Gen-Y Musing: 6 Things 90’s kids will Understand

There are a lot of ways that kids in their early twenties are misrepresented. Not just now but always. When a shift is felt in power from one generation to the next there’s always animosity. The older people feel obsolete, while also thinking they know better than their younger counterparts. This is never actually true. There’s nothing wrong with kids these days, or any days. Right now the accusation for young people is that they are lazy and entitled. It’s bullshit. No group of people have any common personality flaw just because of when they were born.

In the age of the internet, us kids have a channel to fight back through. One odd way this has taken place is 90’s nostalgia. People my age moon over how great things like orange video cassettes and pogs were. Why? because we remember that decade with a child like wonder. That could probably be explained by the fact that we were children. The more I think about it, the more I think the 90’s weren’t all that great. Don’t get your Lion King panties in a twist. Just think about it. How great could they have been? If you disagree, tonight on Nickelodeon there will be a block of programming dedicated to the 90’s. Watch all of it and tell me you really cherished that episode of Doug, and never wanted to change the channel to be rid of his whining. The 1990’s weren’t a fantastic decade, they were just bizarre and we have no way to contextualize them. IT’s still hard to process those 10 years. Here’s a few things I took away from growing up in that weird ass time.

6.) Brand Recognition

It was probably an accident, but I was brought up to be a well versed consumer. I can spot a good product from a mile away. I impulse buy whenever I can, and I google products to be prudent. Money is a love of mine, if only because it gets me access to things. Things are my favorite.

There’s a reason that I loved this short film.

For those of you who can’t take sixteen minutes out of your day for a true work of art, that is an animated movie about a criminal Ronald McDonald. The catch is that every single person, place, and thing in the short are logos. Logorama won the Oscar for short film in 2010 because it was both impressive, and tapped into a vein of western culture that we can all identify with. The movie works because of the emotions we feel when seeing symbols we recognize. Logos are like visual feelings that we’re forced to see everywhere. Watching them on a screen like that outside of their normal context is similar watching an old friend perform just for us.

The fun thing about this personality feature is that I think it will last for a long time. Our ability to recognize barands is only going to get stronger in future generations. The rest of these 90’s kids traits on this list are specific to people my age, but brand awareness is a skill that will only help future consumers. It is an asset for future generations that my peers will rightfully instill in their own children.

5.)  The Last of The Racism

Oh, quit you’re bitching. I’m half black,okay? Half white too. So quit your whining about race. With that being said racism is pretty much over as we knew it. Yeah sure horrible things happen all the time in the United States, and Fox News exists but it’s not at all like it used to be. Racism is a more organizational, more institutional that it used to be. As awful as it may be, right now is the best time to date to be a minority in the United States. Look no further than TV to see difference 20 years can make in race relations. If half the shit that happened to TV black people in 1994 happened to them in 2014, the NAACP be boycotting every major network.

Black Ranger

… and the Yellow Ranger was Asian…

We live in a more tolerant, sensitive time and it’s easy to forget that things were much different not too long ago. The most popular example of this is the show Friends. Six average normal people who not only don’t know any black people but pretty much everyone in New York City was white. That’s nothing in comparison to shows like Homeboys in Outerspace. Shows like that one used stereotypes in the place of plot and characterization. I imagine the writer’s thought process went something like this ” these black men are in trouble, how would they react” and after a few moments of consideration came up with “I’m too young to die…I never got to make love with an 8 breasted woman.”The basest stereotypes hand’t been outlawed by the mainstream yet. Looking at black men as hyper sexualized, or totally omitting latinos hadn’t fallen out of vogue yet. People hadn’t had time to process the LA riots or the mainstream success of rap music. So many in the media were still recycling old jokes on TV and relying on prejudice in place of storytelling.

4.) Cultural Rivalries

Nsync or Backstreet Boys? Tomogatchi or Gigapet?Poo-chi or Furbee? The answers to these questions would tell class mates something about you in my grade school. Of the normal nineties nostalgia this is one of the only things I remember being a part of. My family was too poor to afford a lot of the toys. I wasn’t allowed to watch Power Rangers or other violent shows like Ren and Stimpy. I wasn’t a girl, so I didn’t play with origami fortune tellers, sand art, or MASH books. Even still I liked Nsync and my brother liked the Backstreet Boys. We fought about it. For real.

Surface To Air Missles

Some times it was necessary to defend your taste in boy-band.

