager (see numbers 1-5 below for reason why), biology-geek Elfity didn’t miss an episode of House for three seasons.
- American Idol ranks first in ratings. In 2004, the show was only in the third season, which seems unreal now that I’ve lost count of how many seasons the show has actually had. Fantasia Barrino beat out Diana DeGarmo for the winning spot, though neither of them do much these days.
- CSI was still incredibly popular in 2004, and it seemed like my household was always watching some incarnation of it or another. I was personally always irritated by the fact that the crime scene investigators did EVERYONE’S job.
- Survivor was also still going strong in 2004, and I was shocked to find out in my research for this piece that this show is still on. I guess it’s really living up to the name, isn’t it?
- Desperate Housewives started up in 2004 and was a smash hit. I think just about everyone I knew was watching this show. Nighttime soaps had been gone for far too long, I suppose. As an art history nerd, I do think the show’s opening credits are adorable.
- CSI; Miami, the show that launched a thousand sunglasses memes, was also very popular in 2004. It’s just like the original, but in Miami.
I most fondly remember 2004 as the year I discovered FuseTV, the music video successor of MTV. Fuse was essentially what MTV used to be – all music videos, all the time, with a few music-themed talk shows thrown in for good measure. It had a heavy focus on alternative music and while it played the top hits plenty, it also gave air time to lesser-known songs. Eventually Fuse would go the way of MTV, breaking my teenage heart and robbing me of good background television.
According to the Billboard Year End Hot 100 list, here are the top 5 songs of 2004:
- Yeah! by Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris. I’m not a hip-hop fan, but the catchiness of this song eventually persuaded me to download it onto my newly acquired iPod (the kind with a clicky wheel and black-and-white screen).
- Burn by Usher. Can you tell who was ruling the charts in 2004? Usher and his fantastic abs dominated music in 2004, and legions of young women and men wouldn’t have had it any other way.
- If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys. I heard this song around the clock during 2004 on the radio, at the mall, in the grocery store, you name it. I’m pleased to see that Alicia has had some staying power over the years.
- This Love by Maroon 5. Another band with serious staying power! I purchased this album before learning that Adam Levine is actually kind of a douche. I don’t think we will ever escape Maroon 5.
- The Way You Move by Outkast featuring Sleepy Brown. This song has been stuck in my head since I looked up this list. I almost regret signing up for this post. Whatever happened to Outkast, by the way? They churned out hit after hit in the mid 2000s.
I’ve never paid too much attention to new releases. Unless something is getting tons of hype in the feminist or political blogosphere, I probably don’t know it exists. I tend to go off of recommendations for books these days. Way back in the old days of 2004, I just browsed the brick and mortar (yes, really!) bookstores until something jumped out at me. I’ve always shied away from bestsellers, so I’m shocked that I’ve read any of the books on the list of bestsellers of 2004 according to USA Today.
- The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. I think everyone has either read this book or has read enough about Dan Brown’s writing to decide they never want to attempt to read his stuff by now. Nevertheless, the mystery/action/thriller was immensely popular in 2004. I read it over the summer and found it to be extremely entertaining. Please remember my age at the time.
- The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatson. You couldn’t walk into a bookstore, Target, or grocery store without seeing this book prominently displayed. I never even picked it up and I can remember what the cover looks like. I guess we know what the top fad diet of 2004 was!
- Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. And there he is again! With the popularity of The DaVinci Code, everyone was clamoring to read Dan Brown’s earlier work. I liked this one better, at least until the ridiculous ending. Again, remember my age.
- The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For? by Rick Warren. I wasn’t even aware that this book existed until about 30 hours ago, and given that Rick Warren is a noted homophobe, I can’t say that I’m sad about that. I mostly know him as the evangelical pastor who was picked to deliver President Obama’s 2009 inaugural invocation. I suppose it made sense to pick a guy with a bestseller?
- The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I recall seeing this all over the shelves in 2004, and for that matter, every year since. However, I had to look to Amazon for the description, which describes the book as “part melodram and part parable” and looks at death through well, the five people you meet in heaven. As a cynical, stone-hearted teenager with a distaste for the uplifting and/or cheesy and an adult who is just the same, I can’t say I have any interest in it. I hear that it’s very heart-warming, however!
By 2004, the political dissident in me was starting to hit burnout. Yes, little Elfity started her political career early, and was already disillusioned with the system at the old age of 13-14. After all of the protesting and marching and letter-writing I had done the year before to combat the war in Iraq, I was starting to feel the burden that those of us involved in the political struggle know all too well. You do so much, yet nothing changes. It’s even worse when you aren’t even old enough to drive or buy your own spray paint to make signs.
- Election year! George W. Bush won the White House with comrade Dick Cheney, beating out Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards. I fought hard on the losing side here.
- Hamid Karzai was elected president in Afghanistan in a democratic election. Karzai is the current president and is contending with more or less the same issues he was when he took the presidency in 2004. Terrorist threats, insurgency, torture, rape, murder, and the denigration of women are all still major issues in Afghanistan, which is still occupied by US troops.
- Deadly tsunamis hit Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand in December of 2004, killing over 200,000 people and causing millions of dollars of damage. Many people lost relatives, friends, communities, and businesses. An earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1-9.3 MMS, one of the largest ever recorded, triggered the tsunamis that destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives.
And there you have it, 2004! I’ll always remember 2004 as the year I finally started to feel comfortable in my own skin. I moved away from my uncertain style and stopped dressing like I thought everyone wanted me to dress. I grew out my hair to a style I actually liked and I started living in Converse and band shirts. I became a music hipster, which I eventually grew out of (and thank goodness I did, because that shit is exhausting) and went to my first show without any adult supervision. I remember 2004 as the year I finally started becoming me as I know me. How about y’all?