[[caption-width-right:350:So if this is what sold ''pickup trucks'' in the early '90s, what did the chick-car ads look like?]]

Some useful notes regarding the Real Life [[TheNineties 1990s]], from tropers who remember them.

'''Daily Life:'''
* For the first time in U.S. history, more Americans lived in affluent suburban neighborhoods rather than in cities or towns or on farms. Fueled by this millions-strong middle class, the American "consumer culture" that had been burgeoning since TheFifties reached its apotheosis. There were more creature comforts and general amusements than ever before (including some that were relatively new for the decade, such as cellular phones and hand-held videogame consoles), as well as more people to enjoy them and more dollars with which to buy them. The factor most responsible for setting the stage for this fabulous prosperity remains controversial among social scientists and political pundits, but the general consensus is that the country was reaping a generation's worth of benefits from a dramatic economic shift (dubbed the "New Economy") that had phased out the old industrial labor market (which, frankly speaking, had subordinated the material interests of laborers to those of management) and reoriented American workers toward businesses that capitalized more on individual ingenuity and creativity (such as computer technology).
* The 1990s were the point at which [[DrugsAreBad drug awareness]] reached the point of {{Narm}}. Anti-drug commercials were sprinkled in between shows aimed at eight-year-olds, most of whom [[MisaimedMarketing weren't exactly being offered to begin with]]. [[note]]Though the young actresses involved helped usher millions of boys into adolescence.[[/note]] Programs like DARE were at their most aggressive (and least effective), and Creator/RachaelLeighCook was [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwu7L38glcQ tearing up her kitchen for unclear reasons]]. Amongst adults, employee drug tests were ubiquitous no matter your line of work.
* MoralGuardians were at their most hot-and-bothered since TheFifties, as a result of shows like ''WesternAnimation/BeavisAndButthead'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', [[MurderSimulators violent video games]] (more on that below) and musicians like Music/MarilynManson and most GangstaRap artists. The guardianship was thought to have [[JumpTheShark jumped the shark]] in 1994 when a Jerry Falwell-produced video claimed that President UsefulNotes/BillClinton was a SerialKiller who had [[ConspiracyTheorist ordered hits on political enemies]], but it came back with a vengeance after UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}} provided them with a holy grail of things to panic about -- [[TeensAreMonsters two teenagers]] who [[MurderSimulators played]] ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' and listened to [[TheNewRockAndRoll "violent" rock music]] shooting up their school while dressed in black.
** In the UK, there was a fair bit of controversy surrounding the James Bulger case of 1993, infamously involving two ''ten-year-old boys'' murdering the much younger Bulger, and it had been rumoured they were trying to imitate horror movies such as ''Film/ChildsPlay 3''. Naturally prompting a moral panic over the effects of violent media on children...
* TV ads were still the dominant form of marketing in the '90s. Because everyone was watching either cable or over-the-air TV, the formulaic advertisements that provided a telephone number ("Call 1-800-[number]"/"You must be 18 or older to call"/"But wait, there's more!") with the blue background and scrolling yellow letters were very familiar. While they still exist today, they serve as a nostalgic throwback.
** Pretty much anything attempting to market to Gen-Xers became [[TotallyRadical in your face and EXTREME!!!]] It usually came in one of two flavors: "Don't Just (verb), (verb) [[NoIndoorVoice TO THE EXTREME!!!]]" or "This isn't your grandma's (noun)."
** Product synergy reached its weirdness apex in the '90s when Creator/{{Disney}} partnered with Nestle to create the Wonder Ball, a ball of hollow chocolate with character-shaped candy inside, and a hell of a lot of packaging.
** The '90s was also the decade in which advertisers sought to drive a wedge in between parents and kids. There is no shortage of ads that appeal to kids outright excluding adults outright from the activities they enjoy, or in a more subtle form, creating "kids clubs" so that kids can enjoy Burger King without the interference of the buzzkill parents that actually purchased the meal.
* Partisan politics (in the US) were extremely volatile, though nowhere near as much as today. Until the 1990s, right-wing media was more or less restricted to print, but new elements like ''The Radio/RushLimbaugh Show'' (est. 1988) and FoxNewsChannel (est. 1996) helped bring political arguments into every day life. Left-wing media still had a few years to catch up.
* Though they'd made an attempt on the World Trade Center in 1993 and were certainly on the public's radar, radical Muslim terrorists weren't the [[YouCanPanicNow hot-button terrorist threat]] ''du jour''. In the US at least, that was mostly homegrown [[RightWingMilitiaFanatic militia groups]], religious {{cult}}s, and other nutballs. The Unabomber, Oklahoma City, and the UsefulNotes/{{Atlanta}} OlympicGames are the most famous, but there were many others, including a pair of high-profile abortion clinic bombings, and many feared an attack where they lived. Though domestic terrorism certainly didn't ''end'', the media focus turned to Islamic extremism late in the decade.
** In the UK, [[UsefulNotes/TheTroubles the IRA]] continued to be a threat, albeit a diminishing one, until quite late in the decade, thanks to some political wheeling and dealing that required one of the Ulster Loyalist parties propping up UsefulNotes/JohnMajor's government, and the continued financial support of the IRA from Noraid in the US.
* Starting in the '90s, a lot of the stigma surrounding such things as cohabitation and single-parent homes started to slowly fade away. (''Series/MurphyBrown'''s single motherhood -- a fact of life that seems ridiculously banal today -- was actually an issue in [[UsefulNotes/DanQuayle the 1992 Presidential election]].) As opposed to the earlier decades when people kept problems to themselves, the mental focus of the '90s was all about being open with one's life issues. Gay rights were just starting to be a topic of conversation, though cultural mores generally kept gay relationships in subtext rather than text.
* In the American railroad industry, the '90s sparked some of the most progressive changes in a decade to the railroads. In 1990, the Santa Fe railway started to paint new engines in the red and gray "Warbonnet" color scheme for the first time since 1967. This move gave the railroad an enhanced public image all around with those colorful locomotives. These locomotives became a common staple to toy/model trains in this decade and presumably now. Also occurring in the same time are the production much more locomotives produced with full-width cabs, used in most trains like in today. And in the mid-90's, a majority of the railroads are being merged or acquired by each other, making this decade a twilight to some of the most famed railroads existing prior, such as the aforementioned Santa Fe, the Burlington Northern, the Southern Pacific railroad, and Conrail which specifically got split by the two biggest railroads in the East. The Union Pacific railroad dramatically gained rail lines, earning its status to be the largest railroad in the United States.

'''[[UsefulNotes/AmericanEducationalSystem Education/School (United States)]]:'''
* School busing had become very unwieldy in some parts of the country, with very few kids going to their local school unless they had no other choice.
* So how did kids get to school? More often than not, your parents drove you. Unlike in TheFifties, there was no stigma against it -- it was just how you got there. Since this was the era of "[[PaedoHunt Stranger Danger]]", it would only be under the rarest circumstances that a kid would walk to school -- usually, only if you could see the school from your front yard, and maybe not even then. If you couldn't walk, and your parents couldn't drive you, only then did you take the bus.
* People began to realize that the school day ended a couple of hours before the workday (typically a school day is 8:00 to 3:00, while a workday is from 9:00 to 5:00), which meant we had kids with some free time on their hands with no supervision. Obviously, we couldn't have that, so schools began investing in after-school programs to keep kids away from gangs, rap music, violent video games, and [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking afternoon TV]]. Of course, these were optional, so many kids went home after the school day anyway -- and which activities were offered, if any were offered at all, depended on the school.
* Also, people began taking note of the fact that few people went to their local school, so they began lobbying for a way to not pay taxes to a school they weren't even using. For a few months, a hot topic of debate in some parts of the country was the creation of "school vouchers", which allowed residents to apply their school taxes to a school of their choosing. A lot of private schools really liked this idea for obvious reasons, but it didn't gain enough traction to be successful. Part of the problem that many liberals had with it was that it would not only drain the public school system of money, but that said money would be put into religious schools -- and in America, any proposal that would likely lead to [[AmericanChurches government funding of religious institutions]] is a huge no-no in many quarters.
* Another hot-button issue surrounding education was the fact that some school districts had much less than other school districts, meaning they didn't even have the costs to cover anything but the most basic education. A "Robin Hood" legislation was proposed, where the richer districts would share their wealth with the poorer ones. Given what that proposal [[DirtyCommunists sounds like]] to most Americans, it went over about as well as a lead balloon.
* And a third hot-button issue surrounding education, particularly in affluent areas of the Northeast section of the United States, was the cousin of school vouchers (which were mainly utilized by various Catholic schools, not public ones), the "desegregation" program. There was a lot of backpedaling by officials to note that [[UnfortunateImplications it did not refer to race]], it referred to mixing "underprivileged" students in with affluent ones. Call it what you like, it didn't go over well either.
* Unlike in, say, TheFifties, there was a ''huge'' stigma around dropping out of school. Not having a high school diploma essentially doomed one to a life of [[BurgerFool flipping burgers]], pushing shopping carts, and other menial, low-paying jobs with few prospects. Skipping class was also a no-no and carried some heavy penalties. Going to college was more or less expected and was considered the rule, not the exception. While not going to college wasn't terrible for you, if you didn't instead get a good job or enter the military right out of high school you were seen as slacking off. This may have had something to do with a lot of fathers in the era being Vietnam veterans, whose schooling was either interrupted or impossible due to being drafted. They wanted their children to have the education they never got.
** Not all fathers. If you were 2-S (In college; abolished in 1971), in any necessary industry/profession, a conscientious objector (1-O was against ALL service; other objectors could still be assigned to non-combat roles), disabled, or married (Later changed so you had to also have a child) during 'Nam, you couldn't be drafted. If you had a sibling or a parent who died or was captured in service (4-G), they couldn't draft you, either.
* UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}} changed the game at school, if only for a brief time. Towards the end of the '90s, most schools started really ramping-up security measures in fears that they would be the next target of a shooting. There would also usually be a seminar about being tolerant of other viewpoints and so on. But, for some reason, no one thought to tackle bullying, it would be about another decade before that became a hot-button issue.

