90’s Nostalgia? Nah.

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June 27, 2013

A comprehensive list of reasons we’re fucking happy the 90s are over

Question–how many “How You Know You Were a Kid of The 90s,” or “Ten Things We Miss About The 90s,” or even, “What Gen. Z Will Never Understand About The 90s” stories have you read in the last, let’s say, three years?

Ten dozen?

Same. Ditto. Retweet.

The supposition is that it has only been recently that products of Gen. Y could really reminisce and express nostalgia for the epoque that defined their childhoods–and this may amount for the vast influx of chummy, list driven stories to aid the recollection process. But no more. In such a highly fast-pace, ruled-by-the-internet moment–because that’s precisely what it is, you know, a moment–we’re barely basking in the glory of now. And that is a shame.

On the one hand, we’re overlooking plenty of opportunities to feature a brand new shitload of parodic information that can help create the same type of stories (see: Ten Things Kanye West Might Still Be Saying When He’s 80, or Videostagram: Ten Things Man Repeller Never Should Have Posted). On the other, inquisitive hand, shouldn’t we know by now that 90s nostalgia is clearly an awfully inflated memory of grand old times? As my dad always says, the old times are always good. We forget the bad lot.

But it’s 2013, people. We’re practically operating on the very robots Screech and the producers of Saved by The Bell speculated The Future may hold, (in their current form, they’re laptops, but there’s no need to get specific). You know what else? It is going to stay 2013 until it is 2014. That pattern will continue on until and the next 90s that we–or rather, the following generations of we–see will be so wildly removed from The Backstreet Boys, they will indubitably ask what a “CD” is. Someone will try to explain that in “the olden days” people had to use those to consume mp3 files. And you know what will happen then? The Future We will be like, “mp3s? What the fuck are those?”

It’s a cycle, you see, but in case you need supplementary convincing, we’re going to make like BuzzFeed and share with you a comprehensive list of ten things we absolutely do not miss about the 90s.

1. Computer Towers. This may have slipped your mind, but before Gateway was used as the adjective before drug to describe marijuana, it was a computing system that, before Facebook tagged the term “social utility” to, connected you with the people around you.

2. The Modem. The sound of a modem and the consequent wait. Don’t tell me you don’t remember staring at AOL’s running man while placing all your eggs in a basket that preached in favor of his finally getting to his big ol’ America Online family. Sometimes it worked but often it didn’t. In both instances, it took about as much time to sign on as it might now to, say, write a full feature story on potatoes shaped like cats, or get your legs waxed.

3. Britney Spears as The American Dream. While we can’t speak for you, all three of us wanted really, really, really badly to be Britney Spears. Of couse, that also meant that we wanted cropped cotton tops, ripped denim mini skirts, black streaks in our blond hair and perhaps the most lethal of all: belly button rings. That’s not The American Dream. That’s a bad autosales commercial.

4. Frosted Tips. On the other end of America’s dream and its spectrum were the angels of NSYNC. I’d be hard-pressed to criticize their music and though, yes, ombre hair (which essentially is a glavanized frosted tip, isn’t it?) did have a moment somewhere, sometime in 2010, that just seemed slightly less abrasive than the more popular frosted tips of the 90s. How does a man with frosted tips even attempt to wear a suit without looking in the mirror and asking, “what’s wrong with me?”

5. Your Walkman and Its CD Case. Carrying around a bulky walkman in the event you may want to listen to some music at your behest was burdensome. Much more, however, was the toting an additional CD case should you have wanted to interchange Mariah Carey with Coolio or Shania Twain.

6. A Pre-DVR Blessed Cable Box. The act of setting your VHS player to record the every-Degrassi-episode-ever marathon was no treat.  You hoped the timer would go off at the right time, you hoped you weren’t taping over the last installment of said marathon and you hoped you would be home in time to change out the tape. Often you weren’t and what you’d have to do at that point was make sure not to schedule any after school recreational activities to overlap with your watching the newest episode of Family Matters. (Remember Laura’s first foray into drug abuse with Adderall? Dramedy at its finest.)

7. Bad Denim. Somehow the 90’s engineered the most unflattering amalgamation of bootcut and flare pants. I’m not quite where along the way they started getting it right, but my guess on the fit model is that she had a wildly narrow waist, an enormously fat vagina, and peculiarly long legs.

