The 90s were soft, hard, relaxed, uptight, and left people trying to catch up to usher in the turn of the century.
Coming out of the 80s was kind of like coming out of a colorful bouncy house when one thinks about it; things weren’t perfect but there was a chance to delude yourself into thinking that they were a lot of fun until one had to move on. But coming into the 90s was almost like forgetting who you’d been as you suddenly had to reinvent who you wanted to be. Does that make sense? Yes, maybe, not really? Well, the fact is that the 90s felt like one giant identity crisis at times since people entered into the decade with a smile, in some ways, and ended up wondering how in the hell they’d survived into the 2000s after everything that happened. So what did happen?
Well, after getting out of the 80s, a lot of things started to move forward in a big hurry as technology and society started to run and then sprint as things moved onward toward the year 2000. There were a lot of developments to take note of, and if you weren’t born yet in the 90s, or were too young to remember, then it’s very possible that a lot of this stuff is alien to you, even if you’ve hopped on the ideas that were introduced back in this decade. Some of the trends, ideas, and most popular parts of the 90s won’t ever come around again for various reasons, but those of us that experienced this decade firsthand remember a lot of what was presented in this period, and a lot of it was awesome. But some of it made a lot of us say wtf in a very pronounced manner.
In a lot of ways, the 90s did confuse a lot of people since some lost almost all direction and sought to define themselves in one way or another. Some lost themselves in other ways as their success took over their entire being and turned them into something they barely recognized. Those who grew up in this decade know exactly what I’m talking about since people dispersed across several various lifestyles and convinced themselves that they were doing their own thing when in truth they were doing what people have done every decade for years on end: they adapted to survive. In the 90s that could have met becoming a lover of one of many different trends that were seen to emerge.
Let’s take a walk back into one of the more confusing decades, shall we?
The Matrix came to define the end of the 90s, and introduced a new way of thinking.
It might not have come out until near the end of the decade, but The Matrix was one of the several movies that set people to thinking that the 2000s weren’t bringing anything good along with them. How many people remember Y2K, or rather, the threat of it? Everything was supposed to shut down, humanity was supposed to be plunged into darkness, hope and happiness were supposed to die, that kind of thing. But before that, The Matrix came along and created a sense that reality wasn’t quite as real as we want to believe. What’s really amusing is the number of people who took this idea to heart and started to believe that we were in fact living in a simulation, and that nothing they saw was real, and that everything was an illusion made to maintain control. It’s not that this idea was brand new, it’s the manner in which it was presented that made a lot of people lose their minds and start to think that anyone and everyone they saw could be an agent of the system that was keeping them down. The end of the world as we know it wasn’t really touched upon until movies like End of Days came along.
This decade featured several great one-hit wonders and legends alike.
One-hit wonders have been rising and falling for years, but the 90s saw some of the most memorable bands and singers in attendance as MTV was still a thing no matter that it was starting to fade and be taken over by reality shows. The Unplugged era was in full swing during the 90s, and music videos were still a thing for a while. But among the greats like Metallica, Soundgarden, and many others, there was one that stood out in a way that a lot of people couldn’t deny since their popularity. Nirvana was the type of band that didn’t appear to be much of anything when they first emerged on the scene, but once they were picked up and turned into stars their popularity skyrocketed. Unfortunately, as many people already know, and many from the 90s have lamented, they weren’t destined to last after Kurt Cobain ended his life. This is still thought to be a massive conspiracy, but a lot of people have quieted down over the years. Still, Nirvana is one of the greatest bands that ever rose up in the 90s, and yes, I will fight you on that, but not tooth and nail.
How hard are the 90s kids laughing right now?
Remember those CD players that were so revolutionary in the 80s? The versions that advertised the anti-skip technology and that promised a great listening experience usually didn’t last past the first hard step, did they? Some of them were actually capable of withstanding a brisk walk or even a jog, but those usually weren’t the ones that came off the rack and really did have the anti-shock, but they also cost an arm and a leg back then since they were among the best devices a person could get. There isn’t much wonder why the Walkman was still a thing back in the 90s, but it was slowly being phased out since people wanted new things, they wanted to move forward, and they wanted to impress others. Well, some of them did. Those who were heavy into the grunge scene didn’t appear to care about much of anything, and if they did it was a well-kept secret since some folks looked like ragamuffins and were successful, while others were decked out in designer suits and were broke as a joke. When it came to showing the tech they were working with, a lot of people were ready to put a bit of coin down on anything that might make them appear to be with the times.
The cars of the 90s weren’t that impressive compared to other decades, but they weren’t bad either.
It kind of depends on if you care what car you drive, or are seen in since the 90s wasn’t anything special compared to other decades, but it was still a time when people were interested in pimping out their rides to make sure that everyone else knew that they were rolling by. A lot of people were into tricking out their wheels, flashing chrome where they could, and of course, one had to have the killer sound system or they would just have a pretty piece of window dressing that didn’t mean much in the long run. There was still a clear difference between who cared about the status that their ride gave them and how well it could perform. A car was more than just a means of conveyance in the 90s, it was a huge status symbol depending on what you drove, and if you drove a hatchback that was straight off the factory floor you can bet that people were going to start judging you before you ever stepped out of the vehicle.
The shows we watched in the 90s were definitely worth it at the time.
Okay, so a few of them were a bit crazy and out there, but that was kind of the 90s vibe anyway so it wasn’t that bad. The wholesome nature of the 80s sitcoms wasn’t completely gone, but it had definitely given way to a healthy amount of snark and comedy that had a definite edge to it. From Friends to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air we were given some of the best acting that one could hope for, and then some subpar stuff that wasn’t too bad since it was kind of fun just to sit and watch when there was nothing else on. But seriously when we had scenes like this:
Go ahead, watch that full scene and tell me you didn’t feel a tear springing to your eye. That’s the kind of programming we had back in the day, and a person can call it toxic or anything they like, but it was visceral and it was powerful. Oh, and Uncle Phil, aka James Avery was the MAN at that time. He’s been gone for a little while now, but he still manages to touch people in a big way since his acting as Uncle Phil was unparalleled at the time, and he was one of the many actors who made the 90s so enjoyable when it came to TV.
The cartoons in the 90s were…well, they were crazy.
I won’t bother trying to sugarcoat it, the cartoons back in the 90s didn’t really thrive on intellectualism or even life lessons that made any real sense. It was all insanity and a lot of it was loved since kids didn’t appear to care that some of this stuff defied logic at every turn and was more or less designed to make them laugh at old jokes wrapped in new designs. Some of the ideas that came out on the Cartoon Network were absolutely ridiculous, not to mention borderline disturbing. It’s still true that if one looks at the material they’ll see that there are many different contributions to the cartoons that probably shouldn’t have been allowed to pass by the censors. But hey, this was the 90s, people were used to crazy, they’d been through three decades that went from mellow to fast-paced and crazy and headed toward what people thought was the end.
WTR? (Why’s That Radass?)
The 90s was kind of a confusing time since a lot of people thought that things were going to either end or go to hell when the year 2000 came. But then, the turn of the century came, and we were still here. If civilization is going to crumble it’s bound to take more than a decade to do so, but the 90s was definitely one of the decades responsible for the doomsayers gaining traction. Beneath the slick veneer, it was always coming, and it usually comes with innovation and a smile.