To borrow a line from Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” At least in my humble opinion, the past decade (2008-2018) was a tumultuous one. It was hopeful. The world progressed a great deal but at the same time, we saw political, economic, social and environmental disasters of epic proportions, several being the worst we’ve seen since World War II.
In conjunction with our 10th anniversary issue this month, (featuring Adam Levine as our cover personality), we have painstakingly put together 10 major events that have shaped the world from 2008 till 2018 – in politics, pop culture, fashion, horology, technology and the world in general.
2008: THE AGE OF SUPERHEROES
You could say that August Man Malaysia has been growing up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Our first issue hit the bookshelves, which featured Lewis Hamilton on the cover, (a prominent figure who has grown to be the four-time Formula One World Champion 10 years later, and the global brand ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger with the debut of the TommyXLewis collection), just as Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man was making waves in Hollywood.
It has paved the way for a whole new film genre about superheroes, and introducing serial film formats that exceeds the usual trilogies, as seen in the Lord of the Rings films and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy; film franchises like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight with films released post-2008 all opted to milk just a little more from the cash cow by splitting the final film into two-parters.
Granted, there were superhero films before Iron Man’s time from the 2000s onwards: the abovementioned Nolan’s trilogy, the less popular X-Men films circa 2000, as well as Daredevil (2003), Green Lantern (2011) and Elektra (2005) – which all three flopped critically and commercially. But you have to hand it to Marvel Studios for having the foresight to concoct individual storylines for each superhero that overlap with one another, and overtime converge for The Mother of All Superheroes Film or Films: The Avengers films.
For 10 years now, no summer has passed without a huge superhero blockbuster from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to look forward to, and it is probably going to stay the same for the next 10 summers at the rate Marvel Studios is going. The next two years, fans can expect continuations for Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy (despite director James Gunn’s sudden expulsion a few months ago), Doctor Strange, and of course, the second part of Avengers: Infinity War.
On the other side of the comic book spectrum, the Worlds of DC (WODC) is still playing catch up, what with Man of Steel’s release in 2013, and Justice League’s less than appealing box office last year; it’s like Apple catching up to Windows a decade earlier, only without actually winning the race.
However, WODC has built a firm foundation in the television realm with Arrowverse, spearheaded by Arrow since 2012, with The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow on The CW network. Not to mention, the standalone prequel to Batman, Gotham on the Fox network, has caught many eyeballs since its premiere in 2014.
While Marvel has already infiltrated the small screens via Netflix with its band of “second rate” anti-superheroes – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher and The Defenders, it is “game on” too on WODC’s side with up comers like Wonder Woman 1984 and the unlikely superhero DC needs, Shazam!.
2008: MOBILE PHONES GET SMART
Technically, the iPhone was launched in 2007, but it didn’t make its way to Malaysia until the following year. While it certainly wasn’t the first of its kind, the iPhone leapfrogged far beyond its competitors and completely revolutionised the mobile industry.
The introduction of the iPhone paved the way to the wave of smartphones to come. Ever since its debut, people have been reaping its benefits on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s providing a better means of communication, ways to personal development, or its rich library of applications, it is undeniable that smartphones have exerted a huge and multi-faceted impact on society, and continue to do so to this day.
The greatest impact of smartphones perhaps, has to do with its ability to transfer information at a rapid rate that was unprecedented and unimaginable. It is often said that knowledge is power, and following the emergence of smartphones, that knowledge is accessible in the palm of one’s hand. Thanks to smartphones, information is available to its users at almost any time at any place.
2008-2014: THE BEAT GOES ON
The Malaysian government has been on a witch hunt when it comes to international acts performing in Malaysia for the longest time, going as far back as the 1980s, especially those in the heavy metal music genre, and musicians that have been portraying themselves in scantily clad outfits.
In the late 2000s, more international acts began to patronise Malaysia during their world tours in the Asian region. Thanks to live music event organisers such as Future Sound Asia, The Livescape Group, Freeform, TuneTalk, PR Worldwide and the once thriving Pineapple Concerts, However, we were still but infants when it comes to this new culture, for a country that is one part striving to remain religiously reserved, and one part advancing with the globe’s modernisation.
