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

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Random Argument Man:
As for "not much happened and pop culture wasn't stable", I believe Fight Club was a good commentary of what happened to society after a decade of not much. There's a lot of good stuff that happened in the 90s.

I've now become one of those guys that says: This, I came here to say this.

I came here to say this. Shame on you Bob to not remember Fight Club

Memorable things from the 1990's that aren't specifically retro (pre-90s):

No conflict(?): Desert Shield aka Gulf War 1.

Popularity of more adult/quirky cartoons: The Simpsons, South Park, Beavis and Butthead, Ren and Stimpy, Liquid Television.

Computer Culture: Computer BBS's that transitioned into IRC, FTP, Gopher and then the freakin' World Wide Web. Fighting games (Street Fighter & Mortal Combat). Castle Wolfenstein/Quake/Doom/Half-Life: the birth of the 3D game engine and the first-first person shooters(!)
Windows 95 (aka the modern PC).

Music: Grunge AND Alternative... Remember 120 Minutes?

Economy: The continued success of Reaganomics and Bush 41 policies. If you think you can still blame the current economy on George W., you have to acknowledge the economy Clinton inherited. You can't have it both ways.

Movies that epitomize the decade: 'Singles', 'Fight Club', 'Bodies, Rest and Motion', 'Empire Records' and yes, 'Clerks' (Even in the 90's nobody took Reality Bites seriously.)

Quentin Tarantino mainstreamed the geekiness of loving movies, retro styled or not. Less retro? 'True Romance' and 'Natural Born Killers'.

The growth of comic book based films: The Batman movies (okay the first was '89), The Crow, Blade.

More? Stargate the film and the TV series. X-files. Quantum Leap. Northern Exposure. Crappy Star Wars prequels. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (aka the rise of Joss Whedon).

Seriously I could go one. There was nothing forgettable or lacking in identity about the 90's except Bob's perspective. Maybe too many drugs?

Thanks, DocM. I'm a Gulf War 1 vet myself, and what the heck about "no conflict"? May have seemed that way if you were a kid, I guess.

And the hair. We can never forgive the eighties for the hairstyles. Yes, I am a guy and in my teenage years used a blow dryer on a near daily basis. May God have mercy on my soul. The unwashed with occasional lice styles of the grunge crowd was a welcome relief.

Yea the 90's were kinda vapid.
Try this describe a decade in 3 words or less, you can do this for any decade expect for the 90's.
I don't think the 90's sucked. Being a gamer in the 90's was a good time, but there was a big lack of any central theme its like the 90's ran on apathy.

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 disagree as there is no general perception of 1900-1910 and 1910s either but the 1860s can be summed up as the Civil War decade. I think it is more that a cultural traits last long enough to be definitive but not much longer then a decade. For instance, "Great Depression" *originally* referred to the period of 1873-1896 but you also had traits called "the Gilded Age" in that period so no one decade stood out.

You didn't mention video games. THe 90s the best decade for video games.


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

Disillusionment and retribution. All of the societies of the world were going through a process of realization brought about by the unforeseen consequences of their actions. Economic downturn created by speculation, terrorist attacks which nobody thought would happen, and at the very end 18 countries or so in the middle east move against their authoritarian governments. Reality crept in.


I came here to say this. Shame on you Bob to not remember Fight Club

Uh, yeah and that movie just echoes what he just said:

"We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives."

I thought Bob already confessed the reason for his contempt of the 90s was because it was his awkward teenage years.

I personally loved them.

For kids shows I had Pokemon, Dragonball Z, Earthworm Jim, The Tick, Gargoyals, Spiderman, The Animals of Farthing Wood, Beast Wars etc.

Musically there was the rise of the Grunge and alternative scenes and outside America there was the peak of Norwegian Black Metal. It is also the decade that contains four of my top 5 albums of all time.

In T.V and film there was Fight Club, Twin Peaks, X Files, good era Simpsons, Terminator 2 (and all my favourite cheesy Schwarzenegger films), Army of Darkness, American History X, Malcolm X, the Tarantino films, Hard Boiled, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, The Nightmare Before Christmas, the return of good Disney films, Jin Roh, Gummo, Perfect Blue, Cowboy Bebop, Primal Fear, Babe, South Park, Seinfeld and a bunch of other shit.

