It’s Tuesday morning, I wake up and trudge down the stairs to Mission dining hall. On the way down I pick up a copy of the Record, and turn to the One in 2000 , Dan Perttu ’01, interviewed by Nat Bessey ’00. After the first question I was sent into a state of shock that’s never good for someone who’s just woken up. Let me quote it for you:
“Q: I know it’s only been a month but what do you miss most about the ’90s? A: Well, the ’90s wasn’t really a decade defined by much, so there’s not much to miss.”
Now, I don’t care if you don’t miss anything about the ’90s or is you miss everything but to say “the ’90s wasn’t really a decade defined by much,” is nothing short of ignorant. Coming from a Williams student it’s also offensive to think any of us should be so unlearned to say something like that.
After reading that question I sat down and came up with a list of important and defining things and events of the ’90s. I was surprised to see how many I could come up with in a matter of seconds. Here are just some, in no particular order.
*Popular Culture: Generation X came to its own; Star Wars redefined itself and came back to affect a whole new generation with the Special Edition release of the originals and the first movie in the new prequel trilogy; retro-cool with fashions from ’60s and ’70s again becoming popular; helmed by Titanic and the Backstreet Boys, teeny-bopper culture came back with a bang, making the media gear a good number of their products towards pre-adolescent girls.
*Entertainment: Independent films were brought to the forefront in the film industry making their distributors (especially Miramax) more powerful than most studios which ruled the industry; Grunge from the early ’90s lead the way for alternative music helmed by Nirvana and Hip Hop saw it’s biggest emergence ever, possibly being the defining music of the ’90s; Seinfeld redefined humor and wit through his standup routine and, more importantly, his monumental television show.
*Mass Media: The war between Mass Media and those who say it causes our youth to act in violent and anti-social ways continued, beginning with Beavis and Butt-Head in the early ’90s and continuing straight through last year with the infamous Columbine shootings.
*Domestic and Foreign Affairs: The fall of communism in Russia and the end of the Cold War which dominated a good part of this entire century; the Gulf War and continued problems with Iraq which lead to more bombings last year; The impeachment of President Clinton for lying about his relations with Monica Lewinsky, followed by his dramatic apology to the nation.
*Technology: The ’90s was undoubtedly the decade of the computer to the point where not having basic computer skills in unthinkable and not owning one has become almost a shock.
*One word: Internet. The biggest thing for communication since the telephone, the ’90s saw it becoming a necessity to any and everyone. That alone could define the ’90s and it would be enough.
The ’90s were a fitting end to what is arguably the most eventful century in human history. If anything needs defining it’s not the ’90s. Anyone who says the ’90s had no defining characteristics is ignorant.
Rolando Garcia ’02