The Big Picture: The 90's Didn't Suck

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 NEXT

I always assumed the 90s were about dropping pills and dancing like a knob. What's not to love?

first time I got to say this, but:
Bob doesn't know what he is talking about

The real root of the problem is that 80's people are just salty that golden age Simpsons, Animaniacs, and Pokemon trumps Transformers and Ninja Turtles. Come on, the sooner you admit it the sooner we can drop this "identity crisis" charade and move on with our lives.

I figure that the 90's was a good time for the geek(Our culture. Don't deny it.) culture. Video games were at their peak with the 16 bit war. Cartoons were becoming less advertisements and more television. Star Trek saw a major resurgence with the three best series made. In reality, each decade starts off like that last one and then begins to shift slightly to the beginning of the next one.

I really think the debate should be about the 2000's sucking.

Red X:

Zombie Sodomy:
It's interesting to think that I lived through that decade and can't remember a single thing about it.

what drug was "big" that decade? ;)

The Traditional Mary Jane, and Ecstasy. The 90's saw the end of the 80's crack epidemic.

Bob was right about Hip Hop music getting big in the 90's, but he was clearly not into music because he failed to mention Alternative. It was also underground in the 70's and 80's but became popular in the 90's.

The 90's was also the rise of Anime in the US, and it was the close of Gaming as a subculture and the start of it being main stream.

The Rise of the Anti Hero mostly in comics from my perspective.

You have to be particularly crazy to enjoy the 90's. Gamer, Into Hip Hop and Alternative, Anime Freak, Willing to at least Associate with people who do drugs even if you don't. If you only liked one part of the 90's or participated in one part you couldn't really enjoy it. There was just so many little things going on it was hard to focus. Social Media has taken the edge off of that social chaos from the 90's and given it at least an ADHD like focus.

Then there is the bad that people don't want to talk about, and to avoid instigating a fight/flame I will not mention the "events".

Bobs argument is the Generational Argument. Gen X was the last named generation and they thrived though the 80's. My generation that was Born in the 80's and rose in the 90's remained unnamed. Marketers kept trying, but nothing stuck. Then the millinium happened along with 9/11 and the generation born in the 90's and rose in the Ots. They got labeled Millinials. Once they were named the 90's generation could never really become named, and since that's what they wanted, myself included, that's fine.

It hardly sucked.

So what about 2000-2010? I'd have to say that this was the period when dark and gritty became the cultural go to, as a result of America and Americans being shocked out of their world view.

I think Bob misses an important point by dismissing the presence of black music.
Black music and culture was incredibly present in the 90's popular landscape. While Bob mentioned that it grew up in the 70's and 80's it wasn't until the 90's that post civil rights America had progressed to the point were black culture could exists in the mainstream (white) culture.

There was the popularity of Rap, Hip Hop and the increased popularity of Soul.
There were not only move Black characters but more black shows; Fresh Prince (and the rise of Will Smith in general), Family Matters, Living Single.

At the same time other minority groups became more present in similar ways.

You know those random things people get angsty about you using? Just to add to the list I'm shocked at your use of Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man...

O.K to be a bit more serious I would disagree that The End of History and the Last Man really defines much of what the nineties were about. Outside of the fact that there was already a lot of work debunking Fukuyama's theory b the mid nineties, and also the fact that Fukuyama himself has more recently said he was wrong about the end of history, Fukuyama's work doesn't really feel like the nineties, more like a hand over from the eighties and Reagan Era militaristic optimism. The trends that define a decade rarely start with the decade itself. The post-war culture that defined the fifties really started in the late forties, and the optimistic radicalism that defined the sixties began in the late fifties to some extent. The nineties were kind of knee capped by the fact that on one end the spirit of the eighties lasted into the early nineties, really until after the gulf war and the election of Clinton. At the other end the feelings that defined the early 21st century kind of began with the Battle of Seattle and the anti-globalisation movement in 1999. The nineties were really defined by a feeling of disgruntled helplessness. You see this not only in grunge music but also the types of rap and metal that were popular during the period. A lot of it is about being angry, often with no particular target (though there were plenty of artists signing about something specific), and certainly a great deal of the fan base got into said music because it was angry about something, even if they didn't know what. This is also typified in the nineties anti-hero you saw a bit too much of, a character defined by almost meaningless rage. If you could say anything about the nineties it was about pessimistic detachment. Unlike the sixties where people felt empowered to change things the nineties were about an inability to focus disaffection, and instead just feeling helpless by it.

