This past weekend, my friends threw me a birthday party and the theme was The 90s.
I want to reiterate for emphasis as this is incredibly important. The. Theme. Was. The. Goddamn. 90s. Best birthday ever. And yet, heartbreaking. Because I love the 90s. I deeply, deeply love that decade. I long to wear flowy floral print dresses with hiking boots. I want to turn on the radio and possibly hear Pure Moods-esque Eastern World-inspired Adult Contemporary. I desire to decorate my bedroom in primary color geometric shapes. I crave non-low-rise jeans, perhaps brightly colored (really I do as for those of us with sizeable asses, they were flatter-tastic.) The music was better. The clothes were comfy. There was no Paris Hilton.
I miss the 90s.
Look I don’t want to diss (oh I’m so 90s) the time in which we live. But this decade is the most lackluster time period in history ever. Now this is most likely colored by the fact that one year in, we experienced an incredible national tragedy. But out of tragedy is supposed to come change. Revolution. Out of our tragedy came this ugly political climate and national, nay, worldwide dissatisfaction and apathy.
Now this is not a political column. I don’t feel equipped to really write about the goings on in the world. Not because I’m uneducated or unaware, but there are people that can do it better and frankly, they do what they do and I do what I do, and what I do is rag on movies and pop culture. I’ll stick with that, thanks. But the idea of revolution is not just a political one. And I feel that the 90s was 10 years of revolution in its own way.
Grunge, alt-rock, indie culture, none of this was really “new” as such. But the 90s perfected it all. Brought it to the mainstream. Made it fashionable (not necessarily a good thing) while leaving the perfect pretty princess look “so last season” (a very good thing.) To me this was a decade of meticulous deconstruction. Most importantly, this was a decade with an identity. You know what doesn’t have an identity? If you guessed “this fucking decade” then congratugoddamnlations, you solved that riddle.
I apologize. I’m just lashing out. But seriously people, I had to Wiki just what exactly constitutes “culture in the 2000s” not to mention a better name for “the 2000s.” That’s just stupid. (p.s., all I came up with was the “nillies” and the “aughties.” I say no. I guess I will just never speak of this 10 year period.) And guess what part two? We got a lot of nothing. Emo? Chav? Hipster? *sigh* A full decade of people dressing like made up assholes and expensive white trash. Awesome. And hipster-wear? That’s just 80s clothing made for skinnier people. (Which is strange considering the coke use in the 80s. I guess we just have better, stronger drugs now. Nothing tastes as good as thin feels unless you’re eating it with your nostril I suppose.)
In music we’ve fared a bit better. The early 90s was mostly clean-up from the boy band invasion, a lot of generic euro-flavored pop. Oh and a lot of rap/rock that all sounds the same. I call it “Douchezak.” But then luckily we got ourselves some indie music that became popular mid-way through (though if you were at all cool you knew about them before. *peers down at you from the tops of glasses* </indiebitch>)
Movies? Well. What’s to be said that hasn’t already. Sequels and threequels and remakes, oh my. Obviously we’ve had some great stuff, but for me, my favorite films of the decade were all released in the past two years (No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood and Sweet Land, if you must know.) On a positive note, thank fucking god for Judd Apatow and Will Ferrell. Say what you will about either of them, especially the latter, but they’re geniuses and we were a slipper slope, people. Without them, we were in serious danger of Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott becoming actual comedy stars. Thank your various heavens.
I don’t want to completely disregard some of the awesomeness that’s happened in the past eight years. I can’t. Because in television alone we’ve got Doctor (insert your own “fucking” here because I sure do) Who coming back after sixteen years, The Office (both of them. I prefer the US version personally. Don’t hit.), The OC (no seriously, don’t hit), Firefly, 30 Rock and incredible new bands, amazing movies and a lot of other pretty wicked stuff. But I suppose I just look back on the 90s as a time of change. A time before the whole world came crumbling down in 2001. And that’s why I love the 90s so much.
When I was little, my mom used to make these cookies. Peanut butter ones with Hershey kisses in the middle. They were big and fluffy and always delicious. Last Christmas, she made them again. And they were thin and flat. Still good, but not big and fluffy, and maybe not quite as delicious.
“Did you use a different recipe?”
My mom told me no. It was the exact same one she’d always used. She told me the cookies looked the same, tasted the same, were the same. Nothing had changed. They were the exact same.
And I started crying. It was so stupid, but I couldn’t help it.
I think the 90s to me are a lot like those cookies.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.