Millennials are kind of obsessed with the ‘90s. It makes sense. Not only were we kids in this era, (and let’s face it, everything from childhood seems a lot sunnier than the mundane suit-and-tie period of adulthood), but the ‘90s was, in a way, the true age of innocence. The ‘90s… a decade filled with Nickelodeon cartoons, Capri Sun, midriffs, and grunge. An oddball generation lusting for pop culture madness, new waves of technology, and of course, equality.
Jonah Hill’s directorial debut manages to capture the best parts of this decade without shoving them down your throat. We’ve seen many nostalgia movies before use cheap pop culture references and overly exaggerated fashion trends to let you in on what decade the film takes place in. In many films, setting the world in a different decade can feel forced, but ‘mid90’s’ manages to capture the feel of the decade rather than just the vision. Hill’s movie perfectly sets the tone right for that ‘90s feeling of care-free simplicity and excitement.
But what does ‘Mid90s’ capture about the time period that seemed to make it so damn fun?
The answer is the decade's emphasis on friendship.
The era we currently live in very much has a “ME! ME! ME!” mentality. With social media consuming the shells of the people we once were, media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat have managed to turn many of us into fame-obsessed zombies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no exception here. I am constantly posting videos and selfies to social media that are in the interest of: “Look how much fun I’m having! Aren’t you jealous of how much fun I’m having??? BE JEALOUS OF ME!! LIKE MY PICTURES IN ORDER TO VALIDATE MY WORTH!!!” sort of thing.
This idea of constantly craving to put ourselves in the best, most attractive, happiest light for the whole world to see is what manages to turn us into commodities and entertainment personalities rather than authentic human beings. Humans who are sometimes miserable, sometimes confused, sometimes ugly. Humans who are, for lack of better word, human.
Yet in the ‘90s, there was no little camera on your phone of which you could constantly turn around in order to meet face to face with your reflection. There was no “like” option back then in order for you to measure your “worth”. In the ‘90s, it wasn’t all about you… It was about you and your friends.
It’s no wonder ‘Friends’ was the most popular show of the ‘90s. With a lack of self-absorption and endless media consumption, you weren’t really trying to impress the entire world with your gorgeous selfies or achievements to boast about on Facebook and LinkedIn. In the ‘90s you didn’t need to impress the world, you only really cared about impressing your pals. In the ‘90s your friends were your everything, and you were just lucky to be a part of such a community.
‘Mid90s’ follows a group of buddies who have names along the lines of “Fuckshit”, “Fourth Grade”, and “Sunburn”, respectively. Skateboarding is a big part of why they wake up in the morning, but the thing that makes it so great is that skateboarding for them=community. The skate park is where these bangin’ misfits can feel like they are a part of something. And yes, I said “bangin’”, (It’s a ‘90s term if I’ve ever heard one).
Without Instagram and Facebook pages to give them a clear document of “who they are”, these kids have to rely more on being a part of something to better understand what purpose they serve in the world. Now I’m not saying that we’re not all to this day desperate to find “our people”, but nowadays we may artificially have a better sense of ourselves because we can stalk all our social media pages that basically reveal how we hope the world sees us- Along with how we want to see ourselves. Because of this, it gets rather lonely to constantly be concerned about our image instead of taking up that time to consume ourselves with loved ones in the great outdoors. (Remember when the outdoors was a thing? I don’t).
Mid90s reminds us of the beauty that comes from wasting time with the ones you love. The pure joy of immersing yourself in your passions such as skateboarding and film (as is the case for Fourth Grade who documents their lazy days on camera). This is important to note, though, because unlike how we tend to document our lives now as these filtered and airbrushed jolly-all-the-time versions of living, Fourth Grade captures the good, the bad, and the ugly- he captures reality in a way that our generation struggles to do.
We want to be the best of the best for the lens, but these guys aren’t trying. They are just being. Being human, stupid, loving, ridiculous, alive. Mid90s, if anything, teaches us the importance of living. Not living for anyone else, not for the followers, not trying to impress, just experiencing the joy of life for yourself, for your friends, and loving every damn second of it.