And videogames! The 90s were a renaissance for videogames.

If any decade sucks it was the last one.

Just gonna say a 90's kid (born 1991) it was the best time for video games!

SOOOOO many good games that stand the test of time. I still play 90's N64 games on a regular basis. None of this DRM, on-disc DLC, DLC as a whole, hacking, Micro-transactions etc. bullshit.

In My Opinion...

Banjo-Tooie is still the greatest 3D platformer ever made.

Zelda: Ocarina of Time is still the greatest game ever made and probably will be the most innovative and most influential game (at least until virtual reality is an actual reality).

Goldeneye defined FPS games for consoles as well as set the standard for local multiplayer in FPS games.

The transition to 3D in the mid-90's spawned the most creative generation of video games...nowadays new IP's are scrutinized and only ever made if they strongly believe it will turn a large profit. Back in the 90's it was 'make everything in 3D' because nobody knew for sure if it would make a profit or not until someone tried it.

What the heck, Bob? No conflict? The Gulf War, that set up the whole quagmire we have today? Somalia? Bosnia? The Rwandan genocide? Did they not make enough films about those for you to remember they happened or something?

Nirvana and the grunge scene? Manson, NIN, and the goth industrial scene?

Video games moving from a nerdy hobby or something to do to kill time in an arcade to the most successful entertainment industry on the plant and all of the characters introduced therein? Some of the greatest games ever released, some of which even a shameless Nintendo stan like yourself must agree on: Super Metroid, Ocarina of Time, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6-7.

The Simpsons? Friends? Seinfeld?

The Dot Coms, Microsoft versus Apple, and the realization of the computer on every desk era? The true dawn of the internet age?

Did you sleep through the whole decade?

Honestly, this is what it seems like to me: too much nostalgia for the overrated 80s because that's when you were a kid, and started to mature into discerning tastes in the 90s, so everything seemed like it started to "suck", when really, the common denominator was you. As someone slightly younger whose childhood straddles the late 80s-early 90s, I see this from a broader perspective. Things didn't just magically start to suck on January 1st 1990; they changed, and in many ways for the better.

For me, the 90s were a brief bright spot of positivity after the cynical materialism of the 80s and the start of the endless War Without Borders of the 00s. We cloned Dolly, sequenced the human genome, and became globally connected. For a short while it seemed like humanity might finally get its shit together.

the 90s saw the advent of melodic death metal by In Flames, At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity. Still shaping metal to this day, all of them from my hometown!

You didn't mention video games. THe 90s the best decade for video games.

I was surprised by this, too.

No love for Super Smash Bros? Earthworm Jim? Legend of Zelda? Metal Gear Solid? Super Mario World?

At the end of the day, all Bob is doing is expressing his opinion, but it does seem as though he's missed out on quite a lot.

Whoa there Bob, really interesting video. I loved it. Really made me think.
For me, the "Naughties" as they are called will probably be considered the Nineties of my lifetime. Maybe this goes for my whole generation, I dunno, but the, er... tens? look like they'll be pretty awesome (and a golden age of superhero movies too so there's that) whereas all that nasty crap in between childhood nostalgia and young adult euphoria happened in the naughties for me. Judging it entirely by cartoons, I remember the nineties fondly.
But I guess at best you can call the Nineties an interim decade of introspection and calm and at worst you can call it an apathetic age of stagnancy.

Oh and on Reality Bites, I'll just leave this here.
Oops, forgot that was the worst sentence on the internet. I'll just.. place this video... in this area.

"Relatively few massive lon-term military engagements!"
The Balkan Wars were the kind that involved plenty of genocide and took rather a long time to end.

Yes, I am an asshole.

It's not the 90's anymore? To be honest, most days I can't tell the difference aside from computers being faster and cars looking more bubbly.

People didn't like the 90s because THE PARTY WAS OVER. All the crazy, cocaine, drug-fueled binges of the past went away. Not just because it was the right thing to do, but because BABY BOOMERS WERE STARING DOWN MIDDLE AGE AND THEY DIDNT LIKE IT.

The entire rise of the crime rate in the US during 1970, and drop in the 1990s, has to do with nothing more than baby boomers as they entered their peak age for incidence of crime, and then got old.

