What The World Was Like Then: Zoolander Edition

On Tuesday, Hollywood’s (no-so) best kept secret of a sequel to 2001’s cult comedy Zoolander was finally confirmed – but in a way that was totally kept secret. If you haven’t seen the video and gifs floating around, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson surprised the crowd during the Valentino show at Paris Fashion Week. They reprised their characters of Derek Zoolander and his arch nem Hansel McDonald, and went down the runway in a classic walk-off.

The stunt was brilliant and paid off, since it’s since gone viral on the internetz, including this very blog. We were in high school when Zoolander came out in 2001, and I vividly remember going to the movie theater with my friends to see it, and howling at the screen because I thought it was so funny (interestingly enough, I don’t think I would like it if I saw it for the first time now, but that’s beside the point). This scene (featuring a young Alexander Skarsgard) and the phrase “Orange mocha frappucinos” became an instant inside joke between us, and it is one of those memories that sticks out in the entirety of my 29 years of existence, for some reason.

While some will relate to Zoolander as a hilarious movie that they loved, I relate to it as a welcome and enjoyable memory from my teen years. So, it got me thinking, I can’t believe it’s been 14 years since Zoolander came out, and 2001, as we all know, was a turning point in world history, but there are a number of other things that happened in 2001 that make Lance Bass and Fred Durst’s cameos in Zoolander make much more sense if you remember the historical context around the movie. As a refresher, and while we wait for Zoolander 2 to come out next year, here are some highlights from 2001 to put you back in that Blue Steel mood.

But first – click on this medley of hits from ’01 and proceed.

  • Wikipedia goes live! I would not discover it until circa 2006.
  • George W. Bush is sworn into office (the first time)

  • Nicole Kidman realizes she’s better than this (*xenu*) and splits from Tom Cruise. Later, she goes on the world’s worst ‘date’ with Jimmy Fallon.
  • Backstreet Boys perform Larger than Life at the American Music Awards, and during the performance they’re joined on stage by ‘N Sync, marking it the only time that the boy bands performed on stage together. AND FOR SOME REASON I DON’T RECALL THIS SLASH THERE IS NO VIDEO TO PROVE IT.
  • Napster shuts down its entire network after losing the copyright case.

  • Meanwhile, Steve Jobs is on it and Apple introduces the iTunes media player.
  • Fox Family Channel is renamed ABC Family, which is why repeats of ABC shows like Life with Bonnie and Less Than Perfect aired when you got home from school.
  • Monica and Chandler finally get married – but I’m still wondering what happened to Joey’s World War II movie that was supposed to come out Memorial Day weekend 2002.
  • The first Kidz Bop CD (yes, CD) is released, including horribly covered Top 40 hits such as Smashmouth’s All Star, Bring It All To Me by Blaque ft. JC Chasez, and Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65.

*Ed. Note: I didn’t realize it was kids singing in the background with adults taking lead vocals??

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone premieres and becomes the highest-grossing film of the year, and has since made $974.7 million worldwide. Other movies that made their debut in 2001:  The Fast and the Furious, Legally Blonde, On the Line, Corky Romano (which I also embarrassingly saw in the theater – it was SNL fangirl inspired), and Glitter.
  • Speaking of Glitter, July 2001 marked the ICONIC time when Mariah unexpectedly visited Carson Daly on the set of TRL, pushing an ice cream cart and then stripping off her Glitter shirt which, as I recall, was the oddest, most uncomfortable live scene in TV history. She later checks into a hospital for “extreme exhaustion”.

  • Jennifer Lopez marries her back-up dancer Cris Judd – and they divorce in 2002. Don’t worry, J Lo, you still have a lot more hearts to break in the future…
  • Lizzie McGuire premieres! Somewhere, Aaron Carter is just waiting by his AOL account waiting for an email from his agent to tell him he’s got a cameo on the show.
  • After eight years, Nickelodeon’s iconic Saturday night line-up, called SNICK is rebranded as TEENick, and my childhood officially dies.

  • This happened at the VMAs and I’m still not over it.