Belfast Telegraph

The 90s had spice but they never had Girl Power

By Grace Dent

As Victoria Beckham lined up for the forthcoming Spice Girls musical Viva Forever photocall, her hunted and haunted expression spoke volumes.

Possibly, it said, Posh felt less ebullient about this 90s revival than her cash-poorer/time-richer buddies. I share her misgivings.

Wonky, rose-tinted hindsight has painted the 90s as a rich and wondrous era.

But my main memories of the 90s are a lot of bad grunge, the sound of Heather Small wafting through every shopping centre, endless Howard Marks Mr Nice readings and the inescapable droning of student virgins analysing Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Add to this Tom Paulin's weekly Late Review mumbling, having to pretend to love Reservoir Dogs, having to sit through three hours of people drowning in Titanic, the NME covering Justine Frischmann's every waking breath, the worst bits of Destiny's Child, when there were four of them, and men discovering the joys of 10-hour Nintendo sessions while listening to Cypress Hill.

Alarm bells about the 90s revival went off for me when I was told last week that the Spice Girls actually made some important headway for feminism.

Excuse me while I laugh up a lung. (Don't worry: it's better off out anyway after all the damage I did to it in the 90s smoking Marlboro Reds, as it was cool.)

Any student in 2012 who regurgitates this Spice Girls-helped-feminism baloney in a dissertation should have the whole thing shredded and be made to wear a dunce cone in graduation pics.

The Spice Girls' feminism consisted of shouting 'Girl Power' and doing peace signs in latex catsuits, or a babydoll nightie with paedo-magnet hair bunches.

Within a few years, 90s' Girl Power transpired as the posh one being Britain's most famous Wag, the sporty one admitting she kept so slim through eating disorders, the scary one giving away half her money in a quick divorce, everyone glossing over the fact that the baby one dressed like a child (a bit like we did with wee Jimmy Krankie) and one of them being Geri Halliwell, a woman rumoured - although perhaps this is just wilfully brilliant conjecture - to have tried to hire a real unicorn for her child's birthday. Having thought deeply about the best bits of the 90s and the reasons for its deep appeal to pop-culture historians, I put it down to two things.

One: strong drugs. In the 90s, ecstasy was so strong Ian Brown sounded all tunesome, Ebeneezer Goode by The Shamen was tolerable and Ocean Colour Scene were profound, lyrical gods.

Two: the lack of mobile phones and Facebook. One could make an idiot of oneself and no one would really remember.

But I remember the 90s vividly. Kids: don't believe the hype.


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