Tonight the Nat Geo Channel unveils it's followup to the 80's - The Decade That Made Us with a series about (of course) the 1990's called The 90's - The Last Great Decade? that will be a mostly serious look at the trends and newsworthy items that took place and helped shape where we are today. Or did it?
Ending the "Last Great Decade" with a question mark says a lot about the decade. The world and its outlook changed mightily in the span of 10 years whether it was music, commerce or even world power.
I think of the 90's as basically two smaller half-decades, split right down the middle in 1995. The first, marked by recession; reflecting the struggle of average Americans in music, fashion, war and a complete reversal of the 80's. The second boosted by a stronger economy, a stronger place in the world and a changing cultural demographic.
The first half can be summed up like this: The late 80's bubble bursts, carries early into the 90's. Recession abounds, and a search for "realism" takes place and takes hold in the form of "Grunge". Nirvana ushers in a brand new style of music that has a purpose, followed by Pearl Jam and other Seattle bands. Very quickly, the world catches on because they relate, then Grunge gets popular and everyone becomes alternative. The first George Bush loses the '92 election to Bill Clinton, and Clinton's policies start to show a light at the end of the tunnel. The world is wearing flannel, everything is serious and should have deep meaning.
The second half can be summed up like this: The economy starts to roar, Grunge has transferred into being alternative, and every bit of music is "alternative" by this point. People begin to get tired of alternative, and other types of music begin to take hold, but one doesn't dominate. Boy Bands, Latino (think Ricky Martin), A form of 40's Swing music (thank you Brian Setzer), and teen girls like Brittney Spears and Christina Aguilera all take their place in pop culture. Selling out was no longer considered a bad thing, and big budget high profile movies became the rage. Computers were now in everyone's home and information was delivered to users in a more personal format, and people now talked to random strangers by way of the chat room. The Cold War was dead, and the U.S. was left standing as the only world power after the Soviet Union collapsed. The late 90's was all about the new found confidence and
So, that's how I sum up those 10 years, and that's my interpretation of why there is a question mark at the end of the decade. As a child of the 80's I'm pretty partial to the decade before, and the first five years. The second five years I couldn't relate to as much, I'm sure because I was well into adulthood by that time and leaving behind pop culture, or maybe it left me behind. I will probably watch tonight because to me it is the last great decade of my youth, and most likely to be the last decade (at least the first half) I will look back with fondness.
What did you think of the 90's?
Click an ad to support this site!