2020/05/22

The High 90s

A raging debate between members of Generation Y and the Millennials revolves around this question: Which decade was superior--the 1980s or the 1990s?

As with the prevailing generational models themselves, cultural eras defy easy sorting into neat and tidy boxes. What we tend to think of as 1960s culture, for instance, didn't really gain steam until 1968 and lasted into the early 70s.

With this in mind, I set out to map the contours of the post-malaise, morning in America high pop culture that gives so many of us nostalgia pangs.

And because this was the time when visual media triumphed, I'll present my findings in pictures.

First up, the Early 80s

Early 80s

The period from roughly 1980-1983 introduced several new IPs and technologies that would shake up pop culture for decades. Video arcades, pulp-influenced movies, and pop rock all rose to prominence. But these nascent cultural touchstones were still in their infancy. Holdover fashions, attitudes, and aesthetics from the Carter era still exerted great influence.

The Mid-80s

Mid-80s

What we think of as the 80s vibe came into its own in the years from 1984-1986. The launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System resurrected the video game industry from the crash of 83 and set home consoles on track to overtake arcades. On, TV, the aftershocks of the Rural Purge subsided, clearing the field for a new generation of family-centered sitcoms. The pulp adventure film revival started by George Lucas hit its stride under guys like Spielberg and Zemeckis. In music, the final death of punk opened the floodgates for hair metal and synths-for-the-sake-of-synths dance music.

The High 80s

The High 80s

Looking back at the 80s, you get the strong impression of an era when new art forms and genres gradually worked out what they wanted to be. There was a clear upward curve evident across all popular media as the explosion phase led to higher degrees of refinement.

The span of years from 1987-1989 yielded the decade's definitive fruit. The Sega Genesis heralded the 16-bit console generation, giving kids an arcade-quality play experience at home. The wholesome but rather twee sitcoms of just a few years before were eclipsed by edgier, more topical fare.

Yes, I realize that "edgy" is a tainted term nowadays. But the context is America ca. 1989, before all comedians became cowards. It was still possible for comedy to have genuine edge and hit controversial subjects hard from both sides. It's hard to conceive of now, but the gay rights agenda that was the first shot in the now-ubiquitous social justice offensive, hadn't yet taken off.

Meanwhile, in music, some bands were starting to figure out what synthesizers were for.

The Early 90s

Early 90s

1990-1992 was when the cracks really started to show in the convention of categorizing cultural eras by decade. Just as late 70s aesthetics persisted into the early 1980s, High 80s culture still dominated the early 90s--much to the latter's benefit.

In video games, consoles continued their triumphal march. The 16-bit generation began its meteoric rise from the introduction phase toward the explosion phase that would mark the next era. Even the 8-bit consoles enjoyed a memorable swan song as veteran developers who'd mastered the last-generation hardware squeezed impressive performance out of the old systems.

On TV, gritty and edgy programming took the next step into weird and quirky. This trend represented a mini-explosion phase that's still reverberating today.

Hollywood assumed its canary in the cultural coalmine role as the retro-pulp adventure genre began to falter. The first strains of creeping wokeness sowed confusion that resulted in a mixed bag of revisionist blockbusters that don't hold up and anomalous flops that are now hailed as underrated gems. Of course, Canon Films saved the era with their rapid-release action schlock masterworks.

Music, too, was rent by the conflict between conflicting visions. On the corporate side, record labels collectively decided to let popular but expensive hair bands' contracts lapse and dredge the gutter for new, exploitable talent. Opposing the gray-brown grunge flood stood new bands with fresh sounds and established acts who successfully reinvented themselves. Rock reached a crossroads, and given the choice between continuing to develop authentically in harmony with its roots or cynically mashing up punk and metal, it took the easy way leading to inevitable death.

But that wouldn't come until after the brief renaissance of ...

The High 90s

The High 90s

Millennials who argue for the 1990s as the best decade almost always have the period from 1993-1996 in mind. It's no wonder, because during that time pop culture saw one of those dramatic resurgences that are as brief as they are rare.