The 90's was the decade everyone sat and caught up on their backlog of stuff from prior decades.

90's - Rise of the internet and the information age.
The Noughties - Rise of the internet and the information age, and things got better and worse at the same time.

Here is what I remember from the 90s

1. Kids still played outside
2. Beepers were a popular thing
3. Mario and Sonic were still enemies
4. Saturday morning cartoons rocked
5. Anime wasn't mainstream yet
7. President Clinton and his famous desk job har har har
8. D.A.R.E
9. Desert Storm never knew what it was about didn't have any family members in it and what kid really sits still to watch the news
10. Arcades didn't cost an arm and a leg unless it was a really popular one
11. Skating rinks do they still exist anymore?

I had a great time in the nineties. Maybe they were shit for some people but I was too busy having fun. Maybe not the very early 90's, but that was a function of being 13, not the decade. The 90's were the decade of man made drugs, raves and being glad the 80's finally had fucked off.

They didn't suck?

That depends all on where you look.

Indeed, the nineties anti-hero itself was a reflection of a new cultural outlook. The same one that embraced grunge and a lot of other silly things. This is, in itself, a sort of cultural identity: the cynicism of the 90s may have started out of the 80s, but its prominence was really in the 90s (similar to the rap reference Bob makes.

And cynicism for the sake of cynicism kinda...Well, sucks.

I really thought the whole "90's suck" meme was a comic book thing, down to Rob Liefeld-esque excessive violence, sexuality, gore and pockets. And that it rather inadvertently came to be applied to the entire decade.

Most people I know, who are not in the comics/geek scene tend to believe that apart from children's cartoons and a the ironic appreciation of cheesy pop muzak, that it was the 80's that sucked.

If anything your point about the 90's not being batshit insane enough to have it's own identity is exactly why I liked it. A lot of those things that happen in history that 'move and shake' the world are BAD THINGS, and it was very enjoyable to go for such a long period of time with just some simple relaxation.

The 90s ruled because I WAS BORN!!!

Seriously, though, I like plenty of the stuff the 90s gave us; my favourite band released the album that made them (RHCP's Blood Sugar Sex Magik) and there was the whole cartoon revolution or animation renaissance (not me naming that, by the way). So for me, the 90s was pretty great. Heck, the 90s had some great comics, despite being called the worst decade for it. Sandman ran till 96! Plus, the indie scene really started going.

I've never been a fan of the 80s (I just don't like the style) but I feel that decades always have high and low points.

I loved the 90's! But watching this made me realize that 90's for me was defined by media. I had video games and cartoons to occupy me. It seems like for young adults, the 90's kinda sucked. I guess I'm glad to have GROWN UP in the 90's rather than already be an adult at the time.

Seems to me the nineties was mostly about nostalgia. So many things wanted to be about times past and fondly remembered and at the same time so much of the nineties are fondly remembered today most of your examples of what happened in the nineties included.

I think its a product of the decadal system breaking down, for a while culture tended to change over a decade, leading to each decade having a distinctive 'mood' and narrative. Culture nowadays moves way to quickly for that to work.

I think this is true.

the way culture moves lately, you can't apply things to the whole decade. I've used 19-2000 to refer to that late-90s/early-00s period where the internet really took off, for instance

but if I had to sum up the 90s in one word, it'd be optimism. Everything, even the depressing stuff, had this weird hopeful shine to it. if that makes any sense

The 90's was about disenfranchisement and decentralization. There essentially ceased to be a "go to" for anything. If you want a real general look at it, Rolling Stone has a thick book written near the end of the 90's or 00's about every decade of rock (worth a read if you're remotely interested in the genre) and basically what they said about the 90's was that it was the most un-unified era of rock, ever. There was simply an absurd number of artists and songs that made it onto the radio because suddenly everyone was willing to take risks and it translated to the most diverse era of rock because of it.

