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Lone Star College - Kingwood
American Cultural History
1990 - 1999
ABOUT THIS GUIDE
To see the whole picture, we encourage users to browse all the way through this page and then visit the suggested links for more information on the decade. We believe the best way to immerse oneself in a topic is to use both Internet and the library. Maybe the most valuable information is best read in books, or viewed on video, or heard on audio cassettes. More photographs, more information, more depth. But then, there is information that will be found only on the Internet; a journal, a diary, or photographs like those on our pages. We invite you to write. It is hard to get a perspective at this early date for the nineties. Historians in future decades will judge. Thanks for the many, many visits and letters we have already received. Writing these decade pages has been an enjoyable experience for us. Enjoy!
Important architects and their work of this decade include Robert Venturi (winner of the coveted Pritzker Award), and Richard Meyer (Getty Museum). During these ten years, theme restaurants (Planet Hollywood) and casinos (New York-New York in Vegas) proliferated. Casinos covered the coastline along Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Universal design made homes and offices user friendly. Health care and elder care homes were big business for builders and architects during this decade. Green design products included bamboo flooring, a resurgence of linoleum and other environmentally friendly products.
The internet has had a huge influence on products with almost every design company having a presence on the web. "Mid-century modern" (old 50s and 60s style) made a big furnishings comeback. Feng Shui was in. Television's Martha Stewart, became the guru of home crafts and design.
Museums around the country have had long lines at major exhibits. Here are a few favorite1990s artists:
- Bill Viola - Video Art
- Cindy Sherman
- Feminist - photography
- Maya Lin - Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
- Donna Howell-Sickles - Fun, animals, cowgirls!
- William Wegman - love those dogs!
- David Adickes - local Houston
- Arlene Polite - African American
- John Biggers - African American
- Irby Brown - Southwest art
- Jacob Lawrence - African American
- Robert Rauschenberg - painting & sculpture
Reading entire books
online became available through such sites as Project
books became the rage. Taking a trip? Listen to a book in the car. The biggest trend in book selling during the 1990s included online bookstores
and publishers like amazon.com. Mega-bookstores like Borders or Barnes and Noble drove the small specialized bookstores out
of business. The price of books sky-rocketed and half-priced
books (used books) became popular. Specialty book stores (Mysteries, Science Fiction, etc.) featured
specialists, unique collections, and author visits. Oprah
Winfrey's picks encouraged a new readership and culminated in Oprah's
Big money authors rushed to the web with reviews, bios, etc. and included Sue Grafton (A - O of her mystery series published by 1999.) John Grisham (five of the top ten spots selling over 40,000,000 copies), and Michael Crichton (3 top ten spots). Other best selling authors include Tony Morrison, Amy Tan, Sara Paretsky, Tony Hillerman, Danielle Steele, and Tom Clancy. Top selling books included The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, Memoirs of a Geisha by Authur S. Golden, and Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. Non-fiction self help books continued to sell (Chicken Soup for the Soul - and all its antecedents and websites and on and on and on!). Sugar Busters and The Zone diet books were top sellers.
Children's Book Awards for the nineties:
Newbery Award Winners - Begun in 1922 (most distinguished children's book of the previous year)
1990: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
1991: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
1992: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
1993: Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
1994: The Giver by Lois Lowry
1995: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
1996: The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
1997: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
1998: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
1999: Holes by Louis Sachar
Caldecott Award Winners - Begun in 1938 (most distinguished children's picture book of the previous year)
1990: Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
1991: Black and White by David Macaulay
1992: Tuesday by David Wiesner
1993: Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
1994: Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say; text: edited by Walter Lorraine
1995: Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz; text: Eve Bunting
1996: Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
1997: Golem by David Wisniewski
1998: Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky
1999: Snowflake Bentley, Illustrated by Mary Azarian; text by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
The 90s have been called
the Merger Decade. On the domestic front some big issues were health
security reform, and gun control -
debated and unresolved throughout the whole decade. Violence and sex
scandals dominated the media starting with the Tailhook
affair in which Navy and Marine Corps fliers were accused of sexually abusing
26 women. President Clinton kept the gossip flowing as several women
accused him of sexual misconduct. The ten years ended with this president
narrowly surviving a
trial to remove him from office for perjury and obstruction of justice.
President Clinton's escapades were proving to be a
hindrance to his Vice President Al Gore's campaign for the oval office and
polls were reporting that 70% of the American people were saying that they were
"tired of the Clintons".
Violence seemed a part of life. In 1992 South-Central Los Angeles rioted after four white policemen were acquitted of video-taped assault charges for beating a black motorist, Rodney King. 1993 brought terrorism to the American shores as a bomb was detonated in the garage beneath the World Trade Center. That same month of February saw four agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms killed during an unsuccessful raid on the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas led by David Koresh. Americans were glued to their TV sets in 1995 as the football hero, O.J. Simpson, was tried for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her male friend, Ron Goldman. This trial pointed out the continued racial division in the country as most blacks applauded the not guilty verdict while most whites thought an obviously guilty man had gotten away with murder. The shock of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19,1995, was compounded by the revelation that the perpetrators were not foreign terrorists but were U.S. citizens led by a U.S. Army veteran, Timothy McVeigh. In the months between February 1996 and April 1999 there were at least fourteen incidents of school shootings with the most lethal being on April 20, 1999 when 14 students and 1 teacher were killed and 23 wounded at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
There was good news, too. The booming economy led to record low unemployment. Minimum wage was increased to $5.15 an hour. The stock market reached an all time high as individuals learned to buy and trade via the internet. Americans enjoyed the country's affluence by traveling more (up 40% since 1986), by reveling in sporting events such as the Atlanta Summer Olympics -1996, and by "consuming" as never before. America faced the new millennium with an open, diversified society, a functioning democracy, a healthy economy, and the means and will, hopefully, to face and overcome its problems.