The expectation instilled in gamers that each new release would surpass the last reached its climax. 2D gaming attained perfection. Science fiction retook television by storm with landmark installments of classic franchises and newcomers that punched above their weight. A crime genre revival treated audiences to smart, slickly produced movies that still hold up. In music, rock & roll made a valiant last stand before Auto-Tune and Cakewalk delivered the coup de grace.

Past experience led everyone to expect that things would only get better, but the mid-90s turned out to be the decade's high point. What followed can only be called ...

The Low 90s

Low 90s

Further argument beyond this picture would constitute beating a dead horse, but this is one horse I can't get enough of beating.

With cultural ground zero hitting in 1997, the high culture that had begun in the 80s came to an abrupt and ignominious end. The triumph of 3D turned video gaming into a digital wasteland of interactive movies rendered in jaggy polygons. Television became insufferably feminized. Hollywood plunged headlong into the IP milking phase. With the grunge gravy train long since run out, the record labels inflicted nu-Metal upon our unsuspecting ears out of spite.

Video games, TV, movies, music, and fashion have all been stuck in a hip-hop-scored celebritard loop ever since. The only difference between 1998 and 2020 is that all the zombie IPs have been overtly weaponized against normal people.

What can men do against such reckless hate? Start by not paying people who hate you.

Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You - Brian Niemeier

67 comments:

  1. The late '90s might be the most dated era of art in the entirety of the 20th century.

    The only things that are good from that time are works that still act like they forgot 1995 ended two years prior.

    And we've been since stuck in 1997 for 23 years.

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    1. The other day I took a stroll down memory lane. Revved up Mega Man X3 and popped in (What's the Story) Morning Glory? for the first time in ten years.

      It flew under my radar at the time, but what strikes me now is what a pure rock album it is. Most of the tracks would've played well at a dockside pub in Grimsby ca. the mid-60s.

      Contrast that with Oasis' follow up from--you guessed it--1997. The material sounds rehashed and tired, like the band's just going through the motions. It was a sure sign that the soul had gone out of rock.

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    2. Morning Glory was the first album I ever got on my own. It has a lot of sentimental value to me, but even objectively it is a fantastic album.

      I remember picking up the next one while on vacation with my family and how disappointed it was to listen to. It was so bloated and aimless, no wonder it almost killed the band. I learned later than they hated the album so much they barely played it live and none of it was on their first best-of collection.

      Thankfully their last two albums were stellar, but this one got them so off track that it took years for them to regain their footing back to where they were.

      Being a rock fan was hard in the late '90s. All the good bands were either putting out stale rehashes or were trying to "get with the times" which meant post-grunge soppy loser rock. This was the time where emo came into prominence, after all.

      Any album I have that I still listen to from that time were either entirely overlooked (Tripping Daisy's "Jesus Hits like the Atom Bomb") or were independent (The Piestasters' "Willis"). It was not a good period for rock, and time has not been kind to it.

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    3. Wow. I knew something sounded off about Be Here Now, and it killed my interest in Oasis, but I had no idea it was such a creative and commercial stumbling block.

      How did they go from producing back-to-back masterpieces to shitting out a bloated dud not even they liked? What happened?

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    4. From what I've heard it was apparently heavy drug use and overwhelming ego. The Gallagher brothers had always had some ego, though most of it was typical Brit bluster, but it grew out of control by this time. Two members even quit after Be Here Now and before they got to work on their fourth album.

      Noel said this about the album:

      "In the studio it was great, and on the day it came out it was great. It was only when I got on tour that I was thinking, ‘It doesn’t fucking stand up.’ People are prepared to have stand-up rows with me in the street: ‘I fucking love that album!’ And I’m like, ‘Mate, look, I wrote the fucking thing. I know how much effort I put into it. It wasn’t that much.’"

      While I like some of Be Here Now and their next two albums they aren't even close to the first two and the b-sides album. Thankfully they finally got it together and made the last two albums firecrackers to go out on.

      Doesn't change the fact that their output in 1997 was a letdown.

      Also, I was off. Their best of was a two disc retrospective of 28 songs. Only three of them are from Be Here Now. All Around the World, Stand By Me, and D'You Know What I Mean? The live DVD included only has one on the tracklist. It's really not well liked.

