I think reasons of breaks between teenagers and adults have always been strong and various since the mid-50s. Here I narrow down my interest to the late 90s, so the period following the “Grunge explosion” of the early 90s.
Why would I talk about the late 90s particularly, well.. because it’s one of the most interesting ones of course 😀
More precisely, I tried to connect various elements of this time period after watching a documentary about Columbine :
It would more or less have been the generation of my older brother or sister if I had one. (During that time I was about 8, and into Pokémon, and that would deserve an article on its own). So this article deals with some people born in the Western countries between 78 and 85, who were teens during the Clinton years.
Seen through the Media glass, the late 90s youth seems to be the opposite of the late 60s generation. Where 60s hippies (and, let’s say.. 60s mods) share ideas and feelings contributing to a Peace & Love idealism, the 90s, or at least the part of the youth I’m considering in the article, would rather deal with darker themes like incommunicability, fear, hate, and more generally a feeling of not fitting in the world they think they’re in.
I remember someone proposing the idea that, as the parents of these teens already knew about generation gaps (having experienced it), their kids needed to go even further in order to still oppose their parents.
As we can see in Bowling For Columbine, some artists were directly accused of corrupting the youth, and not caring about the fact they could be bad role models.
Here are two archive footage of two of the most iconic figures that rose to prominence at that period: Marilyn Manson and Eminem.
Manson in 1997, a model for the youth who becomes a scapegoat for the overtaken parents.
Eminem in 1999. A time were he began gaining praise as much as criticism for his explicit vocabulary and the themes of his songs. A lot of his songs were considered belonging the the Horrorcore sub-genre of hip-hop.
The information technology revolution, primarily home computers, started to get really big at that time, and with no doubt it served as a new gap between teenagers avid of new way of communicating/learning/playing, and adults perhaps afraid of it, or at least less curious.
For example, video games tend to become more adult and seemingly serious. Their graphical violence plus the increasing time spent by teenagers in these virtual worlds, led them to become a new kind of fear for the parents.
Ultima Online, an MMORPG who helped popularizing the genre. 1997
Half-Life (1998) and Counter Strike (1999/2000). Iconic FPS games of that era.
It’s interesting to see that the cult movies of that period seem to be coherent with that image of young people enjoying nothing but violence, hate and computers :
American History X (october 1998)
The Matrix (march 1999)
The Blair Witch Project (july 1999)
Fight Club (october 1999)
And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make (yep I stopped writing this article before finishing it)