Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Inexplicable Nineties

Those who profess themselves unable to believe in the reality of human progress ought to cheer themselves up by a short study of the 1990s. The War on Terror, the Bush Administration, Osama bin Laden, the Frat Pack itself, will then seem a light price to pay for no longer being in the 1990s.*

Many of the things that sucked in the nineties were merely incarnations of the Platonic Form of suckiness. Others however were so specific to the period, so enmeshed in the cultural matrix, whatever that is, that they stand now as essentially nineties slices of suck and probably all but inexplicable to anyone who wasn't there.

The film Wayne's World is a good example. For those too young to remember - Sterne is big with the kids - Wayne’s World, like Citizen Kane, was based on a popular Saturday Night Live sketch. Mike Myers played heavy metal fan Wayne Campbell, host of “Wayne’s World”, an amateur tv show broadcast from his parents’ basement with the assistance of his dopey friend Garth (played by Dana Scully). Wayne’s age was difficult to determine - he was apparently either meant to be a teenager with progeria or a middle-aged man in a bad wig and a baseball cap. In fact Wayne was a teenager (the progeria angle went unexplored) who was merely being portrayed by a middle-aged man in a bad wig and a baseball cap. That, friends, is the magic of moofies.

Wayne’s World was released in February 1992 and was a huge success despite being so February 1991. The big hair, the lame catch-phrases (“Schwing!”; “Dude!”; er, "Dudette!"), the guest appearance by Alice Coooper – what freakin’ decade were we in? And check the soundtrack: it’s got “Dream Weaver” on it, fer feck’s sake.

Wayne’s World may be anachronistic but it remains a valuable document. For one thing, its cast is a veritable who’s who – or, to be precise, a who’s that? - of nineties mediocrities. Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere, Lara Flynn Boyle, Chris Farley and Ed O’Neill are just some of the credits that ring vaguely irritating bells. Wayne’s World also provides a disturbing insight into the collective funny bone circa 1992. Few in the noughties would see the humour in a scene depicting four men driving around in a small car headbanging to a twenty-year-old glam rock song but, as some old limey once said, the past is another country. Maybe we ought to nuke it.

* This paragraph is more or less stolen from Lucky Jim.


Jeremy said...

"played by Dana Scully"


lucy tartan said...

Can't mention this on my blog, but I thought you would like to know that I attended Ned Welch's Arty Weekend last Saturday night.

Tim said...

Lucky Laura. I trust you sang many a madrigal.