Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Love the 90's: A Look Back at the Biggest News Stories of the Decade

In keeping with the format of this blog, to post newer stuff on weekends and old Journal entries mid-week, I'm up to March of 2000, and at that time, I had fun taking a look back at the entire decade of the 90's.  Since I wasn't blogging then, but I am now, these entries have never been seen by anyone on the internet (and with a few exceptions of those who visit my blog from time to time, they still aren't!).  Last week, I shared about how I became a born again Christian in the 90's, and being that I'm not willing to share some of the more personal stuff that went on with me and my family, that leaves culture, both the new and pop varieties.  This collection is from the news side of it, and I'll post some of the other pop culture stuff over the coming weeks and months (starting with a year by year look at the movies).  
     The decade of the 90’s began with the United States actively participating in the Gulf War against Sadam Hussein, turning Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell into household names, and it ended with the United States not so actively participating in another war, this one in Kosovo against Serbian leader Milosevic.  In between these two events have been countless wars, fighting, murder, political wrangling, scandals, natural disasters, high profile crimes turned into exploitative TV movies, and technological and medical breakthroughs that have reshaped the culture.  Some of the more high profile happenings that have occurred this decade have included:
  • Cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, killing and eating men and boys as part of a depraved sexual addiction.
  • The Heidi Fleiss scandals in Hollywood, sullying the reputations of actors like Charlie Sheen and Tom Sizemore, and speaking of actors, several of them spent time behind bars, most notably Robert Downy Jr. and Christian Slater on drug related charges, and both Eddie Murphy and Hugh Grant were involved in scandals after picking up hookers (Murphy’s was actually a transvestite, and he claimed innocence, saying he was just giving her/him a ride home).

  • Amy Fisher became known as the Long Island Lolita after an illicit affair with married Joey Buttafuoco ended with her shooting his wife, Mary Jo, who suffered severe head trauma but survived to tell the tale.

  • The Menendez Brothers were put on trial and convicted for the murder of their parents.
  • Michael Jackson’s career went down in flames when he was accused of being a pedophile.  He retaliated with two fabricated marriages, one to Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie, and the other to a white nurse, Deborah Jeanne Rowe, who conceived two children for him.
  • Anita Hill took Clarence Thomas to court for sexual harassment, and Thomas was then promptly installed as a Supreme Court Justice
  • After beating black man Rodney King following a high speed chase, and after the videotaped beating was shown in an edited version on television, the four police officers involved were acquitted, sparking the Los Angeles riots, which caused several million dollars in property damage and the loss of dozens of human lives.
  • The compound of religious cult leader David Koresh in Waco Texas was raided by ATF agents under the authority of Attorney General Janet Reno, and 72 people died, including Koresh, but also children.  Many people blamed Reno and the government for the tragic nature of how it all played out.

  • A figure skating scandal occurred when skater Tanya Harding had her boyfriend and a few others clubbed rival skater Nancy Kerrigan in the kneecaps.
  • A new porn star was created in the form of John Wayne Bobbitt when his wife, Lorena, became upset after years of mental and physical abuse, cut off his penis, and threw it in a field.  After a very public trial, they of course separated, and John entered the porn industry to show off his surgically re-attached pecker.
  • Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were brutally murdered, and suspect number one was her ex, football great O.J. Simpson.  In the most watched and scrutinized trial of the decade, Simpson was eventually acquitted, but not before making minor celebrities of the lawyers involved.  Simpson was later held liable in a civil suit.
  • The Oklahoma Federal building was bombed, and hundreds died.  Later, Timothy McVie and Terry Nichols were convicted of the bombing, with McVie getting death, and Nichols sentenced to life in prison.
  • Prince Charles divorced Princess Diana in England, and Diana’s unexpected death later in the decade in a car crash involving paparazzi drew more attention, spectators, and mourners than Mother Teresa’s funeral or John Kennedy Jr’s unexpected demise in a plane crash.

