A "Wonder Years" fact...

There is also the romance of nostalgia to reckon with. We just seem, as a society to wax more fondly about the 60s. The 90s? Not so much.
Another poster mentioned how time telescopes on itself – I was 10 in 1968, the time the Wonder Years was starting to cover. In the late 80s, during the show’s run, I felt that an enormous amount of time had gone by since I was a 10 year old. But now, looking at 1994, it’s like yesterday – well, almost. But I certainly don’t feel that distance of time as I did from my 10 year old self to 1988. IMO.

I was born in 1961 and I remember thinking how old TV shows like I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke show looked when I watched reruns in the early 70’s.

Forty years later, It does not seem as if Cheers, Cosby and Family Ties are older now than I Love Lucy was in 1974. They are much older.

I’m 24 and everyone my age pines for the good old times of the 90s but all we talk about is what TV shows there were so it wouldn’t be an interesting TV show to portray people just watching TV

Effectively, yes. I mean, there will always be some crime, and some people who want to mark their turf, but the real gang wars stopped years ago. First, what happened in 1992 inspired the two dominant gangs to declare a truce. Us against them, not us guys against you guys. Second, the '90s were a time of prosperity. Third, people chose to stop the cycle; they went to school and got regular jobs. Fourth, 9/11: another turning point that discouraged Americans from fighting among themselves. And fifth, or perhaps 4.5, gang violence always goes down when we’ve got troops overseas. People with something to prove can do it in camo instead of colors.

Hard to believe, but too far back by a number of years. Two decades ago, Ace of Base was all over the place with The Sign while Lisa Loeb was heading for #1 with Stay.

[/Casey Kasem voice]

Early 40s.

FWIW I think the Internet is what makes time since the 90s seem like it froze. If you can re-experience anything at the touch of a button, you never feel like you lost anything and if you don’t lose anything you can’t have the joy of it coming back to you (i.e. Nostalgia).

Culture hasn’t changed much since the 90s.

The 60s was the space race, the Beatles and Elvis. People were mostly clean-cut. Cars were boxy.

The early 70s was hippies, psychedelic rock, and counter-culture. Men and women wore long hair. Clean-cut looks were old fashioned. Towards the end of the 70s this shifted into the Disco era (blech). Leisure suits. 'Nuff said. Cars were more rounded and stylish. Everything (including the cars) was earth-tone colored.

The 80s shifted back to the clean-cut look. Big business, big greed, and yuppies were in. Basically, disco out, wall street in. And for some really strange reason all women had poofy hair and poofy shoulders. Cars went back to being boxy.

The late 80s and early 90s saw a shift away from clean-cut again (every generation cycles I guess). Wall street and Alex P. Keaton were out and hip-hop was in, along with grunge rock.

And then what? We still have the same basic hip-hop MTV music and grunge rock. They’ve evolved a little bit, but not much. There’s no radical shift in music. There’s no radical shift in clothing styles. There’s no radical change in car styles (for the most part). The major shift in car styles has been to tweak the shape of the headlights and tail lights. Big fat hairy deal.

If it wasn’t for the internet and folks walking around looking down at their smart phones while they blindly walk into telephone poles and fountains, you almost wouldn’t notice that anything has changed.

Sorry, I was going to let this go and couldn’t.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Released September 10, 1991.

“The Sign”
Released October 29, 1993.

I hardly think the difference from that period is worth noting.


The digital/internet revolution has put the breaks on cultural development in an unprecedented way.

I remember that the pilot episode ended with Winnie learning of her brother’s death in Vietnam. So if the show was updated to the early 1990s, he could have been killed in the first Gulf War or perhaps the Battle of Mogadishu. No matter what else changes, the US is always at war someplace.

Heh. For sure. I consider myself pretty fortunate that, as a now 34 year old, my entire childhood in America was basically war-free, aside from the 1st Gulf War, which was, as wars go, short and sweet.

I suspect that for a lot of people, the difference is purely personal. The changes in one’s perspective between childhood and early adulthood are much greater than the changes between early and later adulthood. So, whatever cultural era it happened to be on a national scale, the world of one’s childhood is always going to seem qualitatively different, while changes since growing up will seem merely incremental.

TL’DR version: Puberty.

The 90s absolutely feel 20 years ago to me.

What explains the broader phenomenon? You don’t hear the octogenarians saying this. It’s mostly people in their 30s and 40s making this comparison. And those people were too young in the 90s to have any meaningful cultural experience of the late 60s/early 70s as adults.

Talk to people in their teens or 20s. I imagine they have a different perspective on whether or not the 90s feel 20 years ago. Or talk to older people. I imagine they see things differently, too.

Basically, ask the question again in a century. I imagine the people of 2114 will see a bigger cultural difference between 1994 and 2014 than we do.

