In a recent essay on 1990s nostalgia in the New York Times, Carl Wilson wrote:
If my generation had anything in common as a group (aside from AIDS-phobia: quoth Coolio, “ ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste,’ that was the slogan/But now it’s ’95 and it’s ‘Don’t forget the Trojan’ ”), I would say we were marked by two traits: our dislike of nostalgia and our irritation whenever our barely formed narratives were appropriated and marketed back at us. So it brings on something of an identity crisis to see Gen X’s formative years become part of the cycle of retro revivalism. How does an anti-nostalgic generation deal with the human reflex to sentimentalize its youth?
At first I shut my eyes to the slow reappearance of jean jackets, floral-print dresses, lace shirts and platform wedges. And I could dismiss as temporary flukes the recent reunions of foundational “indie” (then “alternative”) bands like Hole, Pavement and My Bloody Valentine. But denial waves a white flag when the list of acts touring this summer includes Third Eye Blind, Limp Bizkit, Alice in Chains, Faith No More and the Stone Temple Pilots — Lollapalooza gone county fair — not to mention the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block, now merged into a supergroup, “NKOTBSB.” Meanwhile MTV is exhuming “Beavis and Butt-head” and “Pop-Up Video,” while Nickelodeon is offering a 1990s-themed block of late-night programming with old shows like “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” presumably to help herbally sautéed 20-somethings regress in giggly reminiscence.
Many people’s first reaction is to cry “too soon!” — a hopeless protest against the brute fact that we are now, 20 years later, as far in time from Nirvana as the grunge bands were from their retro inspirations like Black Sabbath. The fact that this feels like an eye blink only testifies to how the brain’s internal clock gums up with age, so that whole years now generate fewer novel memories than once might have been sparked by a single sweaty night in a mosh pit. Remember: Most kids who entered college this year weren’t even born when grunge broke. If it’s too soon, you’re too old.
Now enjoy the piece of 1990s nostalgia in the form of a supercut from Everything Is Terrible embedded at the top of the page, will you?