What did the Nineties do for us?

What did the Nineties do for us?

From New Labour and Cool Britannia to the feminism-lite of the Spice Girls, the 1990s shaped much of how we live today. But what is the true legacy of the decade? Did it usher in a brave new Britain of fun, diversity and forward-looking politics? Or sow the seeds for a more materialist and less equal society than ever before?

Broadcaster and journalist Katie Puckrik, editor of The Question and presenter of the Bigmouth podcast Andrew Harrison and Observer columnist Miranda Sawyer discuss the pros and cons of a pivotal decade in a debate chaired by writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun and ask, are the Nineties worth saving or do we need to forget the decade in order to face the future?

This event was live-streamed and can be viewed here:

Taking place on Wednesday 19th October 2016, this was the 16th event in the ongoing series, 37 Things You Need To Know About Modern Britain, which is a partnership between BUG and The House of St Barnabas asking provocative, open-ended questions about popular culture and what is says about life as we live it today.

The House of St Barnabas is a charity whose vision is to create a future where lasting work is a reality for people affected by homelessness and social exclusion. Participants in their Employment Academy are given work placements throughout their not-for-profit members’ club, enabling them to gain valuable work experience in a vibrant, inclusive and culturally driven space and City&Guilds awards in Hospitality and Employability. Proceeds from this event go the The House of St Barnabas employment academy.

3 Responses to What did the Nineties do for us?

  1. David P. Christopher says:

    How can I get tickets?

  2. David P. Christopher says:

    Excellent show tonight. Katie Puckrik is an eloquent and engaging speaker – she deserves more visibility – why on earth did she end up doing that ‘pyjama’ stuff?

    Miranda Sawyer – as usual funny and fresh with lively, perceptive insights and anecdotes. Anything but the ‘professional gobshite’ description on her twitter feed.

    The Liverpudlian guy – sorry I forget his name – was good too.

    Seems to me it could have been lifted with a bit more social comment. For example, one of the most marked features of the 90s was the end of white British subcultures.

    This is probably due to the disappearance of the social base which produced them. By the end of the decade, the nationalised industries as well as large manufacturers together with their local communities had mostly fragmented or been destroyed by government policy. So, there were far fewer white working class lads rejecting a working class future by taking refuge in subcultural styles and identities – music, clothes, attitudes, etc.

    The arrival of Britpop indicated that nationhood had become the last, unifying refuge for white British youth – remember those Union Jacks? Britpop – more correctly styled ‘Engpop’ since it was mostly from England – looked back nostalgically, taking its inspiration from earlier sounds and styles. But as such, it was less than innovative.

    But, by 2000 the country had become more multicultural, diverse and diffuse and than ever before. It was also more liberal and tolerant, so white youth had less interest and fewer possibilities to ‘revolt into style’, escape, rebel or ‘drop out’.

    Consequently, for many teens and twenty-somethings the aim was to ‘get in and stay in’, and identity came to be expressed through consumerism.

    And now, the white tribes and their tunes have gone. And so has pop music as an important thing, unlike in the black and Asian communities where subcultural style is strong, and music remains a vital, energising badge of identity. Maybe it’s time for a two-tone revival…

    Er.. that’s it.

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