Tuesday, April 20, 2010

80's Nerds/ 90's Rebels

My husband and I frequently have the same argument.  Things can get heated very quickly as we debate which decade was better, the 80's or the 90's.  I never want to hurt his feelings.  I mean, I rocked an armful of rubber bracelets just like everyone else in 1984.  The difference is that I was in 4th grade and 4th graders cannot be held accountable for their actions.  I had all of my firsts while listening to Soundgarden, not Duran Duran.  I got excited about Mortal Kombat, not the Rubick's Cube.  So, I will always argue on the side of the 90's.  But, Tim thinks I'm crazy and will say as much without any prodding whatsoever.

My husband is only four years my senior but it is enough, it seems, to cause a major divide.  All of my formative years (music and fashion-wise) were spent in the nineties.  My husband graduated in 1989 and I'm pretty sure he slept through the next decade.  Old high school and college photos of Tim show him wearing tube socks, parachute pants and playing Dungeons and Dragons.  Mine show me wearing combat boots, flannels and smoking a cigarette in front of that Kurt Cobain -with-a-gun poster.  He knows all the words to The Housemartins and Oingo Boingo.  I turn up Alice In Chains when I'm pissed off and I secretly wish I could still wear babydoll dresses and dark lipstick a la Courtney Love when we go out.  Yes, I'm serious.

I've given the matter way too much thought.  I've pondered the 80's versus 90's question more than I've considered my own future or the meaning of life.  The conclusion I've reached is that maybe the answer lies not only in when you were born but whom you relate to more:  nerds or rebels. Aren't we just products of our generations?  Isn't it true that all 80's graduates love nerds? Don't all 90's kids revere rebels?

Tim has used the word "nerd" to describe himself more than once.  In the 80's, being a nerd was totally awesome.  Movies like Revenge of the Nerds and Real Genius rocked the box office and computers were the height of fashion.  Nerd characters like Cameron in Ferris Bueller's Day Off were charmingly relatable.  And then there's 80's music.  Devo and The Talking Heads?  Jermaine Stewart even gave nerds an excuse to stay in their high-waters with "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off."  They Might Be Giants barely missed the nerdy mark (Flood came out in 1990), but they were certainly a product of the nerdiness, right?  Yup, the nerd was feeling the love. Nerds candy even came out in the 1980's! 

And what about my love, the 90's?  Is it a coincidence that my decade glorified the rebellious?  If I had a dollar for every time someone's called me "rebellious"  or "irreverent," I would have a huge pile of ones which I would naturally set on fire because I'm so rebellious.   But, wasn't the decade?  From Mapplethorpe's famous exhibit to the anti-fashion movement, the years 1990 through 1999 begged you to give the world the finger.  Dylan on Beverly Hills 90210 illustrates my point beautifully with his 'screw you' pout and his borrowed from Rebel Without A Cause look.  (Every other dorm room in the 1990's had a freaking Rebel Without a Cause poster in it.)  And then there was grunge, which is about as rebellious musically as you can get.  Movies like Reality Bites and Kalifornia highlighted non-traditional, you guessed it, insubordinate characters.  And what about Rebel MC?  Come on!

Which decade, like, totally rules your world clearly depends on your aesthetic and where you fit in the timeline.  But, whatever.  It doesn't matter anymore anyway.  Look at your friends; look at yourself.  We have all melded into nerdy rebels at this point, which is awesome.  But, I declare that I will always be on Team 90's.   I am now turning up the Oasis.  Oooh, or maybe I'll go score some Nerds.  

*photo by silkegb.