Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Now this is a Story all about How….

Sorry ’90’s kids, I just got that stuck in your head.  And for those of you who aren’t ’90’s kids, well you missed out.  Don’t worry, you will find out the top 1.5 movies of Julia’s favorites, but I’ve been pondering weak and weary on this subject for a few weeks now and thought I’d let you in on the crazy wanderings of my freakish mind.

It all started one day with a little R.E.M. song called ‘Losing My Religion.’  I was driving to Booksoup and Losing my Religion came on the radio.  Suddenly, goosebumps sprang up all over my body.  Now, this is something that is not all that uncommon.  It happens during great scenes in movies (in fact, that ‘I too can command the winds sir’ speech in the trailer for the new Elizabeth movie gets me good), it happens during great scenes in T.V. (the Ross and Rachel break up in Friends gets me good), and it happens especially in great theater, I erupt in goosebumps at least five separate times while watching Les Mis, and Rent, well, it’s embarrassing.  But it’s never really happened during a song I’ve heard eighty million times, and one that’s not connected to some sort of story line.  My mind had been sort of orbiting around a concept, but I hadn’t quite put my finger on it, until that exact moment.  The moment R.E.M. gave me goosebumps, it all slammed together in my head.  I think that ’90’s kids (a.k.a. Kids who grew up in the ’90’s so were born in the early ’80’s) have it made.  We’ve got the best deal.  I mean, we grew up at a time that had the best of everything. 

Think about this.  We are young enough to remember Bush the 1st and we were born when Reagan was president, but the president we truly remember throughout our childhood was Clinton.  We grew up when health consciousness was strong, but not crazy like it is now.  I mean, we didn’t have atkins or south beach when I was a kid.  You just ate your veggies and your parents kicked you out of the house to play after school.  We grew up before the great germophobia happened.  I mean, most kids today are weak and sickly because their parents are constantly squirting that anti-bacterial shit on their hands.  I ate dirt.  I fell out of trees.  I broke toes like they were going out of style.  And now I’m sick maybe once a year, if that (and last time I was sick it was food poisoning).  I mean, we had the good cartoons, we had the good music, we had the good movies, we got to see what a real president is like.  That’s right, I’m going out on a limb and saying it.  The 1990’s was the best time to be a kid (and a young adult)…and here’s why…

Like I said, we had the best cartoons.  Now those of you that grew up in the Looney Tunes era may fight me on this, but trust me, ours were better.  See we had the Looney Tunes.  We got to see Bugs and Daffy and Road Runner and Coyote, but we were also born into the Era of Nicktoons.  That’s right those of you younger than I.  I remember when Nickelodeon first came on the air.  I remember the advertising for Nicktoons (before they ever aired) and best of all, I remember the delightful sunday mornings (that’s right SUNDAY mornings) when I sat and watched Nicktoons.  Some of you, I’m sure, are wondering, what the hell is she talking about nicktoons, what are Nicktoons?  Ah, yes.  Well, Nicktoons gave us gems like Ren and Stimpy, Rugrats, Doug, Aaah! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and Hey Arnold.  These were truly great cartoons.  I mean, sure Spongebob Squarepants is great, but he’s got nothing on Ickis, Oblena and Krumm from Real Monsters.  We also had the non-Nicktoons, that were awesome.  I mean, when I got home from school there were Animaniacs with Pinky and the Brain, there was Batman the Animated series, there were Gargoyles.  It was a good time for cartoons.  Plus, as we grew up, we got the good adult cartoons.  I mean, we were around when the simpsons started (and was great), but we also got Beavis and Butthead (the music video portion is still, arguably, the best critique on music video to date), we had Aeon Flux (please don’t watch the film, it’s horrible and nothing like the cartoon), and my personal favorite (also my halloween costume this year) Daria, who came from Beavis and Butthead and got her own show.  Basically, Daria was me in high school.  She hated everyone, she was smart so everyone hated her, and she just wanted to get the hell out of there, but she was super witty and awesome and I love her.  I was also in love with her best friends brother, Trent.  Trent is the only cartoon I’d ever consider sleeping with.  In fact, I’m pretty sure he sparked my own sexual awakening…is that wrong?