'''[[UsefulNotes/BritishEducationSystem Education/School (United Kingdom):]]'''
* In general, it is worth noting things were a bit different to our counterparts across ThePond. For example, most people still generally went to their local school, and usually walked or took the bus (not the yellow-liveried school buses found in American movies, these would mostly just be normal buses provided by local bus and coach companies if not just the regular bus service). As car ownership continued to be ever on the increase, there was often much talk of the dreaded "School Run" which caused congestion outside of pretty much every establishment that parents were dropping their little darlings off at, much to the annoyance of older generations.
* This being in the days before Academies and Free Schools, most of the time secondary school kids would still be attending [[TheGoodOldBritishComp their local comprehensive]] (only a few areas still having grammar schools) and (except in Scotland) studying according to the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Curriculum_(England,_Wales_and_Northern_Ireland) National Curriculum]], introduced by the Government at the end of TheEighties.
* On the subject of the National Curriculum, this was the decade the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Curriculum_assessment National Curriculum assessments, colloquially known as "SATs"]] were brought in, designed to test kids in English, Maths and Science at the end of ever "Key Stage" (typically at the end of Years 2, 6 and 9). These have attracted a lot of criticism (including from teachers' unions) over the stress they were supposedly putting kids under, teaching to the tests, their use as part of school league tables etc.

* As for the US {{networks}}, Creator/{{NBC}} was pretty much king of the roost thanks to its lineup of {{sitcom}}s, Creator/{{Fox}} had ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', ''Series/TheXFiles'', and its massive sports contracts to fall back on, and Creator/{{CBS}} and Creator/{{ABC}} were pretty much neck-and-neck at the bottom. ABC did have a success story with TGIF, though. 1995 saw the birth of Creator/TheWB and Creator/{{UPN}}, and while neither would reach the mass appeal of the Big Four, they would ultimately be successful within their own niches (teenagers and young adults for the WB, and African-Americans for UPN).
* Cable (and, in the US, it was just cable; satellite TV didn't become a thing until very late in the decade like it did in the UK) was still largely a wasteland of reruns, {{syndication}}, cooking shows, movies, and [[PoorMansPorn scrambled softcore porn]]. The common joke about cable, as told in a famous Music/BruceSpringsteen [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAlDbP4tdqc song]], was that it was "57 channels and nothin' on." The few channels that did become popular did so by carving out their own niches instead of trying to compete with broadcast television; Creator/{{MTV}} targeted teenaged and young adult music fans, Creator/{{ESPN}} targeted sports fans, Creator/{{HBO}} targeted movie buffs, Creator/CartoonNetwork and Creator/{{Nickelodeon}} dueled for children's viewership, and the Creator/DiscoveryChannel, Creator/HistoryChannel, and Creator/{{TLC}} competed for people who wanted to feel smart. It was only at the end of the decade when HBO started debuting shows like ''Series/TheSopranos'' and ''Series/SexAndTheCity'' and proving that cable was a viable outlet for popular original programming; before then, the Big Four networks stood dominant.
* In the UK, it was the decade that pretty much finished off the [[Creator/TheBBC BBC]] and [[Creator/{{ITV}} ITV]] duopoly once and for all, thanks in part to [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadcasting_Act_1990 the deregulation of the Thatcher government]] and the emergence of satellite TV (and to a lesser extent cable). In terms of satellite TV, there was a short-lived rivalry between the government-backed British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB), offering a 5-channel lineup of varied, mostly British-oriented fare, and Sky, broadcasting on the pan-European Astra satellite along with a number of other early satellite/cable ventures, and relying much more on entertainment and US imports. This ended with the two services eventually "merging" (read: BSB was taken over by Sky) in late 1990. On the terrestrial front, Creator/{{Channel4}} stopped being funded by ITV, and took a more commercial direction with sometimes raunchy live entertainment shows, as opposed to the more dry, intellectual fare it presented in TheEighties; whilst the launch of Creator/ChannelFive (with accompanying Music/SpiceGirls video!) promised a new, fresh approach to over-the-air broadcasting (but ultimately being notorious for its mildly sordid late night fare).
* The '90s was more or less the decade of the {{sitcom}}. ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'', ''Series/{{Cheers}}'', and ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'' led the way, followed by ''Series/{{Friends}}'' and ''Series/{{Frasier}}''. The two most popular setups for sitcoms in the era seemed to be either a) {{dysfunctional famil|y}}ies (taking after ''Married...'', ''Series/{{Roseanne}}'', and ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''), or b) "hip" singles in the city, often [[FriendsRentControl living together]] (taking after ''Frasier'' and ''Friends''). SturgeonsLaw, of course, was in full effect, and since the aforementioned shows were so popular, the 90% of crap was that much bigger from all the copycats. The worst sitcoms today would seem positively mediocre compared to some of the things that aired back then, like ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJXB_6bKa2g&feature=related Charlie Hoover]]''.
* WesternAnimation started [[TheRenaissanceAgeOfAnimation coming into its own]] after [[TheDarkAgeOfAnimation decades of stagnation]].
** After decades in the AnimationAgeGhetto, animated series began to appear that were aimed at adults as well as children -- and sometimes [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids not even particularly at children]]. ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' was the show that started this boom, acting as an edgy pop culture touchstone for much of the decade, its characters' {{catch phrase}}s entering the "hip" lexicon. Following in its wake, ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'', ''WesternAnimation/{{Spider-Man|TheAnimatedSeries}}'', and most notoriously, ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' (among other [[Series/{{Dinosaurs}} less than]] [[WesternAnimation/FishPolice successful]] attempts) really started to push the envelope as to what stories could be told via animation, often with fantastic results. Even children's shows like ''WesternAnimation/RockosModernLife'', ''WesternAnimation/RenAndStimpy'', and ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'' played a giant game of "[[GettingCrapPastTheRadar let's see what we can slip past the censors]]," and often won.
** Owing to the fact that cable was still a luxury for much of the decade, all of the broadcast networks still had their own SaturdayMorningCartoon blocks, and some even had [[DisneyAfternoon afternoon cartoon blocks]] (when kids were just coming home from school).
** Creator/CartoonNetwork began in 1992, initially airing reruns of older cartoons, before producing ''What A Cartoon!'' and ''WesternAnimation/DextersLaboratory'' in the middle part of the decade.
** Disney fans frequently cherish the decade as the studio's second GoldenAge, an era known as the "Disney Renaissance". After a brief DorkAge in TheEighties, the Mouse Factory came roaring back with a string of hits in ''Disney/TheLittleMermaid'', ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'', ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'', ''Disney/TheLionKing'', and ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory''. As a child growing up in TheNineties, you were ostracized if you had not seen ''Disney/TheLionKing'' yet.
** On that note, ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory'' started the trend towards [[AllCGICartoon using CGI in animated movies]]. While 2D and 3D animation lived side-by-side for TheNineties, ever-improving CGI and the runaway success of {{Pixar}} meant that the handwriting was increasingly on the wall for traditional 2D cel animation.
*** More accurately, ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory'' was the film that proved ''to the public'' that CGI was a valid animation format. As far as the animation industry at large is concerned, the title of "Trend Starter" belongs to ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast''. The ballroom dance scene from that film, which was rendered completely by computer, was specifically pointed out as one of the reasons ''Beauty and the Beast'' was the first animated film to be nominated for an AcademyAward for Best picture, something previously considered impossible.
* Creator/AnimalPlanet launched in 1996 as a spin-off of the DiscoveryChannel, focusing on nature and wildlife-centric programming. The network is still running strong decades later.
* The [[TwentyFourHourNewsNetworks 24-hour cable news machine]] really got its motor running in the '90s, starting with Creator/{{CNN}}'s famous coverage of the UsefulNotes/GulfWar. With national stories coming to a head (UsefulNotes/BillClinton's [[CaughtWithYourPantsDown involvement with Monica Lewinsky]]; [[MissingWhiteWomanSyndrome JonBenet Ramsey]]; UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}}; [[IfItBleedsItLeads OJ Simpson]]), a combination of the networks and the Internet made reporting what it is today (same info repeated ad nauseum, new info as needed). Sadly, this also started the trend of news networks latching onto and subsequently overreporting whatever they deemed to be the "next big thing".
* {{Anime}} was just starting to gain a following in the United States. To begin with, though, whilst ''Anime/{{Akira}}'' might have proved that the medium could be taken seriously as adult entertainment, much of it was still adapted for kids. Girls had ''Anime/SailorMoon'' and the boys had ''Anime/DragonBallZ'', and... that was about it unless you wanted to really do some hardcore searching.[[note]]Which would turn up series like ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'', ''Manga/UruseiYatsura'', ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'', ''Manga/MagicKnightRayearth'', ''Manga/DetectiveConan'', ''LightNovel/{{Slayers}}'', ''Manga/AhMyGoddess'', ''Anime/RevolutionaryGirlUtena'', ''Anime/CowboyBebop'', ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'', ''Manga/InitialD'', ''Manga/OutlawStar'', ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'', and of course, ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' and ''Anime/YuGiOh''.[[/note]] Of course, these anime were {{Bowdlerise}}d out the wazoo, but most kids didn't know, as they had nothing to compare it to. The only way to acquire {{manga}} was through specialty stores and importers, and it was [[CrackIsCheaper expensive]] and often poorly translated (if at all). In 1998, ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' showed up and really kick-started the anime boom, allowing it to take root in the West and become the industry it is today.
** Meanwhile, the liberation of air broadcasting in several Latin American countries in the early-mid '90s led to the need to fill endless hours of broadcast time in the early morning and late afternoon/early evening. With what they filled it, you ask? With several hundred hours of dubbed anime (mostly licensed {{Toei}} fare), that's what. The anime boom came to Latin America a decade before it landed in the US, with series like ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'', ''Manga/SaintSeiya'', ''Manga/DragonBall'' (the full series, not just ''Anime/DragonBallZ''), ''Manga/SlamDunk'' and ''Manga/CaptainTsubasa'', among dozens of others, becoming household names on par with ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' south of the border.
** In the UK, anime fandom to some extent mirrored the US, though perhaps due to some terrestrial broadcasters' continuing public-service commitments leading them to show "niche" content, some anime being shown on Channel4 in late-night slots and even [[TheBBC BBC2]] apparently showing ''RoyalSpaceForceTheWingsOfHonneamise'' and possibly even ''{{Akira}}''. (This has rarely been repeated since outside of Film4's occasional showing of Creator/StudioGhibli films and one or two others.) However, anime's reputation in the country did suffer from the fact that most anime releases did tend to suffer from AllAnimeIsNaughtyTentacles syndrome, being violent, horrific or sexual. Then as now, there's also been a lot of NoExportForYou.
** Like the UK, anime exposure in Australia to some extent mirrored the US, but niche adult content such as ''Series/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', ''Series/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'', and ''Series/SamuraiChamploo'' were aired on Series/{{SBS}}.
** Anime and manga also started to influence mainstream Western culture as well. ''Anime/GhostInTheShell'', for example, has been cited as a key influence on ''Film/TheMatrix''.
* In other Japanese media news, the live-action ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' franchise was also redone as an American production in 1993 and took hold as ''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers''. In the wake of it becoming a hit, [[FollowTheLeader there were a bunch of low-budget live-action superhero shows]] square in the middle of the decade; some adapted from other Japanese series and some made from whole cloth -- a number of them were even by ''Rangers'' producers Creator/SabanEntertainment, [[SelfPlagiarism trying to replicate its success]]. By the time ''Pokémon'' arrived, only ''Franchise/PowerRangers'' remained, having begun to GrowTheBeard.
* In the world of film, Creator/JamesCameron gained, or rather secured, his AuteurLicense by directing ''Film/{{Titanic}}'', which would displace ''Franchise/StarWars'' from the seat of highest-grossing film of all time (''Film/{{Avatar}}'' has since passed it) and become the first movie in history to make a billion dollars. That movie pulled down $600 million domestically.
* Creator/MelGibson and Creator/TomCruise were among the biggest stars in Hollywood. While Mel had made some inflammatory remarks in some magazine interviews, and Cruise was suffering from [[WolverinePublicity media oversaturation]] with his then-wife Creator/NicoleKidman, they were still beloved by moviegoers.
* Pauly Shore enjoyed a few years in the spotlight as a Creator/{{MTV}} host and also the star of several comedy films such as ''Film/EncinoMan'', ''Film/SonInLaw'', and ''Film/BioDome''.
* Viewership of a show lived and died on the TV ratings. If, say, the network scheduled your favorite show out of order or preempted it with sports, the best you could hope for was to write a letter and hope they read it. There were no [=DVDs=] for repeated watching of a show, and whilst some shows might have got a [=VHS=] release (which was often impractical due to the bulky tapes taking up vast amounts of shelf space), KeepCirculatingTheTapes applied in a lot more cases. Online communities (to get the word out about the mistreatment of a show) were still embryonic -- it was only late in the decade that networks began caring (slightly) about a show's online "buzz", as this meant that the show was reaching a wealthy and educated audience. (''Series/TheXFiles'' was one of the first shows to really see growth in popularity connected to its internet fandom.)
* Reality TV was getting its start with MTV's ''Series/TheRealWorld'', but the genre didn't seriously pick up until the 2000s.
* ProfessionalWrestling experienced some significant changes in the 1990s. The first was [[Wrestling/{{ECW}} NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling]] breaking away from the Wrestling/NationalWrestlingAlliance on August 27, 1994 and subsequently renaming themselves Extreme Championship Wrestling. The second was on September 4, 1995, when Wrestling/{{WCW}} debuted ''Wrestling/WCWMondayNitro'', launching the Wrestling/MondayNightWars against ''[[Wrestling/{{WWERaw}} WWF/E Monday Night Raw]]'', which had debuted on January 11, 1993. Wrestling/HulkHogan's [[FaceHeelTurn heel turn]] at ''WCW Bash at the Beach 96'' on July 7 launched the [[Wrestling/NewWorldOrder NWO]] angle and made ''Nitro'' the number 1 wrestling show on TV for a year-and-a-half. Facing serious pressure in the ratings war, and with their current direction failing, WWE went DarkerAndEdgier by ripping off ECW to create the Wrestling/AttitudeEra. WWE finally broke Wrestling/{{WCW}}'s ratings streak on March 30, 1998, and effectively won the war on January 4, 1999, which saw [[Wrestling/MickFoley Mankind (Mick Foley)]] fulfill a lifelong dream by defeating [[Wrestling/DwayneJohnson The Rock]] for the [[http://www.wrestling-titles.com/wwe/wwe-h.html WWE World Heavyweight Title]] on a taped episode. ''Nitro,'' on the other hand, was live and announcer Tony [=Schiavone=] [[HoistByHisOwnPetard/ProfessionalWrestling infamously mocked ''Raw,'' saying, "Yeah, that'll put asses in seats!"]] ''Nitro'''s "main event" that night? The FingerpokeOfDoom.
* Pogs! AnyoneRememberPogs? Originally the bottle caps from bottles of pineapple-orange-guava juice, they quickly became little decorated cardboard disks that were used to play some kind of game. For about six months in 1993, they were bloody ''ubiquitous'', due to a merchandising deal with Coca-Cola.
* The ''Franchise/StarTrek'' franchise was at its zenith with ''three'' almost concurrent series in that decade, not to mention the feature films. However, viable TV competitors to Trek's SpaceOpera monopoly finally arose with the ambitious ''Series/BabylonFive'' and the amazingly enduring ''Series/StargateSG1''.
** Across ThePond, by contrast, this is the decade where ''Franchise/DoctorWho'' was mainly conspicuous by its ''absence'' from TV screens, having been cancelled by [[TheBBC the BBC]] in 1989. The one HopeSpot was the [[Recap/DoctorWhoTVMTheTVMovie TV movie starring Paul McGann]], designed to try and finally crack the US market for the show — it never took off into a new series, which would have to wait until 2005. [[Franchise/DoctorWhoExpandedUniverse A loyal fanbase meant the franchise, along with various spinoffs and tributes, continued in other media, though.]]
* This is the decade where international interest in ''[[SoapOpera telenovelas]]'' truly exploded, expanding even further that it was in the previous decade. The decade was practically dominated by Mexican shows, with Venezuelan ones following its steps, at least during the first half. Thalia became a household name on three continents, thanks to the three "María" soaps she starred, up to ''Series/MariaLaDelBarrio''. On the latter half, interest for productions from Brazil and Colombia's soaps increased, due to the comparatively "grittier" and "realistic" feeling they had compared with the most classical Mexican exports, without putting the romance on the backseat. Among the Brazilian soaps, series like ''Pantanal'' and ''Xica da Silva'' generated intercontinental interest, while Colombia grabbed some on its own with ''Café con aroma de mujer'', ''Las Aguas Mansas'', and ''YoSoyBettyLaFea''.
* This was a tough decade for musical theater. With the "megamusical" trend AndrewLloydWebber spearheaded in TheEighties quietly fading away, the only stage musicals that attracted mainstream media attention were ''{{RENT}}'' and two shows adapted from then-recent DisneyAnimatedCanon successes (''Beauty and the Beast'' and ''The Lion King'').
* Elsewhere in live entertainment, the Canadian company Creator/CirqueDuSoleil brought European-style "contemporary circus" to the masses. Its appeal was wide enough that in 1998 they opened non-touring shows in both a Las Vegas casino (''"O"'' at the Bellagio -- actually their second such show in the city, the first being ''Mystere'') and a [[DisneyThemeParks Disney resort complex]] (''Theatre/LaNouba'', at Florida's Walt Disney World).
* Some of the most popular female sex symbols from the decade included Pamela Anderson, Cindy Margolis, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, and Carmen Electra. Some of the more popular male sex symbols included Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, and Denzel Washington.
* In 1993, ''MagicTheGathering'' became the first successful collectable card game (at least in the United States). It would be followed by several other competing [=CCGs=]. None would succeed at surpassing ''Magic's'' popularity, at least until {{Pokemon}} came along...