A development in the nineties which made politics more interesting to the average person was the cross over from the business world and the entertainment world to politics. Beginning with President Ronald Reagan, the stage was set for performers like Jesse Ventura, Warren Beatty and Jane Alexander to become more publicly involved in government. Businessmen Ross Perot and Donald Trump felt they had abilities which made them natural leaders and viable candidates for public office. Politicians have always had an audience, but during the nineties colorful personalities like Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rush Limbaugh have made politics a "born again" entertainment forum for the average American.
Prominent in other government
positions were Justice
Clarence Thomas, of the Supreme Court, Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, also on the Supreme Court. Dr.
Jocelyn Elders , a plain spoken and somewhat controversial
Surgeon General, made headlines with her position on sex education for teens.
Attorney General Janet Reno represented
the government position on many hotly debated legal issues. Secretary
of State, Madeline Albright
provided an American presence abroad. Military leader, Colin Powell
was popular enough that he was considered a strong candidate for the presidency,
though he chose not to run for office.
Women achieved firsts. Sally Ride and Shannon Lucid explored space.
Multiple births gave Bobbi McCaughey
the title of mom to the first set of surviving septuplets,
and Nkem Chukwu a
close second when she gave birth to octuplets in Houston, of whom
seven babies survived. The
number of multiple
births increased five fold from 1980 to 2000.
Dominating the world of technology were Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Successful women included Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart. Michael Jordon and Tiger Woods were heroes for all young athletes. Two important losses were Jackie Kennedy to cancer and later her son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., in a plane crash.
BOOKS:CT100 .C8 Current Biography Yearbook
There were more music choices available than ever, although radio stations tended to find a niche and stick to it rather than playing a mix. Latino music grew in popularity. Country became more mainstream, and Grunge and Gansta appeared. R&B and hip-hop remained popular, as did movie soundtracks. Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men led the charts with "One Sweet Day." Selena was the top Latin singer until her untimely death in 1995. Other popular artists included Hootie & the Blowfish, Alanis Morisette, Janet Jackson, Garth Brooks, Celine Dion and Madonna. The Spice Girls were a group created by the music industry for their diversity and sex appeal.
The recording industry faced severe tribulation as CD burners became commonplace. It was easy to make a high quality copy of a CD. Napster, Morpheus and Kazaa offered online file sharing, in effect offering free downloads of music to anyone wanting to copy it. The recording industry, seeing falling sales, fought back with lawsuits. In 1993, Gordon Shaw published a study on the Mozart Effect, a correlation between classical music and mathematical aptitude He discovered that college students and rats improve test scores by as much as 30% after listening to the music.
Here below (thanks to Lori Whitley and Maggie Whitley are the more important music genres of the '90s and a sampling of musicians that define the decade. You may have your favorites who are not listed.
Billy Ray Cyrus
Guns 'n Roses
Buena Vista Social Club
Nine Inch Nails
Television graced 98% of the households in the U.S. in 1998 (according to the Statistical Abstract chart 910, online p. 5) with the average viewer spending seven hours a day watching 'the tube'. In 1996, the television industry announced a TV Parental Guideline rating system. News or news magazine shows like 60 Minutes, 20/20, and Dateline NBC were popular. As cable expanded to include 74% of U.S. households, it gave rise to networks dedicated to a particular theme such as sports, nature, golf, cooking, women, history, and science fiction. CNN had live coverage of the Gulf War in 1991. And, did you, too, stay up to hear Dave Letterman's List? The industry continued to push the envelop with hot topics like:
Sexual orientation (Ellen and Will and Grace) | Nudity (NYPD Blue) | Sexual themes and innuendoes (Friends) | Foul Language and violence (NYPD Blue) | Crude behavior (Men Behaving Badly and South Park) | Political Incorrectness (Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher)
10 MOST POPULAR SHOWS OF THE DECADE
Tony Winners: Drama and Musical Plays on Broadway
1990 Grapes of Wrath / City of Angels | 1991 Lost in Yonkers / The Will Rogers Follies | 1992 Dancing at Lughnasa / Crazy for You |
1993 Angels in America / Kiss of the Spider Woman | 1994 Angels in America / Passion | 1995 Love! Valour! Compassion! / Sunset Boulevard | 1996 Master Class / Rent | 1997 The Last Night of Ballyhoo / Titanic | 1998 Art / The Lion King | 1999 Side Man / Fosse
This page written
and links selected by Peggy Whitley, Becky Bradley, Bettye Sutton, and Sue Goodwin,
Copyright © 1999 [Lone Star College- Kingwood Library]. Updated 2/2011 sg.