So that settles it then, ’90’s kids had the best cartoons.  But it wasn’t just cartoons, we had the best television in general.  When I got home after school, I watched Blossom.  Who can forget the beautiful denim hats with a huge flower on the top (pre-sex and the city huge flower accessory, hmmm, wonder where they got that idea from?).  Plus, Blossom always talked about the real issues, her boyfriend hit her in one episode, her brother was a recovering drug addict.  These were real issues, it wasn’t that ‘Leave it to Beaver’, ‘My Three Sons’, ‘Brady Bunch’ kind of crap.   When I got home after school, I watched Full House, the Fresh Prince (the theme song is the beginning of this email, and everyone my age can sing the entire thing.  Don’t ask unless you really want to hear the whole song, but I will sing it for you) and Family Matters, sure they didn’t deal with issues (not big ones anyway), but they were great for their time.  The early ’90’s was the hey day of TGIF.  For those of you who don’t know, this was the ABC friday night extravaganza.  When I was 11, this was the thing to do on Saturday night.  This is when Full House would air new episodes, but it was also home to Boy Meets World, Mr. Belvedere, Step by Step, Family Matters (remember steve urkel), and eventually Sabrina the Teenage Witch (oh, Melissa Joan Hart, please come back to work).  And by the mid-’90’s Friday night was X-files night.  I mean, what other generation can claim that these were the shows we grew up with.  Of course, I’m leaving out the golden two and I’ll get to those now.  These were the shows that every single person my age knows.  Even if you didn’t watch these shows, you couldn’t really escape them. 

Drum roll please (they get their own paragraph).  They were Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210.  Oh, my little ’90’s girl heart still gets all twittery when I think about Zach Morris (I was a Zach girl), Dylan McKay and Brandon Walsh.  I scratch what I said about Trent the Cartoon being my sexual awakening…Luke Perry with his James Dean haircut and that rocking Porsche was the real moment I first said, ‘Woah!’  I still, to this day, want a porsche or a mustang because that’s what Dylan McKay and Brandon Walsh drove, respectively.  I don’t know if that’s great product placement, or a symbol of how imprinted those fictional characters are on my soul.  Storytelling, be it books, movies, music or television, has always been my kind of religion.  I go to these media for solace, to feel less alone, to experience things I have never and may never experience.  And 90210 was my first foray into the Television aspect of storytelling.  It was my first television addiction, the first show I couldn’t miss.  And even though I started watching it in the third grade, all my friends were exactly the same.  It was our version of water cooler chatting, we had the swingset chats about Brenda, Brandon, Kelly, Dylan, Donna, Steve and David.  Sometimes Emily Valentine.  And eventually Valerie Malone.  Oh yes, Tiffany Amber-Thiessen was the goddess of the early ’90’s.  On a side note, she came into the bookstore once and I got so excited my palms started sweating.  I mean, she was Kelly Kapowski, the good girl who loved Zach (who didn’t?) on Saved by the Bell, and then was Valerie Malone, the resident bitch after Brenda left on 90210.  And what a beautiful reign it was.  Saved by the Bell, though super entertaining now, was the show that everybody watched.  We watched it on Saturday mornings like we were at temple.  And boy did we love it.  The thing that never ceases to amaze me is the fact that ’90’s kids still know the plot lines.  And I don’t mean big plotlines like Who shot J.R.?   I mean like the stupid little, only happened briefly in one episode plot lines.  We still quote it.  Saying ‘I’m so excited’ to a ’90’s kid does not, in our minds, end with, ‘and I just can’t hide it.’  No no.  It ends with ‘I’m so excited.  I’m so excited.  I’m so scared,’ from the episode where Jessie gets addicted to caffiene pills (becuase they couldn’t use real drug references on the show).  We remember the words to the music video Zach, Slater and Screech were in.  These were shows that had an impact on the whole of the youth of the ’90’s.  Like I said earlier, even if you didn’t watch them, you still knew them…you still know them.

