90s Slang Dictionary

90s slang dictionary

The 90s was such a cultural melting pot of hip-hop, grunge, teen angst, heroin, and apathy, so it’s no surprise that it lead to many inside phrases that could only be properly understood by those who grew up in that wonderful generation. From movies to TV to popular music, kids all over the world were picking up descriptive phrases and new bits of language that they could take to the schoolyard and spread to their friends.

While some of this vocabulary is still heavily in use today, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at some of the best words from the 90s, complete with definitions and sentences presenting their proper usage in everyday speech.

“I admire people who dare to take the language, English, and understand it and understand the melody.” – Maya Angelou

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Why We Love 90s Teen Culture

90s movies

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m 28 years old and way past the socially acceptable age to be wrapped up in the petty drama and day-to-day lives of party-going, teenage rebels. That doesn’t make me any less obsessed with teen media, though. From my earliest cognitive memories to my most recent levels of semi-consciousness, I have always been a fan of any stories based around teenagers and their struggles.

While the 80s had John Hughes movies and the Brat Pack alongside landmark series like Degrassi, the beginnings of Saved By The Bell, and The Wonder Years, the 90s are where I did my bulk of adolescent entertainment consumption. That doesn’t mean that the 80s stuff was overlooked, however, I just got the spillover and the syndication instead of the first runs.

The 90s film and TV landscape provided a really colorful, slacker-centric, radical look at the elusive teenage creature. The most memorable series like Beverly Hills, 90210 and My So-Called Life gave us a voyeuristic look into the 90s high school microcosm and provided endless hours of engaging plot developments. There were also shows like Boy Meets World, Salute Your Shorts, Hey Dude, Party of Five and the oft-forgotten Sweet Valley High and the Secret World of Alex Mack, among others. Movies like Angus, Encino Man, Airborne, Dazed and Confused, 10 Things I Hate About You, Clueless, Can’t Hardly Wait, Varsity Blues, Kids, Hackers, and countless others gave us tears and laughter as they punctuated both our awkward weekend movies dates and our lives.

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Goodfellas (1990)

90s movies

Martin Scorsese is an independent director who has had mainstream success, but he still holds onto his roots of independent filmmaking. A true auteur, Scorsese exemplifies an independent director with a very distinctive personal style. Despite his use of brutal violence to punctuate moments in his films, he never glorifies it. Throughout his filmography, Scorsese de-glorifies violence while showing the painful price of such actions with a realistic approach that characterizes his films and forms his distinctive style of filmmaking and storytelling.

While his presentation of violence may seem sadistic to some, it is its shocking nature that is the most important aspect of its realism. His characters always rely on their fists, knives, baseball bats, or even the butt of a gun to get their point across because violence, at its core, is a primitive act.

90s movies

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First Kid (1996)

90s movies

Although Blank Check was beloved by children who didn’t know any better, it was a complete failure and overall dud, in my adult opinion. Disney had the right formula, however. They knew kids would love to see stories about other kids who were rich or unique in some way going through the same trials and tribulations that everyone else goes through in the process of growing up.

One of the best examples of a well-executed pains-of-growing-up kid adventure film is Disney’s First Kid. Released 2 years after Blank Check, First Kid had time to mature as a script and also pooled enough cash to wave in a well-established comedian’s face. Sinbad is the perfect comic foil in any film (See: House Guest, Jingle All the Way). His blend of street smarts and physical comedy make for a lovable blend and a believable lead character.

Disney’s First Kid is a 1996 film about young Luke Davenport, an average 13-year-old boy who lives a not-so-average lifestyle. Luke is son of the current president of the United States and he’s locked up in his Capitol Hill kingdom like Jasmine in Aladdin, never allowed any fun and rarely getting to see his busy politico parents. This kind of stifling of childhood causes him to act out in various entitled, disobedient ways, but it’s hard to blame him.

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The 5 Best Scenes From Under Siege

90s movies

Steven Seagal has always been a bit of an enigma. From his claim of being the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, to his numerous sexual harassment allegations, his band Thunderbox, and his clairvoyant vigilante police work, the man is more interesting than everyone you know in your life combined. In the age of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, Seagal stood above the crowd with his vast martial arts knowledge in the form of the Japanese practice of Aikido. Aikido, in a nutshell, is a more defensive martial art that utilizes the momentum of your opponent to incapacitate them instead of using your own brute strength. Suffice to say, it’s pretty fucking cool.

90s movies

It was my dad who introduced me to the wonderful world of Seagal and all the violent entertainment he was so apt to provide. I’ve seen every one of Seagal’s films, including the shitty straight-to-DVD ones, and I’ve loved every minute of them. My first experience with the pony tailed bad ass was in the film Under Siege. Under Siege is a wonderfully hilarious, exciting action romp in which a former Navy SEAL turned cook, Casey Ryback (Seagal), is the only person who can stop a gang of terrorists when they seize control of a US Navy battleship.

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