* Nowadays, '90s fashion is often shown as indistinguishable from either TheEighties, or the TurnOfTheMillennium, depending whether or not the focus is before 1996. While there were some stylistic similarities due to proximity of time (urban wear in particular has seen little change since the days of Music/{{NWA}}), in some respects the styles were ''vastly'' different. More noticeably different are the styles earlier in the decade; the mid-'90s fashion had a definite "grunge" look to it, and early '90s fashion included many features held over from the late '80s. Bright "pop" colors were very much ''au courant'', with aquamarine sported by many boys and hot pink a favorite of girls (and, to a lesser degree, [[RealMenWearPink boys too]]).
* Leather pants were popular, for men and women, especially in the club scene in the mid-90's and everywhere else in the late 90's. ''Buffy,'' boy bands, and Ricky Martin were some of the biggest reasons. Black was the most common color, but brown, red and other colors weren't unheard of.
* Stores like the Gap and Old Navy cornered the clothing market. The Gap especially hit a chord with their ad campaign, which was mostly good-looking people wearing their clothes while singing pop songs [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m_X1Lm7dqo and looking bored out of their minds.]] Towards the end of the decade, they began losing their momentum in the youth market to Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, and Banana Republic.
* In the early part of the decade, unless you were a child, your shirt was always tucked in, regardless of your gender or how formally you were dressed.
* For women and girls, overalls were extremely popular (starting about 1993), and high-cut jeans were the rule until the later years of the decade. (Just how much later depended on your location.) Unless you were in HighSchool, skirts were practically non-existent. Acid-washed jeans held on for a while from the '80s, but spandex was verboten.
* [[EightiesHair Frizzy and/or voluminous hair]] also briefly remained as an '80s holdover, although flatter hair pushed it out early in the decade. The women's hairstyle most associated with the decade is the "Rachel" cut, worn by Creator/JenniferAniston in the early seasons of ''{{Friends}}'' -- flat, straight, and square layered. Large, chunky blonde highlights, also known as "streaking" (no, not [[NakedPeopleAreFunny that kind]]), became popular around the same time as the "Rachel" cut, also popularized by Jennifer Aniston. Men's hairstyles, meanwhile, changed drastically throughout the decade, from shaggy in 1994, to a parted bowl-cut in 1997, to [[TheSimpsons Bart Simpson spikes]] in 1999. Younger men and teenagers with brown hair cut into the bowl-cut sometimes bleached the longer hair of the "bowl" blonde and, if it was long enough, tied it in a ponytail.
* Impractically small backpacks were in vogue.
--> ''[[PepperAnn Tiny vinyl sacks have been on the market for nearly a decade! In another year, they'll be retro!]]''
* Cargo shorts were very popular for men, though they seldom went below the knee.
* Men's business attire was particularly distinctive. Pastel-colored shirts and wide, colorful ties were the norm (this was a throwback to the "bold look" of the late 1940s). This is one fashion trend that seems to have survived well past the '90s, to the point that a man can come off as stodgy if he insists on wearing a plain white shirt with his tie.
** Double-breasted suits with low buttons and bold colors became the norm very suddenly around 1990, coming out of the great swing revival (see below). They disappeared just as suddenly at the end of the decade.
* Both plaid and neon were extremely popular designs for clothing. Neon more so, but everybody [[{{Grunge}} remembers plaid more]].
* In glaring contrast to the arch accessorizing by young middle-class fashion plates in TheEighties, kids in this decade (or at least during the early and middle parts of it) seemed to scorn looking like your clothes had actually been ironed. Fashions for young men became rumpled and rather clownish, with unbuttoned pendleton shirts, baggy shorts or jeans with ridiculously wide legs, and sloppy caps sported atop mops of unkempt, occasionally dangling strands of hair. Not all boys dressed like this of course, but the ridiculously casual aesthetic caught on to some degree everywhere. And if we are to believe Cher in ''Film/{{Clueless}}'', girls did not find this look attractive ''at all''.
* From approximately the middle of the decade onward there was a revival of [[TheSixties '60s]] and [[TheSeventies '70s]] Hippie-style clothes and jewelry -- the Peace symbol, Yin-Yang, and Smiley Face in particular -- and then Rave culture surfaced, which had an "infantilizing" effect (girls dressed as fairies and Muppets, guys looking like DrSeuss characters with giant hats, and neon pony beads EVERYWHERE).
* Hip-hop fashion, with its ridiculously baggy clothes, caught on amongst men (and [[ButchLesbian a few women]]) in the middle part of the decade, especially in black communities (white people who wore it were often dismissed as [[PrettyFlyForAWhiteGuy posers]]). One of the most popular theories for the origin of this fashion style is that it developed in prison, where convicts couldn't get prison uniforms in the right size, and that they took this fashion with them when they were released. This style has been the default style for urban fashion for a long time. Thus making the urban fashion scene kinda stagnant till the fashion style of SwagRap emerged (circa late 00's). But even then it kinda still exists as a weird awkward parallel to the latter style. Possibly signifying [[PopCultureIsolation a separate urban culture]].
* Clothing labels became a status symbol. Many articles of clothing had their brand name as the primary design element, letting the wearer proudly say "Yeah, I can afford this." Those who couldn't afford expensive sneakers were ridiculed, while those who did were occasionally murdered and robbed.
* Toward the later half of the decade, possibly because of the {{anime}} boom, there was a rise in the popularity of East Asian culture. Eastern symbols (mostly kanji) were popular on t-shirts, jewelry, and especially tattoos... even if most people displaying them couldn't actually ''[[EmbarrassingTattoo read]]'' them.
* Tube tops made a brief reappearance in 1996/1997, but the fad didn't last long.
* Cut-off jean shorts were still acceptable for younger people in the beginning of the decade, but by the end they became, in many places, associated with the redneck stereotype.
* In the mid-1990s, "heroin chic" fashion models known for their skinny physiques, pale skin, and dark rings under their eyes (basically, they resembled heroin addicts) started appearing in advertisements as a response to healthy, vibrant-looking models like Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer. The heroin chic fad immediately sparked controversy, with critics accusing it of glamorizing heroin use. By the late 1990s heroin chic had died out, with many people believing the heroin-related death of fashion photographer Davide Sorrenti to be a contributing factor.
* The Nineties also saw the large scale return of the DisasterMovie. After being a staple of Seventies cinema, the genre was almost completely absent in the Eighties, but from the mid-Nineties on, it blasted back. The difference was CGI, which was now sufficiently advanced (and sufficiently cheap) that all sorts of disasters could be simulated using it. The first new film of this type was ''Film/{{Twister}}'' in 1996, but [[FollowTheLeader copycats swiftly followed it]].

