Tuesday, June 22, 2021

90s Nostalgia: A Millennial Perspective

 One of the major defining traits of Millennials, I think, is the strong generational identity.  It's funny, if you think about it, because the rapidly changing cultural landscape means that not all Millennials can even relate to each other.  On the web, the lifespan of a single meme can be less than a week; trends are born and die in less than the span of a year; the shelf life of any aesthetic is brief.  And there's a huge divide between older and younger Millennials.

Nonetheless, the label of "Millennial" is a weighty one.

Here's some of the major things I think define Millennials, particularly older Millennials, the kind that grew up with AOL CDs and probably had to use a card catalogue at the library at some point:

  • Having used a floppy disk
  • Having had chicken pox (or known someone who had chicken pox)
  • The first, early wave of stupid electronic toy trends (Giga Pets, Furbies)
  • MECC games in school
  • Experiencing 9/11 as a child
  • Identifying "Boomers" as the "parent generation" that sees Millennials as children no matter what and resenting them for it with none of the no-fucks-given chill displayed by Gen X

And, most of all: 90s nostalgia.

I don't know what it is about the 90s that so enchants all Millennials.  I think a big part of it was the golden age of Nickelodeon.  I'm no exception to the 90s nostalgia, or the fond memories of Nickelodeon.  But not all Nickelodeon franchises live up to their reputation.  Some are decent (Are You Afraid of the Dark? holds up well, although the Wiki is a hot mess) while others are absolutely unwatchable (just try and get through an episode of All That without cringing into orbit).

Anyways, being a Millennial myself, I decided to revisit a couple of my favorite franchises and write an article on my discoveries.

First I took a look at the Klasky-Csupo studio (the one that brought us Rugrats and The Wild Thornberries), and discovered I have surprisingly strong opinions about their later work.  (Dear Klasky-Csupo: please stop rebooting Rugrats.)

The Klasky-Csupo Crossover No One Asked For

Next I compared two of the most "wholesome" Nicktoons, Doug and Hey Arnold!, both of which I didn't like much as a kid.  As an adult, one was worse than I remembered, and the other was far better.

Why "Doug" Is the Worst Nostalgic 90s Cartoon (and "Hey Arnold!" Is the Best)

I hope these two articles take you back, as they took me back, and give you a brief glimpse into some of the more meaningful aspects of the cartoons that no doubt affected the way the Millennial generation has processed the confusing history that's shaped it.