While people my age aren’t the first to experience these types of rivalries (see Pepsi v. Coke, Hustler v. Playboy, or Star Wars v. Star Trek) I think we will be the last. Western civilization is a much bigger thing than it used to be. The internet has exploded the pop cultureverse. Now one-on-one rivalries like those are nearly impossible. For all intents and purposes Backstreet and Nsync were the same, same with Pepsi and Coke. We have too many options in things like soft drinks, and sex magazines to single out just two whose fans can argue with each other at the conventions.

3.) Colors

The nineties were a crazy time. Being a child during that roller coaster was an odd phenomenon. The highs and lows of the decade manifested in weird ways. The economic boom years made people think that it was okay to wear shit like tie dye shirts, and these pants. Those crazy ass fashions were concrete examples of a very different era. The odd thing about being a kid in this time is that I had zero to do with it. Shit was totally wild in the 90’s and I bore no responsibility. It was a loud couple of years, and there was a feeling that the wave we rode on would never end.

The terrible 90's

I see nothing out-dated by this photo

As with all things, Americans got over it. The ostentatious culture was replaced with a more sober quieter society. This country was high on the new technology and the economic boom that came with it. The dot com bubble burst at the end of the decade and we calmed down a bit. That was nothing in comparison to the country shattering sedation 9/11 gave to the American people. The carefree unworried nature of us in the 90’s dissipated in favor of a cautious, almost paranoid emotional baseline for this country. In the present day millennials see that high of the 90’s as a part of our own childhood fascination. All of our formative years were glazed with a giddy happiness most of us still can’t understand. Today upbeatness has been replaced with bone-deep cynicism. The hell-scape that was the Bush years didn’t help with that. Our obsession with darkness has shown itself in our usually dark or earth toned clothes as well as the popularity of movies like The Dark Knight and The Hunger Games. Now that millennials are making a difference to our surroundings the duality of the manic happiness we were raised in and the bleakness we came of age in will mix to create something new that is impossible to predict. I’m okay with whatever happens as long as we never wear sweatpants like this again.

2.) Everyday Objects As Toys

A common complaint about millennials is that we are jaded and lazy because of all the technology we’ve been exposed to at a young age. That’s a stupid thing to say. However, it is likely we were affected our outlandish accessories. I don’t think text messaging fucked us up, Lisa Frank did. When I was young I had this notion along with the rest of the culture that a thing couldn’t just be a thing, it also had to be fun. A notebook isn’t just for notes, it’s also a statement. From an unforgivably young age I was given the subconscious message that consumerism was not only a good thing, but that it was a skill to be honed. Wanting a chair wasn’t enough, you also should want an inflatable purple one.

Inflatable Purple Chair

It’s exactly as comfy as it looks

This fascination with with probably has something to do with the present day preoccupation with DIY. We want recycle and repurpose. Sure, there are fewer colors in the shit we make now but it’s the same idea. The kids who were responsibility for the resurgence lava lamps grew up to make lighting fixtures from mason jars or sex toys made from house-hold objects. The Lisa Frank fan in all of us has change the way we look at the word. But that’s not the only way.

1.) The Fear

People growing up in the nineties were the first to be raised with a healthy fear of everything. Sure public service campaigns were around in the seventies and eighties, but by the time Clinton was sworn into office they were integral to pop culture in America. Stranger danger, being set on fire, and house hold cleaning products were just a few of the things I was trained to be terrified of. Not to mention DARE, which was basically a campaigned created to make 8 year olds pants-shittingly weary of any substance harder than caffeine.

Uruk Hai and Child

Best if you treat everything with the same terror as you would the Uruk-Hai.

I remember being young as a time when I was constantly threatened. I had to grow out of my panic. It took effort to teach myself that not everything was going to kill me. This wasn’t easy, because I legitimately believed that I’d be lucky to live to 16 with all the car accidents, amusement park ride malfunctions, and firearm misuses rampant when I was a kid. Or so I was told. The average idle comments made by my parents and their friends would sound like “don’t eat that it will give you diabetes” or “his house has guns. You can’t go over there, he might blow your head off.” Maybe my younger days were particularly fucked up, but fear was like a mentor that taught me how to navigate the world. PSAs and assemblies at school as well as after school special TV shows led me to believe that the world was much more dangerous than it actually is. Yes, there are a few people who probably benefitted from one or two of those lessons but that doesn’t justify mindscrewing an entire generation into being petrified of everyday objects. I should have been given the right to look at a book of matches without picturing my loved ones burning alive.

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