'''Food and Drink:'''
* Fast food was a traditional alternative to cooking a meal, and usually relatively cheap. The menus weren't as diverse as they are now (a lot of them were changed to cash in on the low-carb craze), but they still had some decent stuff on there.
* Regarding dining out, it was usually a weekly thing for most of the middle class. Other days, you'd get fast food or cook at home.
* Shopping was a baffling ordeal; everything had a low-fat, low-sodium, fat-free, low-sugar, no-sugar, and (later on) low-carb version of itself on the store shelf. Organic food wasn't as popular as it is today, but it was still starting to appear on some store shelves.
* The '90s saw the rise and subsequent fall of Olestra products. Olestra was a fat-free food additive that made it taste really good, but made the snacks it was applied to have no fat content. If it sounds too good to be true, that's because it is: Olestra made the entire world [[BringMyBrownPants head to the toilet]] with intense regularity. Olestra snacks sold like hotcakes in their first couple of years, then subsequently failed.
** [[TwoWordsObviousTrope Four Words]]: "May cause anal leakage." As Ray Romano put it, "That's the only warning that the tobacco companies could look at and say, 'Well, at least we're not that.'"
* It seemed like there was a new fad diet every other week. Among the diets to last throughout this time period were the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, and the South Beach diet. The Atkins was probably the most famous: it was the brainchild of a Dr. Richard Atkins, and the basic point of the diet was to watch the carbohydrates one was taking in. The cultural impact was huge, and many donut shops and ice cream parlors lost business because their customers started switching to Atkins.
* The drink synonymous with the '90s was coffee. Whereas in the past, coffee was what mom and dad drank in the mornings while reading the newspaper, in the '90s coffee became a trendy, must-have beverage, often ordered with a ton of modifiers (tall half-caf, no sugar, whipped cream, two shots of espresso, et cetera). This was the point where Starbucks began (and continues) to pick up in popularity. The fact that coffee was associated with the "hip" cultural center of UsefulNotes/{{Seattle}} was probably not a coincidence.
* The DrinkOrder trope started weakening, as not every person always ordered the same thing. Still, some drinks had certain images attached to them:
** Beer was still very much a working-class beverage - however, some "local" beers and microbrews had more of a classy connotation. Toward the end of the decade, foreign brews such as Ireland's Guinness Draft Stout acquired a surprisingly upscale image in the United States, with the British/Irish pub subculture beginning to gain popularity on the other side of the Atlantic.
** Wine was the drink of the middle-aged suburbanite wife who was waiting for the kids to get home.
** Margaritas were seen as a very "fun" drink and were popular with women.
* Mid-decade saw a brief, inexplicable fad for "crystal clear" versions of sodas, which ''tasted'' like Coke, Pepsi, root beer, etc., but didn't have the food coloring, so they ''looked'' clear. You'd pick up what you thought was a lemon-lime soda, ''but it would taste like a cola!!!'' Yeah... the novelty wore off pretty quickly (although some of us miss those marvelous drinks with a passion).
** One clear beverage in particular that deserves to be mentioned is Zima. It was a clear alcoholic beverage sold by Coors Brewing Company, and it was marketed as a "manly" alternative to wine coolers for guys who didn't like the taste of beer. The beverage was introduced in 1993 and sold well in its first year, but Coors was disappointed to discover that most people drinking it weren't men, but twenty-something women. Pretty soon comedians such as David Letterman started making jokes about Zima being a sissy drink for girly men, and sales of the drink fell sharply. Surprisingly, Zima would continue to be sold until 2008 before Coors quietly discontinued it, but most people remember Zima as a 1990s thing.
* Towards the end of the decade, some food products aimed at kids would advertise how EXTREME!! they were by coming in different colors. Green ketchup and blue french fries showed up on shelves, and a lot of kids food changed color when it was being prepared. The products didn't taste any different, but they did stain your clothes a lot more than the normal stuff, and the trend of colored food died out pretty quickly.

* [[WhyWeAreBummedCommunismFell As Communism had begun to fall]] in many countries around 1989, the UsefulNotes/ColdWar is said to have truly ended in '91 with the dissolving of the Soviet Union.

* Until the early 1990's, despite thousands of science fiction books, movies and TV shows, the only solar system astronomy had any solid evidence whatsoever for was the one we obviously lived in. Even in the late 1980's there were people wondering if our own solar system was a fluke - the planets being theoretically caused by gasses pulled from the sun by a passing star. Scientists were fairly certain there were other solar systems, but the mid 1990's is when the proof came in by measuring parent stars for gravitational wobbles.

'''The Home:'''
* Home size in the 1990s continued to increase while lot size decreased, resulting in the modern [=McMansion=]. In addition, many housing developments were isolated and rural, increasing commute times and decreasing worker productivity. This, despite the fact that the average family size was decreasing.
* Many homeowners in the '90s went to great lengths to update their (often old) homes with the latest in decor, which mostly meant investing in a ''lot'' of glass and granite. Mean property values in the United States skyrocketed.
* Family size started getting smaller; whereas back in the day, six- and seven-child families were not unheard of, in the '90s it was very uncommon for a family to have more than three kids, and it was next-to-impossible to find a family with more than five kids. The exceptions were families that objected to contraceptives and families that couldn't afford it in the first place.
* While seemingly everything else was getting smaller, the family car was getting bigger...and bigger...and so on. Sport Utility Vehicles ([=SUVs=]) were really popular in the '90s with families. Whereas in the past the [=SUV=] was the car a rugged camper or backpacker would buy to lug around all his stuff and was a two-door model often with a detatchable fiberglass roof and a 20-year design cycle, the '90s saw the cars firmly associated with the soccer mom shuffling her kids to and from practice. The mantra was that they were safer (unless you were making a sharp turn...) No one thought about gas mileage (gas was very cheap, even adjusted for inflation) or a carbon footprint. Among passenger cars, 4-door sedans commanded an ever-larger market share with each new model year bringing fewer wagons, sporty coupes and small cars than the one before, and hatchbacks practically disappearing from the North American market towards the end of the decade.
* Homes usually had one phone line each at the beginning of the decade, but by the end of the decade most families who were serious about the Internet had a second phone line for Internet usage. Kids and preteens got very excited when they could get their own phone line to talk to their friends without their parents able to snoop; this was a holdover from the '70s and '80s, but by the '90s, it became particularly commonplace and expected for teens to want their own phone lines. Cell phones, naturally, killed this trope.

