We love the ’90s

Lauren Curmi

Waxing nostalgic is overrated. What is wrong with the here? What is wrong with the now? Why doesn’t anyone ever believe that the time they live is the best time ever? It is human nature to want to look back and compare. An era lacking the campy nature of the ’80s and the drugs and debauchery of the ’70s, the ’90s were a time for the sensitive yet troubled generation. So travel back to the glorious age of “Thundercats” and “The Simpsons” (pre-jumping the shark), when all problems could be solved in a half hour.

This was the golden age of adolescent television. Six to 12-year-olds were greeted by such classics as “Clarissa Explains it All,” “Salute Your Shorts” and “Hey Dude.” Those in the mood for a more animated flavor had “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Darkwing Duck” and “David the Gnome.” Even late nights on Friday carried an all-star lineup, as both SNICK and TGIF slammed into their acronymic prime. “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” and “Perfect Strangers” were can’t-miss shows. But two stood above the rest, two that live on in syndicated myth: “Full House” and “Saved by the Bell.”

These two shows were pivotal to the development of most of today’s 20-year-olds and still remain staples of the lives of many college students.

“It’s sad, but I still watch ‘Saved by the Bell’ and ‘Full House’ every day,” said Rachael Karl, a slightly embarrassed junior. “I don’t know what I would do without my daily dose of Zach Morris and Danny Tanner.”

Though Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Bob Saget have moved on to greener pastures, few true fans have. Most will not forgive the two actors for disgracing themselves on “NYPD Blue” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” They can still be found as “Saved by the Bell” is incrementally being released on DVD, and “Full House” can’t be far behind as the Olsen Twins crawl back into the limelight.

The ’90s lacked the cult classics of the ’80s but made up for it with monumental films, as studios poured money into the lucrative industry. Performances in “Forrest Gump” and “Philadelphia” earned Tom Hanks two Best Actor Oscars. Believe it or not, “The Shawshank Redemption” did not always exist as a TBS rerun. It was released in 1994. There were plenty of good movies, there were plenty of bad movies, but two mediocre ones managed to attract more attention than any others.

The “Scream” series spawned the teenage slasher revival. A movie starring sexy girls running around screaming and eventually being murdered by the Ghostface killer was sure to be a hit among testosterone charged boys. Plot holes and poor acting were ignored as two even shoddier sequels and countless rip-offs were produced before the idea finally bled to death. The “Scream” series was actually released in a box set and is somewhat popular despite its inclusion of “Scream 3.”

The biggest disaster epic ever takes the cake as the movie of the ’90s. The hype, the promotion, the production all made “Titanic” the biggest film ever, but it could never match the disappointed screams from trapped audience members during the three hour mess. Millions upon millions of dollars may buy a bunch of Oscars, but it apparently can’t get you a rating above a seven on imdb.com. Kate Winslet was last seen in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and Leonardo DiCaprio lives in a box on Sunset Boulevard hoping for a follow-up to “Gangs of New York.”

“The only reason I saw the movie was to make sure the boat sank, so there could be no more,” said junior Kevin Brodersen.

One word and four syllables sums up the doll of the decade: Tamagotchi. These electronic pets were raised, fed and cleaned up after by addicted children across the world. Most often though they were malnourished and killed, like so many gold fish and hamsters.

“I always had a friend with my Tamagotchi. He kept me company when I didn’t have people to hang out with,” said Allie Sabellico, a sophomore.

And then, of course, there were the small cardboard disks from another land known simply as POGs. Few knew the actual rules or origin of the bizarre toy, but every pop culture icon was printed on them and the metal slammers became the most dangerous of all objects to throw at siblings. Greedy shopkeepers were more than happy to sell the worthless fad to drooling kids, who struggled for popularity in the form of ALF and Yin Yangs.

“I used to have one with O.J. [Simpson] on it, and the joke was O.J. was in the slammer,” recalls junior Steven Deuble, referencing another icon which is still a running joke.

Equally useless, but not quite slipped into the realm of obscurity, are Beanie Babies. These small plushes went for ridiculous prices as adults joined in the commerce craze. Furbies at least were electronic and performed an action, as opposed to the immobile Beanie Babies.

“My Furby always talked to me. He wouldn’t shut up, but you could teach him things which was pretty cool,” said sophomore Leigh Maranuk.

The Internet keeps these fads alive, as Tamogotchi’s have their own website, and can even be found battling Godzilla. Furby’s thankfully went back to their own planet, and have left America to waste its money elsewhere.

The ’90s managed to avoid most of the garbage music produced in the ’80s, and a return to long lasting bands helped solidify a few new styles. Greenday, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, all brought along a cultural revolution with their new beats and melodies. Tragically, the ’90s was sandwiched by two crazes of less caliber, The New Kids on the Block and the Macarena.

“I couldn’t believe there was something worse than the Electric Slide, but than here we go,” said senior Paul Gladney. “It isn’t enough looking ridiculous dancing around, I need hand motions?”

As bad as the Macarena was, it quickly died, unlike the New Kids on the Block. Dominating young girls’ hearts and minds, the pretty boys from Boston step-by-stepped and hung tough. For about 15 minutes, anyway. Their legacy was later reborn in ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees, solidifying this as an excruciating trend. To live through boy bands not once but twice is a painful thing.

“They were so dreamy, I had all the dolls and the stage, and I watched the cartoon every week,” said Kristina Ruiz-Mesa. “I got that out of the way, and avoided the second coming.”

Whether you fancied troll dolls and Jellies or G.I. Joe’s and L.A. Lights, the ’90s offered a little something for everyone. Looking back, through the magic of the “Surreal Life” and seeing Dave Coulier, Jordan Knight and MC Hammer, maybe reminiscing isn’t so bad. As long as Lou Vega stays locked away forever.