Now, it’s a little bit harder to argue the movie aspect, because, in truth, ’80’s movies are hard to compete with, as are the classics, but the ’90’s were a renaissance in film.  I mean sure there are iconic movies in every decade, but usually they are iconic of that decade.  Movies like Valley Girl or  are iconic of the ’80’s but a lot of people I know have never seen it.  Just as the Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies are iconic of the the late ’50’s/early ’60’s.  Sure we all know this, but really, when’s the last time you popped in Pillow Talk?  Basically, what I’m saying is that there are certain periods when a whole mess of movies come out that become iconic.  And they seem to come out around the same time.  The late ’30’s/early ’40’s saw ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Gone with the Wind,’ and ‘Casablanca’ (among others).  The Late ’60’s/early ’70’s saw ‘The Graduate,’ ‘Easy Rider,’ and ‘Bonnie and Clyde.’  The ’80’s had John Hughes movies and ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’  The ’90’s had ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ ‘Titanic,’ ‘Pretty Woman,’ ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘Ghost.’  And in the ’90’s there was a distinct shift within the business of making movies.  Because in the ’90’s we were introduced to the concept of the Independent Movie.  Nowadays we take this for granted, but sometime when you’re bored go on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website and look up past oscar winners.  Now, I’m not saying that any of these movies were bad, but before about 1994 movies were nominated based on their box office appeal moreso than their actual status as great movies.  I mean, Chariots of Fire won over On Golden Pond and Reds.  This all changed in 1994.  Now, I’m not saying that the Academy doesn’t still pick blockbuster movies, but times are definitely a-changing.  I didn’t just pull the date 1994 out of my ass; a very important thing happened in 1994: PULP FICTION hit the ground running in 1994, and it completely changed the face of film.  Bob and Harvey Weinstein became underdog heroes for financing and distributing this movie (and they were very daring to allow Tarantino final cut on the movie…that would never happen now).  Pulp Fiction opened the flood gates and by the late ’90’s independent movies took up 2 or 3 of the five best picture nominees (in 2005 all the films nominated for best picture were independent films).  Now I would never ever say that The Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction, or any other indy movie of the ’90’s are better than other decades movies (in fact, many of the indy movies blatantly steal from older movies…think American Beauty with Sunset Boulevard), but I’m just saying we’re a pretty lucky crew, us ’90’s kids.  I mean sure, we had Titanic (the highest grossing movie of all time.  Please, we all saw it in the theater multiple times), but we also were privy to a revolution where talent and quality filmmaking won out over box office success. 

Now one area where I think we ’90’s kids lost is in literature.  There are some notable exceptions: My favorite book of all time, ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,’  for instance.  We also had Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, and John Krakauer, but really there are few notable, will last for a long time, kind of books that came out in the ’90’s, the first few Harry Potter books are a giant exception, but we’ll see how their staying power is.

