I’ve been noticing more and more this strange phenomenon that I never thought I would witness: the ’90s have become retro. Growing up a bit younger in the ’90s, it never occurred to me that this magical and unique time that I grew up an impressionable young heretic in would one day be looked back on with nostalgia much like how my parents reminisced about the ’60s and ’70s. I find that even I frequently sit and back think, “Wow, I remember that when I was growing up. Those were the days.” What’s even stranger is that everyone who has decided to take on aspects of the ’90s once again aren’t necessarily being “ironic,” like how the “hipster” counter culture of youths have approached the ’80s. We actually grew up in the ’90s, we remember the ’90s, and we actually like what that decade had to offer.
Because of this, I’ve decided to compile the top 5 things I miss most from the ’90s. I really just want to remember a simpler time when the hyper-indulgence wasn’t so prevalent. Remember when you would make fun of people for being rich? Thank you ’90s.
5. SNES vs. Sega Genesis
Before I get any deeper into this analysis, be warned I was a SNES kid growing up. My family eventually introduced a Sega Genesis to our gaming arsenal as well, but I have always been more bias towards SNES; they just did it better. But I remember getting into schoolyard fights about which console was better, and our reasoning was hilarious. “No way, Mortal Kombat has way more blood on Sega.” “Shut up, douche-wad. You have to press the START button to get the kick moves on Street Fighter; how lame is that?” Oh, the memories. Video games today are great, don’t get me wrong (in fact, my absence from putting up new posts can be directly attributed to Mass Effect 2), but there was a sense of awe and astonishment with video games back then. “How did they get Spiderman so perfect on Maximum Carnage?” Video games were like magic back then and that made the console feud so much more important to us. The XBOX vs. Playstation argument will never match the intensity of the Sega vs. SNES war.
4. Image Comic Books
These comics were so fuckin’ cool! They were ’90s geeks’ wet dreams. Everything was cybernetic, there was more blood, the illustrations were better, the storylines were complex and fascinating, they actually said “fuck” in regular dialogue, and they drew boobs so pretty. In fact, an issue of Spawn may have been my first boob on paper. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that Image pushed a lot of boundaries and was really groundbreaking in terms of comics. They started during comic book code era publishing and the only way to have mature audience oriented comics was to market them as magazines. Image started printing and all of the sudden, the majors had to catch up to what these guys were doing. All of the sudden, Mary Jane Watson has a rack and Superman is bleeding to death. I remember also having an issue of W.I.L.D.Cats that had fold out pages because the action panels were that huge and intense. I still don’t see that in mainstream comics of today. Unfortunately, by the end of the ’90s, there was a huge over saturation of Image comic titles on the market (you can get 50 anonymous Image comics for $10 at Golden Age Comics in Vancouver, that’s over-saturation). But comics like Gen 13, DeadWorld, and Danger Girl will always have a special place in my heart.
3. MTV Cartoons
Sit back in shock and awe, once upon a time MTV wasn’t just fake reality TV. In fact, MTV was really groundbreaking in terms of a lot of the programming they used to put on. The original MTV reality show, The Real World, was actually pretty unique for its time. But, we’re here to talk about the cartoons. The trippiest, oddest, most out there cartoons anyone has ever watched: The Maxx (whose main character is a bunny spirit animal with psychological issues and hangs around a social worker a lot), The Head (picture an alien living in your head because he’s there to save the Earth from an invasion, and not a little alien, a full size alien, it fucks with your head in so many ways), and Aeon Flux were all cartoons that really helped define the ’90s. What ’90s nerd didn’t sit at home late at night watching these cartoons? Further, what the hell happened to MTV? Why is it a Mecca for the brain-dead and self-indulgent? I miss my MTV…
2. “Emo” not being a dirty word.
Emo used to describe a style of music which was an offshoot from hardcore. Though not officially, I have broken it down to hardcore where expression is more important than aggression, where traditional hardcore is the vice-versa. Emo used to describe an array of bands: indie rock bands like Fugazi, softer post-grunge bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, pop-punk bands like Texas is the Reason, noise driven bands like Orchid, and rockier bands like Sense Field. Today, “emo” seems to be this odd post-goth movement; like the goth kids got too lazy to read Lovecraft and Crowley and replaced it with countless hours on the internet. I personally still don’t get the new “emo” movement. As far as I’m concerned, an “emo-kid” is still a nerdy kid who happens to also be into hardcore, “emo” music doesn’t mean glam rock with the odd open-chug breakdown, and I want my fucking genre back!
Sarcasm was the defence mechanism of my generation. We would say things like “Wow, you’re cool” or “Best day of my life,” have it mean the exact opposite, it would be funny (or at least mildly amusing) and you would have a relating point with others in the end. It was a defence mechanism that also served as an opening for conversation. “Wow, you’re cool” would lead to other things that obviously weren’t cool, “Best day of my life” would lead to other things that make life kind of crappy, it served to vent a lot of frustrations about the malaises of modernity. Today, sarcasm seems to be replaced by irony. “I don’t actually like Rick Astley, I just think it’s ironic! (insert dumb giggle.)” Worst part about that it that it isn’t even ironic (and no, that doesn’t make it ironic, it just makes you stupid). At least when we used sarcasm, we knew what it meant and what its purpose was; liking something but not because it’s ironic is really just ignorant of the word and kind of sad. Wow, I wish I was cool enough to not understand irony and find non-ironic things ironic and therefore funny.