Nostalgia Is Eating Itself

Maybe it all started when Meg Ryan began slowly morphing into Jennifer Aniston (or it might have been the other way around -- whatever, but at some point their plastic surgeries and hairstyles will converge and they will become one). However it happened, the '90 are back.

You could have noticed it flipping through a recent issue of Rolling Stone. The magazine contained a large ad for Pearl Jam's debut album Ten (the re-released, re-mastered version); stories about Phish; The Flaming Lips and summer concerts featuring Jane's Addiction, Limp Biscuit and Blink-182; an interview with Chris Cornell (former frontman of Seattle's Soundgarden); and the top-selling album on the charts on the backpage was by U2. So, you'd be forgiven for looking at the "From the Vault" box on that backpage showing the cover of RS 678 from March 24, 1994 -- Beavis dressed as Elvis -- and thinking that it would have made a more apt cover than the current one of two starlets from Gossip Girl licking an ice cream cone.



There have even been reports of flannel and ripped jeans being in vogue with kids on the street. Since the '90s originals were thrift store finds in the first place, these clothes are going through the ringer for a second time. Gen Y is picking up its third-hand grunge gear at the Salvation Army, where it is displayed alongside discarded VHS copies of Reality Bites and Singles.

"I always believed in the 15-year rule," says VH1 President Rick Krim. And he would know, since the network jumped right from '80s nostalgia to '90s nostalgia by airing I Love the '90s about a month after I Love the '80s finished its run, giving the audience no chance to love the Double-Oughts until the supply of minor Seinfeld cast members and roadies for the Screaming Trees to interview runs out.

J. Walker Smith, executive vice chairman of The Futures Company and president of Yankelovich MONITOR, and the coauthor of four critically acclaimed best-sellers, including his latest book Generation Ageless and a guy who sorely needs a shorter title (come on, this one takes up three lines) says, "Well, Gen X's nostalgia is different than that of the Boomers, because the Boomers are nostalgic for, what we call, Second Phase Nostalgia. Meaning they want to reminisce about the way they used to reminisce. Watching Steve Guttenberg on Dancing With the Stars reminds them of when they watched Steve Guttenberg in Diner, which reminded them of their youth."

This new generation of sentimentalists merely remembers where they were when Kurt Cobain died every time they see some kid in a ratty cardigan and white sunglasses.

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