The penultimate category I’m going to cover is other crap.  In other words, all the little things.  As I mentioned earlier, my mother never had antibacterial purel stuff, and it is my opinion that I’m all the healthier for it.  Now, I have no facts to back this up, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  I mean I bled for hours from my nose before my mother took me to the emergency room for them to tell me I had fractured it, and maybe that was irresponsibile, but I thank my mother for doing that because it made me tough and strong and independent, perhaps to a fault.  And maybe that example is strictly personal, but it seems that with this, as Barry Glassner calls it, ‘Culture of Fear’ that we live in, it’s getting harder and harder to steer away from overprotectiveness and irrational fear.  But it’s not just this other crap…I’m taking the plunge, I’m saying it.  We had the most awesome toys of any generation.  Now, hear me out.  We had all the soon to be confiscated toys: Slap Bracelets, Pogs, etc.  We had the Bedazzler, we are just old enough to have puffy painted our keds and to have worn gigantic shirts and tied them at the side with that plastic dohickey (or for those of us who didn’t have the puffy painted plastic dohickey, we tied our shirts with scrunchies).  There are embarrassing picutres of us with crimped hair, but we were not old enough (or long enough in the ’80’s) to have done anything crazy embarrassing, like dress like madonna in everyday life, or have an actual flock of seagulls haircut.  Sure we wore overalls with one strap unhooked and our backpacks over just one shoulder, but I never wore a polyester jumpsuit or a turqoise puffy sleeved prom dress with a side pony tail.  So I’ll give you the fact that I wore ripped jeans, doc martens, and flannel shirts (I’m wearing one right now actually), but ’90’s fashions were never, and I mean never, as embarrassing as ’80’s fashions or disco fashions.  Yes, once again we ’90’s kids scored.

So I’m going to round out this tome with the subject that started it all:  MUSIC.  Yes, music is the glue of the ’90’s kids world.  Because we, like the generations before us, but unfortunately not the generation after us, were blessed to grow up with great music.  We started life Like a Virgin with Madonna, and by the time we were growing into our own muscial tastes we had a spectrum to choose from.  Guns N Roses was the band of 1990/1991 (and anyone who doesn’t love Appetite for Destruction, I can no longer talk to) but my first real love was actually hip hop.  I know, I know, the past 12 years of my life have been dedicated, almost exclusively, to rock of all kinds, but I was a street little 10 year old and I loved Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle (of course, I was too young to know what either of those titles meant).  Plus, we had the whole, T.V. music tie in on one of my favorite episodes of 90210, when Brenda, David and Donna go to a hotel and meet Color Me Badd.  Oh yes, it still gives me shivers.  I always laugh when I think of the fact that I was 10 and singing ‘I wanna sex you up’ at the top of my lungs.  And, of course, let’s not leave out Boyz II Men (abcbbd) and the Motownphilly.  But the end of my hip hop road came along with a blonde guy from seattle named Kurt Cobain.  Yes, we ’90’s kids not only saw the birth of hip hop, we also saw the birth (and death) of grunge.  We were the grunge kids, dancing in the mosh pit, coming as we were, we smelled like teen spirit.  But only for a few years, before we were crushed by Kurt’s death.  I still remember that day as one of the worst of my life.  It was the first celebrity death I ever cried at (the only other was Joey Ramone).  But Kurt brought out the whole seattle scene.  I mean, Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, it was just a great time for music.  And even the poppy crap was still good.  Smashmouth, Blink 182 (the early stuff), Sugar Ray, I mean, who didn’t just want to fly in 1998.  Plus, we had Sublime, Weezer, No Doubt (circa Tragic Kingdom), Bush (god I loved Gavin Rosdale), the Sneaker Pimps, Porno for Pyros, it was just a great time for music.  The likes of which can only be compared to the late 60s/early 70s.  And because we weren’t involved in anything like Vietnam, our music of the ’90s was about society and how messed up it was/is.  We didn’t have to protest a stupid war back then, so we could focus on ourselves, on our problems.

And that is why being a ’90s kid is the best thing ever. 

Peace, love, and Yo homes smell you later, I’m off to sit on my throne as the prince of bel-air,

Julia

Advertisements

October 29, 2007 - Posted by | Books, Hollywood, John Hughes, Movies, Music, Oscars, Quentin Tarantino, Sex and the City, Television

1 Comment »

  1. As a fellow child of the 90s, I whole-heartedly applaud this blog entry. Especially about the cartoons. A part of my heart died when I found out kids nowadays don’t have Looney Tunes. I mean, seriously, no Looney Tunes?!?!

    Comment by wolfshowl | November 3, 2007 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: