The ’90s vs. The ’90s
May 15 2009
This panel includes Michael Azerrad, Mark Greif, Emily Gould, A.S. Hamrah, Marisa Meltzer, and Aaron Lake Smith, and considers the legacy of the ’90s and how we are being shaped by them. If the ’70s was the “Me Decade” and the eighties was the “Greed Decade,” what were the ’90s? If we are nostalgic for the era, what are we nostalgic for? The critic Stephen Metcalf has called 1983 “the year the ’80s became the ’80s.” 1991 is often referred to as “the year that punk broke” not only in reference to the Sonic Youth concert documentary of the same name, but also because it was a year of despair (the recession, the Persian Gulf War, the preceding decade of vapid pop culture). It has often been said that there was an obsession with authenticity in the ’90s, from slackers to sellouts. Does the selling-out debate exist any longer? What is the relationship between the economy, culture, and art? Is 2009 1991? Generation X is forever identifiable with the ’90s, but with many members of the subsequent Generation Y identifying with ’90s signifiers, are generations about birth year or identity? And how do you parse out the Gen X and Gen Y micro-generations?