To me, that’s an enormous change. I don’t understand how people can handwave that away as a “no-biggie” just because there hasn’t been any major development in fashion or some new dominant music form like hip-hop on the scene. (Although influences of more modern genres like dubstep in pop music are apparent–even though most 2010s music doesn’t sound like 90s music to me for the most part-- and there are certainly identifiable 2000s and 2010s fashion trends. See hipsters for an easy example.)

But my life between 1994 and 1974 would be more similar than my life between now and 1994. In 1994, I didn’t even own a computer (though I did have a C128 a few years previous), but I was getting familiar with the internet through the university. The Web was really going to break that year, culture-wise, but was still in its infant stages. You wanted to research something? You went to the library. You wanted to take photos? You bought film and developed it. You wanted to make music? You got yourself a Tascam 4-track. You wanted to talk to someone halfway around the world? You either paid up the wazoo or wrote a letter. You wanted to find those Pearl Jam bootlegs? You had to know someone or scour the classifieds. Wanted to know the news in Tanzania? Good luck unless your library subscribes to Tanzanian papers, and they’ll be a few days or weeks out of date. Want to see a picture of your new niece halfway across the country? You have to wait for your brother to take the picture, develop it, and send you a 4x6. And so on, and so forth.

Now, we can all do that barely stepping a foot out of the house. You can send a high resolution image of your daughter to brother halfway across the country right now from your freaking phone! Hell, you can send video. You want to read the news in Tanzania? Which paper? You can get it right now. Settle a bar bet about a piece of trivia? Google it. Don’t know the name of the song on the radio? Shazam it. Want to drive to Ann Arbor while taking into account current traffic conditions? Google Maps it. In the mood for Indian? Yelp or grubhub or tripadvisor it. Need any piece of electronics I can think of? Screw you Radioshack, I’ve got digikey. For that matter, anything I want to buy, I don’t have to waste time going from store to store looking for it, I can comparison shop, and get reviews, all while sitting at my desk, nestling a warm coffee.

I mean, to me, that is mind-boggling. I had no idea my life would be so different today from 20 years ago.

What I am doing now is the epitome of this. I am listening to The TV Sound, a Duran Duran soundalike band that I found only because I briefly thought that The TV Sound would make a good name for a Duran Duran soundalike band. So thanks to the Internet I was able to find and purchase it and listen to it on the computer (the tech of which I had had since 1985 but 1994-1985, same diff.) Although the band itself is self-consciously 80s.

Plus, I’m typing at people half the way around the world, and am filling out forms to do chores whose turnaround would have been days in postage in years before.

And I don’t even have a smartphone.

In the late 60s versus early 90s, the vast majority of people would still find out about, listen to, and buy music the same way they did in both decades, not to mention still pay their bills and research companies the same old way. The PC if anything was for gaming and writing.

That show would be extremely popular. Maybe you are too young to remember but Beavis and Butthead were hugely popular and mostly all they did was sit around and watch tv.

And even in my profession as a photographer. Ten years ago today, I still hadn’t made the switch to digital. It would have been around May or June of 2004 when I put away the old Nikon F5 and F90x and got my first Fuji S2s. It’s one decade later, and the way I do my work is completely revolutionized from how I did it a mere ten years ago. I knew digital photography was going to hit the mainstream in the mid-90s, but it was still hard to conceive in the mid-to-late-90s (when I first saw a pro digital body–I believe it was a Nikon 8008 with a Kodak back) just how good and how quickly the technology would take over the industry. And they added video capabilities into the mix, too, which has also changed how editorial photographers do their jobs, too, with “multimedia” being the buzzword for the last decade or so.

Now 1994 vs 1974? Same basic stuff. Cameras didn’t have as good autofocus (but I was manually focusing all my stuff, anyway, at the time). Maybe film emulsions weren’t quite as good (although Kodachrome always rocked it.) Not much a difference at all. The workflow is the same. Operating the camera is the same. Maybe you’d scan it in 1994 and throw it through Photoshop before transmitting instead of printing it. That’s one possible difference, but, for the most part, not much difference at all. I realize this is just one industry, but this explosion in technology and its affordability happened across many creative fields from 1994 to 2014. See music and video.

A couple of years ago, my much younger teenage sister and I were listening to the Tupac song Changes, which has a line about America not being ready for a black president. I made a little comment about Tupac’s prediction being wrong, and she countered that the song (from 1998) was *really *old.

I still feel nostalgia for things from the past, even though the internet makes it easier to access some of those things. Sometimes I watch old music videos and it makes me feel nostalgic and a bit awestruck that they’re even available, since that back in the 90s once the video was taken off MTV or VH1’s rotation, it was gone.

I merely wanted to note that “The Sign” was #1 on the charts twenty years ago to the day this week – so it’s not that it would miss the date a couple of years closer than “Smells Like Teen Spirit” does, but that it wouldn’t miss at all.