'''Local Issues:'''
* Rudy Giuliani became mayor of NewYorkCity, thus ending the grimy "classic" New York of yesteryear. He was helped greatly by Disney. Disney wanted to adapt ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'' into a Broadway play, but Broadway and Times Square were pretty rough at the time. Giuliani knew the amount of revenue that it would bring, so he assured those at Disney that it would be cleaned up by the time they were ready.
* A particular unit of UsefulNotes/LosAngeles' police department underwent a decade of corruption and mafia-style activity in what became known as the Rampart Scandal, later inspiring the television series ''TheShield''.
** In 1991, several police officers were captured on video beating a suspect named Rodney King; they were acquitted in 1992, leading to six days of rioting in Los Angeles, and riots in several other cities in sympathy, including Las Vegas, Atlanta, Tampa and Toronto.
* The greater Los Angeles area began work rebuilding its massive rapid transit system, which is still 11-29 years from completion. Despite this, the system would not appear in popular media until ''[[Series/TwentyFour 24]].''
* UsefulNotes/{{Seattle}} became a major cultural center for the country during the early '90s, as the home of {{grunge}}, ''{{Frasier}}'' and {{Microsoft}}.
* The UsefulNotes/{{Denver}} suburb of Littleton, Colorado was shocked in the spring of 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two outcast students, gunned down several of their peers at UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}} High School in what was one of the heaviest-reported school shootings of all time. After the shooting, everything from ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' to Music/MarilynManson was blamed.
* Also in the late '90s, America was shocked as a young beauty pageant performer named [=JonBenet=] Ramsey was killed. News coverage of the search for her killer(s) dominated the airwaves for quite a while -- to this day, it remains unsolved. It also had the effect of changing the opinion of child beauty pageants and the StageMom, since both were intensely dissected in the aftermath. Opinion changed from "Oh, she's ''adorable!''" to "This is a little creepy."
* In California, former [=NFL=] running back Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson was allegedly involved in the murder of his ex-wife and a close friend of hers in 1994. While celebrity trials had gotten press before, this one (and the low-speed car chase along LA freeways that preceded it) absolutely dominated national headlines through 1995. The outcome of the trial (found not guilty) caused a great deal of arguing, particularly along racial lines. This trial also featured the first highly-publicized usage of DNA as evidence.
* [[VivaLasVegas Las Vegas]], after spending TheEighties in rundown shape, was gradually transformed into a luxury casino resort hotbed in the wake of the 1989 opening of Steve Wynn's Mirage Hotel and Casino. The city also tried to cultivate a "family-friendly" image in order to attract more affluent baby boomers and their tweener children, but this proved a dud and ended when Wynn's lavish Bellagio Hotel and Casino opened in 1998.
* In the UnitedKingdom it was all change for no change as the Right-Wing eighties conservative government hung on, generating sex-scandal, after sex-scandal, after corruption-scandal until 1997 and TonyBlair took power. The attempts by the Conservatives to hang onto power is generally considered to have delayed the Northern Ireland peace process for at least 3 years.
** Also in the UK, Glasgow began to throw off its ViolentGlaswegian heritage and modernise the city centre. This had the side effect of causing a musical and artistic explosion in the late '90s that bore serious fruit in the following decade.
* UsefulNotes/{{Russia}} saw little of the stuff described above. The still-smoking ruins of the Soviet Union were a place of suffering, rampant poverty, rise of TheMafiya, unrestrained corporate greed, a never-ending counter-terrorist war in Chechnya...
** Against this backdrop two former Soviet republics, Armenia and Azerbaijan, went to war over the Armenian-populated enclave of UsefulNotes/NagornoKarabakh, formerly an autonomous oblast within the Azerbaijani SSR, as soon as the Soviet Union toppled. The war ended in a ceasefire in 1994 that is still ongoing. Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence but has to date not been recognized by any country, at least until some peace deal is brokered.
* After spending the 80's in the economic doldrums UsefulNotes/{{Ireland}} began to grow much more prosperous in this decade, leading the boom years of UsefulNotes/TheCelticTiger from 1994 onwards. As well as becoming richer the decade also saw a boom in interest in Irish culture overseas, shaped by the likes of Riverdance.
* In UsefulNotes/{{Japan}}, the economic bubble of the 1980s burst in 1991, leading to a decade-long recession that's now referred to as "The Lost Decade". Japan has yet to fully recover, because while Japanese companies were languishing in the 90s, rival companies in South Korea and Taiwan picked up steam, making it a lot harder for Japanese companies to start growing again after the TurnOfTheMillennium.

* Musical tastes in the 1990s varied drastically among different age groups and localities.
* To listen to Top 40 radio in the 1990s would mean being buried under endless waves of Sixpence, SuzanneVega, and tons of more mellow vocal artists. In the late '90s, {{boy band}}s and [[IdolSinger pop princesses]] became extremely popular and started blanketing the airwaves.
* What was rock music like in the '90s? Well, HairMetal hung on for the first couple of years in bold defiance of good taste, but was soon [[IncrediblyLamePun acid-washed]] [[DeaderThanDisco from history]] by {{grunge}}. Grunge, in turn, suffered a backlash as [[Music/{{Nirvana}} Kurt Cobain]] [[DrivenToSuicide killed himself]] and increasingly derivative bands partook in a lyrical style that Creator/NathanRabin dubbed "Hunger-Dunger-Dang." However, even though grunge itself was out, the musical style influenced many bands in what is now known as "{{post-grunge}}", which became prevalent late in the decade and remains to this day. NuMetal arose and peaked around the same time as post-grunge, and Music/{{emo}} was first starting to get mainstream attention thanks to Music/{{Weezer}}.
** AlternativeRock had finally escaped the college radio ghetto and saw the rise of such bands as Music/{{REM}}, Music/{{Primus}}, Music/TheyMightBeGiants, and Soul Asylum.
** Meanwhile, on the other side of ThePond, {{Britpop}} emerged as a backlash against the dourness of grunge, and became the dominant form of music in Britain. However, the only Britpop band to gain real traction in America was Music/{{Oasis}}, with the rest becoming {{one hit wonder}}s at best.
** Many college students across America followed Lo-Fi, the UsefulNotes/LosAngeles[=/=][[TheWindyCity Chicago]]-based indie rock genre spearheaded by Music/{{Pavement}}, NeutralMilkHotel, and Music/{{Beck}}.
** Indie rock itself begins to make a name for itself after being an incredibly obscure genre for the last half of the 80's. {{Pavement}} especially become the most well known of the 90's indie bands to the MTV-watching public.
** Music/HeavyMetal continued to have a large fan base (although not as large as it was during the peak of its popularity in the late-80s) despite being almost completely ignored by the mainstream media after grunge came along. Without a doubt the most successful and influential metal band of the 90s was Music/{{Pantera}}, whose album ''Far Beyond Driven'', without receiving any support from radio or MTV, actually managed to debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200 when it was released in 1994. Because many music festivals at the time did not want heavy metal acts playing, veteran metal frontman Music/OzzyOsbourne founded his own music festival, Ozzfest, in 1996.
** The 1990s also saw the birth of "Nu Metal", a genre that blended elements of heavy metal, hardcore punk, grunge, and rap. Notable bands from this genre include Korn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, and Deftones. Despite the name, however, the genre was (and continues to be) loathed by many traditional heavy metal fans, and many don't even consider it to be a real metal genre.
* The '90s were the decade in which [[GenreMotif/HipHop hip-hop/rap]] first began to receive widespread attention from white listeners, and began to expand beyond its [[BigApplesauce New York]] base. The Music/BeastieBoys, Music/RunDMC, Music/MCHammer, Music/CypressHill, Music/HouseOfPain and Music/VanillaIce helped bring it to mainstream attention early in the decade (and late in [[TheEighties the preceding one]]), but the defining trend in '90s rap music was undoubtedly GangstaRap. The influence of gangsta rap was such that, to this day, many people (particularly those who didn't grow up with hip-hop) [[SmallReferencePools associate all rap music]] with the thug life stories popularized by Music/{{NWA}}, Music/SnoopDogg, [[Music/TupacShakur 2pac]] and [[Music/TheNotoriousBIG Biggie]]. These thug life stories were also the cause of a another major moral panic, with [[MoralGuardians cultural critics]] on both sides deriding the music for its perceived violence, obscenity, misogyny, homophobia and black militancy. Gangsta rap peaked in the mid-'90s with the East Coast/West Coast rap rivalry, and while it declined in influence from there, it had given rap music enough cultural clout to survive on its own. For much of the '90s, [[PrettyFlyForAWhiteGuy white kids who listened to rap music]] were considered AcceptableTargets, and were frequently hit with TotallyRadical jokes.
** For those who didn't want to listen to gangsta rap, AlternativeRap exploded and made hip-hop very chic for white college kids to listen to. There was also a wave of Afrocentric PoliticalRap and ConsciousHipHop.
** in Latin America there were two main derivative from hip-hop. The first was the technomerengue, a fusion of poppy hip-hop with Dominican merengue, mostly embraced by artists of Caribbean origins like Proyecto Uno, Ilegales, Calle Ciega, Sandy & Papo and El General, among others. The other was the rap-reagee movement in Puerto Rico, specially the artists recorded in the albums series "The Noise", whose musical style eventually progressed into what we now call reggaeton.
* The mid-1990s also heralded the "rebirth" of Rhythm & Blues, though the result was much mellower and slower than the R&B of TheSixties and TheSeventies with artists like Babyface, R. Kelly, Gerald Levert, Boys II Men and En Vogue.
** There was also "New Jack Swing," a melding of R&B and hip-hop created by Teddy Riley that, for better or worse, paved the way for HipHop/Soul.
* The "'90s singer-songwriter" was practically a trope in and of itself. Mention the names LizPhair, AlanisMorissette, {{Jewel}}, Sheryl Crow or SarahMcLachlan to any woman in her 30s or late-20s, and she will most likely regale you with tales of the great music festival that was Lilith Fair (whether or not she actually went there; there's a good chance she got her stories from people who did). The '90s were the first decade in which women in general (not just individual musicians or bands) were taken seriously as rockers, and the female rock stars produced by the decade became known for their [[TrueArtIsAngsty raw, angsty lyrics]] (in true '90s grunge fashion). At the same time, the {{riot grrrl}}s, while never enjoying the mainstream success of their male counterparts, also left their mark on the underground with their staunchly feminist brand of Music/PunkRock.
* Combining the above two points, the pop princesses of the 90's were mostly R&B artists. Music/MariahCarey, TLC, Music/{{Brandy}} (whose tv show ''Series/{{Moesha}}'' was ''the'' show for teen girls), Monica, and so on. The Music/SpiceGirls are the exception (BritneySpears and ChristinaAguilera didn't get big until '99 and are thus better associated with the 2000's).
* PattiSmith, the archetypal punk rock goddess, took a nice comeback in the late 1990s after the death of her husband Fred "Sonic" Smith.
* The biggest one-hit wonder of the '90s was "The Macarena" by Los Del Rio. It stayed atop the charts for 60 whole weeks, which was a record at the time, and might still be. That song popularized, or at least revived the trend of a song coming with its own dance -- while everyone in the '90s strongly denied knowing how to do the Macarena, they were probably lying.
* With the advent of the internet, some music fans begin to start their own websites devoted to music, and begin the earliest {{blog}}s. Pitchfork Media, begun by a college dropout in 1997, would become a major player in music criticism in the next decade (after years of featuring hammy, poorly written reviews which often gave low scores to beloved records just because).
* The mid-'90s also saw the rebirth of swing music/dance, as well as some clothing styles (mostly bowling shirts) from TheFifties. Within a few years, the fad had faded, but the music, dance, and to a lesser degree the clothing, was at a higher baseline than before the boom. This is probably best showcased in the movie ''{{Swingers}}''.
* For a small, brief moment, sometime around 1990-93, groups looking for a looser, more organic break from TheEighties who did not want to join {{Grunge}}mania donned bellbottoms, lacy (or striped) shirts, [[NiceHat Dr. Seuss hats]], platform shoes and vintage music gear (Wurlitzer electric pianos to the fore!), played [[TheSeventies 1970's -inspired rock, Power Pop and funk]] and formed the "retro" movement. Lenny Kravitz, Spin Doctors, {{Jellyfish}}, Blind Melon and The Black Crowes were the most famous artists from this movement, although it also provided its share of OneHitWonder alternative radio-to-pop radio crossover bands like 4 Non Blondes and School of Fish.
** Running alongside this trend (and indeed pre-dating it by several years) was {{Phish}}, a Vermont alternative rock band that became a touring juggernaut completely under the nose of mainstream music outlets. Just like their primary influence the GratefulDead did in the late 60's and early 70's.
* If you ask an European what music was like in the '90s, chances are he'll talk to you about [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurodance Eurodance]], a genre of electronic dance music that was extremely popular throughout TheNineties and [[TurnOfTheMillennium the early oughts]], in pretty much the whole western world except the United States. Some of the most recognized bands of the genre include artists such as the Dutch-Belgian/Dutch group [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2_Unlimited 2 Unlimited]], Italian group [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eiffel_65 Eiffel 65]], Danish group Music/{{Aqua}} and group [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modjo Modjo]].
* Music/TheBeatles saw a nice revival in popularity, beginning in the mid '90s with ''Anthology'' and spilling over into the early oughts with the release of ''Beatles 1'', as a new generation discovered the band (and the original fans introduced the music to their children).
* The biggest celebrity of TheEighties, MichaelJackson, started the decade off well with the album ''Dangerous''. But in 1993 accusations of child molestation and his choice to settle out of court with the alleged victim's family, as well as with the son of one of his maids over similar claims, soiled his FriendToAllChildren reputation and started a downward trajectory for his career. By decade's end he was better known (particularly in the U.S.) for his tabloid-friendly antics than his music, and this would not change until [[DeadArtistsAreBetter his death in 2009]].
* No one saw it coming, but the 1990's were the last decade of the record[=/=]CD[=/=]cassette store. Some malls would even have two or three of them. There would be music playing on the sound system - and some stores even had several CD players with headphones so you could sample a CD before you bought it. Stores would sell T-shirts and other merchandise, too. Working in a music store was some good cred for a young adult, and definitely brag-worthy. The door was slammed shut on them in 2000 practically on the nose with the rise of Napster. You can still buy music on CD in a store now, but nothing like back in the 1990's. What few stores remain today adapted by expanding to selling movies and sometimes video games along with music.
* The Nineties was also a decade in which CountryMusic rode a new wave of popularity outside its rural demographic, fueled by superstar "hat acts" and crossover performers like Music/GarthBrooks, RebaMcEntire, Travis Tritt, AlanJackson, Clint Black, VinceGill, ShaniaTwain, FaithHill (and her future husband, TimMcGraw) and Billy Ray Cyrus (yes, [[MileyCyrus Miley's]] father), along with country groups like Lonestar, The Mavericks and BrooksAndDunn who found a way to market the style to modern, baby-boomer rock audiences while retaining a country/rural image and style. Albums like Garth's ''Ropin' The Wind'' and ''No Fences'' and Billy Ray's ''Some Gave All'' competed mightily with {{Nirvana}} and MichaelJackson on the Billboard album charts, and line dancing was a widespread trend. It helped that Wal*Mart's Soundscan system reinvented how music sales were being counted, revealing a huge interest in crossover country with Wal*Mart shoppers.
* The '90s saw something of a "Canadian Invasion", with Canadian artists like Music/CelineDion, Music/ShaniaTwain, Music/BarenakedLadies, Music/AlanisMorissette and Music/SarahMclachlan scoring big hits in the U.S.
* If you ask South Americans, they will tell you thar this the decade of the Rock En Espańol. Many Argentinian, Chilean and Mexican rock bands became well known in the mainstreal, although, in the case of Soda Stereo, it was basically becoming continentally famous just in time to dissolve.

