Written by: Nick Bessignano
The 1990’s was a decade that kickstarted advancements in a variety of different areas such as politics, technology and entertainment. Members of Generation X came of age during this time period. They pushed their counter culture beliefs into the mainstream with notable GenXers like Kurt Kobain, Tupac Shakur, and Shaquille O’Neal. Until then, GenXers were often characterized as slackers or drifters partly due to their upbringing in the 1980’s recession and increased divorce rates. The 1990’s brought many cultural and entertainment trends that people became emotionally invested into due to the limited access of content then compared to now. The nineties also saw the rise of low budget indie movies, the emergence of hip hop and electronic music, the Chicago Bulls dynasty, and a more casual dress in the fashion world. Let’s go back in time and feel the nineties nostalgia, shall we?
One of the greatest breakthroughs of the decade was Computer Generated Imagery aka CGI which brought dinosaurs to life in Jurassic Park (‘93) and seamlessly embedded historical events and figures in Forrest Gump (‘94). CGI led Disney Animation into their renaissance with features like The Lion King (‘94) and Toy Story (‘97). Furthermore, blockbusters became the law of the land when Titanic (‘97) became the first film to have a budget of $200 million, and a gross return of over $2 billion! The independent film world also became dominant during this period with the establishment of studio divisions like Fox Searchlight, Paramount Vantage, and Sony Pictures Classics. On the smaller screen, powerhouse shows like Seinfield and Friends led the way in ratings.
Music became a powerful tool for self expression during this time and resulted in the pioneering of new genres. The 1990’s decade saw the growth of hip-hop, electronic music, and alternative rock. The rap scene expanded beyond its NYC roots to satellite cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, the Bay Area and Chicago. Artists like NWA and Snoop Dogg represented West Coast rap and held a long standing rivalry with East Coast rappers including Notorious B.I.G. and Public Enemy. Alternative music was a new outlet for the counterculture movement with acts like Nirvana, Green Day, and Jane’s Addiction being mouth pieces for their generation.
1990’s basketball was most notably dominated by the Chicago Bulls dream team which included names like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pipen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, and Horrace Grant. The Bulls dynasty began in 1991 and lasted until 1998 to accumulate a grand total of 6 NBA Championships. Sparks flew on the skating rink at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer when Nancy Kerrigan was attacked in a scheme orchestrated by Tanya Harding and her then husband Jeff Gillooly. Pro football legend O.J. Simpon took over the airways in the summer of 1994 with the unprecedented news coverage of the Ford Bronco chase and shortly after the Trial of the Century.
If there was one word to define the clothing scene of the decade it would be, casual… The casual chic style was made up of jeans, hoodies, sneakers and flannels. Nirvana lead vocalist Kurt Kobain pioneered the torn jeans and untucked flannel look while neon colors were also a big trend in fashion. The work week began to introduce the idea of dressing down at the office with a more informal “casual Friday.” Style in the 1990’s saw the importance of putting function before fashion.
Nineties nostalgia is powerful in nature as it has the ability to take you to a moment from the past that you yearn to relive. The ancient Greek word can literally be translated as “pain from an old wound.” According to Jacob Juhl, a nostalgia researcher, “people become nostalgic in response to adversity or psychologically negative states.” Juhl also adds that “nostalgia helps restore people to a psychological equilibrium.” Today’s media state is full of instant feedback and even backlash at times, rapidly moving past any desire to soak in nostalgia. We should never forget what brought us to where we are today and it wouldn’t hurt to bust out that VCR and rewatch some of your past favorites.