Nineties to Now

The Evolution of American Popular Culture


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About the Book

What is it actually like to live today? It’s an era where world politics play out on Twitter, and where the gig economy has made the nine-to-five job an object of aspiration rather than dread. Rates of mental illness are soaring, inequality predominates everything and much of life is contained in our phones. The core idea of this book is that we can only understand what life is like now by comparing it to previous times to see what has changed, what is genuinely new, and what is a continuation of existing trends. Providing original analyses of a range of seminal works of 90s pop culture, this book extracts a core set of concepts—such as irony, branding, and media—that defined the 90s. It demonstrates how these concepts are expressed in both those works and in the art of today. Presenting close history in a new light, this book helps us understand today by framing it in terms of yesterday.

About the Author(s)

Matthew McKeever is a research assistant in philosophy at the University of Tokyo, managing editor of the journal Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, the author of half a dozen academic articles, and one book.

Bibliographic Details

Matthew McKeever

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 204
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8206-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4392-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. Generation X and Nostalgia 11
2. Explainer: The Economics of 1946–1974 19
3. Lynch and Tarantino 31
4. Explainer: Postmodernism 46
5. Seinfeld 59
6. Explainer: Branding 68
7. ______, Race, Gender and Representation 74
Interlude: The 90s in Ten Events 91
8. The Simpsons 97
9. Explainer: The Media and Recent American History 114
10. David Foster Wallace as Religious Poet 123
11. Explainer: Psychiatry 132
12. And Then … 9/11, the Financial Crisis, the iPhone, Trump 139
13. Pop Culture Today 158
Chapter Notes 187
Bibliography 191
Index 195