'''Social Concerns:'''
* As stated above, TheNineties was the era in which the MoralGuardians were always in a tizzy. While it was brewing in the '80s and early '90s (UsefulNotes/DanQuayle's complaints about ''Series/MurphyBrown'', the [[YouCanPanicNow moral panics]] over [[RockMeAsmodeus heavy metal]] and [[UsefulNotes/ConspiracyTheories Satanic cults]]), the presence of conservative Presidents UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan and UsefulNotes/GeorgeHWBush meant that the Christian Right felt itself to have a friend in the White House (regardless of how Reagan and Bush felt), and never felt truly pressured. However, the rise of UsefulNotes/BillClinton (the sax-playing, {{MTV}}-loving horndog who "[[LoopholeAbuse smoked but didn't inhale]]") in 1992 and the high profile of [[UsefulNotes/HillaryRodhamClinton his wife Hillary]] (who, during the election, gave off the image of a textbook StrawFeminist thanks to her [[DeadpanSnarker snarky quotes]] about baking cookies and "standing by my man like Tammy Wynette") set off many religious conservatives. The first real shot was fired by Patrick Buchanan in his infamous [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_war "culture war"]] speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, which became a rallying point for millions on the Christian Right who made "public morality" a major issue throughout the '90s.
* The first big controversy was centered around ''BeavisAndButthead'', which was never a favorite of those who made the rules. A young boy supposedly lit his trailer home on fire because he wanted to imitate the main characters' pyromaniacal tendencies. The resulting outcry led {{MTV}} to move the show to a later timeslot, causing a decrease in ratings. Oh, and that boy who lit his trailer home on fire? They didn't have cable.
* Violence in the media was another hot-button issue. In the early '90s, ''PowerRangers'' had the MoralGuardians having panic-induced heart attacks at the thought of young children imitating their martial-arts style violence. As has been repeatedly stated before, ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' was the next big whipping boy, entering the public consciousness after the Columbine massacre, as was ProfessionalWrestling.
* Sexuality in the media was another big sticking point. ''NYPDBlue'' had an episode where Dennis Franz' naked ass was shown, creating a great deal of controversy. It also became something of a NeverLiveItDown moment for Franz.
** In the UK it was 1994 before a Lesbian Kiss could be shown in a primetime, non-titillating, sympathetic, manner. It would be another four years before a transsexual woman could be shown in the same way.
* Even with all the MoralGuardians running around, the '90s saw something of a reversal of opinion on homosexuality, and the rebirth of the gay rights movement. While acceptance of gay people was a ways behind what it is today, and gay marriage was never on the table, views of homosexuality were still miles ahead of the blatant homophobia that ran in TheEighties. This was helped, in part, by an increasingly large number of celebrities coming out as gay, some less than willingly. In the '90s, there was something of a drive by various media outlets to "out" as many people as they could.
* Another, and possibly greater, factor in the rise of gay rights was the breaking of the taboo surrounding AIDS. Throughout TheEighties, AIDS was perceived as "[[TheScourgeOfGod God's punishment]] against gays and junkies", which killed cruelly and almost immediately, and was transmitted through means not yet entirely clear. [[note]]Scientists suspected from fairly early on that AIDS was spread through bodily fluids only, but the public took some convincing. There was an idea going around in the Eighties that you could catch it from toilet seats.[[/note]] But a couple of high-profile deaths -- along with much-loved (and straight) basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson announcing that he was HIV-positive in 1991 -- changed the public's opinion:
** Ryan White was a hemophiliac teenager who got infected through contaminated blood transfusions and died of a respiratory infection in 1990 at the age of 18. His story changed public perception from AIDS from a disease that affected only "those people" to something that affected everyone.
** Kimberly Bergalis was a straight woman who was infected (possibly deliberately) with AIDS by her dentist.
** Pedro Zamora, an [[EnsembleDarkhorse audience favorite character]] in ''TheRealWorld: SanFrancisco'', died of AIDS just after that season had aired. Pedro's sympathetic portrayal helped change people's minds about what gay and HIV+ people were like.
** Finally, there was the public health nightmare that AIDS caused in sub-Saharan Africa, thanks in part to all the misinformation spread about it. When a disease becomes ThePlague for an entire continent full of people (who hadn't committed the perceived sins that the disease was being attributed to), it's [[UnfortunateImplications rather difficult]] to claim that it's some sort of divine punishment.
* One of the key figures of '90s controversy was Joycelyn Elders, the Surgeon General under Bill Clinton. Pretty much everything out of her mouth pissed off her opponents: from the suggestion that schools distribute contraceptives and teach a more comprehensive sexual education program to the idea that drugs should be legalized. However, the one concept that will always follow her around was the suggestion that young people should [[ADateWithRosiePalms masturbate]] instead of engaging in potentially risky sexual activity. This was the final nail in her coffin, and she was out after that.
* People started paying attention to the growing obesity issue in the late '90s. It seemed like every other report was about childhood obesity for a while.
** Or anorexia. Towards the late 90s, there was a big focus on shutting down pro-ana websites, and for a little while it seemed like the obesity rhetoric was toned down in favor or preventing eating disorders.
** It's noteworthy, however, that in the late nineties obesity started to be looked upon more as an actual disease than just a person who eats a lot. The term "eating disorders" eventually became a blanket for everything from anorexia to obesity.
* The hidden problem of sexual harassment and other indignities women had to face in the workplace was finally exposed to the world in the US Senate hearing of potential US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when his former co-worker, Anita Hill, came forward to claim that Thomas made her life hell with his sleazy treatment of her.
* Environmentalism became a major concern, especially after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill at the end of the previous decade with {{Public Service Announcement}}s and shows like ''WesternAnimation/CaptainPlanetAndThePlaneteers'' on TV.
** In the early 1990s, "Save the Rain Forest" was a particularly popular type of environmentalism, especially among young people. This resulted in films like ''FernGully'' and at one point [=McDonald's=] even had rain forest-themed Happy Meal toys.

