90s vs. the 90s panel talk
Place: New Museum
$6 students and museum members/$8 general admission
This panel includes Michael Azerrad, Mark Greif, Emily Gould, A.S. Hamrah, Marisa Meltzer, and Aaron Lake Smith, and considers the legacy of the ’90s and how we are being shaped by them. If the ’70s was the “Me Decade” and the eighties was the “Greed Decade,” what were the ’90s? If we are nostalgic for the era, what are we nostalgic for? The critic Stephen Metcalf has called 1983 "the year the ’80s became the ’80s." 1991 is often referred to as "the year that punk broke" not only in reference to the Sonic Youth concert documentary of the same name, but also because it was a year of despair (the recession, the Persian Gulf War, the preceding decade of vapid pop culture). It has often been said that there was an obsession with authenticity in the ’90s, from slackers to sellouts. Does the selling-out debate exist any longer? What is the relationship between the economy, culture, and art? Is 2009 1991? Generation X is forever identifiable with the ’90s, but with many members of the subsequent Generation Y identifying with ’90s signifiers, are generations about birth year or identity? And how do you parse out the Gen X and Gen Y micro-generations?
Michael Azerrad is a veteran music journalist and author of two acclaimed, best-selling books: Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana and Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, and is a co-producer of the acclaimed documentary film Kurt Cobain About a Son. A former contributor editor for Rolling Stone, his work has appeared in the New Yorker, Spin, Mojo and the New York Times, among many others.
Mark Greif is co-editor of n+1 Magazine and assistant professor of literary studies at the New School.
Emily Gould has worked in book publishing and as an editor at Gawker.com back when that meant something different than it does now. She currently writes for emilymagazine.com and is a contributing editor at MIT's Technology Review. She is the co-author, with Zareen Jaffery, of Hex Education, a young adult novel, and her first book of autobiographical essays will be published in 2010. The theme of her senior prom was “Party Like It's 1999” (it was 1999). Her New York Times magazine essay “Exposed” is sometimes taught to students in media studies classes, who are often then required by their teachers to blog about it.
A. S. Hamrah is the film critic for n+1. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Newsday, The Boston Phoenix, The Baffler, and Suck. He is the former editor of Hermenaut. He currently works as a semiotic brand analyst, investigating the cultural meaning of consumer goods for large corporations.
Marisa Meltzer is coauthor of How Sassy Changed My Life. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Elle, and many other publications. Her next book Girl Power will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in February.
Aaron Lake Smith makes a series of fanzines called Big Hands that have been described as "an ongoing treatise on disappointment." He has written for the New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, and Arthur Magazine. His long-form pamphlet Unemployment will be released by Microcosm Press in Fall 2009. He was eight years old in 1991, the year that "punk broke," and is now at work on a novel entitled Mother Asphalt.