Maybe Britney is no longer a sexy Catholic schoolgirl and the Spice Girls aren’t the face of England anymore (Cool Britannia, you’re still in our hearts), but their cheerful era is (finally) back. Pop culture has shown us many signals of this awaited resurrection, this zombie copy of the colorful antebellum times between the end of the Cold War and 9-11, but now we have the final proof: Yesterday, Katy Perry and her quite picturesque partner made their grand entrance to the 2014 VMAs wearing a jean dress and a jean suit. Oh yeah. You read it well. They were wearing a replica of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake’s infamous matching jean dress and suit from the 2001 AMAs.
Ok. I know. They wore the jean outfits in 2001 and not in the 90s. But you know, 2001 was almost from the 90s… It was part of the same cultural era: Britney and Christina were still quite popular, fashion was quite similar from the one of the late 90s and, well, the world was still enjoying that bubblegum pop infested cheerfulness from the Spicemania days. That’s the revived era I’m taking about: A period spanning roughly from the 1990s to the early 2000s.
Spending the summer at NYU's Precollege made me realize this resurrection. My dorm was in front of Washington Square Park, where I would spend some time with my friends sometimes. Under the bright sunlight coming through the trees, and with the Arch and the fountain in my view, I had my epiphany: I was living in Clueless! People all over the park where wearing items typical from the era: tie-dye shirts, high-waisted jeans and miniskirts, parachute pants, crop tops, denim on every possible piece, jean overalls, Dr Martens shoes, high sneakers and even those enormous Spice Girl-like high heeled platform sandal.
As I discovered this new (awesome) world, where some hispters (or maybe a new urban species) dress up as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I started to realize new things in old TV series and films: “the clothing of Friends’ first season seems quite current!” or “Hey! This (outfit Cher Horowitz is wearing) looks like one of my sister’s!”. This soon evolved into a new worldview where I was rediscovering the 90s, like when I realized one of my friends was dressing like someone from Clueless. But fashion wasn’t the only thing being affected by this revival: news of the resurrection where everywhere.
First it was the video of Iggy Azalea’s Fancy, the song of the summer, in which entire scenes of the 1996 classic Clueless are revived. Then it was TV: The first thing I discovered was Lifetime’s upcoming new film, The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story (bullsh*t), but soon I found that classic 90s cartoons like The Magical School Bus and the Power Puff Girls where returning in 2016. Finally, I was amazed to see a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster in the cinema (I bet we’ll have a Power Rangers film soon): the 90s were back.
The reason of this revival is simple: the world is a mess. We live in a planet where people are being decapitated because of their faith in Iraq and where rising sea levels are no longer a sci-fi dystopia but a reality; a world where tiny but powerful corporations cause big unemployment rates and where there has been non-stopping war in the same regions for a decade; a world where the economy failed and where sometimes people seem more interested in their phones than in their friends. It’s normal to look at the past and find enjoyment in it. It’s just a way to escape, an attempt to find happiness in a long-gone time. We are creating a world based on our glamorized nostalgia of the past, a feeling that even people like me, who were infants in those times, can grasp.
The 90s were great and their resurrection makes me more than happy. Their culture, with their pop culture and their fashion, is bringing fresh air to our dark, grotesque and pessimistic situation. Anyways, nostalgia is a cycle that happens during every decade and cultural period. I’m just hoping, after watching Katy’s tribute to Britney (I loved it, okay?), that the Paris Hilton-Juicy Tracksuit-Smallville era nostalgic revival takes long before appearing (Except you, dear Mean Girls, Freaky Friday and White Chicks. You can return whenever you want to.)