* Professional UsefulNotes/{{basketball}} exploded in popularity, thanks in no small part to Michael Jordan, the man often called basketball's version of [[UsefulNotes/{{Baseball}} Babe Ruth]] or [[TheBeautifulGame Pele]]. It's no coincidence that the most watched basketball game of all time was in 1998. Also, thanks to a rules change the 1992 Olympics marked the debut of [[DreamTeam "The Dream Team"]] - a US men's national basketball team composed almost entirely of NBA superstars who beat their opponents by an average of 43.8 points per game on their way to the gold medal.
* The Toronto Blue Jays became the first non-American team to win the World Series in 1992 and 1993. The 1994-1995 Major League Baseball players' strike was a major turning point in the history of the sport. This was also the height of the Steroid Era, although the full extent of steroid use was not known yet. The second half of the decade saw the New York Yankees return to prominence after over a decade and a half of mediocrity. 1998 saw professional baseball get a big boost in popularity thanks to Mark [=McGwire=] and Sammy Sosa's chase of the single season home-run record[[note]]Roger Maris, with 61[[/note]]. Both men ended up breaking it[[note]] Mcgwire had 70 to Sosa's 66[[/note]], but the accomplishment would be tarnished by their later accusations of using performance-enhancing drugs. In addition, new teams were established in Colorado, Miami, Arizona, and Tampa.
* In UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball, the Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowls at the beginning of the decade. The Dallas Cowboys were the dominant team in the mid-90s, and the NFC won every Super Bowl in the Nineties until John Elway led the Denver Broncos to two titles in 1998 and 1999 (while simultaneously lifting the onus of [[EveryYearTheyFizzleOut "never winning the big one"]] from his own career). Pro football also grew sharply in popularity in the South for the first time with the creation of two new teams in Jacksonville and Charlotte, and the World League of American Football (with its helmet-cams and experimental rules) established a bi-continental league in North America and Europe[[note]]Unfortunately, by 1995 the North American teams had either disbanded or moved to the CFL, leaving "NFL Europe" to soldier on until its dissolution in 2007[[/note]].
* American motorsports saw a dramatic shift. Internal disputes within CART, the major IndyCar sanctioning organization at the time and once the most popular form of auto racing in North America, caused a second organization, the Indy Racing League (IRL), to split off in 1997. A self-destructive civil war ensued, which wouldn't be resolved until a decade later, causing many followers of open-wheel racing to leave in disgust. Along came NASCAR, which had steadily been growing in popularity nationwide throughout 1980s, and ''exploded'' in the 1990s, largely due to the exploits of a young, good-looking superstar from California named Jeff Gordon. The latter half of the decade saw open-wheel racing begin to fade into the backdrop as it was eclipsed by NASCAR in popularity for the first time in history, although NASCAR was unable to shake off its DeepSouth stereotype.
* The death of the beloved Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix was perhaps the defining moment of the decade for FormulaOne. The late nineties saw Michael Schumacher's dominion of the sport.
* Although snowboarding began in the 1980s, it didn't really become popular until the 1990s when most ski areas finally decided to allow snowboarders. Another contributing factor in the rise of snowboarding was the extreme sports craze of the 1990s, which made snowboarding very cool among young people. Snowboarding was so popular during the 1990s that it's credited with breathing new life into the ski resort industry, which had fallen on hard times after the 1980s.
* In response to the 90s extreme sports obsession. ESPN created an annual sports event called the X Games in 1995 that focused on various extreme sports such as motocross, skateboarding, and [=BMX=]. Two years later they would also launch the Winter X Games, which focused on skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. Both the X Games and the Winter X Games remain popular to this day.

