Did you know that 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death? Nas released Illmatic 20 years ago too, did you know that? No? Yes? Of course you did, because anyone with WiFi has had the opportunity to click on and read approximately 43292 think pieces detailing the different ways these monumental events have shaped the way we live our lives today, from how we button our shirts, to how we understand physics, to how we realize that life's bitch until we die and, because we never know when we're going to go, we must puff lye.
But 1994 was a long year (365 days) and the world is a big place (over 365 miles around) and there was plenty of time and space for a whole bevy of crazy cultural events to take place that the modern internet media have chosen to callously brush under the rug, either because of a perceived lack of significance…or maybe because they just might be a little too significant…in a way…kind of. One way or another, the Impose reserach team trained and conditioned themselves for months so they could travel back in time, relive 1994 from start to finish, and head back through the Stargate* to the present day to report on what really mattered 20 years ago.
*Though the Kurt Russell movie Stargate was released in 1994 it is not included on this list.
The “Sabotage” Video
1994 wasn’t all about black hole suns, tear-smeared mascara, and somber acoustic grunge; there were also plenty of fake mustaches, cheap wigs, over-the-top drug deals gone wrong followed by swift, donut-fueled justice. I’m talking, of course about the high-intensity cop parody the Beastie Boys’ put together for their 1994 single “Sabotage”. It just might be the greatest music video of all-time.
Bill Hicks Dies
Throughout the ‘80s and into the ‘90s, comedian Bill Hicks unapologetically took on consumerism, the media, religion, politics and just about everything else he deemed perverted and corrupt within American culture. He was able to get through to audiences by combining incisive wit with a confident, conversational style of stand-up, making even some of his more radical points hard to argue with. He died of pancreatic cancer 20 years ago in February at the age of 32, but not before he challenged our preconceived notions about how the American propaganda machine operates.
…And while we’re commemorating funny people we lost two decades ago, RIP John Candy, who died of a heart attack less than a week after Hicks.
Baseball by Ken Burns Premieres on PBS
I’m not going to try to convince you that Baseball was better than The Civil War, but it was still pretty damn awesome. If you can’t appreciate 10 straight hours of old people yammering about the majesty of the nation’s most boring pastime, it might be time for you to take a good hard look in the mirror and consider what it really means to be an American. The more patriotic among us might even have the entire box set of DVDs stashed in their parents’ attic for when they’re having trouble falling asleep back home and their mom’s all out of Ambien for them to steal.
If you’re like me you’ve spent the first four months of 2014 wondering where the hell all the Riverdance think pieces are. The sweaty, limb-flailing Irish dance phenomenon was first performed at the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin 20 years ago on April 30 (maybe editors are holding the think pieces back until then?), and if you can believe it, it’s still performed around the world to this day despite no one in the U.S. having recalled its existence in at least a decade. Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley splitting with the company in the late ‘90s because of creative differences might have had something to do with Riverdance's preciptious dropoff in relevance in the '00s…or maybe Irish jig dances just don't have that long of a shelf life as far as global popularity goes. Hard to tell.
Donkey Kong Country is Released on Super Nintendo
I don’t remember much about my childhood, but I can vividly recall sitting in front of my 15-inch TV and mercilessly smashing barrels over the heads of pixelated reptiles for days on end. When my grandkids are waterboarding terrorists and colonizing planets in virtual reality these are the good ‘ol days of gaming I’ll harken back to at length before they run and tell their mom that grandpa forgot to take his medication again. DK was, and always will be, the shit.
Sergey Bubka Sets World Record Mark in the Pole Vault
Let me put it this way: To call Sergey Bubka the Michael Jordan of pole vaulting would be an insult to Sergey Bubka. He was that good. The Ukranian dominated the field event from 1984 to 1994, breaking the world record 17 times in 10 years. His best outdoor jump of 6.14 meters came in 1994, and the record stood for 20 years (a literally unprecedented length of time in the pole vault world) until France’s Renaud Lavillenie cleared 6.16 in Bubka’s home country this February. Lavillenie’s record-setting mark did take place indoors, however, and even though the IAAF now considers indoor jumps eligible for official world record status, there are some vaulting purists out there (including this writer) who still consider Bubka’s outdoor jump in ’94 to be the best of all-time.
Playstation and Sega Saturn Hit the Market
Crazy that 20 years later there’s still no consensus as to which was the better 32-bit console. All I know was that a Sega Saturn was one of the prizes on the McDonald's Monopoly game and I bought an obsence amount of fries trying to win it.
My So Called Life Airs for One Season on ABC
I never saw My So Called Life, but it featured a young Claire Danes, a young Jared Leto, and seems to have a pretty big cult following despite only lasting one season. Throw in the fact that Danes (Homeland) and Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) are at the top of their game 20 years later and what you have is a pretty damn significant 20th anniversary.
Jim Carrey Can Do No Wrong
Jim Carrey's 1994: Dumb & Dumber, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and The Mask. Yes, all three of these classics were released in a single calendar year. Dumb & Dumber might be the flat-out funniest movie of the past 25 years, Ace Ventura epitomized Carrey's wildly expressive style, and The Mask…well, the The Mask was a comic book-come-to-life about a banker who finds an ancient mask that transforms whomever wears it into an uber-confident…lime green cartoon person. Comedy gold, right? This insane movie grossed over $350 million, proving that Jim Carrey could do absolutely anything he wanted in the early '90s and the public would eat it up.
Deep within a cave in the Canadian wilderness a woman gives birth to Justin Bieber…
Alright, time to end this list. Maybe 1994 wasn't so great after all…