1995: A Year in Review – Guest Post by Lisa Dawn

Archivist Note: Welcome to the second in our series of guest posts from Friends of the Archive, this time featuring Princess Blog webmistress and author Lisa Dawn!


 


Does 1995 feel like just yesterday or a lifetime ago? Hillary Clinton was the First Lady, cell phones were used only for calls, and Kate Moss and Johnny Depp were still together. If that all sounds like a hazy dream, why not indulge in a little refresher on some events that are celebrating their 25th anniversaries. In the past 20 years, not much has changed in Hollywood. Animated films, comic-book heroes, and astronauts have continued to dominate the box office—even though it has been a while since Tom Hanks has had a hit. Princesses were more popular than ever even though it would be another five years before Disney Princess became its own brand. Disney’s Pocahontas was the latest royal box office craze along with the film adaptation of the classic novel, A Little Princess. Disney’s animated series of The Little Mermaid had just completed its three-season run to make way for more new and exciting princess cartoons like Sailor Moon, Tenko and the Guardians of the Magic, and Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders.

1995 was one of the best years to be a kid. Nearly every television station from Fox Kids to Kids’ WB gave kids their own block of programming after school and on weekends. The superheroes were younger, making kids feel like they could do anything. At the cinemas, a kid even revolutionized Camelot in A Kid in King Arthur’s Court.  While today’s comic book junkies look up to the middle-aged Avengers for their superhero fantasies, ‘90s kids had the teenaged Power Rangers and Sailor Scouts who managed to balance saving the world from evil with turning in their homework assignments on time. It was also a golden age for toys. Fast Food restaurants offered high quality collectibles with every meal, and commercials featured kids interacting with all sorts of mascots from Ronald McDonald to the Trix rabbit. Barbie gained some amazing new skills, like growing her hair back out after cutting it, changing colors in water, cartwheeling, and having fully articulated joints. A trip to Toys’R’Us felt like a trip to Disney World for a ‘90s kid. There were aisles upon aisles of dolls, action figures, games and surprises.

Technology was advancing at an exponential rate. Windows 95 was the latest home essential. Bill Gates’s updated operating system was a game changer for personal computers. Windows 95 introduced users to task bars, long file names, and the recycle bin—all features we blissfully take for granted today. The internet was a new and exciting frontier with countless gigabytes of empty cyberspace just waiting to be claimed by the next webmaster or webmistress. Everyone had plenty of America Online disks they could use to access websites on their dial-up modems. They just had to hope that no one tried to call their landline at the same time! To fulfill everyone’s shopaholic needs, eBay and Amazon went live. Then called AuctionWeb, eBay was started by Pierre Omidyar to help his then-fiancée find Pez dispensers for her collection. The humble beginnings of Amazon, the company that would eventually become the country’s largest online retailer, can be traced back to its very first book sales, Douglas Hofstadter’s Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.

Some crazes have stuck around for the past 25 years, while others still have us scratching our heads. Years before the pumpkin spice latte, Starbucks released the frozen Frappuccino, which went on to become the drink of choice for caffeinated teens and moms at malls everywhere. Then there was that weird obsession with POGS. Kids around the world became so obsessed with these tiny collectible cardboard discs that several schools eventually had to ban them because they became such a distraction. Nowadays, they’ve been replaced with fidget spinners. Before Billie Eilish regaled us with her Bad Guy album, Jagged Little Pill was the album of the year. At the Grammy Awards for that year, Alanis Morissette scored for her June 1995 release. She also won Best Rock Song for “You Oughta Know.” Other notable tunes of 1995 include “Gangsta’s Paradise,” “Waterfalls,” “Creep” and “Kiss From a Rose.” The biggest dance craze of the time was the “Macarena.” This song, by Latin band Los del Rio, took over the world, and its simple-to-follow steps became the de rigueur dance at any party. Today, uniform line dancing has dropped in popularity with social distancing guidelines, but people still love posting their own solo interpretive dances on TikTok.

Amongst the many crazes from the mid-90s that have been all but forgotten, magical girls are here to stay. Sailor Moon acted as a gateway anime for girls just as Dragon Ball Z was the gateway anime for boys. While these Japanese cartoons have become mainstream among western audiences, there are plenty of American cartoons that invoke similar themes. Before Aang discovered his air bending skills in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Tenko was performing magic tricks on and off screen in Tenko and the Guardians of the Magic. This Saban series featured a magician on her quest to recover magic jewels that were stolen by her jealous rival. The very same year, another show about three magical girls recovering enchanted jewels to save their kingdom premiered as part of the Amazin’ Adventures block of animation. I’m sure you know which one we mean. Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders was the latest magical girl princess craze of the mid-90s, empowering girls everywhere with three very different types of role models to latch onto. There was the confident Princess Gwenevere, brave Fallon, and sweet Tamara. Today, we at The Jewel Riders Archive are celebrating 25 years of our love for this magical show that came out during one of the best eras to be a kid. Here’s to 25 Magical Years, and here’s to you, 1995.

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