8. Overly Coordinated Ensembles. Britney and Justin championed this one but no matching boyfriend-girfriend set spoke to us quite like the one David and Victoria Beckham pulled out of their S&M themed trove of sartorial conquests to make us all wonder why a woman would ever agree to let her boyfriend don the same blazon of (leather) outfit?

9. Landlines And The Bitchiness of 3-Way Calling. Regina George. Need we say more? (Also, I’m not sure about you but I got mad stage fright when my friends’ parents would pick up and I would have to ask to talk to said friend. Often, in fact, I hung up.)

10. Body & Hair Glitter: Sure, in its current form, glitter is almost magical enough to diminish the use of Prozac but remind me again why we wanted to look like fairies (and had no choice but to look like fairies for the posterior month while we tried tirelessly to wash that shit off) on our way to school/the supermarket/track practice?

Don’t get us wrong, though, there were certainly some sweet spots. For one, in fact, subways were considerably cheaper. It’s just…were they faster? In a city where time is money, that’s just one question we’ve got to canvass in considering that which makes the perennial now wholly better than the past, and, I don’t know, maybe even better than the prospect of a future. We’re no fools, though. No one will learn. And we can already predict with conviction how hard Gen. Z will be yearning for “the early aughts” come that aforementioned future.

  • Irene Laura
  • shannon

    I miss all these things about the 90s honestly (except dial up that’s the devil). It was so genuine and less achingly self-aware unlike everything about this generation. Like back then they really thought those bad jeans were cute unlike now where we dress awful for irony’s sake.

  • mariah serrano

    this article is awesome

  • amartiamou

    Nostalgia is overrated…keeps you stuck in the past, avoiding the present and generally f’ing up the future

  • http://www.farandwildjewelry.com/ abigail lind

    the 90s had its highs (2ge+her) and lows (the jeans) but we really have the 90s to thank for much of what we love about today. are tweets not just away messages that we spend the same amount of time carefully crafting? is not instagram just digital polaroid pictures with far less shaking it like said polaroid picture? is not vine just your dad’s huge ass camcorder that you would beg him to borrow to make hilarious videos and inadvertently hilarious music videos in the style of britney spears with your friends?

    abigail
    http://www.farandwildjewelry.com

  • Julie Meowmeows

    All I miss is non digital Disney animation.

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    Ach, the 90’s … for no discernible reason the biggest part of my time computing brain parts still thinks they were, like, yesterday (my brain automatically connects them with the time expression “not so long ago” – I wonder which truth is getting suppressed here? That I am old?). And I wasn’t even that young anymore in the 90’s, just studying.

    And yes, nowadays, life with modems, PC towers, glitter or Justin Timberlake of olden days would be BAD.

    Didn’t mind the walkman, though. And which is more important: I caught the last chance of getting to know my hubby by snail mail (first internet connection? 1998!), which might be the only thing I feel nostalgic about. Writing letters, I mean. Not catching potential husbands with my terrible handwriting …

  • lifeonthesquares

    love #9 – I did the same thing when calling boys houses. so funny.

    XO, Stefanie
    Life on the Squares

  • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

    I went through that 10 years ago, about the 80’s, when I grew up!

    http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/

  • http://www.simplyonelove.com/ erica jensen

    Well, I think the grunge bands were the best part of the 90’s.

    simplyonelove.com

  • Hudson Berry

    None of us truly believed you were actually so loud until Videostagram. But we are proud.

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    While I my birth year (1996) did not allow for my full presence in this decade, I do have a love-hate relationship with those damn CD players. I used to need one in 1st grade to be able to ride the bus to school, I guess because it was such a nerve-wracking process to me. They’re comforting but also haunting to look back on.
    Despite my inability to vouch from experience, I think a lot of good came out of certain aspects of the 90s. Sure, the jeans were bad, but there were some great day dresses (I’m wearing some that my mother wore in college circa ’90/’91). Also, in terms of feminism, there was that whole movement in music, what with Kathleen Hanna and the other Riot Grrrls. Though my eardrums have little tolerance for the sounds of punk rock, their message was extremely important — that we could do anything, even pick up a guitar and sing ballads about our missions for the future.

  • grace kane

    I miss that I was 13 years younger at the beginning of it!

