Let's pick up the slack, shall we?
#7) Pogs, Tamagotchi, Magic Eye Books, and other Toys from the 90s...
Whose brilliant f-ing idea was it to create pogs? Were they actually (more importantly, HOW were they actually) able to pass as real toys that kids enjoyed playing with? They were measly cardboard cut-outs shaped like large coins or disks that had Jar-Jar Binks or some pseudo-celebrity face on them. The more well-known or reputable the person or thing on the pog, the more desirable and valuable that pog becomes (but who really gives a sh*t, a pog is a pog is a pog, and in the end, they all are just a waste of space except for when you can sell them on ebay for a whopping 15 bucks a pop, then they become actual money-making schemes rather than just a kid-friendly poser form of currency). I guess the whole idea behind pogs and the game of winning and collecting as many pogs as you can get has its value... It teaches kids to learn how to barter, trade, negotiate... (and gamble, cheat, steal, and become captalistic swines...). All in the spirit of fun though. Just don't forget to say you're playing for keeps at the start of the game. Otherwise, you're screwed out of a Pink Power Ranger pog (which in real life would have a utilitarian value equal to or less than that of a Coca-Cola bottle cap).
Tamagotchi. The handheld digital pet that had kids in an all-consuming craze to feed what was an otherwise inanimate, yet super-needy bit of information. That damn thing wouldn't stop beeping sometimes! Of course the perks were that I don't think I've ever felt so attached and maternalistic towards anything much less a computerized object before Tamagotchi totally got me! [gag with me with a spoon] Those Japanese peeps think of the darnest things! Again, how these things became such a hit with the kids, I have no idea. But I guess they were great to have for kids who lived with or were themselves allergic to cats, dogs, tigers, bears, whatever new pet the toy was carrying at the time.
Magic Eye books. Ok, now this was something that I have to admit I was a fan of. Some might say that they were just a fake and deceptive ploy to get people to crisscross their eyes and look totally retarded but I can attest that they really do work and the images really can be seen. In all sincerity, these books were really nothing short of amazing. I saw many splendid things, and how they really do work, again... I have no idea, but they were brilliant.
So those were a few of my memorable recollections of the toys from the 90s. Of course, there were many others... like Chia Pets, the precursor to Tamagotchi and other digital pets. Beanie babies, Furbys, Trolls, that darn Tickle Me Elmo and its incessantly annoying giggle-fits... Lots others...
#8). Sanrio store. All hail consumerism.
Tokyo invasion explosion of the 90s. Picture your Japanese school girl in a school girl skirt, pig tails, and knee-high socks (a strategic and shameless plug for SEO alert, search engine optimization for you sub-par Internet-savvy folks). She’s skipping along merrily to her favorite Sanrio store after school (a candy land of wonders). There she sees a plethora of goodies, the assortment of Hello Kitty memorabilia, Pochacco, Keroppi, that adorable duck whose name currently eludes me (Pickle?), etc. My personal fave was Badtz-Maru. He was a bit edgier, maybe a tad dark especially for the seven-or-so year old that was me at the time, but he had a badass, rebellious demeanor that I have to say I though was pretty cool. I liked all the characters though. It was like a 31 flavors ice cream parlor -- a flavor for every mood and personality. There was Hello Kitty for when I was feeling a bit girly and sweet. Pochacco was for the athletic tomboy in me at the time. Keroppi, well Keroppi was probably for the geek in me (I don’t know, I associate a frog as something a geeky person would gravitate to). Pickle (Pickie-Bickie?) was just an all-around adorable and quirky duck for all my neurotic quirks (a close top favorite of mine however unmemorable his name may be). There were other characters like a Scottish dog or something for the preps. I can’t remember them all but eh, who cares.
If you actually read this, thanks for lending me some self-indulgence but I'm sorry I can't give you back the 1 or so minutes you wasted.
Memorable things from the 90s, continued...
#9. WWF Monday Night Raw.
