Tuesday “News:” 90s Media I Discovered Last Week

Well, I had quite a week of 90s exploration:

1. Independence Day

For all my 90s naïveté, Independence Day is one movie I have loved since childhood and watched almost every July 4th. This year I was fortunate to join the company of two friends who had never seen it before, making the experience all the better. I was glad to see Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum save the planet from aliens again this year:

HT: Seth Putnam, Katie Stipanovich, Anthony Flora

2. The End of Seinfeld

As the credits for Independence Day began to roll, my friends and I discussed what we should do before it was dark enough for fireworks. Somehow we all decided that I must finish Seinfeld. Soon we had plowed through the remaining three episodes, and my year-long run at the greatest sitcom of all time had ended. It was bitter-sweet, the satisfaction of taking a big step toward catching up with my generation but knowing I could never watch a new episode again. In many ways, Seinfeld was the backbone of my 90s exploration, and I don’t think anything else can replace it.

The Seinfeld crew during the final days of shooting. Via huffpostTV.

        The Seinfeld crew during the final days of shooting. Via HuffpostTV.

As for the finale, I’ve heard a lot of people who were disappointed by it. In my ideal ending, the gang walks out of Jerry’s apartment to go see him perform, and he closes the door behind them. The screen fades to black, and a final scene shows a few of his jokes. However, I took no issue with how the finale actually played out. I enjoyed seeing all the minor characters give testimony in court which served something of a tribute to their work in the show.

The last lines of the show are a reference back to its first dialog. During the final scene, Jerry looks across the jail cell to George and makes a comment about the buttons on his shirt. I thought it seemed awkward but must refer to something:

Jerry: See, now, to me that button is in the worst possible spot.

George: Really?

Jerry: Oh yea! The second button is the key button. It literally makes or breaks the shirt. Look at it. It’s too high. It’s in no man’s land.

George: Haven’t we had this conversation before?

Jerry: You think?

George: I think we have.

Jerry: Yea, maybe we have.

Jerry repeats the first line of the show almost word for word, bringing it to an end where it began:

3. National Geographic’s 90s Special

On Sunday night, National Geographic aired the first of the three part special called: The 90s: The Last Great Decade? The first episode, Great Expectations, begins with America’s involvement in the Gulf War and discusses how it, along with public obsession over celebrities like Anna Nicole Smith, and televised trials (Lorena Bobbitt/Jeffery Dahmer/Clarence Thomas) laid the groundwork for reality TV shows like The Real World. The episode also chronicled socio-political events like Bill Clinton’s rise to the presidency and the bombing of the World Trade Center, as well as Microsoft and the beginning of the internet.

“Great Expectations” covered a fair amount of pop culture from Vanilla Ice (who’s hit “Ice Ice Baby” was originally a B-side) to Rosanne. Ironically, during a segment on Nirvana, the special doesn’t play any of their music (perhaps they didn’t get the rights). While the narrator discusses “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” some unknown riff of power chords plays in the background without vocals. It was almost hilarious. Despite that fact, I thought the special was informative and well done, and I plan on watching the last two episodes before the end of the week.

Here are the videos for episodes two (“Friends and Enemies”) and three (“Politically Incorrect”) which aired Monday and Tuesday respectfully. View episode one above.

HT: Adria Lambert

4. Matthew Perry & Jennifer Aniston’s Windows 95 Instructional Video

First of all, stop for a minute and appreciate that this exists: Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston star in a bizarre sitcomish attempt at an instructional video for Windows 95. Their Microsoft adventure lasts for the first half hour before the video dips into more formal instructions for using the new software which you can safely ignore.

The video features the following gems from Jennifer:

“Look Matty, I’m computing!” 

“Taskbar? Is that anything like a Snickers bar? Does that have nougat?” 

“So you mean I can plug and play every printer in the world?” 

“Would you like a side of bacon with the egg on your face?”

And this dialog:

J: “We don’t have any CD’s or flappies.”

M: “I believe those are called floppies.”

J: “That’s what I said.”

M: “No, no, you said flappies.”

J: “I did not!”

But seriously, Windows 95 was revolutionary. Here are some of its new features we now take for granted:

-Creating file names larger than 8.3 characters.
-Plug and play installation for devices.
-Right clicking for “power user features.”
-Drag and drop file moving.
-Loading items onto the taskbar.

