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MENTAL CHANNEL SURFING: ‘90’S EDITION

Andrew Buckner

Initially, the lessons In how to laugh at life from Beavis & Butt-head, two of the most relatable characters of all time to the pre-teen, impressionable, hormone-driven I, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Roseanne, and Monstervision with Joe Bob Briggs, which aired Saturday nights on TNT, are the most brightly cast visions of the 1990’s on the often faded static of my mental screen.

Then the television broadcasting my recollection turns to a packed theater. This sight summons thoughts of the first two Scream movies, with Scream II being my earliest memories of seeing a slasher film on the big screen — CD player casually smuggled into the theater playing The Notorious B.I.G’s X-rated masterpiece Ready to Die over bulky headphones I passed around to my friends during the previews— as waves of anticipation for the film about to unfold, having my few friends in tow, the budding and ever-promising genres of horror and rap, two worlds where the alien, I, felt completely at home, washed over me.

(Rap always was one of the few topics that helped me to connect to my peers.)

Next, the beacon of youthful recollection catches a weird correlation: No Way Out by Puff Daddy & the Family, an album that was on such an endless loop for me in 1997 that it symbolizes my fourteenth year of life in its entirety, and weekly Sunday school classes, church congregations where I feel a weird blending of boredom, invigorated nostalgia, and humor as I now recall my Sunday school teacher, name forgotten to time, continually calling me “Andy” immediately after I tell her I don’t like that variation of my name.

(As the years pass on, I realize this was an intentional mishap on behalf of the teacher.)

After the buzzy laugh track calms down, the channel changes to a series of definitive events: seeing the original Jurassic Park, my all time favorite film, at the drive-in on its opening weekend in 1993 and knowing that I will spend the rest of my life searching for a movie that even comes close to the groundbreaking rush of emotion that picture provided, hearing The Slim Shady LP by Eminem in ‘99 with its singular visage of dark humor, anger, and working class relatability and thinking it was the best album ever made, and going to “the dollar movie theater” in a blur of instances with my grandparents after spending an hour or two mowing their lawn, boredom, social awkwardness at school but a weird sense of liberation, the powerful brilliance of Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Wayne’s World, the internet being birthed and beginning to crawl on electronic legs, Nirvana, “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden, MTV, VHS, DVD, Ma$e, the sheer ecstasy of strolling through a video store on a Friday night with the weekend ahead and thoughts of what movies to see and downtime rolling around in your head like loose groceries in a car trunk, the sheer ecstasy of finding out that that one movie you’ve been wanting to see has just been returned and is ready to be rented out again, first dates with names removed, scrunchies around the arm symbolizing who you are dating, the novels of Michael Chrichton, Stephen King, John Grisham and, of course, the eternally relevant music of Tupac.

Though the television fades after these bright images to glowing yet less vivid reveries, the warm, comfortable sensation of innovation, inspiration I carried throughout the 90’s strikes my mind, lifts my shoulders, and compels me to write, the only activity I was certain would help me combat my adolescent anxieties and ailments when these events were taking place and secure a name for me in the cosmos of eternity, with the curious, excited soul of a child.

Andrew Buckner is a multi award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter. His short dark comedy/horror script Dead Air! won Best Original Screenwriter at the fourth edition of The Hitchcock Awards.

A noted poet, critic, and author, Buckner runs and writes for the review site AWordofDreams.com.

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