By Jeremy Azevedo
Last week I wrote an article about 90s trends that I hate with the intensity of 1000 burning Steve Urkels. These included such gear grinders as rave culture, modern primitives and Tibetan freedom.
But in my reminiscence, I also discovered that there were a few things about the 90s that I actually really miss. Here are some of the the things about the 90s that I miss the most:
The awesome thing about “Girrrl Power” is that, nine times out of ten, it is interpreted as “wear trashy clothes and act like a slut”. Women actually find this empowering! These days, girls still dress like prostitutes and all that... Which is great, except you don't get the added satisfaction of crushing their "Girrrl Power" spirit when you treat them like one the way you used to.
Not only is a pager about 1,000 times less annoying than a cell phone (because it’s so much easier to duck a page than it is to duck a phone call), but also when you wear one, everyone thinks you’re a drug dealer. Or a doctor. Or both. Which is rad. Plus, a pager isn't suspected to cause brain and dick cancer the way some scientists claim that cell phones might. Also rad.
It’s a known fact that all white people love to wear flannel. The only people that like wearing flannel more than white folks are Mexicans. Flannel is the greatest gift that the Pacific Northwest has ever given to these people. As a half Hispanic white person, I am powerless to resist the temptation to attire myself in flannel and plaid as much as possible, and at no time in human history was this more fashionable than it was during the Grunge era.
Also popular were tight fitting, torn up jeans, which also greatly appeals to me. Mostly because all of the designer jeans I shoplifted while working in retail years ago are, tragically, really starting to come apart at the seams by now.
Never once did I ever experience a scratched game tape, not like these goddamn flimsy-ass CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays and various other discs that games are coded on nowadays. Also, I never once had to mail my Super Nintendo in for repairs because it stopped working 4 months after I bought it like some modern, disc-based systems are apt to do (Thanks, Microsoft!)
Dead Rock Stars
Back in the 90s. Rock Stars were rock stars and served equally as gods to be exalted and as cautionary tales on the dangers of excess. Nowadays, anyone with a MySpace and a computer can be a “rock star” and the real rock stars have to clean up their act or risk being publicly raped by the tabloids (which have multiplied like rabbits on Ecstasy since the early 2000s). This has limited the social impact of the rock star significantly, which is why you will never see another Kurt Cobain, Notorious B.I.G., Bradley Nowell or Tupac Shakur in this lifetime. The only upside of this situation is that we will have fewer cheesedick music biopics to suffer through in the coming decade.
Ah, the Hammer pant... Has there ever been a more perfect combination of style and comfort? Roomy in the leg, but tapered at the bottom, the Hammer pant began life as the “parachute pant” worn by breakdancers to afford a greater range of movement and flexibility. Once popularized by MC Hammer, they could be seen everywhere, even overtaking jeans and khakis in popularity at the height of their short reign as the king of pants. Sadly, the Hammer pant is now gravely endangered, and can only be found in parts of New Jersey, on bodybuilders over the age of 40 and at those markets that line the road when you first drive into Tijuana.
Internet Chat Rooms
Social networking and IMing have all but eliminated the chat room from existence. But in the early days, chat rooms were like a Disneyland for sociopaths. Chat rooms were a great place to terrorize naïve losers and smooth-talk camwhores into showing their tits without charging you a membership fee. A popular pastime was to trick a fellow chatter into writing something embarrassing or incriminating, screen capping or printing it out and showing it to all your friends for a laugh. Sadly, the only person who still does this is Chris Hansen (Dateline NBC, To Catch a Predator).
I don’t know about all this generic bullcrap that passes off as “Gangsta Rap” these days, but back in the 90s our gangster rappers were hard enough to warrant a shitstorm of controversy including FBI investigations, protests, criticism from both political parties and a whole new approach to ratings and censorship in music. And that’s sort of the point of rock and roll, isn’t it? The 90s were a slightly more gullible time in which we wondered if members of N.W.A., the Death Row stable of artists and anyone with the prefix “Ice” in their name (not including Vanilla, obviously) really did murder people, sell coke, run prostitution rings and rob people at gunpoint. (Fun Fact: Some of them actually did! Holy crap!)
Gangsta Rap terrified parents and excited the imaginations of suburban, white teenagers in a way that posers like Lil’ Wayne and 50 Cent can never hope to. The genre is dead today because the modern “gangster” wears their entrepreneurial motivation on their sleeve, thereby completely ruining the mystery. (Which is the same thing that ruined professional wrestling, by the way.)
Quentin Tarantino was not the only director to bring the concept of “cool” back to the cinema, but he certainly took the most credit for it. Before Tarantino came along, movies weren’t nearly as stylish and fashionable as they are now. You had your egghead art films, your weepy dramas, your action movies, and your slapstick comedies. Tarantino rejected this standard, instead mining content from the underground, cult films of the 60s and 70s. In doing so, he reminded us that we could have sex, violence, humor, intelligent and quotable dialogue, nostalgia, depth, tension, fashion, rock and roll and lulz all together in the same movie. Technically, Tarantino still exists, only now he exists as a genre in and of himself, rather than as a callback/homage to earlier, edgier styles of filmmaking.
Tarantino was also notable for showing nerds everywhere that you can go from being a total freak that works at a video store to a total freak that bangs Uma Thurman, armed with nothing more than a little skill, a little luck, and an enclopediac knowledge of the works of Pam Grier and Dolemite.
As much as I like the idea of treating porn like a cinematic genre (with plot and character development, lighting and cinematography etc.) the reality is that no one watches porn for its production merits. Put it like this: If genres of film were colleges, porn would be a vocational school: You'd only really go there to learn the one thing. There wouldn't be any need for astronomy (ass-tronomy, maybe) or public speaking (public spanking, perhaps?). That’s why the 90s era of gonzo porn filmmaking was made so much sense for the industry... Why build an entire university when you're just gonna transfer campuses moments after the pipe gets laid?
The internet has taken things a step too far by introducing all manner of horrible fetishes to those of us with broadband connections, eliminating the thrill of the hunt. But we'll always have Butt Slammers 26: Wet Butt Party (est. 1994) to remind us of a time when innovation in the adult film industry didn't rely on shock value and the ratio of chicks in relation to cups.