Many wise people have told me the importance of living life in the present and not dwelling on the past. I try my best to be present, but I must admit it’s hard when so many influences have me meditating on the past — 20 years ago in the past, to be exact. It seems like as soon as the ball dropped and marked the arrival of 2018, media outlets and public figures themselves have been encouraging us to spend as much time as possible reflecting on 1998.
Pitchfork is taking time to look back on the best albums, music videos, and even portable music players of that year. 1998 political and cultural products such as Spice World, Madonna’s Ray of Light, the Dixie Chicks’s Wide Open Spaces, the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal, the time Bob Dylan’s Grammy performance was interrupted by the “Soy Bomb” guy, the debut of Hedwig and the Angry Itch, among others, not to mention the countless pieces commemorating localized noteworthy events. This is also an Olympic year, and the Winter Olympics have inspired retrospectives on everything from Michelle Kwan’s silver medal win, the U.S. women’s hockey team’s gold medal win, Jonny Moseley’s gold medal win, and the first time the U.S. won a medal in luge, to name a few.
Celebrating pop culture anniversary is nothing new, but rarely does nostalgia coalesce around a single year; there are no site-wide initiatives praising 1966, 1954, 1973, and so on. But 1998 is different — long enough ago that there is perspective to be gained from the couple decades of distance, but not so long ago that most people don’t remember it. Kids of that era now write for websites; adults from that era are even better writers. 1998 was in that small window where the internet was becoming omnipresent, but had not yet inspired the deluge of content it does today, or been properly archived. Simply put, there isn’t much original writing from 1998 still available… and without this original material to recirculate, there’s plenty of opportunity in going back to the well, and producing something new.
Like anyone who loves a good dose of ‘90s nostalgia, I’m eating it all up, because I’m in the target range. Who doesn’t want to revisit Neutral Milk Hotel, or Mulan? If you think society’s already done enough looking back for the year, buckle up because it’s only February. We still have things like the releases of Titanic and Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” to look forward to, and I’m all for it; anything to bring me back to a time when I didn’t know what a Twitter or a Mike Pence was. Savor your time celebrating 1998 while you can; soon, it’ll be time to revisit 1999.