Popular culture stagnation since mid-1990s?

This is undoubtedly true. Athleisure is massive. Young people think nothing of wearing track pants or or leggings out and about.

It’s an interesting discussion and one I’ve wondered about too.

There’s definitely been cultural changes, particularly involving technology and our relationship with it, but broadly I agree that in many respects many aspects of pop culture do seem remarkably similar over the past 30-odd years.

I was watching The Brittas Empire not long ago and struck by how the show (which was made in the 1990s) didn’t appear to have dated much at all, beyond hairstyles (which still don’t scream “1990s” as much as “not 2021”).

The first three seasons of Arrested Development were from 2003-2006, but they could have been made yesterday because it just doesn’t appear to have dated. Ditto Malcolm In The Middle (2000-2006), The Sopranos (1999-2007),

When I was watching TV in the 80s and 90s, they were showing Hogan’s Heroes and Gilligan’s Island and Get Smart on TV in NZ and it was clear to me even as a kid those were old shows from a different time - never mind things like The Addams Family and The Beverley Hillbillies, which were - gasp - in black & white.

I could watch the first series of Malcolm In The Middle with my kids and they’d have no reason to think it was an “Old” show, despite being made 21 years ago.

Having said that, a lot of pop culture is internet based now so while we might be dressing similarly and even listening to similar music, there’s still a lot going on that is very different culturally to earlier times.

One big change is tattoos on men and women - we’re at the point now where not having any ink is almost more remarkable than having a tattoo, and tattoos are just as likely to be intricate full sleeves and other meaningful artwork (on both men and women) as they are to be a stereotypical skull or eight-ball or Lady Luck or dolphin or butterfly or whatever.

As another example, take memes. They’re a big part of internet culture but I haven’t seen a Demotivational Poster in the wild for more than a decade (no, I don’t want a link, thanks, I’m illustrating a point) - but there’s heaps of other memes that express ideas which weren’t necessarily “a thing” or tapped into previously. I mean, memes are almost their own language at this point and increasingly make sense only if you understand the template, context, etc.

Perhaps the shift to an increasingly “online” culture is what’s caused the stagnation of “real world” changes in pop culture in a broad sense (ie, not talking about hip, with-it youngsters and fashionistas etc)? The changes are there, they’re just not visible as easily at surface level on a casual glance the way they were for previous decades (ie prior to the 1990s)?

That look would not be unusual for the mid-'70s on. My take is that she is probably pre-2000, as there are no obvious piercings or ink.

High probability of pre 2013 or so, as her hair is a natural-looking color. That is one thing (pink, purple, green, blue, etc, hair tinting) that, although present 30 years ago, did not become really pervasive prior to the past decade.

Same here. There’s only so much variety to go around, it seems.

Also, the lack of rips in the jeans probably ties it to some time period. Are they high-wasted or hip huggers? They will also point to a time.

This thread is basically people who are out of touch with current fashion and music saying how fashion and music hasn’t changed since the poster’s heyday.

Sez you. Also no one said fashion and music hasn’t changed. People have pondered if there’s less change, or more incremental change, than used to be. No-one here or elsewhere has provided evidence this isn’t so.

I have pre- / early teen kids. We listen to much of the same music, and watch much of the same movies. My daughter proudly wears Iron Maiden tour T-shirts, and my son’s favorite band is AC/DC. It would have been unfathomable that I or my sisters had listened to the same music or consumed the same pop media as our father, in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

That’s the same show where a character opines that his family shouldn’t be dressing like it’s the 60s, because…“It’s the 21st century! We should be dressing like it’s the 80s!”

Really? Because in the 80s, most of my friends were listening to Led Zeppelin, the Stones, the Doors, and other classic rock, which was definitely my father’s era music. Meanwhile, my father was a big fan of New Wave, which was “my” music back then – we both listened to WLIR, had Clash, Devo, and Japan albums, loved Blondie, etc.

Really. My father didn’t listen to Led Zeppelin, or any “classic rock”. He listened to Schlager. And he sure as hell didn’t latch on to New Wave, come the early 80’s.

These are very interesting anecdotes, but I don’t don’t see how they prove things either way.

I think the point is that current fashion and music aren’t something you have to seek out in some way to be in touch with. If some clothing style or music was really the new thing, it would be obvious based on what people are wearing at the office, at the grocery store, or while dining out. Same thing with music, although admittedly to a lesser extent as many people now listen to their music with earbuds.

I think that tattoos, piercings, and unnatural hair colors are in style and you see them everywhere. 20 years ago, they would be much, much less common, especially the hair colors, sleeves. Trap rap, which my son seems to love, is everywhere now and nowhere 20 years ago.

Just because us old fogies still wear cargo shorts and keep the satellite radio tuned to the Springsteen channel doesn’t mean young people haven’t moved on.

I’ll grant that it’s definitely easier to stay in your own entertainment bubble than it was in the past.

I’ll agree on the tattoos and piercings. The unnatural hair color not so much. Maybe the trend hasn’t reached us here in south Texas. I still think of that as something that goth / emo teenagers do rather than it being a mainstream trend.

I’ve found it more associated with young (and not so young) women with mental health issues of varying degrees, personally. But yeah, unnatural hair colour is very much a thing.

It is everywhere up here in the northeast, mostly women and girls, and it seems to be up to like middle age in women.

Everyone is in their own bubble now, young and old. The music or fashion you call “current” is just another set of bubbles, no better or worse than any other. Cutting edge is just another playlist.

Both of you are grasping at straws. None of the things you mentioned have ever been SO pervasive that the lack of them can possibly be a reliable indicator.

Take tattoos, for one example. Yes, they are much more common today than they were even 20 years ago. But–

Those under 55 years old are twice as likely to have at least one tattoo. Forty percent of those ages 18-34 and 36% of those ages 35-54 have at least one tattoo


Even among the most heavily-tattooed demographic, less than half have any tattoos!

Thus, the idea that you can place somebody as “most likely before X date” based on a lack of tattoos is factually incorrect.

And it’s true. I don’t think many young men back in 1994 would have been caught dead in a pair of skinny jeans worn by dudes in 2012.

Auto-tune is an example of a change in music. I’m guessing Cher’s “Believe” back in 1998 wasn’t the first song to use auto-tune but it’s the first one I can remember and now it’s use is ubiquitous. I have to admit that I have difficulty with modern pop music at times. When I listened to “WAP” by Cardi-B I wasn’t offended by the lyrics but at the same time I just didn’t think it was all that great. I promised myself a long time ago I wouldn’t turn into one of those old people who complaints that today’s music is just crap. And I’m not going to say Cardi-B or other artists today are producing crap. But it’s not the same stuff I grew up listening to and I just don’t care for a lot of it personally. It sure seems different enough to me.

With those pants I’d guess 2010 or later.

So what? Less than 50 percent of the population dressed in typical beads and hair bands that you would associate with the hippies of the sixties. Less than 50 percent of the population wore bellbottoms that you would associate with the 70s.

That picture illustrates nothing.