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    5. As I wrote this I just checked and saw that Noel released an undated Oasis demo he found during the Corona panic.

      Interesting timing

      Judging from the God talk, it might be from a session during the making of the last two albums. Either way, it's class.

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    6. And they say time travel is impossible. I got chills.

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  2. Also in 1997: B5 Season 4. My sister avers that season five didn't actually happen.

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    1. B5 is the gold standard for the newcomers punching above their weight I mentioned above, but only the first three seasons.

      JMS had already said what he wanted to say by then, but season 4 managed to coast across the finish line.

      Ask your sister which Mandela Effect universe she comes from, because I want to move there.

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    2. Probably the same one where there are only 3 Indiana Jones movies, only 1 Star Wars trilogy, and Firefly went on to become the longest running TV show in history. ;)

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    3. We're Army brats, so we moved around a lot. It could be one of several different timelines, really.

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    4. Apparently B5 had a beginning, middle, and end all planned. Then they told wassisname they were ending it this season (S4) so he hurried through a mostly-conclusion. Then they told him they wanted another season after all so he did his best to cobble it together.

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    5. That explains everything, actually.

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  3. I’m solidly solid Gen X, and not usually prone to the nostalgia trap. But man, did some of those images bring back memory.

    My parents used to watch Magnum PI religiously and I watched it with them. We had one big RCA console television with no remote. So it was my job to change the channel (we only had 4 until ‘84 when my dad splurged for HBO) And adjust the volume. I would often end up sitting next to the TV so that I didn’t have to get up and down a lot.

    My favorite NES games were Tecmo bowl, Blades of Steel and Castlevania. Though I had a brief bit of middle school fame and geek cred when I was the first kid in the area known to beat Ninja Gaiden, Blaster Master and Contra (without the code). Those games were tough. No saves!

    Such good times! We played them at my buddy’s house across the street when I would spend the night and once got in trouble when his mom found us still playing Castlevania 2 when she got up at 8am the next morning. We tried to claim that we got up early but her mom sense knew better.

    I was also a Genesis kid when that came out. Sonic and Altered Beast were cool but they didn’t hold my attention the way that the older NES games did. Genes in was the last console I owned until I bought an XBox One to help me cut the cable cord.

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    1. "My parents used to watch Magnum PI religiously and I watched it with them."

      Great show. And Selleck is one of the few open Conservatives in Hollywood.

      You have solid taste in NES games. I've played them all, but the only ones I've beaten are Castlevania, Castlevania II, and Ninja Gaiden. Excellent work indeed beating the latter, Blaster Master, and Contra. They defined the concept of "Nintendo hard!"

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    2. I’m impressed you beat Castlevania 2! I was never able to beat that one.

      Castlevania 2 had my favorite videos game mechanic of all times, so much so that I have adapted it to nearly every fantasy TTRPG I have ever run: the day/night switch and monsters become more powerful and harder to kill. C2 has my favorite game music too.

      It’s funny. Until you said ‘Nintendo hard’, I had no idea that was a term. How did this escape me? Looking up THOSE games on the list was another blast from the past. All those Mega Man games were fun as well. And Kid Icarus, Bionic Commado and Fester’s Quest. Totally forgot about those games. I didn’t see it on the Nintendo hard list but I seem to remember not being able to beat Goonies 2. I remember that one as very difficult.

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    3. Heh. I finally beat Mega Man 1 and Kid Icarus this year!

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    4. It's also refreshing to find someone else who loves Simon's Quest. AVGN's hit piece made it hip to hate on the game. Never mind that the same hipsters lavish praise on Symphony of the Night, which owes its Metroidvania with RPG elements "innovation" to Castlevania 2.

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    5. It should be mentioned that James has said repeatedly that he doesn't hate the game. It just made for a good episode.

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    6. Oh, I'm right there with you. That's why I referred to AVGN, not James himself. It's the NPCs who couldn't separate the man from the character he plays who threw shade at the game.

