Culture War

How the ’90s Made Us Who We Are Today (Whether We Like It or Not)


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About the Book

What didn’t you like about the 1990s—the peace or the prosperity? Setting aside nostalgia for the end of the 20th century, this book takes a candid look at the decade after the Cold War and before 9/11, when America’s culture war began with the election of a media-savvy, Baby Boomer president (and his liberal feminist wife). Bill Clinton’s postmodern administration betokened gay equality, an education-based labor force and a race and gender-diverse workplace and government, panicking conservatives and sparking the 1994 Republican Revolution. Meanwhile, with the advent of the 24-hour cable news cycle and the Internet, a media “punditocracy” arose. Parsing every event from the O.J. Simpson trial to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, commentators and talk show hosts spun news, politics and pop culture until they became one thing. Beginning with the “Red and Blue” partitioning of America that would nurture the Tea Party, and ending with the 9/11 attacks, this examination of the 1990s demonstrates how the decade shaped the world we live in today.

About the Author(s)

Telly Davidson is an award-winning culture writer who has contributed to the Emmy-nominated Pioneers of Television and the WGA-endorsed The WRITE Environment series. He has written extensively on film, television, and music and was the lead Culture Columnist for The FrumForum (NewMajority) from 2009 to 2012. He lives in southern California.

Bibliographic Details

Telly Davidson

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 352
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6619-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2570-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

Introduction: Postcards from the Edge 5

1. Falling Down 11

2. Daddy’s Dyin’—Who’s Got the Will? 28

3. “The year that Washington lost its mind” 48

4. Clinton and Gingrich: A Love Story 73

5. If It Bleeds—It Leads 97

6. “Must-See TV” 122

7. Indie-Pendent’s Day 143

8. A Holiday from History? 171

9. Identity Politics 199

10. It’s the New Economy, Stupid! 218

11. Political Pornography 245

12. The “Seinfeld Election” 265

13. Epic Fail 289

14. Bright Shiny Morning 302

Conclusion: Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow 323

Bibliography 329

Index 331

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Telly Davidson was a reliable and valued contributor to the FrumForum website 2009–2012. He is a witty commentator on popular culture, about which his knowledge is immense”—David Frum, CNN and Daily Beast regular contributor, author of How We Got Here: The ’70s, Dead Right, The Right Man, and The End of Evil
  • “In the grand march of decades, few did more to create today’s America than the misunderstood 1990s. With enormous good humor and verve, Telly Davidson nails that mercurial decade, from its ideological slugfest between left and right to the explosion of new forms of pop culture on TV and at the movies. Having seemingly read, heard and watched everything, he makes an intrepid guide through the dark, wild forest of the recent past.”—John Powers, author of Sore Winners and contributing editor at Vogue