I think rather lowly of pop culture and fads 1997 and onward and this would apply to Pokemon if I hadn’t kept with it to see what it had become; more than just a fad. From boybands to Beanie-Babies, the late ’90s didn’t really gain much respect from me and still don’t. To me, the Spice Girls were borderline. They were basically a modern, white motown girl-group and they had singing ability.
Perhaps maybe being in elementary school, being with other children, maybe that made me a little annoyed by pop culture. Maybe I was beginning to become the easily-annoyed hipster I became full-force once i entered middle school, with brief moments of pop-embracement in the fifth grade listening to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on loop. I am not kidding, one day during a holday, I spent hours at the family computer which at the time was in our new playroom which was previously my eldest sister’s bedroom, and I had mp3s of What a Girl Wants, Hit Me Baby One More Time, and Genie in a Bottle and kept playing them yet not tiring of them somehow. I also bought one celebrity magazine (which in my hipster years I would go crazy with sharpies and white-out, defacing almost every page). I thought stretch-shirts (the king that look like they can only fit dolls but can be stretched to fit a ham-beast) were the coolest thing ever, pink (thanks to watching Clueless religiously) was the best color and all my accessories had to be in that color and that it was cool to dress like a prostitute. Now looking at fuzzy pink feather pens gives me nostalgia and I look at most of the other once-beloved in disdain.
At the time, I was into electro-pop which was huge at the time. I was highly impressed with some of the music my sister played. This musical group was a Scottish indie-pop band called Bis. I thought that my friends would equally thing of them as cool but the only song I could find was one of their weirder ones which turned them off. Man, I don’t know what would’ve happened if I’d have showed them one of the more poppy tracks. That is one thing I regret the outcome of because I cannot imagine how it could’ve worked out if everything went as planned. A whole fifth grade class becoming obsessed with indie-pop? Maybe a bit unrealistic but I could’ve screwed up a chance to expose a bunch of impressionable fifth graders to a more obscure and meaningful musical culture that would soon turn me into a hipster.
I had, at this time, picked up the Baby Sitters Club book series and Dawn, being the only relatable blonde for me, became my idol. She made me obsessed with ghosts, secret-passages and eating healthy things like kavli crackers, soy milk and wanting to get into tofu though not ever having any till I was nineteen. I eventually couldn’t take being away from candy and cookies, but I managed to compromise with the exemption of red meat and hotdogs (which contained nitrates and therefore were also evil). To this day, I still don’t eat cow but I have a little bit of ham, pork, and lamb, but quite rarely. I was confused though, and when I started eating hotdogs, I took the wrong path and instead of setting out to avoid nitrates, I set out to avoid pork and ended up eating turkey dogs that may have had nitrates in them. My dad got pissed when he saw I was no longer eating meat and blamed my sister, who at the time wasn’t eating meat either.
In middle school, I went full hipster, thank you Bis. Maybe it was their track Why Can’t We Be Strange, that spoke against conformist office-working. Or was it their Young Alien track talking with lines like:
“We’re the ones who feel insane
We’re the ones who wont desert you
There’s nothing sacred in our name
All for one we are young aliens”
that made me have a sudden, blinding hatred for the in-crowd.
Now bubble-gum pop like Aguilera and Spears or boy band music like ‘NSYNC filled me with rage and regret. It was only worthy music if
I asked an older lady what she thought I liked to eat and what kind of music I liked to listen to. I expected her to say “hotdogs and hamburgers” and mention pop music names and was going to disprove her and educate her on the way of the indie world but was disappointed when “salad” and “U2” was the reply. Yes, at the time, not only did I reject mainstream media and music, I also didn’t eat red meat, not so much for the animal rights but for the health concerns (though I was perfectly fine with eating tons of sugar. I had tried to cut out sugar in fifth grade but that failed horribly for me).
Beaches and the city were also too mainstream. Ironic, huh, a hipster being against the city even though a hipster stereotype is that the city is the only cool place. I had it in my head that the city was a congregation of people who looked down on you for not conforming and that the city was full of slums, pollution, noise, and general unpleasantness. Instead, I preferred lakes (I guess to an extent, pools were also a bit mainstream but not as bad as the beach), and the countryside, referring to the open land, the deep forests, the peace and the smells and scents of nature, not realizing that the country was more known to be home to close-minded people than the city. I was also deeply into the Baby Sitters Club books by that time. Dawn was the epitome of everything good still but Claudia and Stacey were bitches and sluts.
When people asked me what kind of music I liked, I’d tell them “You probably haven’t heard of it.” Though, surprisingly, one girl told me she had heard of the obscure bands I listened to and I freaked out and started singing a song of theirs, making a scene and acting like a total fool. She told me she had heard them on the radio, though thinking back on it, it must’ve been some indie college radio because no regular radio would ever play Sleater-Kinney.
Indie acts like Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre, Bis, Cibo Matto (though they technically weren’t indie due to have just signing on to Warner Music Group after Grand Royal went bankrupt), Garbage, and That Dog were what I listened to through my sister. I started writing some of my own stuff and played experimental crap on the guitar. The more experimental it was, the better it was because I was such a fucking hipster. I became obsessed with Cibo Matto and made a character inspired by Miho Hatori whom I had no idea about at the time. Heck, I knew little more about the band besides their weird name and their cool music. I had no idea that they were two Japanese girls from Tokyo who came to New York City separately, met and then formed an eclectic music group. My favorite of their tracks, the ones I had heard at least, was their cover of Nirvana’s About a Girl song. I did know Nirvana but not by name. I thought the song did sound familiar though I didn’t remember the original nor did I know it was Nirvana’s.
My sister betrayed me, by eating meatballs and breaking the no-meat policy. Boy, I would’ve disowned her had I known she’d take a liking to some of Lady Gaga’s music, Lady Gaga being the Britney Spears of today. But I’ve been feeling a lot of bitterness towards my sister as of late, like how she left me [and my family] to go live in Colorado and have a baby and get married without us being together. But that’s not the point of this, is it?
I had grown my hair long and hadn’t had a significant cut since 1998 and it was now 2002. I had nightmares about getting my hair cut and rejected short or shorter hair, calling it “mainstream”. My hair, by the summer of 2002 had become full of split ends and the idea of growing my hair as long as it could get was becoming old and the novelty was wearing off. By 2003, I had cut my hair to my shoulders and never grew out my hair again.
I also rejected childish stuff. Pizza and ice-cream were not “sophisticated” (thank you Ann M. Martin) enough. I would only watch sitcoms starring adults. My favorite sitcoms were Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Dharma and Greg which aired together on the WB11 after all the childish cartoons would end. Pokemon was almost dead to me, though I tried looking for “adult-oriented art” on the internet only to find hentai. However, for some reason, I remember, despite disowning childish things, watching Dragontales and Arthur on PBS religiously.
I guess because of Dharma and Greg, the hipster me became obsessed with hippie stuff and New Age stuff. It was still sort of hipsterish but a bit different. Later on, I would reject hippy stuff for the more bright-colored 1980s and then go on a nostalgia fest for many years obsessing over the 1980s and the 1990s which is sort of where I am today. Today, where I am finding the new hipster meme/craze amusing as I was once one and have recollected upon it in this essay.
I’m also glad that the late ’90s are gone even though the era we live in today is pretty awful.