The general vibe I get from people (well, older people) is that the 90’s was a bad decade. I think it’s because the fashion was awful and the pop music was even worse. It was full of braided-hair, goatees, backwards-facing caps and tracksuits. And the music was a choice between raving on acid, depressing Britpop or boybands.
The fatal mistake these older people made was not spending the 90’s being a child.
The 90’s was the decade of the fad. Every year a new cool craze arrived and anyone who was involved in it (or rather had big enough suckers of parents to buy them the necessary things) was worth knowing, and anyone who wasn’t, wasn’t. 90’s fads were wonderful. Beyblades, Tamagochis, Hotwheels, Top Trumps, etc. And the big daddy – Pokemon.
But keeping up with which material possessions dictated how many friends you had that week was tiring, so there were a collection of bigger players that stayed faithful to you through thick and thin. If you had Super Smash Bros on Nintendo 64 or Crash Bandicoot on PS1 you could always feel comfortable inviting your friends round for tea. And if you had a Gameboy Color you wouldn’t really care whether your friends came round or not. In fact, you’d probably prefer it if they didn’t.
The TV situation was slightly different. You certainly watched a lot CBBC and CiTV, but while they were quite entertaining and funny, they were never cool. It’s not like you could go into school the next day and ask your mate if he saw that awesome massive face that Art Attack made in a field out of clothes and buckets and stuff. The kids stuff on regular cable was just a bit, well, weak.
That’s where Cartoon Network came in. It wasn’t trying to be subliminally educational or character building – it was just mindless, stupid, cartoon fun and your parents didn’t understand it at all. It also didn’t have to pass as strict censoring rules as the cable programmes so they could use words like ‘butt’ and ‘fatso’ which made it funnier. There was also the bonus of it not being on regular cable. I can’t remember what it was on because I doubt it was only on Sky – maybe it was available on like NTL or something – but the point is not everyone could get it so if you had it you got some extra friend-points.
But when I say ‘mindless, stupid, cartoon fun’, I mean, the shows still had a basic relatable structure. Dexter’s Lab: strip away the funny Russian accent and enormous laboratory and he’s just a dorky little nerd with an annoying sister. Ed, Edd & Eddy: just three guys getting into shenanigans. Johnny Bravo: just a huge hunk of sexy meat that somehow can’t score.
What’s that you say? Cow and Chicken? Yeah, I guess that was pretty mental. An older brother chicken and his little sister cow, raised by humans, doing weird, wacky and idiotic things.
If you haven’t seen it, or don’t remember it, or you’re desperately hanging on to this article despite not being a 90’s kid and not being able to relate to any of this self-indulgent reminiscence, check this out. This episode was banned for stereotyping lesbians. A bunch of butch women called the ‘Buffalo Gals’ turn up on Harleys, burst into the house and literally start munching the carpet. Yeah, OK, Cow and Chicken was pretty west:
But it’s realistically mental. It soberly mental. Like, if I was a writer for Cartoon Network and the boss came in and said, “The shows we’ve got at the moment are great but I think we need one that’s really out there. One to push the boundary some more”, I’d back myself to be able to come up with a cow and a chicken with crazy accents being raised by humans and having lots of crazy times, like trying to join a crazy butch lesbian Hells Angels crew. I’d back myself to be able to write stuff like that without the help of any form of hallucinogenic drug.
However, I have recently been introduced to a current Cartoon Network production. It’s called Adventure Time and it is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. Seriously, it’s just WTF the whole way through. I can’t even begin to try to explain what is going on. There’s a human, a dog, a pink princess, a vampire, a flying blue wizard, a unicorn/rainbow crossbreed, a walking talking cinnamon bun, a carnivorous lollipop, a little purple fluffy cloud, and so on and so on and oh my god I’ve just walked into the most magical acid trip ever known to man. And then there’s this guy, ‘The Earl of Lemongrab’. Better known simply as ‘Lemongrab’. Just grab an eyeful of this guy and this show:
Yeah, I know right? Where am I? And it’s like this all the time. Here’s some more:
Looks like the Cartoon Network writing crew have a new member. Her name is Lucy.
And this show has had an almost universally fantastic response. It’s won awards. So from that information it also looks like society is completely OK with LSD now, which is fine by me.
I guess this is just what the kids are into these days. Weirdos.
Update: Since writing this article I have watched several entire episodes of Adventure Time while blocked to high heaven and can conclude that it is brilliant. If it wasn’t clear in the original article that I do like this show, then allow me to make it clear – I love it. Kids these days have it too good.