I Miss the 90’s

When I was a freshman in college, one of the common curriculum classes I had to take had this final project that was very open-ended. The class itself was pretty informal, and the final project was to get in groups and do a presentation on…well, pretty much anything you wanted, as long as there was an interactive element to it. One group did finger-painting, my group did T-shirts, and there were a couple others. Like I said, pretty open-ended.

One of the groups I remember the most was this group of easygoing folks who got up and talked about how awesome the 90’s were. Classic Disney movies, Third Eye Blind, GoldenEye on Nintendo 64…good times. In addition to being a fun, lighthearted project and a nice bit of relief during the stress of finals week, it was a great reminder of how the 90’s were just a great decade to be a kid in.

I was born in 1988, (also the same year Die Hard came out, though I was of course ignorant of this at the time, having just been born) but as this group pointed out, I am not a child of the 80’s, I am a child of the 90’s. I was born late September of 1988 anyway, so I was only around for less than two years’ worth of the 80’s. I am a product of the 90’s, through and through.

And I gotta say, I have a lot of fond memories of the 90’s. One of my earliest moviegoing memories is of seeing Aladdin in the theater, which is still a great movie.

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I watched it a while ago and busted a gut for like five minutes laughing at this. Crazy Hakim’s Discount Fertilizer is totally on Facebook by the way. Seriously, Google that.

Beauty and The Beast in 1991, Aladdin in ’92, Lion King in ’94, Pocahontas in ’95, Hunchback of Notre Dame in ’96, Hercules in ’97 and Mulan in ’98…Disney doesn’t make ‘em like that anymore. Did you know that Disney’s upcoming Lone Ranger movie starring Johnny Depp with a bird on his head has a budget of $200 million-plus? Unbelievable. Probably won’t have one-tenth of what made Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King and Mulan so magical.

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SERIOUSLY. There’s a BIRD on his HEAD. Even Depp looks like he isn’t quite sure how it got there. And why is his face white? Did the bird poop on him?

But getting back to the 90’s, they were awesome (Hell, people forget that The Matrix came out in 1999, even). Everything these days is so messed up, it always seems like we’re only a few days away from the next political scandal or school shooting or natural disaster. In the 90’s, things were simpler. Things seemed more…hopeful, somehow. Nowadays it’s all doom and gloom. The economy’s in the toilet, war, famine, disease, disaster, etc. etc. etc. The 00’s (oughts?) and the 10’s (teens? I don’t really know the proper abbreviation for the last few decades) are just so damn depressing in comparison.

Now, take all of what I’m saying here with a grain of salt. I was a kid in the 90’s, things are always easier when you’re a kid (at least in hindsight). So I think it’s safe to say that my outlook in my formative years was perhaps a bit more rosy than it is now. I mean sure, people who know me would tell you that I’m not always a ray of sunshine, I get depressed and uncommunicative sometimes (sorry, Mom). But when I’m in a good mood I like to think that I’m a decently fun guy to be around. I know the 90’s had its fair share of political turmoil and natural disasters and whatnot (like Columbine in 1999) but my point is nothing more profound than that it was just a good time to be a kid.

In a way, I feel kinda bad for kids these days. I can’t imagine the 00’s are anywhere near as much fun to grow up in as the good ol’ 90’s were. I could very well be wrong, I don’t have kids or anything (that I know of…JUST KIDDING MOM. Really). I had a great childhood, and the easygoing, fun-loving spirit of the 90’s was a big part of that. The facts that I had (and still have) a wonderful family and a great home and went to a good school all helped too of course. But the 90’s just had this…quality to them. After all, how could you not love a decade that produced such awesome TV series like The Pirates of Dark Water…

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THIS SHOW WAS AWESOME. And Amazon tells me it is now available on DVD. I must buy it immediately. Damn shame they never finished it.

Or Gargoyles…

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Seriously, this title card is so badass it could be the cover of a DragonForce album.

Or what I still consider to be the Greatest Animated Television Series of All Time, Batman: The Animated Series?

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Also one of the greatest versions of Batman in any media, and you can even see its influence in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films. There’s even an episode where Batman has to stop Scarecrow from poisoning the Gotham water supply with fear toxin…sound familiar anyone? Mr. Nolan did his homework.

But what got me thinking about the 90’s anyway? Well, the party most directly responsible is a band called Nine Days and an album called The Madding Crowd, which just for fun I popped into my CD player in my car (yes, I still listen to CDs while I drive, call me old-fashioned) while on my way home from an appointment yesterday and promptly fell in love with all over again.

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The title of the album is a reference to a novel called Far From the Madding Crowd by an English novelist named Thomas Hardy, whom I know nothing about but apparently had a brilliant mustache:

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JUST LOOK AT THAT ‘STACHE. Magnificent.

Anyway, someone please tell me I’m not the only one out there who remembers this Nine Days album. The actual CD is out of print but I’m pretty sure you can still find it on iTunes. There are just so many great damn songs on this album. Who could forget the song “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)”, a chart-topper from 2000? Yes, the album did technically come out in 2000, but in encapsulates that fun-loving spirit of the 90’s so well that I will always associate it with the 90’s. “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” is one of the songs that got me started listening to music in the first place, along with Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind, an anthem of the 90’s if ever there was one (people say it’s a drug song but who cares? Just try not to tap your foot to that beat).

What I love about “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” in particular is that it is a song about love. “This is the story of a girl/ who cried a river and drowned the whole world/ and while she looks so sad in photographs/ I absolutely love her/ when she smiles.” I love these lyrics. They’re open to interpretation, sure, but to me this is a song about love, about hanging in there when things are tough.

And the thing is, people don’t write lyrics like this anymore. These days it’s all a bunch of rappers going on and on about how they make more money that you and get more girls than you and all this other crap which is all utterly meaningless, and these people make millions, and I just don’t understand it. in the 90’s (okay early 00’s, Mr. Nitpicker) you had other songs from Nine Days like “If I Am”, another wonderfully hopeful song. “You should never let the sun set on tomorrow/ before the sun rises today.” Beautiful. Now you can’t even watch the video for “If I Am” on YouTube without an ad for Rihanna staring at you from the side of the screen.

Sigh. Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong era, but then I listen to songs like “If I Am” and think that maybe I wasn’t after all.

“The answers we find/ are never what we had in mind/ so we make them up as we go along.” So true, Nine Days.

So true.

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