Baby Boomers pushing into their 40s, burned out, party is over, not happy, taking up causes, trying to save young people everywhere from the embarrassment of living as care-free and stupid a life as they did. How noble.

They actually had another woodstock in the 90s if you need anymore proof it was a decade ruined by middle age fucking boomers with misguided ideas about what they should do now that the party was over.

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

For me (and I suspect a lot of people in Europe) the defining "big thing" of the 90s was the Yugoslav Wars. For pretty much the entire decade, a small corner of Europe that previously no one had cared about was tearing itself to shreds in front of news reporters. While I was at secondary school in the 00s, we had a lesson in history titled "Whatever happened to Yugoslavia?", which was the first time that someone actually explain to me what all those horrible images in the news during the 90s had been about.

Other things I learnt in that lesson: the meaning of the phrases "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing". :(

Yeah, the 90s sucked.

The 90's Didn't Suck

MovieBob takes us back to the decade people love to hate.

Watch Video

I was born in 1990,and as thus,don't have much memory of it. Wasn't until the late 90's or even the early 2000's that I really remmebered much fondly. Power Rangers and Digimon,sure, but it wasn't until the the 2000's that I really have fond memories. My fandom of Anime via Toonami began,as did mine of Megaman,(Started with X5. Weird,huh? Not long after,I got into the Battle Network games and kind of the originals.)TGWTG,stuff like that.

I am sort of confused how he could talk about a whole decade without even mentioning the word game.

You may say it sucked, or that nothing happened, but I was far too busy playing all the awesome games to notice.

Your nostalgia clouds you from realizing how better cartoons were in the 90s. It is referred as the cartoon renaissance for a reason.

They weren't the blatant cash grabs of the 80s (Lets kill Optimus Prime so we can introduce a new line of toys!)

A lot of original programming were in the air from late era Hanna Barbara to the resurgence of prime time animation.

Then you had cartoons like BTAS and STAS as well as others based on existing properties.

This is of course not mentioning the superior story structure and animation these shows had. Have you forgotten how rigid the animation was during the 80s?

I agree with you on many points. But while the 80s cartoons were memorable they are technically inferior on multiple levels in comparison to many of the cartoons from the 90s. I'm disappointed that you let your childhood nostalgia and bias get in the way.

Thank you. That was long overdue - humanity never remembers the peaceful times as fondly as the struggle. I find that..sad I guess

Great video Bob! After the insane greed of the '80s, we had the cultural and personal apathy of the 90s. It's when people first started using the word "ironic" as a lifestyle, 'nough said.

Now its kind of funny, but I always think of the 90's as 'The Safe Decade', a time when not too much was going wrong, when peace, prosperity and technology was pointing to the future. In fact I still have one of those childrens total world history books from when I was younger (child of 90's as you may have guessed), and it basicly had the last page with pictures of moon bases and mars bases and basicly says, yeah get to 2000 and the next 100 years will be peace and unification (I seem to recall it suggesting it would be the century that Europe would become a single nation).

What the heck, Bob? No conflict? The Gulf War, that set up the whole quagmire we have today? Somalia?The Rwandan genocide? Did they not make enough films about those for you to remember they happened or something?

Gulf War - Middle Eastern trouble, happens every decade and thus totally forgettable (many also suggests it was a war most people didnt experience)

Somalia/ Rwanda - Africa, if you start counting wars or genocides in Africa as significant conflicts or deviations from how those nations are normally you suddenly find you need a super-computer to count all the little wars of decolonised Africa.

As an aside though, what the hell were the 2000's all about? Terrorism? (Britain and Europe had that in the 70's and the USA had seen a pretty shoddy time in 1919-1920 and other sporadic incidents, although not on a 9/11 or 7/7 scale ofc). Technology? 90's, prosperity? 80's, tumble into economic decay? either 30's or this decade now. Also as an aside I think that movies/ tv in 1970's-1990's were billions of times better than in the 2000's

So what were the 2000's all about?

I know this is an American website, but the 90's sucked view is so US-centric it almost hurts. 90's for Eastern Europe was probably the most important decade since the WWII - Soviet Union actually fell in 1991. For Japan this is The Lost Decade. Asian boost and crisis in 1997, 1998 Russian crisis and 1999 Argentinian are all well in the 90s. As is the rise of "Made in China". Gulf War and the start of televised war was in the 90s, as was the Yugoslavian war, Rwandan genocide and abolition of apartheid in South Africa. Culture wise in Europe this was the era of rave, techno, house and clubbing. Oh and even in the US there was this new thing called the Internet rising to prominence - and btw this was probably the biggest inspiration for The Matrix. So, no, 90s were not a non-descript black hole, at least not everywhere.

Looking at it like this it sounds like the 90s were like those recap episodes you see in anime. Wow! Look at all the crap we went through up to here! Whew, that sure is something! Welp, back to saving the world.

Also, I love how even in this thread so many people are saying "but...but MUH NOSTALGIA!!!!!"

Bob is turning into a grumpy old man.
The 90's suck?
Video-games, Taratino, the Coen brothers, Hip-Hop, The Ususal Suspects, Se7ven, American Beauty, Hayao Mayazaki, Pixar, Guy Ritchie and many more would like a word, Bob.


You didn't mention video games. THe 90s the best decade for video games.

I was surprised by this, too.

No love for Super Smash Bros? Earthworm Jim? Legend of Zelda? Metal Gear Solid? Super Mario World?

At the end of the day, all Bob is doing is expressing his opinion, but it does seem as though he's missed out on quite a lot.

It's called the Big Picture, but maybe it should be called "What matters to Bob" and I don't mean that is a sarcastic way I'm being serious.

Most of what he talks about seems to be what relates to him opposed to what relates to the world. Neither him or the show really comes off as having a wordy perspective, and he often misses a lot of important detail when he's talking about something that isn't related to comic books.

Seriously there's about 10 maybe more episodes in a row that exclusively talk about comic books; not even comic books just Marvel and DC comic books

In the 90's, we were just glad it wasn't the crummy 70's or 80's anymore. Or at least, that's why my mom was keen to remind me of often. Having been born in the early 80's and growing up in the 1990's, I can't think of any time I'd have rather been born in.

As a music buff I can tell you that across many genres much of the tunes from the 90s seemed to focus on or be heavily influenced by melancholy. Maybe we had too much time on our hands and so became all introspective and brooding-like. You can see some of my point evidenced by many of the shows and movies being produced.

Interesting topic Bob.
I think this thought compliments what a friend of mine says; that 90's kids (you, myself, him, etc) are largely a generation of apathy.
Of course I can't speak for everyone. But throughout the 90's we (collectively) really didn't have a cause to fight for, or a struggle to face. We pretty much slid by it.
Which also could be a reason why a lot of my friends from my generation are having such a tough time living on our own lives, and getting by.
I don't know. Maybe.

Anoni Mus:

Casual Shinji:
The 90's is when anime peaked - It slowly tilted downhill come the new millenium.

I remember quite loving the 90's. Looking back at it most of it was superficial as hell, but then I was a teenager so I didn't notice most of it. Except for Power Rangers. I never got the popularity of that show and I was it's target audience.

Bullshit, give me a list of 90's great animes and I'll double that list of animes from the 00's.

Though, the 90's didn't suck, in terms of videogames was awesome, Super Mario 64 and Zelda Oot ftw.

And bob didn't talk about the awesome WWII movies that came out in the 90's. Nor Fight Club or American History X.
The 90's and 00's are the best decades for movies. Way better than the slow movies of the 70's and 80's.

Fuck yeah! Glad someone said it. The entertainment was still very good (especially the movies). And there were so so many games that people have forgotten about, pushing boundaries or just generally well done.

As for anime, one my favourites is Beserk which came out in 1997 I think, but that's all I can think of.

Hoo boy, where to begin? I guess what the '90's meant to you depended on where you lived at the time. For us Americans, the Cold War ended, we came out on top, and then there was the great big question hanging over our heads: "NOW WHAT?" I was born in '84, so I'm as old as a lot of entertainment properties started that year, so my memory of the early '90's is spotty at best. I was 6 when the USSR collapsed, so it went WHOOSH over our heads. In '92, my family moved to England for a couple of years, and every day on the news had something about Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and the other global troublespots. Back in America, there was an overwhelming feeling of a lack of purpose, so we distracted ourselves with the (then) latest music, TV shows, movies, technology, and video games (which were in their glory days), and no question, there were a lot of great stuff there. As TVTropes describes it (yeah, THOSE guys again), "Popular culture became the ONLY culture."

