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1997: My Year of Change

1997 is one of my favorite years. While many people often cite it as a year of bad music, and bad movies, it's a year where I kind of am fond of those bad movies and bad music. It was a year of massive change and coming of age for me. I spent three years in a middle school where I was tormented for a long time, so being able to finally leave behind the school from hell and start over somewhere new was a great prospect for me.

1997 is one of the first years I took note of the movies in theaters, and one of the first times I'd ever really experienced the internet as it was beginning to go from an odd novelty for computer geeks to something literally everyone was taking notice of. By the time 1997 rolled around I spent so much time watching cable television which, back then, was an entertaining and deliriously novel bastion for folks that had peculiar tastes for specific entertainment. Where cable TV is a broad scope of programming now, back then, we had channels tailored for every person.

Bravo once upon a time aired opera and classical music, A&E had programs about antiques and art, and Spike TV was called The Nashville Network! People also tend to forget, but in its early days Showtime had programming heavily centered on science fiction and fantasy.

Of course my go to’s for entertainment were the Cartoon Network, TNT, and the Sci Fi Channel which were just so much fun for genre geeks like me. TNT especially loved to give genre entertainment, and was very much a channel that leaned in favor of horror and science fiction. Long before it became an inoffensive NBC lite channel where we saw nothing but dramas and crime procedurals, TNT often gave horror movies during the weekends, and there was the wonderful Monstervision, once upon a time. They also had "100% Weird," which was a movie show on after Monstervision where they played odd or surreal science fiction or horror movies. 

Every afternoon was a great time for TNT, as they always gave Twilight Zone, the 1980's Twilight Zone, and the Outer Limits at 2pm, which was just so much fun to sit through. TNT was once a channel that in 1995, would give a half hour making of "Mortal Kombat," then "In Search Of" and top it all off with a classic TV movie about killer bees.

As one of the final field trips, took my class and me to see "The Lost World: Jurassic Park." It was a good time then to be a movie lover and I fondly remember being fourteen and scribbling down reminders for all these fun movies I was anxious to see. There was "Air Force One" and "Spawn," and "Men in Black." The latter was a twofer for Will Smith who, at the time, was coming up to an all time high. After ending his hit TV series, he entered in to two blockbusters and a hit single for the soundtrack for "Men in Black."

Not only did I hear that song on cassette a thousand times, but the video was pretty neat despite its inherent silliness. It was Smith sampling Patrice Rushen's sweet "Forget Me Nots" and turning it in to a novelty song about alien fighting special agents, and the video even saw Smith dancing alongside a CGI anthropomorphized alien. 1997's movie slate ended up mostly disappointing when I think back on it, but back then I had such a giddy good time watching "The Lost World," "Face Off," "Con Air," and "Air Force One."

And as for "Spawn"? Well... it was an action movie, it sure was. And The Sci Fi Channel did a great job of hyping it up.

1997, as I mentioned, was a time where I also discovered the internet and how amazing it could be. My family didn't get an actual home computer until 1999, so back in 1997 the internet was still in its infancy and my brother, my cousin, and I would trek to my neighborhood library every weekend early in the morning for a measly half hour free time on the library computer to look on the internet. You could tell the internet was gaining incredible popularity since my first experience with the internet on the public library in 1996, I was able to literally walk up to a free computer and look around for about twenty minutes.

Now the crowds became so large, that they had a write in sheet where you had to reserve a spot. So the three of us were constantly rushing to be first on the list, and we'd really do nothing but look around on Dark Horizons and Geocities fan sites for images of Pamela Anderson in "Barb Wire," or Jennifer Low Hewitt from “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” Suffice it to say despite knocking elbows with other people who wanted to get on the list first, we had a good time getting early slots on the list, and then running amok in the library when we had to wait an hour or so for someone else to finish up.

My half hour time was usually comprised of maintaining my star wars geocities site, and looking for images of Dragon Ball Z, and goddesses like Jennifer Lopez. I loved her before it was cool to love her, you know. I kid. 

Beyond the new technological turn of events, 1997 had a lot of significant developments where I was finally leaving middle school to enter in to high school. Being behind on my grades, I had to enter in to summer school, so that summer saw me leaving middle school, experiencing prom and graduation, then being introduced to a new school to go to summer school. When September finally rolled around, I entered in to yet another school to begin my freshman year of high school. It was a lot for a fourteen year old to process at the time, and so many new experiences and environments.

Thankfully that year was especially kind to me, as most of that summer had tolerable heat and poured cold rain almost every day for a month. Being a grade A TV Junkie, my main source of distraction from the new changes were cable TV and in 1997 it had so much more novelty. You could argue whether it was much better or not as good it is in 2017, but there were a lot more options and niche programs. Not to mention there were only about two or three movie channels, rather than twenty that played the same things over and over..

Being a geek by nature, 1997 was definitely a year where pop culture played a prominent part of my life. My eyes were filled with cable TV, my brain was comprehending the realm of the internet, my ears had stuff like Puff Daddy and The Spice Girls on repeat, and I was just getting in to a new program called “Mystery Science Theater” something or other. All I knew then it that it had robots and was hysterically funny...

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FlixtheCatJr Posted on May 20, 2017 at 03:09 PM

You're all very kind. Thanks so much. I have more on the way!

Superman Posted on May 16, 2017 at 01:08 PM

Nice article. I'm quite fond of 1997, myself. I remember it mostly for the hype surrounding Titanic. A lot of kids at my school were really into that movie at the time.

I enjoyed your look back at the early days of the Internet, too. I remember searching the Web for pictures of my favorite celebrities, as well, though mine were different from yours.

Hoju Koolander Posted on May 15, 2017 at 11:41 PM

Glad to hear your story. Surfing cable was really an adventure back in the day. I loved Talk Soup on the E! Network and would watch pretty much anything on USA. Those Internet trips to the library sound like a blast, fan sites on Geocities, man. I made one for the fictional band Steel Dragon from the movie Rock Star around 2000. Proof that anybody could use that software.

pikachulover Posted on May 15, 2017 at 04:33 PM

I liked 1997 too. I was not into the same things you were, but I really liked the music from that year.

echidna64 Posted on May 14, 2017 at 03:08 PM

1997 is probably my favorite year of my childhood. It was like a lightning rod for great entertainment. My favorite movie of that year is Starship Troopers which also was the first rated-R movie I saw in theaters. 1997 also has the distinction of being the year of Judgment Day in the Terminator Franchise lol

Vaporman87 Posted on May 14, 2017 at 10:46 AM

This was a nice look back at what is obviously a pivotal year for you. Thanks for sharing this fond look into your life from 1997 good sir!

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