* From our perch in TheNewTens, the '90s can seem hopelessly primitive. In fact, dramatic change was the norm throughout the decade: it began with a handful of people on Usenet or text-only [=BBSes=][[note]]Bulletin Board Systems, tiny message boards usually run by someone out of his basement and/or bedroom, to which you dialed in directly (as in "Come check out my kewl BBS! 555-1212, 8 bits, parity, no stop bit.")[[/note]], and ended with everyone and their dog having web pages and sharing music on Napster. We even had viral videos -- [[WesternAnimation/{{SouthPark}} "The Spirit of Christmas"]] came out in 1995, and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troops_%28film%29 "Troops"]] came out in 1997. (You had to download them in pieces, because they were too large to be downloaded all at once.)
* This was the decade when personal computers really transitioned from the hi-tech novelty of TheEighties to being an essential part of everyday life, in the home as well as workplaces and schools. Improving technology expanded the scope of what computers were for- multimedia, desktop publishing, and of course the internet- making them worthwhile for more people to get, whilst the rise of graphical user interfaces that had began in the mid-'80s made them more user-friendly than the old text-based/command line driven systems impenetrable to non-specialists and "whizz-kids".
** Nevertheless, computers tended to be much more expensive and a comparative luxury by modern standards. Like televisions in the '50s, most homes had only one computer for the whole family to use (if they had one at all), and in the early part of the decade, it might not have been the latest and greatest model (indeed, a small number of 8-bit machines like the {{Main/Commodore 64}} and the {{Main/Apple II}} were still being made in the very early '90s). It would have almost certainly been a desktop- laptops were bulky, expensive and underpowered compared to similarly-priced desktops, and didn't have the advantage of then non-existent wi-fi. For many young people, the only time when they had access to a reasonably modern computer was in school, and then, it was usually only in the computer lab (if the school even had one). And even then, the odd old machine might be still lingering around for certain specific applications. As the decade wore on, [=PCs=] eventually declined in price, and it became a running joke that if you bought a new PC, chances are it would be out of date within 6 months!
** Another trend was the rise of the now industry standard PC, still sometimes referred to as "IBM compatibles" or "PC clones" due to compatibility with the original IBMPersonalComputer. Already the de facto standard in the business world, it was with the rise of [[UsefulNotes/MicrosoftWindows Windows 95]] and falling hardware prices that the standard really became ubiquitous. Windows 95 incorporated a much-improved user interface to the already [[FairForItsDay]] Windows 3.1, and integrated both Windows and nasty old DOS, the command-line now no longer being default. It also made something of the emerging multimedia boom. That said, Windows 95 and its sequels were, to greater or lesser extent, notoriously [[ObviousBeta buggy and error-prone]], so many businesses preferred the more stable Windows NT which also provided better support for things like networking, but wasn't really suitable for gaming.
** Prior to that, alternative, proprietary standards (most notably the Apple Mac, as well as, at least outside the US, the {{Amiga}} and that stalwart of British schools post-BBCMicro, the AcornArchimedes), were still modestly successful, and to their supporters, vastly superior to your average "PC clone". As IBM-clones rose in popularity, Apple went through a DorkAge and struggled to keep up until Steve Jobs returned and the iMac was launched, ending the preconception of computers as boring beige boxes with its iconic case design, as well as having such revolutionary things as built in USB ports and the CDR-R/RW drive replacing the floppy drive altogether. The fate of Commodore and Acorn was not so rosy: they both went out of business, although the Amiga and RISCOS platforms were still kept alive by enthusiasts, and the ARM processors found in the AcornArchimedes evolved into that which power our mobile phones, tablets and Raspberry Pis today.
* Printers were largely of the dot-matrix variety to begin with, before being gradually superceded by the usually superior (and much quieter!) inkjets as the decade progressed; we also saw the beginning of affordable colour printing. Laser printers existed but were usually bulky, expensive, and monochrome, so were only really favoured by large offices.
* The only real affordable portable storage came in the form of the floppy disk, and until CD-ROMs took over, it was the format most software came in as well. As software got more advanced and hence took up more disk space, it took up multiple floppies and provided much annoyance for users having to swap disks constantly when installing software or even in the middle of loading a game!
* It was also the decade of the CD-ROM, which as the acronym [[note]]Compact Disc-Read Only Memory[[/note]] implied, was only meant for distributing software too big to fit on dozens of floppy discs. Before the internet was really well-established, we also had the phenomenon of the multimedia CD-ROM, an ideal format for educational and reference materials to replace old, musty, boring books and probably an ideal way to get parents to buy their kids a computer as they wouldn't be just using it for nasty things like playing ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}''. This also had the upshot of meaning computers and games consoles, like the original Playstation, could play audio [=CDs=] as well.
** A failed attempt to make a market for the new technology was the PhilipsCDi, which perhaps because people didn't know what it was supposed to be- the controls weren't really suitable for games, which were better served by traditional games consoles whilst [=PCs=] did everything else and more- never took off. Nevertheless as an all-in-one home entertainment system, it was arguably slightly ahead of its time.
* Most of what we now know as the Internet (and the word was always capitalized then) did not exist. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFF0oQySsh4&feature=related Here]] is a look at how crude the internet was as recently as 1995. No {{friending network}}s, very primitive search engines, no [[Website/YouTube streaming video]], and use of the words "{{blog}}" or "wiki" in casual conversation would earn you blank stares. Message boards only came into their own late in the decade -- before that, there was {{Usenet}}, a huge collection of discussion groups for every topic in the universe. The main three browsers were Netscape (and its precursor, Mosaic), Internet Explorer, and America Online. Yes, AOL, or as many people came to call it, [=AOHell=]. Millions got suckered into AOL's crappy business policy and spyware-ridden software thanks to its mass mailing of [=CDs=] and its ads proclaiming that it was "so easy to use, no wonder it's #1!". AOL was instrumental in kick-starting the EternalSeptember, which is when public interest in the internet first began to surge.
* Having an internet connection wasn't a given. Many people didn't have a computer to begin with. Many computers were too old to connect to the internet. Even new computers with the latest operating systems didn't always support Internet connectivity out of the box -- Windows didn't until the ''second half'' of the decade. Many people who had modern computers simply didn't pay for service because it was too expensive for what was still a novelty then, and most people who ''did'' have it wouldn't go on for more than an hour at a time because doing so would tie up the phone line. Being able to afford a second phone line for the internet was a big luxury.\\
And it was always the phone line -- broadband was an option only found in a few areas and at a very high price, which meant that its use was reserved for the rich and for specialized fields (research, programming). [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svmYyeRY11o&feature=related This sound]] came on every time you turned on your dial-up modem to hook up to the internet. If you wanted to, say, [[TheInternetIsForPorn look for sexy pictures online]], you would have to wait at least a minute for a grainy, 360x240 image of Cindy Margolis (one of the first sex symbols to become famous primarily through the internet) to slowly load on your screen. Basically, unless you had used the internet, you probably didn't even know it existed, especially early in the decade.\\
In addition, you were constantly getting kicked off the 'net for little reason, especially if you had AOL. At one point, AOL aired a commercial promising that they had hired ''a hundred thousand'' new workers for the sole purpose of making sure that this didn't happen so much. There was absolutely no noticeable change in the rate of sudden instant connection death whatsoever. And if you weren't blown offline, other internet users would do you the favor of showing you the door. AOL users were ''extremely'' unwelcome on the existing internet, particularly on {{Usenet}}. It was presumed that all AOL users (or AO Losers) were either immature twits or simply had no idea how to use a computer. An AOL email address was a sure way to get flamed.
* The late '90s saw the growth of the "dot-com" bubble, which is when everybody and their dog decided that they were an "e-ntrepreneur" and started up a website offering them some kind of service in the "new economy" that would be created by the internet. As it turned out, claims about the "new economy" were about [[WebTwoPointOh ten years premature]] -- the spectacular burst of the dot-com bubble put a lot of people out of work, killed most of the start-ups that proliferated, and hammered the economy of Silicon Valley. Still, the dot-com bubble was, in hindsight, the clearest turning point in public acceptance of the internet as a necessity of everyday life, as proven by the fact that its bust had such a large impact on the economy. Afterwards, the "old internet" (or "web 1.0"), reserved primarily for computer geeks and first adopters, was replaced with the multi-billion-dollar networks we have today.
* Cell phones were in the transition period between the giant bricks of the '80s and the smaller, sleeker, multimedia-enabled devices of today. While prices were coming down, they were still most definitely a luxury item, even more so than a home computer, and were predominantly the domain of businessmen and people who worked on the go. For the rest of us, there were pagers. (Remember Series/{{Buffy|TheVampireSlayer}} saying "If the Apocalypse comes, beep me"? That's a pager she's talking about.) Cell phones started becoming smaller, cheaper and more common late in the decade, but even then, anything beyond the basics (sending and receiving calls and text messages) was reserved only for the most high-end models. Service was found only in more urban areas, and was still rather spotty. Text messaging was a lot more expensive than it is today, and was practically unheard of. It wasn't for nothing that most people still relied on land lines during this period, and things like pay phones and the Yellow Pages (massive {{doorstopper}} books that listed all phone numbers in a given area, which still exist today, but are notorious for being immediately thrown out due to their uselessness) were commonplace. The mobile phone boom only really took off at the ''very'' end of the decade, when all of a sudden every man and his dog suddenly seemed to have one- even (gasp!) ''kids!''
* Video gaming really started taking off amongst kids. The early '90s saw the SuperNintendo and the SegaGenesis (a.k.a Mega Drive outside of North America), which is seen by some as the first great {{console war|s}} -- to this day, it's truly difficult to tell who was the clear-cut winner. Gaming started improving from a technolgical standpoint, and by the late '90s we had both a 64-bit system and the birth of the compact disc as a gaming medium. Creator/{{Nintendo}} owned the market after the Genesis fell off, but [[PlayStation Sony]] would take over with the Playstation (one) starting in 1995, and held a choke-hold until the {{Wii}} came along in the mid '00s.\\
A number of noteworthy trends took place in early-mid '90s gaming. {{Sega}}'s ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog'' pioneered the MascotWithAttitude in 1991, bringing a TotallyRadical flair into gaming and spawning a legion of [[FollowTheLeader copycats]] who would often take digs at {{Mario}} and [[Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog Sonic]]. This trend went out of fashion in the end of the decade, as the Sonic franchise went through its [[SegaSaturn Saturn]]-era DorkAge and many of its copycats ran head-first into the PolygonCeiling, with 2001's ''VideoGame/ConkersBadFurDay'', a ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark''-esque parody of the genre, providing the denouement. FullMotionVideo and virtual reality were also hyped up, with many people predicting that the future of gaming was in interactive movies and the ability to actually be ''in'' the game, man. After a few years of grainy, sub-VHS-quality video with [[DullSurprise production]] [[SpecialEffectFailure values]] [[NoBudget to match]], [[SensoryAbuse eye strain]], and bombs like the UsefulNotes/VirtualBoy and ''NightTrap'', gamers realized that, no, [[DeaderThanDisco this was not the future]].\\
The later part of the decade, meanwhile, saw the appearance of numerous games that would go on to influence the industry for the next decade. This includes ''[[VideoGame/{{Half-Life 1}} Half-Life]]'', ''VideoGame/DeusEx'', the first three ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'' games, ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', both ''VideoGame/SystemShock'' games, the first two installments in the ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' franchise, and ''VideoGame/{{Silent Hill|1}}'', among many others. 1998 in particular may go down as the single "best" year in gaming history, much like how 1939 is remembered by film buffs as the high point of the GoldenAgeOfHollywood.\\
Of course, accompanying the growth of gaming was the [[IncrediblyLamePun genesis]] of the anti-gaming movement, which managed to bring about a Senate hearing over the violence in ''VideoGame/MortalKombat'' and ''VideoGame/NightTrap''. This prompted the creation of [[MediaWatchdog the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)]] to pre-empt government censorship. Near the end of the decade, UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}} managed to cause a second moral panic over [[MurderSimulators video game violence]], this time targeted at the burgeoning FirstPersonShooter genre. Video games were still viewed very much as a children's activity, and anybody over the age of 16 who still played games was viewed as either a shut-in nerd or an Eric Harris-in-waiting.\\
Outside the PC and console arenas, arcades were still popular in the first half of the '90s. Many big restaurants and other establishments had at least one or two machines, and many department stores of the day had a section (usually at the entrance) where the arcade games could be found. At the start of the decade, these machines only needed one quarter to play, just like in the '80s. Then ''VideoGame/MortalKombat'' and other games came out which needed two quarters to play, and the prices would only go up from there. Around the mid '90s, arcades began a long decline in popularity, as home consoles started catching up to what the dedicated hardware of an arcade cabinet was capable of. While they were still somewhat popular by 2000, by then the writing was on the wall.
* The DVD first came into the United States in 1997, with ''Film/{{Twister}}'' and ''Film/BladeRunner : The Director's Cut'' the first two movies to be released on the new format. However, it wouldn't be until the following decade that the DVD really shone in popularity and sales figures. Until then, we were stuck with the poorer-quality, and much bulkier, VHS.
* Meanwhile, in the music world, it was the domain of the CD, and to a lesser extent the cassette; vinyl had been pushed into obscurity and at most was only really used by DJs, collectors and the hopelessly backward. Cassettes were the main means of recording audio and listening to it on the move, although portable CD players existed and by the end of the decade, recordable CD formats (CD-R and CD-RW) had become affordable for consumers. A whole host of technologies had previously tried to replace the analogue audio cassette; besides a whole host of not-very-successful digital tape formats, by far the most well-known was probably Minidisc, though even that never really caught on and the players/recorders remained quite expensive compared to cheaper cassette machines. The CD had already been introduced in UsefulNotes/TheEighties, but was considered an expensive luxury for audiophiles. It was only around the turn of the decade that the format finally began to take off, thanks to dropping prices of players and discs.
* MP3 and other audio file formats also came into existence in the decade, but the earliest dedicated MP3 players would not be seen until 1998, had very small storage space and were hideously expensive. Downloading an MP3 file on dial-up internet could take ages; nevertheless, early MP3 downloading sites and file-sharing emerged in the decade (see below). Those with less money and patience were stuck with ripping [=CDs=] to their computers or simply playing them straight off the disc.
** In June 1999, Shawn Fanning, John Fanning, and Sean Parker launched a website named Napster, which allowed people to download music for free and share it with each other. It was the center of [[NewMediaAreEvil a ton of controversy]], like everything else in the '90s. While it lasted only two years before it was shut down, its legacy proved impossible to erase. It was one of the first beacons of the death of not only the compact disc, but the whole concept of music needing a physical copy -- in 2003, just two years after Napster was shut down, the record companies would rally behind iTunes in order to undercut the explosion of file-sharing websites that emerged to fill the void Napster left.
** Preceding Napster was the now less well-remembered mp3.com, which, starting in 1997, provided a forum for indie artists to share music digitally for free. (Yes, both free ''and'' legal, not that you would think it possible given the controversy surrounding MP3 downloading in the early days.) Early in the following decade it would itself run into controversy after it tried to allow users to upload music ripped from their [=CDs=] and stream it anywhere, which the record companies didn't like at all- they successfully sued.
* Banking was changed forever by digital technology. In 1990 [=ATMs=] were rare [[note]]and virtually always attached to, if not ''inside'', a bank[[/note]], by 1999, they were on every street corner. Ditto for in store debit, and the number of places that took credit cards. TheNineties became the decade where the only reason to actually talk to someone who worked at the bank was to get a loan or open an account. Until the very late 1990's it was unheard of to pay for fast food with a card.
* And lastly, .wav files were hot stuff. These were sound files much bigger than mp3s, so they were only really good for short sound bytes, not full songs. Sites popped up with all sorts of wav files from movies, etc - all ready to download and assign to different events on your computer. These sites stayed up for years until traffic costs and lawsuits threatened them.[[note]]Which isn't to say there aren't still a bunch of them...[[/note]]
[[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall DUUUUDE!! This is 90's Kid saying "What you see is what you get!"]]