Growing up in the 90’s was an absolute privilege, in my personal opinion. This was before the cameraphones and smart phones and all the technology and entertainment systems that are out today. For entertainment, we chased each other around playing tips where there was one central pole of “bar” and where board games were the most amazing thing you could have. My upbringing in the last decade of the 20th century was so amazing that I decided to write something about it. Being born ’93, I am probably just in the demographic that can say that they were raised in the 90s, with the latter years in the decade being too young to really appreciate the greatest decade of history.
1. Morning cartoon television, or more specifically, Cheez TV
In what was originally just going to be “Pokemon”, I stopped and thought “Hey, that means I”ll be excluding Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Digimon and other morning cartoons that made my childhood so great”. All 90’s kids should remember who Jade Gatt and Ryan Lappin are, and if not, here’s a small reminder – Cheez TV. They were the two young, cool hosts of Cheez TV who generally performed entertaining segments in between cartoons in the morning. I remember waking up at 7 in the morning because the cartoon they usually showed at 6:30 generally wasn’t the popular one and running to the lounge room to watch my daily morning dosage of cartoons which consisted of the likes of Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z. Although, if you did wake up to watch the 6:30 cartoon and woke up too early, you’d be stuck watching Aerobics. I was there when Ash’s Pikachu beat Brock’s Onix with the aid of a fire sprinkler; I was there when Goku and Vegeta duked it out for what seemed like forever. In comparison to the cartoons on today’s television, these were unstoppable; the cartoons today are full of singing and people dressed up in large, animal costumes who skip around and sing some more while the 90’s cartoons were action-packed and always entertaining. I feel sorry the children of the 21st century who didn’t wake up to Jade and Ryan’s faces every weekday morning.
2. The evolution of the Nintendo
It was a rare treat for kids to have a gaming console in the 90s unlike today where you just expect every house to have one. I remember being absolutely heartbroken when my Super Nintendo broke… I couldn’t save the day anymore with Mario and beat Birdo in that level where you jump on the eggs that it shoots out and throw it back, and I couldn’t play the very first Mortal Kombat where Sonya was the least bit sexy compared to what she looks like now. The void in my life was filled when my parents bought us a Nintendo 64 for Christmas which provided me with such entertainment from titles such as Diddy Kong Racing and Mario Party. I used to always harass my parents or older siblings to take me to the video store so I could rent a game and sit on it for hours straight. These legendary titles are slowly becoming rare and their prices are rising in video game economics. Even so, my Nintendo 64 which to this day still functions properly, will never be up for sale.
3. Wonderland, Bring It Back
I lived in Bathurst for the first 9 years of my life so I couldn’t visit Wonderland as much as some other children might have but I remember, for some reason, my Dad would be able to take us to Wonderland for free as part of a deal from his work like once a year so it was an annual tradition for my family to go to Wonderland. Because I was a youngun when I went, I only specifically remember going to Hanna Barbera land and other kiddish rides; I was also too young to drive a dodgem car by myself so I would steer while my Dad would be next to me handling the pedal. I still remember that pounding heart excitement feeling I would get just walking through the gate and standing underneath the sign and I would feel that way for the entire day. I think my personal favourite ride was the one where you would sit on a plane that you could make go up and fly in the air or go down and travel along the water and you’d just go around in a circle until the ride stopped. Reading about Wonderland closing down absolutely tore me and I would (metaphorically) kill to see it come back. RIP Wonderland Sydney.
4. WWF, and not the panda version either
Before World Wrestling Entertainment was led by all-american hero John Cena, it was World Wrestling Federation and it was led by Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and D-Generation X. Wrestling nowadays doesn’t have the cult following it used to have especially in the 90’s when the Attitude Era was in its prime. It was pretty much guaranteed that nearly every kid watched wrestling, whether it was casually or religiously. The characters of wrestling in the 90s were extreme and over the top, like Right to Censor, The Godfather and the Kat, the latter of which still remains one of my most favourite wrestling personalities ever. Wrestling is losing its touch it used to have when I was a child with the lack of outstanding characters and attention-grabbing storylines and it’s a shame the children of today didn’t witness the greatest era of wrestling there ever was. Or the Monday Night Wars.
5. Handball, tips and Stuck in the Mud
The act of crawling through someone’s legs to set them free because they are stuck in imaginary mud is a rare thing today and that truly makes me sad. Playground games when I was a child in primary school were so simple but so fun; I remember that my friends and I claimed a handball court and would dash to the square before anyone else could steal it from us and play handball for ages. I also specifically remember being the worst player of the group but that’s another story. When we weren’t whacking a tennis ball around calling out “DOUB TAP” or “DOUBS”, we were chasing each other around or waiting for the 10 second bar rule to expire so you could immediately tap that person and say “TIP, YOU’RE IT!” and then running away before they could tip you back. These simple games could keep a child entertained for hours and had absolutely no digital requirement of a smartphone or other device.
6. Boy bands and girl groups
“So I tell you what I want, what I really, really want”. “Baby when the lights go out, I’ll show you what it’s all about”. If you read these words, you’re probably not a 90’s kid or had a different upbringing than most, but if you sung these words in a certain tune, then you will recognise that they are lyrics belonging to the Spice Girls and Five respectively. As much as One Direction and The Wanted want to try, they are several years too late – the boy band craze was in the 90s, and the female equivalent of the girl group also belonged to the 90s. The Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, TLC, Destiny’s Child… these were all creations from the 90s when poppy music was the in thing as opposed to the loud techno Transformer like music of today. I remember joining a dance group in primary school who performed a dance to Stop by Spice Girls although I can’t remember the outcome of that dance unfortunately. Music was much easier to the ears in the 90s.
I miss being a child with no care in the world other than how you were going to catch that Zapdos without having a Master Ball. I miss my entire childhood quite frankly. Unfortunately for all of us, we all have to grow up eventually, even if we try and fight it. As for me, I will continue being deluded about my adulthood by skipping around nightclubs with a lollipop dangling around in my mouth. The body may age but the mind doesn’t. Noah out!
– by Noah La’ulu