Following Queen Bey’s ban in 2007 due to her provocative dance moves and outfits, many more international acts were scrutinised by the authorities: Lamb of God and Ke$ha in 2013, with acts that almost got axed include Avril Lavigne (2008), Rihanna (2009), Black Eyed Peas (2009), Lady Gaga (2011), Adam Lambert (2010) and Elton John (2011). Even the demure Danish soft rock outfit Michael Learns to Rock was not overlooked when their 2009 show fell during the Ramadan month.
2012 kicked off with the authorities kicking off Erykah Badu at the eleventh hour, due to publicity photos of her with the word “Allah” temporarily tattooed on her bare shoulders.
That same year, however, it felt like the music landscape in Malaysia was on the verge of a breakthrough, when The Livescape Group secured the franchise of the Australia-born Future Music Festival. Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) exploded in the country’s music scene with notable dance music acts like Chemical Brothers, Flo Rida, Tinie Tempah and Grandmaster Flash, and only got bigger when the following years, FMFA hosted trance DJ Armin van Buuren’s popular A State of Trance live sets.
Unfortunately, in 2014, FMFA came to an abrupt halt, when the final day of the three-day festival was cancelled by local authorities despite proper permits, submission to the rules and regulations; reports later announced that six teenagers died due to drug overdose at the festival.
All that being said, Malaysia is still far from becoming the uptight town of Bomont in Footloose. Over the years, event organisers and the Malaysian government strived to work together to put on a good show year after year. By the end of the decade, things have started to grow on steadier grounds.
From its humble beginnings at KL Pac in 2002, Urbanscapes grew to become a two-day festival for its 10th anniversary in 2012 with headliners like Yuna and Sigur Ros, before shifting into the Urbanscapes House along Jalan Hang Kasturi in 2016 for “Malaysia’s longest running creative arts festival”.
From 2013 onwards, there were #GoodVibesOnly for Malaysia with the Good Vibes Festival, having just wrapped up their fifth-year last month up at The Ranch at Gohtong Jaya in Genting Highlands.
After the unfortunate debacle in 2014, The Livescape Group has instead grown into one of Southeast Asia’s largest lifestyle event managements, with offices in Singapore and Jakarta as well. It has set sail into international waters with It’s The Ship, a four-day-long party cruise from Singapore to Phuket and back. Asia’s largest festival at sea is all set for its fifth sail in November.
2008-2017: THE WORLD UNDER ATTACK
Mumbai became the centre of a horrific attack that lasted four days. Ten members of the terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba stormed buildings in Mumbai, killing 164 people. The attacks took place at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Palace & Tower, Leopold Café, Cama Hospital, the Nariman House Jewish community centre, the Metro Cinema, among others. The men travelled from Karachi to Mumbai via boat. They hijacked cars and used automatic weapons and grenades.
A German bakery in Pune, India was the target of a terrorist attach when a bomb killed 17 people and injured 60. The bakery, a favourite among tourists, was at its busiest at the time. Two little known groups, the Laskhar-e-Taiba Al Alami and the Mujahideen Islami Muslim Front, claimed responsibility for the bomb. Authorities however said it could have part of Karachi project, involving Pakistani-American terror suspect David Coleman Headley,
Three people and a several hundred, including 16 who lost limbs, when two homemade booms detonated near the finish line of the race at the Boston Marathon. The attacks were carried out by brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaey. The brothers were motivated by extremist Islamist beliefs and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They bore no connection to any terrorist groups but were instead self-radicalised.
2014: Boko Haram
The world reeled in shock when in February, 276 female students were kidnapped from a school in Nigeria by terrorist organisation Boko Haram. The armed militants pretended to be soldiers and herded the girls into trucks. Boko Haram, which in the past has kidnapped and killed thousands, displacing millions, is said to be driven by the goal of stopping children from receiving what it perceives to be Western-style education. The Nigerian government was initially slow to react to the kidnapping but the abduction received worldwide media attention resulting in the hashtag #bringourgirlsback. Over a hundred girls continue to be missing four year later.
On January 7, armed gunmen stormed into the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killing 12 people and injuring 11 others. The newspaper had been targeted for its controversial depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. The gunmen, brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, identified themselves as belonging to the Islamist terrorist group Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, which took responsibility for the attack.