Anyone who says "decade x sucked" is usually wrong. Even a misanthrope can find stuff to his or her taste in the 90s. I don't like any of that cartoon stuff Bob mentioned as the pinnacle of the 90s, but there are a ton of films I do like and would include in a list of the best ever: Shawshank Redemption, The Thin Red Line, Truman Show, Satantango, Jurassic Park, Conspirators of Pleasure, Mulholland Drive, Breaking the Waves, Dead Man, Before Sunrise, Existenz.... I could probably go on for quite a bit.


but if I had to sum up the 90s in one word, it'd be optimism. Everything, even the depressing stuff, had this weird hopeful shine to it. if that makes any sense

Optimism? The 80s were optimistic, but when we later found out that its materialism and decadence didn't lead to any lasting satisfaction we struggled to find an alternative source of happiness. Anything other than kids stuff was severely pessimistic in the 90s.

90's, in my mind, was the clunky, experimental beginning of, "The Future". It was the start of the kind of thinking that led us into the 21st century. The start of mass media and communication advancements probably unparalelled by anything this side of Gutenberg. The start of computers as more then a scientific curiosity, but as an essential part of everyday life. It featired an explosion of cultural self-awareness and cynicism that was awkward and often heavy handed and ineffectual (Captain Planet anyone?), and showed the first hints of a backlash against that self-awareness. A fragmentation of sub-cultures that would end up defining media today, it started the push of deciding what nostalgia would be enshrined into our pop culture psyches, and not to mention the biggest leap forward for video games. Before the 90's, no one could have begun to imagined the way things are today. After, we may not know the details, but we have an idea about what the course of the future looks like, and recognize it when we see it. The 90's was the transition period from the past to the future. And with the groundwork for the most exciting parts of the future being laid, on top of it being a decade pretty absent of obvious, intrusive conflicts or economic strife, I'd say that I hear more people say that the 90's was the best decade then I hear people saying that the 90's sucked. Personally, I say that pretty much all the decades are better then the one preceding it, but calling the 90's bad seems weird.

Well I don't think it sucked, but it was definitely a vacuum.

I think Bob is really only focusing on America, which might be part of the problem.

I think it depends on what country you lived in. In the UK, the 90's were pretty definitive. We had the britpop movement, which was part of a larger, more optimistic era in England, where Labour was voted in, and everyone had this ideology that the country's luck was going to turn for the better because of it.

It was a time where we didn't have any significant, massive war raging with another country (at least, not that I can recall, or that was as controversial as the Falklands in the 80's). In the movies side of things, as well as being, again, more positive with films like Wayne's World, Ace Ventura, etc, they also appeared to be more refined and mature than the 80's i.e. The English Patient, L.A. Confidential, etc.

It's strange that on a website revolving around video games we're almost completely ignoring how much the 90s revolutionized them. We went into the decade with the NES and by the end of it we were playing decent first person shooters.

Perhaps the reason the 90s has an identity crisis isn't because nothing happened but because all the various things that did happen can't be easily summed up into a single unified cultural image. Grunge, rap/hip hop, the internet, anime, Sonic the Hedgehog, PC shooters, it's like after the 80s everyone just went off and did their own thing.

I was born in the early 90s (93, to be precise) and if i was asked what that decade was all about, experiencing it as a child growing up i'd say... well, i suppose i will be considerered the rise of the information age. And the birth of a generation that grew up with the internet, viewing it as less of a tool and more of a second reality that allows us to communicate with people we'd have otherwise never known. I like to believe that some day people will remember this generation... well, my generation for being among the first people who reached a level of global understanding that none of our ancestors were able to. And maybe that's what the 90s werde. The beginning of an era of communication and understanding that started with the end of the Cold War.

Now, for a better question: What were the 00s all about?