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    7. Even back in the day, Castlevania II was considered the 'odd one out,' and not quite as well-regarded as I or III. Despite its flaws, it has a special place in my heart, and I'd be inclined to nominate it as one of the most atmospheric games of the 8-bit era.

      Castlevania II, The Legend of Zelda, and Dragon Warrior were the three games I received with my NES for Christmas of 1989, and they (along with the next year's SMB3) pretty much defined my tastes in video games from that day to this. :)

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    9. That's one interesting thing about the NES era. A lot of the system's early hits took vastly different directions with their sequels. Super Mario Bros. 2, Zelda II, and Simon's Quest all intentionally departed from their predecessors in terms of game mechanics. It could be a bit jarring, but these days you just don't see a solid balance of sequel novelty and quality like you did back then.

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  4. More data points: I remember big band swing and ska being briefly intensely popular during my freshman year of college. Things must be pretty sad to leave room for a music style fifty years old to resurge. Ska is just swing-punk.

    Petra also started running out of steam in the mid90s. I looked at their discography and realized I had forgotten an album between Wake Up Call and God Fixation.

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    1. A lot of my friends got big into the mid-late 90s ska scene. I tagged along, mostly because almost all of the local social activity revolved around it for a while. Friday nights ca. 1996 it was either attend a ska show or stay home and play video games. Which back then was a tough choice, so I broke about 50/50.

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    2. Ska was bubbling underground from the late '80s to late '90s. It slipped briefly into the mainstream in 1996 and '97 during the swing boom initiated by the Brian Setzer Orchestra. For a brief moment you were allowed to have happy music with horns, dancing, and energy. The genre earned its day in the sun. Even groups like Barenaked Ladies were finally able to break it big with songs like One Week. Its success was legitimate.

      Then came nu metal, and suddenly you energetic music was no longer allowed to be played on the radio anymore. Bands like the Aquabats had to release albums to radio stations that had stickers like "Not a ska album" in order to get played--and they still weren't.

      This happened overnight. It was initiated by payola in the record industry, and it is why mainstream music in the late '90s was so anemic and has aged so badly. None of it was natural, it was all forced.

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    3. Thank you for the correction. I should have known that recording cartel shenanigans had driven swing and ska off the air. It was a lot of fun to listen to.

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    4. Didn't mean to rain on anyone's parade. I liked ska, too, back in the day. But I had my fill of it pretty fast thanks to overexposure.

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    5. It was overexposed, though I was begging for it in 1999 thanks to the constant clatter of crap like Limp Bizkit's Break Stuff playing from every radio.

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    6. That's a trade I certainly would have taken. Instead, like wreckage in the thread below, I switched the radio off and never really looked back.

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  5. I love grunge and even some nu-metal, I won't lie, but one had run out of steam and the other turned into a relentless sausage-machine by the late 90's. If you take the best tracks from the best bands in alt-rock and grunge together you really only get a CD or two filled between about 1996 and the early aughts.

    Nirvana was never great IMO. Pearl Jam was basically a solid punk band that got too much exposure. Alice In Chains was really an early 90's band in any case; SoundGarden was really an 80's hair-metal band.

    Creed did a couple of OK radio metal tracks but stood out as being 1) way overexposed for what they were and 2) virtually the only rock-and-roll on the radio by then. Limp Bizkit was part of the "everything will now be really bad hip-hop" transformation that saw me entirely abandon listening to the radio sometime in the very early aughts.

    It wasn't just that the genre du-jour was bad, or for me, minority taste, it was that there was nothing else. Just a trillion hours of RnB, hip-hop, and dance tracks, while the stalwarts of rock and pop-rock either got no love or were permitted endless self-indulgent noodling albums of zero interest to most people.

    Honestly, I think what we saw was a "death of the midlist", but without the commercial infrastructure for truly indie creators to take up the slack. Online music wasn't a thing yet, and here in Oz all the live music venues were being bulldozed to make more room for poker machine halls attached to every pub and club.

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    1. You've aptly expanded on my synopsis of rock music's decline. There's nothing to disagree with that I can see.

