Rewind 2000: Imagining the Future at the Turn of the Millennium

Rewind 2000: Imagining the Future at the Turn of the Millennium
March 10th 2021

Much of the 1999 calendar year in America was fraught with Y2K panic, the heated election between Bush and Gore, the ripple effects of the Columbine massacre, the uninspired launch of the Sega Dreamcast, and the release of the aptly titled Willennium. It was a tumultuous year that seemed headed toward an inevitable global crisis, the types of which were predicted by movies like Strange Days (1995) and End of Days (1999) but never came to be.

The intersection of broadcast journalism and the newly embraced communal connectivity of the Internet serves as the focal point of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image’s web-based project Rewind 2000: Imagining the Future at the Turn of the Millennium, an overwhelming deep dive into regional television content that chronicles various facets of American culture in and around the year 1999.

Rewind 2000 comprises recordings from Texas-based news outlets covering both local and national stories, including George W. Bush, online shopping, Y2K, terrorism, NASA, and some truly inspired predictions for the future. It creates a time capsule, or information suppository, that exists in a sort of local microcosm of data, weaving local murder trials together with the popularity of Pokémon and other trends of the era.

A still from KPRC-TV's Y2K Prep report (1999)
In KPRC-TV's Y2K Prep report (1999), reporter Brendan Keefe endeavors to explain how to "extinguish" Y2K "before it burns you and your home computer."

But what sets Rewind 2000 apart from other deep dives into Y2K — which there is no shortage of — is how steadfastly regional it is: local political races weave through coverage of the presidential election, a college bonfire tragedy gets no less attention than climate change, and — no surprise in Texas — local sports culture makes plenty of headlines. More often than not, archival projects centered on a wide time span and across cultures tend to be global (or at least national) in their scope, but the people at TAMI have approached Rewind 2000 as an intensely local project that pulls in moments of international relevance while refracting them through a local lens.

The Internet has served as a grassroots archival tool for years, both before and since Y2K, and preservation of tape-based media is increasingly difficult in times of rapid content creation and delivery technology growth, which leads to frustrating levels of obsolescence and problematic migration. TAMI’s project exists as an educational tool with regard to both the content and the carriers. These videos have not been cleaned up or restored; they’re presented with broadcasting imperfections and clear signs of having degraded over time.

For more Y2K, watch: The Minion (1998), Relaxer (2018), Go (1999), Antitrust (2001), eXistenZ (1999), Last Night (1998), The Book of Life (1998), Limp Bizkit at Woodstock ‘99, Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen, Final Day at Glendora High School: June 1999, Jeff Bezos in 1999, Eminem in Detroit, Dylan & Cole Sprouse on MTV News, A/V Geeks’ Year 1999 AD, 1999 MTV Movie Awards, Napster Documentary, Siskel & Ebert’s final show.