What was the defining characteristic of the nineties?

I posted recently about the defining characteristics of each decade, from the 1930s to the 1980s. But what about the 1990s?

I read David Stubbs’ article Seinfeld Vs Rumsfeld and he claims that the 1990s were ‘(for many) a desultory, affluent, privileged era’ (2004) he concludes that it is a ‘sense of privileged desultoriness that might be the defining characteristic of the Nineties’ (ibid.).

This label: desultoriness, is similar to Swindoll’s ‘aimlessness’ (1992, pp.11) of the 1980s, however perhaps the aimlessness of the 1980s was not replaced by another mood, but merely concreted. The aimlessness of the 1980s became proud aimlessness in the 1990s. To build on Stubbs’ term, maybe the 1990s zeitgeist was a resolute desultoriness. 

Stubbs cites the Massive Attack fronted Bristol-based genre, trip-hop as an example of this puffed-up, determined, aimlessness: ‘what a washed up, boneless, useless a confection it now sounds, the muted trump of a white elephant’ (cop cit.).

And what about the most popular sitcom of the decade, Seinfeld? Well it gave itself its very own label, ‘The show is about nothing’ (The Pitch 1992). Brash purposelessness has never been so popular.

Seinfeld, 1992. [TV programme] Castle Rock Entertainment, NBC, 16 September 1992.

Stubbs, D., 2004. Seinfeld Vs Rumsfeld. [online] Available at: <http://www.mr-agreeable.net/2004/12/05/seinfeld-vs-rumsfeld-out-of-the-nineties/&gt; [Accessed 25 October 2013].

Swindoll, Charles, R., 1992. Strengthening Your Grip: Essentials in an Aimless WorldHodder and Stoughton.


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