      The key insight you came up with was the record companies' rampant overexposure of new acts in the 90s. The industry really did turn into a sausage grinder in those days. The big labels and their "Mini-Major" subsidiaries inundated Seattle and Portland back then, and their scouts passed out 3-album deals like candy.

      The way it worked was, Boomer record execs would sign bands that fit their preconception of what Gen X counterculture should be like. The first album would get a generous recording and promotional budget. Regardless of how it sold, album two would get no more than half the budget. If it failed to overcome that handicap, then the contract would be quietly cancelled, or album three would be produced basically out-of-pocket and get no promotion or distribution. Career over.

      Something else you hit upon: No two bands marketed in the Grunge genre sounded anything alike. That's because "Grunge", insofar as it existed, was a corporate fabrication from start to finish. None of those bands thought of themselves as grunge acts when they were on the way up. Dave Grohl has only ever described Nirvana as a punk band.

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    2. Also, a pox on video poker machines. They've ruined every bar and restaurant around here since the local government legalized gambling.

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    3. It’s striking to me how shallow a lot of that music was. Becoming some of the names you guys are mentioned like Creed and Limp Bizkit, well, I can barely remember the music. I know they got a lot of radio play but it was in one ear and out the other.

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    4. One thing Razorfist was dead on about was his description of "Grunge" being just as manufactured as "Hair Metal". Neither of them are actual genres. Grunge was just nihilist rock with a "normal" mage that was suspiciously lucrative with clothing companies. No wonder so many in that arena either committed suicide or suffered heavily from such ideas.

      Music did suffer from a death of the midlist in the '90s. It was an age of corporate mergers and many smaller record labels were merged into behemoths.

      For instance, Mojo Records was probably the biggest ska label by the late '90s. It was bought by Jive, the Britney Spears people. Not only were bands flushed out, but the ones that remained were prevented from putting out records if the suits didn't want them to. And guess what genre they didn't want played anymore?

      But it was more than one label.

      Just look at this monstrosity!

      This was the sort of thing that defined the record industry in the '90s, and it is why they are dead now.

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    5. Have you ever seen the documentary "Hype!" - I recommend it, the movie goes through how the "Seattle scene" was manufactured, how Sub Pop the label masterfully manipulated big media (Time magazine bought a completely bogus interview about grunge "slang" hook, line, and sinker, and it was completely made up). It's worth the watch.

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    6. The grunge slang lexicon incident is one of the epic trolls of history. One of the best examples of an Xer exploiting Boomer solipsism.

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  6. Brian

    You see the same dynamic in computers. During the 80s when personal computers became popular there was an explosion of innovation.thecrelease of Wordperfect 5,1 was a zenith of sorts.
    Then when MS used its Windows OEM license to force Offce on computers was start. Then the antitrust trial followed by Billyboy's perdinsl animus against Netscape leading to its demise spelt the end.

    By the 2000 the software was pretty much stagnant until Linux came about but the innovation from the industry isn't that impressive.
    They cover up the stagnation with euphemisms like nature industry and legacy products.
    xavier

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  7. First, Death Cult Watch: SJWs are furious that Warner Brothers listened to fans and are releasing "The Snyder Cut" of Justice League. Richard Meyers is a Late Modern, but when SJWs mocked him and said he could never make a succesful comic book, he went out and did it and made a mint (a good example of "Have fun while doing it"). Watch him read a Death Cult article with a funny voice for some amusement here: https://youtu.be/pE7lyFgN0tk

    Second, '80s vs. '90s is real tough one for me as a Gen X'er who grew up through both childless; meaning the lack of real responsibility during those times means both are swimming in nostalgic ambrosia. Children come and immediately you are aware of everything out there seeking to destroy them.

    Third, your identification of 1997 as Ground Zero is spot on. I recall on Fox and Friends of all places plugging Paula Cole's whiny and man-hatey "Where Have all the Cowboys Gone?" and thinking what on earth is happening to music? It was around March '97.

