Dear Millennials, Stop Trying To Gatekeep The 90s

The Gen Z vs. Millennial war is draining. You have both sides constantly throwing passive-aggressive digs at each other, especially over the ’90s and 2000s. As a Gen Z’er, I felt like I should step up to the plate and defend why the ’90s and early 2000s are such a big part of our identity, and why millennials should feel honored that we’re reviving these trends.  

Gen Z  has done a lot of great things. We’ve used social media to advocate for social issues, and most of us seem to have a progressive state of mind on important topics, and we love that, right? We have many great things that we’ve accomplished, but let’s face it, the “originality” that we have just isn’t cutting it. We’re the generation that did the tide pod challenge; we participated in creating hysteria across the nation with the clowns (didn’t remember that, did you?), and don’t get me started on the TikTok Houses. A home full of people and not a single one can dance on beat, tragic. So can you blame us for wanting to capitalize on nostalgia? Our originality is torturous.  

Listen, millennials, you had singers that could actually sing, movies that were worth watching, and fashion that, in my opinion, is top-tier. It’s not like Gen Z doesn’t have some amazing performers and a few movies that could be deemed iconic. It’s just that because we live in a constant comparative society, it’s hard not to live up to the standards of those before us. You’re always seeing people deemed the next Beyoncé, Mariah, or Leonardo. Why? Because their imprint on pop culture is massive and to be compared to the greats is not only a huge honor, but such comparisons can also lead to stardom. 

You see so many tributes to singers that rose to fame in the ’90s and early ’00s, and I think it’s easy to understand why. There was something more authentic about the music back then. Every pop girl had an original sound and look, R&B was immaculate, and for the most part, the Top 40 seemed to reflect what people were actually listening to and thoroughly enjoyed. Nowadays, the Top 40 is filled with TikTok songs that artists engineer to go viral. That’s not to say that each generation didn’t have its own version of “viral” and a thirst for fame; it’s just that the popular songs from the ’90s and ’00s at least had some replay value. Everything sounds the same now; there isn’t any originality.  

Speaking of unoriginality, We’re the same generation with more reboots of ’90 & 2000s TV shows than original content, for G*d sake. Can you imagine if all the shows that you saw on TV were nothing but a bunch of reboots of the generation before you?  I don’t think any of you would be excited to watch a M*A*S*H or Little House On The Prairie reboot. 

That is not to say that we don’t have some original entertainment; it’s just that the original shows that we do have are missing something. There was something special about television back then. You had shows like A Different World, Boy Meets World, and That’s So Raven that tackled real-life issues without coming across as corny. Nowadays, the few shows that address real-life issues do it in the most cringe and unoriginal way. It’s like we’re watching a PSA on PBS Kids.   

The advancement of technology is another reason why nostalgia is a much-needed escape. Obviously, the internet has been around for decades, but technology now vs. technology back then are two completely different things. Again, don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for technology and social media because, well, without it I wouldn’t have a job. But, sometimes, I resent it. There’s something extraordinary about the fact that millennials and those before them got to exist without the toxic side of social media. Sure, you had your gossip magazines, and people were still going talk sh*t and spread their negativity, but you didn’t have to engulf yourself in that. People online now are so bold; they can call you every name in the book while accessing information about you, all behind a profile picture of their favorite celebrity. It’s creepy. People also can use their platforms and spread misinformation within seconds, like tweeting dumb sh*t to their 22 million Twitter followers. I’m very envious that people were able to enjoy themselves without the downsides of advanced technology. 

You can’t blame Gen Z for being so obsessed with nostalgia from the 90s/2000s when nostalgia has been pushed upon us for various reasons. We have so much unoriginality that it’s fun to escape and explore an era in which everything came across as authentic. If I were a millennial, I would be proud that my era is the blueprint for what is popular today. Yes, you might have annoying Gen Z’ers come for you and your side parts and skinny jeans, but who cares? I’m sure it’ll eventually become a trend again.

Image: Victoria Krivchenkova / Unsplash

Jonathan Chandler
Jonathan Chandler
Jonathan Chandler is a Los Angeles based poet and writer. Between juggling college life and advocating for social issues, Jonathan finds himself maintaining his sanity by binging old episodes of The Real Housewives+ Parks and Rec. You can follow him on Instagram @jonathanchandler_