In response to the attack, about two million people, including more than 40 world leaders, met in Paris for a rally of national unity. 3.7 million people demonstrated, using the phrase Je suis Charlie. The staff of Charlie Hebdo refused to back down. The following issue printed 7.95 million copies in six languages, compared to its typical print run of 60,000 in only French.
In August, a bomb exploded on the grounds of the Erawan shrine killing 20 people and injuring 125. It was reported that three kilograms of TNT had been stuffed in a pipe and left under a bench on the grounds surrounding the shrine. The motive is yet unknown but is believed to have targeted Thailand’s tourism and economy.
Bastille Day celebrations turned tragic when a 19-tonne cargo truck was driven into crowds of people in Nice, resulting in the deaths of 86 people and 458 others injured, The driver was a French resident, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, from Tunisia. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack saying the driver had answered its “calls to target citizens of coalition nations that fight the Islamic state.
Just a week before Christmas, a truck was driven into a Christmas market killing 12 people and injuring 56 others. The attack was carried out by Anis Amri, a Tunisian failed asylum seeker. He was subsequently killed in a shootout with police near Milan in Italy. An initial suspect was arrested and later released due to lack of evidence. The event was designated as a terrorist attack.
In June, pedestrians on London Bridge were targeted in a terrorist attack that involved vehicle-ramming and a stabbing. In the attack, a van was driven into pedestrians before crashing into the south bank of the River Thames. The van’s occupants then ran into the nearby Borough Market and began stabbing people in area. The attackers were said to be influenced by the Islamic State (ISIS). Eight people were killed and 48 injured, including four unarmed police officers who attempted to stop the assailants.
In May, the world was aghast that youth had been targeted in a terrorist attack that had taken place at the concert of Ariana Grande. The suicide bombing killed 23 people, including the attacked and wounded 130 others. The homemade bomb detonated as the crown was leaving the concert. The perpetrator was Salman Ramadan Abedi, who is believed to have acted alone. The incident was viewed as being the deadliest terrorist attack and the first suicide bombing in Britain since the July 2005 London bombings.
2010-2016: FASHION’S FAST AND FURIOUS
Following the opening of more shopping malls in Klang Valley, with big ones like Pavilion KL and The Gardens Mall leading the pack since 2007, it just means more room for more international brands to set up shop in their premises.
In 2010, the well-loved Japanese basic wear brand UNIQLO stepped into our shores in Bukit Bintang’s Fahrenheit 88 mall, followed by almost 50 more outlets across Malaysia in less than 10 years. The brand not only offers proper winter wear with its lauded HeatTech technology, during the Autumn/Winter seasons, and inner garments with the Airism technology for the tropical seasons, you could say that the arrival of UNIQLO has opened up doors to more affordable menswear for the public.
For the younger men, UNIQLO has paved a way for more modernised options to include in their wardrobes: those who are too old to squeeze into the Topman slim fits, yet too young to already be stocking up musty “dad fashion” brands commonly seen in anchor departmental stores, or breaking the bank to cop an over-priced polo shirt at luxury brand boutiques.
By the time the Swedish fast-fashion chain H&M arrived at the neighbouring Lot 10 Shopping Gallery in 2012, both men and women are prime in hauling back sack loads of fashionable clothes at even cheaper prices. While the quality of H&M clothes is still rather questionable at the best of times, with most of them heading to the bins after a couple of washes in less than six months, Malaysians still love their cheap price tags.
Not to mention, the trend of queuing up in front of an H&M store in anticipation of a store opening, with potential shopping vouchers for the early birds. When the debut store opened on September 22 in 2012, over 1,500 people were already in line the day before; the first person in line received a RM500 shopping voucher, with more than 300 consecutive customers receiving RM50 shopping vouchers each.
H&M also takes pride in their annual designer collection, in collaboration with renowned fashion designers – 2012’s Maison Martin Margiela being the first collection available in Malaysia, and the year’s collection with Moschino to launch in November. These limited edition collections too got the public going, albeit the discount in price and subsequently, in production, compared to the proper pieces from the fashion houses.
Read the second part of our feature here
For an even more comprehensive rundown on the last 10 years, pick up our latest September issue featuring a 10th anniversary pull-out special, at newsstands now