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    1. This video explains exactly what happened to music right around 1997.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFaRIW-wZlw

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    3. Thanks. I've seen that as I enjoy Beato. And now a little personal history with this. In the early '90s I worked at a pro audio company managed by a sound engineer who did sound for Rush's live shows during their (arguably) "classic" period (approx. A Farewell to Arms to Subdivisions. Pardon me if that sounds like gratuitous name-dropping, but in '93 we got a new product: an Otari (not Atari) digital audio workstation. Because we were used to massive 32+-channel mixing boards and 2-inch tape reel-to-reel multitrack recorders, the little station with just a computer monitor, a keyboard and a jog-wheel didn't look like much at all.

      Playing with it for awhile we realized its extraordinary power that rendered all that huge stuff moot. In 30 minutes we could pump out finished, publishable recordings. My first thought that was that it was fantastic. Anyone could make pro-quality products for a fraction of the cost of a old-school studio. My second thought was that it was bad news. There's no art, no craft to it. Just cut, copy, and paste. There's barely a need for musicians.

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    4. Hey, it's not bragging if you're sharing legitimate, relevant expertise.

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  8. Let’s not forget fashion either. My personal style has changed as I have changed, namely tshirts & shorts to polos and jeans/pants/khaki shorts (major change I know)...but the style of clothes has not changed much since 1997 for men and women. I was looking at old photos from the 90’s and 00’s of the fam, and what I noticed was the clothes look the same as today. Maybe women’s clothes have a bit less fabric, especially when it comes to beach ware and materials have changed (sweat wicking poly for cotton), but it all looks the same for 2 decades +. Heck, hairstyles kinda stagnated sometime in the early aughts. But drag out those photos from the 80’s, major changes are immediately evident.

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    1. Fashion hasn't changed at all.

      Just last year I was musing how when in the city everyone dressed and everything looked exactly in 2019 as they did in 2009. It was an eerie experience.

      People made fun of the bright colors and big hair of the early '90s, but at least that has character. Saggy jeans and brand name t-shirts are not a striking enough look to have lasted as long as it has.

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  9. An aside, I’m amazed at how well my old NES and SNES games hold up to today. Both of my old systems still run and I have my old cartridges (which Brian, it sounds like we played many of the same games) and they still look good and are fun...at least the kids think so. But load up my dad’s old Atari and launch Pitfall, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, River Raid, Ateroids, Missile Command, etc., oof! They’ve aged as well as an old Hollywood starlet. And speaking of hard, Nintendo hard was fun. Atari/Arcade hard was just unfair.

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    1. Well said, and we do indeed have similar vintage vidya tastes!

      David Stewart mentioned on-stream a while back that if a piece of machinery runs for 30 years, odds are it will keep running for another 30. The NES and SNES hardware definitely bear that out.

      Speaking of which, I recently had a close friend who makes a cottage business of restoring classic games bleach my SNES. As you may be aware, there's a fire-retardant chemical mixed into the plastic that makes the outer shell turn yellow over time. Turns out there's a chemical used in some brands of hair dye that works wonders for reversing the yellowing effect. One of the few good things about my state is that it's one of the few where you can buy the stuff without a beautician's license. He just slathered the stuff on and left the casing in the sun for a few days, and presto! Just like new!

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  10. Your basic premise is right, that the division of culture in decades actually seems to go from mid-decade to mid-decade.
    Some of us who lived there (the past is a foreign country, after all) refer to the 70s as the Decade that Taste Forgot, and the 80s as the Decade which Followed the Decade that Taste Forgot.

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    1. "Your basic premise is right, that the division of culture in decades actually seems to go from mid-decade to mid-decade."

      If I extended the time periods under consideration another decade in both directions, I suspect your observation would pan out.

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    2. Chris

      People repeat fashions and trends. Sometime to regress:other times to 'rebel'. I guess it's to differentiate themselves and to mix and match the best of each era.

      xavier

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    3. As an example of fashions and trends, my father (born in the 40s) once informed me that he remembered a brief fad for young men in the 50s was wearing their pants halfway pulled down.
      Just like some did (and still do) 50 years later!
      There's only so much you can do with clothing, after all...

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    4. Pseudotsuga,

      But in the ‘50s, that pants pulled down trend probably didn’t come from the same source.