  • Jessica

    Could this article be any more truthful? The fact that we only remember the good things about the past is spot on. Rarely do we think about the bad times when we are reminiscing about our childhood or “first world problems” of the 90’s. No one wishes that things were the way they were in the 90’s, they only miss how good they thought things were back then.

    http://www.lovelyandfabulous.com

  • Jennifer

    You know the Backstreet Boys still put out CDs and tour, right? They’re new cd is out next month!

    xo Jennifer

    http://seekingstyleblog.wordpress.com

    • http://thequietspaces.blogspot.com/ Leira Zetroc

      Not even gonna lie, I was there for their 20th anniversary celebration in LA back in April! Haha ;)

  • habitatus

    LOVE this post. Was just having a tangential conversation about this the other day. There was a time when it was actually a thing to not fetishize the past, but to be imaginative in the present while visualizing the future. As a good easy example: “New Wave,” “New Age” and varied sci-fi based movements (from ‘blade runner’ to ‘small wonder’) of the late 1970s and early or mid 80s. It was totally uncool then to glorify the past then, as it was associated with conservatism (the 50s) and war (the 60s). It seems sad to me now that the current generation is so hung up on either 80s or 90s aesthetics. I see it as a post 9/11 thing: in an environment that is so much less hopeful and pre-disposed to cynicism (rightly so), there is this trend to fetishize the not-too-distant past, as it was the last moment of innocence or euphoria (culturally). SO SO SO GLAD TO READ THIS POST BY A GIFTED, YOUNGER WRITER that bucks this trend. It is so optimistic &…just plain awesome. ;)

    • Janey

      Wow, I didn’t realise this. It shows you really have to put things in historical context, huh.

  • Jessica

    Another pet peeve about the 90’s for me…cotton t-shirts. Well I suppose cotton was the worst at all times prior to this century, but t-shirts were big in the nineties, particularly those tight ones with “cutesy” sayings on them. The problem though was that cotton hadn’t evolved to the soft wonderful fabric it is today, and after a few washes these t-shirts were stiff, misshapen and terrible.

    • Leandra Medine

      Excellent point! And the cotton t-shirts intended for men were like, knee length.

  • http://thequietspaces.blogspot.com/ Leira Zetroc

    Backstreet’s Back, Alright!

  • http://www.fellowthreads.wordpress.com/ Fellow Threads

    I for sure thought this was going to be a 90s nostalgia post. So pleasantly surprised to see that it’s not. I’m a 90s kid through and through, and you know what? You’re right. There was a lot of effed up shit about that time. LIKE THE DIAL-UP MODEM OH MY GOD THE HORROR OF IT ALL. Logging onto AOL or AIM everyday was a game of chance with that damn thing. The sound, that stupid yellow man running, only to be told a connection couldn’t be made. I could go on for days about this entire post… sigh…

  • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

    I appreciate that we no longer live in a world where my little sister can kick me off the internet simply by picking up the phone…just to fuck with me. :-)

    I do sometimes get that pit-in-the-stomach feeling when people who were babies (or not even born yet) in the 90’s wax philosophically about it. Yeah, there were good parts…but to plop today’s pre-teen in front of the 1995 computer and tell them it’s gonna take 5 minutes to get the internet to turn on…and should the wind kick a little to the east, it’ll be gone for good…they’d be on the floor writhing in some kind of epileptic fit before the dialup was done screeching it’s swan song.

    Being a teen in the 90’s took a serious level of patience, a trait that I still pride myself on every time my husband squeals in anger at the wireless router shutting down during a thunderstorm. I just laugh, pick up a book, and revel in the fact that I can overcome anything after having to deal with locally-run dialup and AOL. :-)

    • Jtizz

      My dad used to disconnect the modem so we couldn’t even dial up to punish us haha… until we found out where the switch was in the house ahahahaha oh the times I have spent on AOL and the chat rooms haha!

      • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

        Ha…dads. I had to help teach my dad how to set up our internet at home, so he was useless when it came to using the internet to punish me. I also knew their dumb passwords for everything because this was 1995 and they didn’t realize that using their dog’s name as a password wasn’t really a secret. ;-)

  • Chic Trends

    Aol, N’SYNC, and the glitter hair gel really hit the 90’s spot in my heart. I might visit aol.com just for old times sake. For some reason I keep thinking about the chokers and butterfly hair clips. My head seriously looked like a national park. No joke.