I was born in '95 and I think your right, also I wonder about that too

It sounds like the 90s was a time of reflection, or maybe nostalgia. You definitely see people marketing nostalgia more and more. Maybe that's an optimistic way of saying it, but society as a whole may have started trying to find its roots. Not a bad thing, but from a media point of view, not groundbreaking or visionary. But since we all went through the 90s, how many visionary artists or talent might have been molded from that?

Just food for thought.

Ok, I get that Bob's take on the 90's is a personal one. But being about the same age as him and living in a different country (ex-comunist) I'm quite amused by just how different our opinions are. Here's why:

- PC gaming: the 90's was the fastest decade in terms of technology speed of change. We went through computers at the rate of about one every 2 years. Games were pushing the limits with almost every title. Literally nothing new came out since then. And being a flight sim fan, you can bet your ass I really miss Microprose and Looking Glass. I'm not saying that that anyone should have the stomach to play the old ones, or that we don't get good games now... but none are as revolutionary as the old ones were.
- Music: yes the 90's lost to the 60's and 70's, but they downright won against the 80's and 2000'. Sure, music is a personal thing, but my bet is that anyone who hates today's music is a big fan of some band that either formed in the 90's, or had their best albums then. My pick would be Radiohead, but you're free to choose Queen's Innuendo album too :)
- Movies: although none of the good ones were about the 90's, who the heck cares? The later years of the decade were a bloody joy. Anyone here remembers Fight Club? How about Goodfellas? Thin Red Line? Schindler's List? Silence of the Lambs? Larry Flint? The list goes on and on and on... Face it guys, this was the time before the "CG in every shot" of today. They were just BETTER!
- Anime: Yeah, you've heard me. Check what titles Disney came up with in the 90's. An eye opener, isn't it? Remember Cartoon Network? The good old years when they mixed the new gems like Dexter and Johnny Bravo with the old classics? Back in Japan tho... count for yourself the awesome series back then. Let me help: Evangelion, Trigun, Beebop, Kenshin (the OVA we all love was in 1999). How about the anime movies? GITS? Mononoke? And although not anime... think about Kitano's movies of the era.
- Sports: not saying that the old athletes were in any way better. But I'll give the 90's my vote because Ayrton Senna was still alive in that decade. Any Arsenal fan here? Remember the team before Henry Thierry came? How about tennis? Pete Mothafocking Sampras (was not actually a fan)? Sure this is pure melancholy, but you can't say sports were bad in any way.
- NASA: in that decade we didn't loose any shuttle. Nuf' said. And take a guess when the Large Hadron Collider was funded and started. Hint: 1998.
- Most importantly, Star Trek was still on TV.

The 90's fuckin' RULED! Let's hope this decade brings us at least to half as happy and care-free as we were back then.

So nothing eventful happened in the 90s? No large wars? For the whole decade of the 90s, one of the most brutal and costly conflict happend in Europa. You know, this wars: and who could forget the Rwanda Genocide that happened in 94, where up to 1 million (!) got murdered in the span of 100 days or so. True that not much happened in the 90s in the US, but it was also a dark periode in the rest of the world, as the shock wave of the Cold war strike.

Thank you sir. Thank you for remembering those less fortunate then us living in the first world. It may have been a decade without a major conflict affecting the affluent first world it was a decade filled with tragedy and genocide for the rest of the world. While we sat and got fat off our peace headless bodies filled the streets of Rwanda. Human trafficing started spreading. Terrorists started spreading and engaging in acts of murder. Northern Sudan began brutalizing their black southern countrymen. Never forget life was not so sweet for so very many.

For once I gotto say as well, that Bob missed the point the hardest as possible (or the 90's really where his misangonistic Era. :P).

For someone Born in the 80's and grew into the 90's, I sometimes have that feeling of "false Advertisement" in mind.
At least in Social terms.
The 90's where the cool and freaky guy you kinda love and maybe wan't to be like, since it was a time of "not much to worry about" (at least for everything western, heck, even us Germans got together again. :D). You wanna quit your job? Go Ahead! The next ones around the corner! :D
Care for a Change? Then do so! What do you gotto worry?