  • A bomb at the Summer Olympics went off, the major suspect being Eric Robert Rudolph, one of the guards who was later exonerated.  A man named Richard Jewell was falsely accused by the media.
  • The Heaven’s Gate cult, led by Marshall Applewhite, committed mass suicide to coincide with the comet Halle-Bop coming close to the earth.  The most famous of the suicide victims was Thomas Nichols, brother of Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols.
  • Tiger Woods became an instant celebrity when he broke multiple golfing records at the Master’s Tournament in 1997, but at the time, a lot more fuss was made about his African and Asian heritage.
  • Gianni Versace, Tupac Shakur, and Bill Cosby’s son were all murdered.
  • Scientists at the Roslin Institute and the company PPL Therapeutics cloned a sheep named Dolly, the world's first cloned mammal.
  • A gay boy named Matthew Shepherd was brutally murdered, sparking numerous debates over who was to blame, and who most heavily influenced the two boys who committed the crime.

  • Child beauty contestant Jon Bonet Ramsey was murdered.  Her parents, John and Patsy, were the prime suspects, but were able to avoid a standard police investigation through their money, connections, social standing in the community, and manipulation of the media.
  • Two teenage gunmen set off a number of copycat shootings involving minors across the country when they went of killing spree at their high school Columbine in Littleton, Colorado.  In fact, the Shepherd killing, the Ramsey murder, and the Columbine massacre were all national news events that originated in Colorado!
  • The president himself, Bill Clinton, was not above scandal this decade.  His sexual liaisons with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and subsequent smarmy, double-talk cover-up shook the foundations of the nation.  The impeachment hearings, however, worked in his favor when republicans primarily opposed him while democrats mostly supported him, turning the issue of his character into a completely partisan debate, and attention was instead turned towards prosecutor Kenneth Starr and the tactics he used to obtain information about our Commander in Chief’s solicitous affair and his lying under oath about it, rather than on the information itself.  Clinton and his administration played the American people much better than he himself can play the saxophone.  
  • Other political news found Newt Gingrich Speaker of the House for a republican House and Senate, yet forced to resign for ethics violations, proving once again how republicans are not above the law, but how democratic presidents, pop-music stars, former football greats, and the rich and powerful, are!

  • Technology was the wave of the future as the world wide internet began its massive public existence and Microsoft began its corner on the market with its Windows platform.
  • In the field of space exploration, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, a probe was sent to Mars and found the possibility of microscopic life, Americans and Russians teamed up on the Mir Space station, and John Glenn returned to space in his geriatric years.
  • Other national news included the killing of an abortion doctor in Pensacola, Florida, former president Ronald Reagan developing Alzheimer’s, the first woman allowed into the exclusive Citadel quietly quitting after winning her equality victory, Pope John Paul II visiting America on a whirlwind tour, and hundreds of thousands of black men, mostly part of the late Malcom X’s Nation of Islam, converging on the capital in the very high profile Million Man March.
  • Other international news included Nelson Mandela set free in South Africa, Germany reuniting, the breakup of the Soviet Union as Gorbachev resigned and Yeltsin won the first democratic election, the Rwandan civil war massacre with the death toll in the hundreds of thousands, a subway killer in Tokyo using nerve gas, escalated fighting in Bosnia and Croatia, and a deadly mad cow disease in Britain threatening their livestock.
  • As with any other decade, nature took its toll as well, and it wasn’t just limited to Global Warming and El NiƱo.  Earthquakes in Los Angeles and Japan in 1994 took more than one hundred lives, the US experienced major flooding in 1997, especially in North Dakota, and that same year, tornadoes ripped through Arkansas, Ohio, and Kentucky.  Flooding in China and an earthquake in Afghanistan each took thousands of lives, and more than 10,000 people died in a Central American hurricane.  The decade ended with Hurricane Floyd traveling up the east coast of the US while more devastating quakes hit Turkey, Taiwan, and Mexico.