In 2009, the SPX continued to sell off, yet, for the year, the VIX trended down, for the most part, all the way down to the bottom on March of 2009. While the market was lower VIX was not much higher at all. To many this pointed toward a sign that the markets were.
1. Less frightened and buying less protection
2. Potentially near a bottom.
Take a look at a chart of OIV. Notice that while WTI is threatening to head toward its lows, OIV, the VIX of WTI options is barely moving.