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Subject: Early 90s Counter-Culture

Written By: AstroPoug on 04/12/21 at 11:42 am

The early 90s appeared to have a very distinct, but not often-talked about, alternative/experimental vibe that I find very similar to 60s counterculture. It seemed to be a backlash to the banality of 80s culture, and how corporate it felt. I'd say this counterculture lasted from 1989 to 1994. I'd say the release of Nirvana's Bleach and The Simpsons was the start, both being direct reactions against 80s music and 80s TV respectively. The counterculture really got big in 1991 with Nirvana's Nevermind, which pretty much killed the 80s. 1994 saw the end with Kurt Cobain's death, but grunge was still popular, and the counter-culture was still very much alive with Clerks being released.

Here are some other aspects of early 90s counterculture to discuss.

Nirvana (The entire discography. They started with Bleach, which was very aggressive, but not popular yet. Then Nevermind was better and exploded in popularity. The album seemed too mainstream to him, so he wanted to alienate his fanbase with the incredibly abrasive and harsh In Utero, but ended up releasing another hit. Sadly, Cobain killed himself in April 1994, which helped end the early 90s counterculture)
Faith No More (Gave birth to alternative metal. Their Chuck Mosley stuff was great, but it was 1989's The Real Thing that made an impact, as well as being more experimental. This album gave rise to many other artists on here.)
Primus (The only band on Winamp to have its own genre. Primus is a band known for their experimentation and humorous lyrics. Perfectly exudes that early 90s absurd humor that was so popular.)
Mr Bungle (The only band that can beat Primus in a weirdness contest is Mr Bungle. They're technically classified as "metal", but they're actually every genre of music in existence in just one song. They're so bizarre you actually laugh at their music. IMO this is better comedy music than almost all self-proclaimed "comedy musicians")
Rage Against the Machine (This band hates capitalism and the United States, and they'll show you with aggression. Lyrics have aged really well. Also pioneered rap metal, and were actually competent at both parts unlike most rap metal bands.)

The Simpsons (The most popular show of the era. The show was a reaction against banal family sitcoms with laugh tracks. The Simpsons was completely different in humor, and showcased a dysfunctional family.)
Ren and Stimpy Show (Very absurdist show with lots of gross-out humor and black comedy. It was supposed to be a revival of 30s-50s cartoons but ended up practically CREATING 90s culture alongside Nirvana's Nevermind.)
Twin Peaks (Made by David Lynch. Very absurdist mystery show that garned a cult following. Nothing like it has aired since, and probably never will.)
Rocko's Modern Life (Similar to Ren and Stimpy, maybe not AS absurd, but still very absurd, and probably couldn't have been made outside the early 90s counter-culture climate.)

Slacker (Many Gen Xers were referred to as slackers, and many people in this subculture had a slacker attitude. Embraced the apathetic lazy attitude of the decade. Helped birth the 90s indie film movement.)
Wayne's World (IMO this is the ultimate Gen X comedy. For crying out loud they're listening to Queen, which is pretty much universally associated with Gen X. Not only that, it's also actually a clever satire of corporate culture and advertising.)
Clerks (The pinnacle of the 90s indie film boom. I really can't describe it in words but just go watch it.)

However, the counterculture ended in 1995 following the death of Kurt Cobain, decline of grunge, and rise of banal post-grunge and pop rock in the mid-90s followed by EVEN MORE banal teen pop and nu metal in the late 90s, which directly countered the anti-corporate vibe of the early 90s. Likewise, the absurdist media of the early 90s that made it so great was replaced by bland teen sitcoms and predictable action movies in the late 90s. There are a few exceptions to this rule, great movies like The Matrix and Office Space from 1999 that have hints of the early 90s counter-culture (particularly The Matrix, which has a Rage Against the Machine song in the end credits), but otherwise, the era is more banal and formulaic.

Few things I've noticed about this era are a strong anti-censorship attitude (the rise of gangsta rap, vulgar cartoons, and violent video games all came because of this), slacker mentality (all the films listed above, ESPECIALLY Clerks), anti-corporate attitude (CEOs were often villains in early 90s media, and the most obvious examples are Rage Against the Machine and Wayne's World), a love for absurd humor (Ren and Stimpy pretty much gave rise to the bizarre cartoons we know and love today), and generally high experimentation (just the entire alt-rock and indie boom of this era is impressively experimental and avant-garde, so much of it is called "weird" by normies but the early 90s counter-culture adored it). It's very much like the late 60s, only instead of actively wanting to make a change, they're instead apathetic slackers who don't care for anything, but KNOW that capitalism is soulless.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this counterculture is real? What other works do you think define this era? What other characteristics should I have mentioned?

Subject: Re: Early 90s Counter-Culture

Written By: AstroPoug on 04/12/21 at 11:43 am

Oops, posted to the wrong board.
Locking the thread.

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