'90s Nostalgia in Full Swing -- Already
Kurt Cobain, heroin chic, Cindy Crawford, Monica Lewinsky — how did everything new get old so fast?
Even though 1999 was only five years ago, the success of games like Trivial Pursuit '90s Edition (search) and the VH1 flashback program "I Love the '90s" (search) shows that reminiscing about the not-so-distant past is already da bomb diggity.
"It was fun to watch ['I Love the '90s'] because I could relate to it. No matter what year they were talking about, you knew what was going on," said Matt Garofalo, a 23-year-old Atlanta law student who is among the many fans of VH1's blast-from-the-past series.
But that fact that people young and old can both wax nostalgic about the era of "grunge" is only part of its appeal — many say Americans are also longing for a wealthier, less violent time.
"The '90s were a soft decade when people were working. People were making money and people were just getting fat and lazy," said comedian Greg Fitzsimmons, who reflects on Bob Dole, Kato Kaelin (search) and the Snapple lady on "I Love the '90s."
It was also a time when most American troops were home and the threat of terror was just a faint possibility.
"I don't think my generation had any problems. The scariest thing we had to deal with was Columbine. We said it was our JFK assassination. We didn't have the Cold War. We didn't care about anything," Garofalo said.
Proving that the nostalgia trend is in full swing, classic-TV network Nick at Nite has received its highest ratings to date thanks to the recent addition of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," a series that ran from 1990 to 1996 starring '90s über-celebrity Will Smith. The network has also added "Roseanne" and "Wings" to its lineup.
Other media are catching on and cashing in.
"We said to ourselves, 'What would people like?' The '90s seemed like a good idea," said Mark Morris, director of public relations for Hasbro, the company that produces Trivial Pursuit '90s Edition, which sells for $39.95.
"The '90s Edition is a lot of fun because people will approach it and say, 'I was around in the '90s, I know that question,'" added Morris. He wouldn't reveal the exact number of sales, but did say that the company was "very pleased" so far.
To market the game, Hasbro even traveled cross-country with a mobile '90s museum, bringing artifacts such as a bottle of Pepsi Clear to the masses.
However, cute trivia aside, people tend to forget that the '90s opened with a war, a recession and an attack on the World Trade Center. It was also the age of O.J., Monica, Ecstasy, "raves," Columbine and waif models.
"To me, it's an embarrassment. I don't like to look back at that time at all," said Mindy Novack, an attorney from New York.
Paul Thaler, author of 1997's "The Spectacle: Media and the Making of the O.J. Simpson Story," especially hates it when people smile at the mention of a famous car chase.
"When people look back at the Simpson trial, I am curious what they are remembering. The bottom line of the Simpson case is two people were murdered," he said.
Fitzsimmons added that Americans might not miss the '90s so much as they miss America before Sept. 11.
"The 1990s were the end of innocence for this country. The end of all we knew," he said.
But as with every decade, nostalgia about the age of dot-com stocks and supermodels is likely to only get stronger over time.
"It's great to look back and remember," said Garofalo. "The '90s were fun."