    Thanks for sharing MR, http://chictrends.co.uk/

  • Alejandra

    Excuse me, as an avid Man Repeller reader, I request you write part II in which 90’s nostalgia is a “YAH.” (see: slap bracelets, butterfly clips, caboodles, crop tops, Clueless) (dont see: dial up internet, hair crimper, color contacts)

    • Leandra Medine

      See: October’s homage to Clueless! How about a follow up that galvanizes all the gr8 stuff about 2013!?

      • Alejandra

        Yes pls! Followed by trends were so glad are over– Like juicy sweats, patterned logo print’s, rhinestoned tshirts, fraps, ect.

  • http://thecornerapartment.com/ Elizabeth @ TheCornerApartment

    I can second everything you just said. Nostalgia like this is great, but I think some things are best left in the past.

    Elizabeth

  • Hayfa

    This post was HILARIOUS! Totally going to whip this out whenever my friends try to get all nostalgic on me and talk about how cool it is to be a 90’s kid! ;)

    Hayfa

    http://chic-and-cliche.blogspot.com

  • ashleymaciejewski

    “I like it when girls stop by…for the summer.”

  • Giulia

    Glitter, oh glitters! I remember I had an enviable collection of body glitter in every shape and colour. I was so jealous of it, I only used them on “special occasions”. Unfortunately my Gollum-like attitude caused the glitters to dry out before I could use them up! That has been a 90’s life lesson I still keep in mind…

  • jaclyn

    the cd portable player… I had like 5 (that sony one)!

    check my blog: http://stylevolver.blogspot.com

  • alexandra j auger

    I remembered the day the boy I liked showed up to class with frosted tips. We were so over.

    also, Internet today still requires a modem, just sayin’… but I definitely don’t miss dial-up.

  • Holly-Bella

    ‘enormously fat vagina’? wow, you are definitely my favourite blogger :)

    http://thepersephonecomplex.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Kate Co

    Hahah I actually feel nostalgic after reading this. My friends and I always reminisce about 90’s pop hits, and finally understanding the true meaning of some of these songs. Key example is b4-4’s song “Get Down” with lyrics like ‘If you get down on me, i’ll get down on you’ and ‘I’m going to make you come tonight’. I wonder what my parents thought?

    http://www.dashofkate.blogspot.com

  • kjotoya

    Thank you. My friend who is in his 30’s was just “God, I miss the 90’s!” yesterday and I literally gawked at him. He loved it because he turned 18 and went to college in the 90’s, and the only reason I care for that time would be because my mom had me in the nineties, and she was a cute trendy 90’s mom. While we can still see glimpses of the that time now and then, in the way people dress and designers also reminisce, I’m glad we’ve gotten past (most of) it. RIP Kurt Cobain and 90’s-grunge, we loved you.

    http://tales-of-whimsy.tumblr.com/

  • Jtizz

    HAHAHAHA THE DEGRASSI COMMENT…oh jeez, and the discman with my CD book haha exchanging Linkin Park with NSYNC. I remember when bell bottoms made a comeback, and who can forget the best fashion invention ever… TEARAWAYS!!!

    • Leandra Medine

      That was Charlotte’s brilliant contribution

  • NL

    Mean Girls wasn’t in the 90s

  • kathryn

    CASELOGIC. and CD TOWERS. in fact, ALL CD storage was horribly obnoxious. i DO NOT miss those awful things.

  • Maria Chammah

    About the awful denim…after that came a DIY jean long skirt. You would have to open the legs of the pants and sew a jean triangle in the middle… People would even put different pieces of fabric… Here’s an ok and a bad version. Most versions ranged from bad to very bad in my world.

  • Maria Chammah

    Here the images…

  • debiparna c

    well this is just a proof of the fact that the 90s kids have grown older. and this is their decade to be nostalgic about. the 60s/70s/80s are for the parents.

  • Julez

    “How does a man with frosted tips even attempt to wear a suit without looking in the mirror and asking, “what’s wrong with me?”

    I died.

  • http://ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com/ Lydia Teo

    OMG, totally remember carrying around my walkman and countless discs that were so troublesome to exchange when I was in the middle of the streets….good memories!

    ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com

  • Désirée Delphine

    Totally! But, seriously, the 90s WERE so cool ;)

    http://ladelphinenoir.blogspot.com