Perhaps Paul F. Tompkins said it best about the '90's most notable byproduct, Generation X: "They were the first 'ironic' generation, and the first to not get what 'ironic' means."

In my opinion the 90's sucked and i was born in 89. The decade after wasn't better but not much worse in the grand scheme of things. Really, there wasn't a time in history that could justifiably be considered better than any other unless you wanna sound arrogant or ignorant.

So, if we backfill enough crap and ad-hoc reasoning into there, we can attribute to the 90s, as you see it, something less than those other rose-tinted decades, and attribute Bob's attitude towards it something rational?

Come on, the end of the video was the most honest part. "Sucks" is the wrong word. If you're using that image ironically, you're doing it badly, because you play it straight far too often. And to call the 90's a decade without a theme correlates certain meme's about other periods (Which are about different age groups, different social situations, and even political climates, so comparing them is wrong), even those weren't necessarily the defining part of those periods. And after calling the 19(30's, wasn't it? I'm not watching again, anyway.) A collective hangover, saying that ennui and dissatisfaction can't be an attitude strikes me as disingenuous.

And for someone who makes a living commenting on culture, declaring such a big wack of it to be worthless in that way is ridiculous. Come on, the geopolitical situation has nothing to do with why Bob says the 90s sucks. Even if his analysis was any good.

I'm more inclined to think it's because the movies aren't really anything stand out, he hates some of them (Scream, American Pie), and his tastes don't go that much beyond comics, television, and Nintendo games.

please, bob.
u know, sometimes i really like your show. when u talk about nostalgia, comics and other geek stuff or cultural influences, its really great. it shows that u know alot of that particular topic and its really fun to watch.

but please bob.
stay out of politics.

when u say things like:"[...](for the US) war on terror was just far enough away [...] and the world for just a moment seemed calm and relativly ineventful enough..." (i'm paraphrasing here)
well its a bit embarrassing and simply just wrong.

i think u are an intelligent guy and if u would dig deep enough into this terretory, u would come up with some insightful thoughts... but if u dont intend to invest that amount of energy and time, just let it be.

it's like someone who has barley ever read a comicbook, would make comments about the sillyness and stupidity of this fortress of geekdom... well ask yourself "how that would turn out?" :)

Being born in the early 80s myself, I have to say the 90s was an awesome time to grow up. That decade, more than anything IMO, will be remembered for the rise of the Internet and how it ultimately made our world a much smaller place. Information could now be seeked in out ways just not possible before. I still to this day remember the first time I went online, and what I searched for (Orbital, Scottie Pippen). People who grow up today cannot understand the feeling of suddenly having access to all this information and media at your fingertips, whereas before you would buy a magazine just because it had a small note or picture of your favourite band/sports star.

And for me, growing up a basketball fan, the 90s were the start of the globalization of the game, and I got to grow up seeing the Bulls and Jordan plow through the league and become legends.

For the rest the 90s brought with it the massive rise of electronic dance music (Orbital, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, Cassius, Daft Punk) and the whole club scene. And not coincidentally, videogames went from being kids play to something cool. Electronic dance music and videogames grew up together in the 90s, a bond forever forged with the controversial and edgy marketing of games such as WipEout (techno soundtrack, and marketing ads in magazines which depicted nosebleeds from playing, which was a straight on reference to drug use). Suddenly you could find clubs with PSOne stands inside, kids playing WipeOut while tripping on E.

Great tv series (Twin Peaks, X-Files) and games (the switch from 2D to 3D was an amazing time to be part of, and this era saw two of the greatest consoles ever in the SNES and PS1) that I still look back upon fondly.

So yeah, for me the 90s were awesome. It brought forth the internet, globalization, digital media (DVD's, MP3's), electronic dance music, clubbing, basketball and great movies and games who's influence is being felt today. For me that meant revolutionary times in the sense of making out your own identity in the way yourself saw fit. It brought freedom, experimentation, happyness and awareness. I wouldn't want to grow up in any other decade to be honest.

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