I saw people beeing relaxed, careless but still successfull in what they did (whatever job or Point of intrest they had), and let's be honest: We loved it and we sucked it in like Milkshakes and became so fond of the feeling.

Even the music was kinda liberating, with Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Punk and Rap getting more into the Mainstream along with such things as Animes, Music Videos (Remember the times Kids when MTV Played actual Music Videos? Feels good to be old. XD), along with PC Games not anymore beeing restricted to less pixels then Super Mario and so on (maybe not to forget the Gay Liberation).

And some guys like me, still had the mindset and the Teaching of the 90's still in them, when the 2000's started.
And Boy was I kicked in the balls, when trying to live in a time of total change in my way. O.o

In that part I feel more lucky for the ones born in the 90's, since that was their childhood, and where teens in the times of kinda "permanent, but not really that hard" Economy crisis.

I think that Bob's entire video is summed up well by the point early on, when he claims that Batman TAS and all of the other great 90s shows are surpassed by the 80s Transformers.

It successfully highlights that he has no clue what he's talking about. The 90s had plenty of good things in it, and was an opportunity for people to explore outside of cultural norms and experiment now that the days of economic depression were behind us and the threat of war had died down. We started seeing things that challenged the 'safe' norms of the 80s begin to emerge in the 90s. Things that later helped shape some of the more solid content in the years to come.

So if the 90s had any defining 'theme', it was to escape the boring and 'safe' conformity of the 80s. Unfortunately, the recent economic downturn has resulted in a lot of that 'safe products only' attitude returning nowadays in the 2010s.

Life: 80s-mid 90s rocked, late nineties-2010 sucked. Current: Sucks for different reasons & to a lesser degree.

Entertainment: 80s movies & music rocked, the cartoons were utterly forgettable. 90s: First half had good music, decent games, & okay movies. Latter half had mediocre music, great but horrible looking games, & & mediocre music. 2000s-current: Games are still good, music & movies & 90% of everything on TV sucks balls.


So nothing eventful happened in the 90s? No large wars? For the whole decade of the 90s, one of the most brutal and costly conflict happend in Europa. You know, this wars: and who could forget the Rwanda Genocide that happened in 94, where up to 1 million (!) got murdered in the span of 100 days or so. True that not much happened in the 90s in the US, but it was also a dark periode in the rest of the world, as the shock wave of the Cold war strike.

Thank you sir. Thank you for remembering those less fortunate then us living in the first world. It may have been a decade without a major conflict affecting the affluent first world it was a decade filled with tragedy and genocide for the rest of the world. While we sat and got fat off our peace headless bodies filled the streets of Rwanda. Human trafficing started spreading. Terrorists started spreading and engaging in acts of murder. Northern Sudan began brutalizing their black southern countrymen. Never forget life was not so sweet for so very many.

To be fair, that's every decade. Also, if you look at the numbers it was proportionately much less than previously with the end of the cold war and its resulting proxy wars.

The 90s, when everyone looked back the century they were ending.

Power Rangers are actually still airing new episodes, how ridiculous is that.

From a TV perspective, British TV sucked, American TV was so-so. X-Files and Twin-Peaks excluded. It would take HBO to show us how TV should really be made
From a films perspective. British films sank into self-parody, though seemed to have a good time doing so. A lot of the American films on the other hand were great. Especially the crime ones, and there was Disney's brief Renaissance.
From a music perspective. Music in the 90's was awesome. I don't care what anyone else says, it was awesome. You had the great American alternative boom followed by the great British indie boom. Plus there was American Hip-hop and various forms of left field British electronica as well. The list of first rate bands and classic albums coming from that period is endless.
As for the wonderful brief period of calm. Nothing more sums it up than the summer of '96. Independence Day at the Cinema, Oasis at Knebworth. I.e. America, running out of enemies to fight back home, now has to press gang aliens into taking part in that summer's big patriotic hoe down. And yes, British music had a rather '60's tinge to it, but I who cares?

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 4 5 6 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
Register for a free account here