Do yourself a favor and carve out a half hour for this 90s gold:

Nine 90s Movies I Saw IN the 90s

I have been trying to clarify for myself how abnormal my media intake was compared to most kids growing up in 90s America. I know I missed almost all secular 90s music and a fair amount of TV (although most shows on network TV or Nickelodeon were acceptable: Home Improvement, Family Matters, Fresh Prince, All That, etc.). As for movies, I wasn’t allowed to watch anything rated ‘PG-13’ until I turned 13 (1997), but each one was still subject to approval. ‘R’ rated movies were out of the question without special permission (I still remember my sophomore year when I watched Boondock Saints at a friend’s house without permission, and my jaw was on the floor for the entire movie. I don’t think I had heard that many F-bombs in my entire life to that point).

So as a way for me to create a point of reference for my 90s movies exposure, I’d like to offer you nine 90s movies I saw in the 90s. I only included movies I can remember watching for the first time in the 90s. I’m pretty sure I saw others in the 90s as well (The Sandot, Hook, Independence Day, Home Alone, Space Jam, Flubber, etc), but since I can’t remember the first time, I can’t be sure. I had fun making this list and remembering the experiences surrounding each 90s movie. Here they are in no particular order:

Men in Black

Occasionally, my cousin David and I would convince our parents to make the 40 minute trek from Muskegon to Grand Rapids (or vice versa) so we could spend the weekend together. Whenever he came to my house, we had the same routine: Jack’s Pizza, gas station snacks, and Men in Black in the basement (usually multiple watches in the same night). Other than Christmas morning or summer vacation, it was as good as I knew life could get back then. To this day, we can still quote the majority of the movie. I’m looking forward to the day when scenes from MIB are included in Movieoke.

You’ve Got Mail

I saw You’ve Got Mail for the first and only time in-ready for this?-a junior high Bible class (I went to a Christian school from 5th grade on). My teacher used it as a springboard for discussing love or something. I remember feeling disconnected from the movie and that the discussion afterward did not go so well. Today I have forgotten most of the plot except that AOL and dial-up noises were involved, and and that Tom Hanks can do everything well. Maybe I’ll watch it again next Valentine’s Day.

The Matrix

OK, so I watched The Matrix for the first time in 2000 or 2001, but I’m counting it anyway. I briefly attended a guys’ small group in high school (“small group” is Christianese for a few church people getting together during the week, usually for prayer or Bible study). One particular week, we had a party where we watched The Matrix. Since that time, I heard pastors reference it in sermons and even remember having theological discussions where we used it as a reference. It was probably acceptable for Christians to watch this movie and talk about it so much because we used Neo as a metaphor for Jesus. It’s a bummer that we couldn’t just appreciate it for being the awesome movie it was.

The Truman Show

I saw this movie at a buddy’s house in junior high. I don’t remember much about it other then thinking it was a really cool idea for a movie that they pulled off well.

Godzilla

When I was old enough, my parents let me ride my bike across Laketon Street to Ruddiman Creek to fish with my neighborhood friends, Nick and Chris. One day, we discovered the dollar theater nearby was playing Godzilla, and we cashed in our pop cans to go see it (10 cent return in Michigan). I think we went multiple times after that, until it stopped showing.

Deep Impact

On some Friday night when I was in junior high, my mom drove me over to my friend Jeremy’s house, and we ate pizza and watched Deep Impact. I remember being unsettled by the premise that an asteroid could hit the earth; I probably took it a little too seriously at the time.

All the Disney Movies – Pocahontas, Beauty & the BeastThe Little MermaidAladdin101 Dalmations, Toy StoryLion King, FlubberThe Mighty Ducks, etc.

These things were pure gold during my childhood. Let’s be honest, Lion King and Mighty Ducks are about as 90s as it gets.

 

Jumanji

I vaguely remember one of my siblings opening Jumanji as a family gift one Christmas morning and that we watched it that afternoon. Robin Williams FTW.

Braveheart

My cousin introduced me to Braveheart in 1999. I remember feeling a bit guilty watching it, since it was rated ‘R’ and there was about 3 seconds of female nudity at one point-but I also remember feeling awesome when it had finished. To this day, it is one of my favorite movies.

What 90s movies did I miss that had a huge influence during the decade? I have my own list, but would love to hear your suggestions.