      In the 90’s that trend came from prison. Certain men, while in prison, adopt a female persona to get protection from the stronger males-and they are expected to be “available”. And wearing the pants like that is the way that they advertised they were open for business, so to speak.

      Well, young and stupid youths who had never been to prison (but idolized the men who had) started adopting the fashion so they could be more like the ex-cons. They just didn’t realize the ‘why’ of the fashion. Or what that would be telling other more hardened ex-cons. And then of course, most decent folk have no idea where that trend originated.

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    5. I have heard that about the "low pants" thing, but I can't verify that it is true.
      Even if so, that certainly wasn't the reason some 50s boys did it, as you point out.
      But the style repeated, although the signifier did not.

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    6. My first two supervisors where long time corrections officers. One had been a sergeant at Sing Sing for fifteen years, starting in ‘78, before he transferred to my agency. They are the people I heard it from.

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  11. On the whole, you are all making me feel old. I was in my 20's in the 80's (yes Magnum was a favorite along with Airwolf, Miami Vice, and pretty much anything by Stephen Cannell), and in my 30's in the 90's. My gaming was done exclusively on the PC (or the C64 before that), but I had similar cultural experiences. For me, the zenith was indeed the mid 90's with the release of Doom, Duke Nukem, and Warcraft 2. From then on, there seemed to be a trend towards either twitchy games that required you to have the reflexes of a mongoose, or games so complicated you needed to take a college course to play them. Neither sounded much fun to me.

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    1. Stephen J. Cannell is one of my professional heroes. If you turned on prime time television anytime from the early 80s to the early 90s, the overwhelming odds were you'd be watching a show by either Cannell or Aaron Spelling. No question which were superior.

      And yeah, it's been remarked before that PC gaming held out against the worst effects of cultural ground zero a few years longer than everybody else.

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    2. Cannell certainly had the winning formula down pat at the time!

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    3. Years back, I watched a couple of YouTube videos of Cannell giving writing advice. They were excellent and had more good bits packed into them than most people giving advice. Like the plethora of young writers making videos who look like they’re 22 years old

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    4. Those videos are golden!

      Another feather in Cannell's cap: He was severely dyslexic but didn't let it keep him down. He wrote dozens of novels by dictating them to a secretary.

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  12. And to follow up
    Even though he flunked out of university and He wasn't diagnosed until later as an adult.
    So no one with disabilities should be content with their condition or settle for less.

    A disability doesn't determine your worth or quality of your work.

    xavier

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  13. I think the biggest feather in early 90's gaming's cap is how incredibly easy those games hold up compared to everything that's come after. The early PS1 library doesn't hold up as well.

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  14. By the way, I feel as if you would get a kick out of the revisionism of the Netflix series "Everything Sucks" which came out a year or two ago.

    It's a modern wokelet's attempt at revisionism of the 1995 era, and it is comically off the mark. You'll probably guess the series plot before the first episode is over, but the obvious attempts at social conditioning make it a good comedy.

    I wrote a bit about it on Wasteland & Sky, but only in passing. Hollywood does not remember the '90s well, at all.

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  15. What I like about the late 90s on video games is two things.

    1. The console differences really made having one over another. N64, playstation and the Saturn had different hardware and so developers had to make changes from one console to another.

    2. Many of the games especially on the playstation were experimental. So many games and game types would not be made on a consoles after this time or the Ps2 unless indie. I can not remember the last time card games were as big for example or card games on major series like KOTOR.

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    1. Remember when you could identify a console by its sound alone?

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    2. I know, I miss those days.

      Now you can not tell if the game is on Ps4, Xbone or PC. Even the switch is only a low power brother. It still does a similar job be it less graphical role. Ps2, Xbox and Gamecube was really the 1st gen to games play on both system, sound and look the same.

      Ps3 (& Wii) was the last time a console try to be revolutionary. In using the cells instead of normal way pc's function. It is consider a mistake on Sony part even if games develop using that hardware could be better. Most game companies would rather (or had to) make the same game on both console so the ps3 version was often the poor man version.

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