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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: Why is 1990s nostalgia being ignored by filmmakers?

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Today’s question comes from reader Patrick, who writes:

It was only in 1973 when George Lucas released American Graffiti, a film that celebrated the bygone days of the late 50s/early 60s. It was a nine or ten year window between the release of that film and the time that that film takes place.

In the decades that followed we’d get major releases like Dazed and Confused looking back on the 70s in a bittersweet fashion (à la Graffiti) or American Psycho looking at the 80s through the darkest prism imaginable. But what about the 90s? Where’s the major cinematic meditation about the post cold war/pre-9/11 decade?

And it’s not just movies! It’s like the 2000s was a watershed for 80s nostalgia, and now in the 2010s… they still want to bring up more of the 80s!

Is the era of Kurt Cobain and Bill Clinton being purposely ignored by those in charge of major works of popular culture?

Great question! So:

Why is 1990s nostalgia being ignored by filmmakers? And when can we expect that to be remedied?

I think it’s especially mysterious when we think back on how optimistic the 90s were in a many ways, certainly compared to the despair of today. The cold war was over and the threat of nuclear annihilation was lifted, the economy was booming, the Internet was new and exciting. I have to confess that for me, at least, the 1990s did not feel like the roaring 20s at the time, but in retrospect, they certainly look pretty damn good. There must be many bittersweet stories to be told about that new appreciation for the 1990s. So where are those stories?
(Image grabbed from the tumblr Fuck Yeah 1990s.)

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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