I have an older brother. And like all teenaged boys growing up in the 90s, Monday nights usually meant being glued to the tv to watch half-naked grown men in skin-tight spandex (with exception to the Undertaker and a few others) and scantily-clad babes (be them bitches or bimbos -- just speaking the truth here) (fake)-hitting each other over the heads with chairs, tables, you name it. This was how the youth of America spent their quality time. Come Tuesday morning, the buzz around the water fountain was all about how 123-Kid totally got his butt kicked by Bret "the Hitman" Hart or something to the likes of that. As a girl, I knew a thing or two about wrestling by proximity (if you have a brother you know what I mean, and in addition, my brother had remote control power that night). Admittingly though, I came to enjoy the world of "wrestling" as a form of entertainment yet even to this day can't quite understand why it was in fact entertaining. Shows like "Jerry Springer," "Maury Povich's "Who's my baby's daddy?", and other less-than-stellar-quality shows, why was America tuning into them? Do humans really enjoy watching pain, humiliation, and drama being inflicted on others?
The 90s had its share of trashy shows and just when we think they've come and gone, we find them only to be replaced by shows promoting materialism in the 2000s. Sure, "Extreme Home-Makeover," "Oprah," and several other seemingly-charitable shows project good-will, compassion, and generosity, but at the same time they also place a prevailing emphasis on materialistic things like fancy, new cars, and "all them shiny, new things." It's as though the message being sent out is one that equates materialistic "stuff" to personal happiness. Oprah gives out free cars, oh yippee! But do I really need that extra sports sedan to pollute an already environmentally-degradating society? And have you ever noticed how Extreme Home-Makeover goes to multiple lengths to advertise Sears' appliances and home decor? That's one more point scored for another day in our consumer-driven lives. I can understand that everybody has bills to pay, I have my share as I know you do, but I just want to ask, how free are we really when the liberty that our fathers (not literally) fought for has become enchained to the slew of in-your-face advertisements and commercials slithering to get inside our pockets full of cash.
Brought to you by someone seeking a career in advertising. I hope to read from you about my hypocrisy.
P.S. How I started from writing about WWF wrestling to a diatribe on our consumer-driven lives, I have no idea.
Remember the 90s? The grunge rock, the baggy jeans, the doc martins? Ah... the 90s. Remember the first time you saw the video for the angry-I-hate-men anthem "You Oughta Know" or the superfly Jamiroquai song "Virtual Insanity"-- pre-Internet craze? The little bumble bee girl in that Blind Melon song? Lisa Loeb in all her quirky glory as she pleads you to "Stay"? How "November Rain" made you anxious to get married yourself even as Axl Rose croons "Nothing lasts forever..."? The endless good times Green Day provided you? How you swooned over Rivers Cuomo, however geeky and lop-sided he may be? The Backstreet Boys vs. N'Sync feud at school? The chart-topping Britney "I'm still a virgin" Spears before her boob job, bald head, two kids, cheetos-and-booze-addiction shenanigans?
I used to skip school sometimes to watch the morning mix on VH1 and MTV (back when they used to play music videos on their stations, oh how they've changed). Music from the 90s was a definitive part of my childhood and adolescence. I feel it only fitting, and yet for some inexplicable, odd reason as well, that I should take a short trip down memory lane not even a decade later to recount my favorite things about the 90s in music, movies, and fashion. Heck I'll even do a top ten countdown of sorts:
PART 1 IN 10 PART SERIES
#10. Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't an Academy Award-winning movie of any kind, or even a movie that would make my top list of favorite movies of all time. It is, however, an entertaining movie that perhaps embodies what was so off-guard about the 90s. You have wonderful Christina Applegate of (how could you forget) "Married with Children" fame cast in a light of which you have never seen before (i.e acting smart and responsible). You have a number of other young, teenaged actors (most, if not all of which never really amounted to anything in the film industry, though this is besides the point). With a cast dominated by young actors taking on leading roles and adult situations, the movie seemed to me quite novel at the time. I guess being a kid myself at the time, I probably felt a bit empowered by the movie. Never before had I seen kids like myself put in charge, outsmarting the adults, and succeeding at it. Ok, maybe in Home Alone and Blank Check, but I think those movies came out later.
(#9 coming soon)