History of the World According to the Movies: Part 90 – 1990s America

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Though it’s not really set in the 1990s per se, the 2007 adaptation Rent was one of the premiere musicals that shows what the 1990s was really like for people living in the Alphabet City in NYC, particularly struggling artists and hipsters.Nevertheless, it’s a remake of Puccini’s La Boheme with music that is most definitely from the 1990s and nobody is sporting big hair that’s more or less remembered from the 1980s.

As far as my cinematic historical chronology goes, the 1990s is a good place to stop since much of the history in the 2000s and later is more or less viewed as current events in my mind. Still, though I was around during this decade (born January 13th, 1990), I probably don’t have as much insight in the decade since I would be only 9 years old when it ends. Still, I do remember the advancement in computers with the early 1990s being the kind of 1980s type models operating with floppy disks, block lettering, and dark and blue screens to the viable Windows and Macs. It was also a time in which the World Wide Web was in its infancy though I wouldn’t have access to that until the 2000s. Nor would I have access to smaller cell phones, video games, or cable TV either despite having to play Spongebob in a play during my middle school years. Still, let’s say this period is marked by the end of the Cold War, the O. J. Simpson Trial, the Clinton scandals that would end up with his unnecessary impeachment, the break up of Yugoslavia, and the Y2K scare. Nevertheless, since this time is relatively recent, many people won’t consider it history but a lot of movies would be made.

1990s America was a good time in America as far as my childhood is concerned, well, okay since it was a stable and peaceful time compared to what was to come. Sure there was Desert Storm, Dan Quayle, and thousands of Americans having their childhood hero get away with killing his ex-wife (The People’s Almanac had O. J. Simpson as the #1 role model for teens in the 1970s, let that sink in). Still, this was the time of the internet boom and the economic boom under President Clinton. It was also a time of the Disney Renaissance from The Little Mermaid to Tarzan with movies that would be remembered as Disney classics (that I do remember, especially since I watched The Lion King in theaters when I was 4 years old). But this was a renaissance of animation with some great cartoons that have never been made since. Nevertheless, it was a time when hip-hop and rap really came of age which caused a moral panic while Seattle became the grunge capital of the world. Oh, and Kurt Cobain would cause a major splash in Nirvanna during the 1990s before dying of an overdose. Of course, there are quite a few films made at this time but many do contain their share of inaccuracies which I shall list.

Bill Clinton:

Bill Clinton won the 1992 Democratic primary against a candidate of almost unbeatable perfection whose own past included snorting cocaine and experimenting in homosexuality. (Contrary to his expy in Primary Colors, Clinton didn’t have much competition in the 1992 primary. Also, Joe Klein’s book Primary Colors shouldn’t be used as a source material if you want to know anything about the 1992 Clinton campaign since there’s a documentary on it.)

Erin Brockovich:

During the Hinkley case, Erin Brockovich hooked up with a hunky biker named George who was the next door neighbor watching her kids. (Contrary to Erin Brockovich, the man’s name was Jorge Halaby but the relationship didn’t last but don’t be upset because Jorge turned out to be a real asshole. Still, after the film was released, he along with her ex-husband Shawn Brown, and an attorney contacted her and attorney Ed Masry and blackmailed them into paying them $310,000 or else they would tell the media that they {she and Ed} had an affair and that she was an unfit mother, which were false. The three would be arrested for extortion, and though Halaby and Brown were later released, the attorney was jailed as of 2001.)

Erin Brockovich was the former Miss Wichita. (Despite being from Kansas, she was Miss Pacific Coast.)

Erin Brockovich used her cleavage to obtain documents. (While Julia Roberts does this in Erin Brockovich, we’re not so sure, though it probably helped.)

While working on a property case for Ed Masry, Erin Brockovich found that the groundwater in Hinkley might’ve been contaminated by hexavalent chromium which was connected to the horrible diseases suffered by the town’s residents. (Contrary to Erin Brockovich, this has been contested by some scientists who said that cancer rates in the town have never been higher than other remote desert communities in California. Yet, many state and federal agencies including the EPA, no less have found credible links between hexavalent chromium and higher rates of cancer {if inhaled long term at least, but consumption wouldn’t be eliminated altogether}. Perhaps this could be a case of both sides being right, I don’t know. Still, whatever the case, it was probably the right thing to sue Pacific Gas and Electric Company whose workers carelessly dumped the substance and let it seep into the groundwater used by Hinkley’s residents even if she wasn’t exactly right. Yet, we’re not sure how much hexavalent chromium was in Hinkley’s drinking water since Ed Masry’s numbers don’t match with the local water authority’s and other sources.)

Thanks to Erin Brockovich and Ed Masry’s efforts the plaintiffs in the Hinkley case against Pacific Gas and Electric with a $333 million settlement that went to the town’s 648 residents with Brockovich herself receiving a $2 million bonus check. (Though Erin Brockovich implies this and Brockovich did receive $2 million from the case, a good chunk of the money like $133 million went to the lawyers, which was over 40% including $10 million on expenses. Also, Hinkley’s residents didn’t get much of what was left until 6 months after the case with each town person getting $300,000 on average, which was less than expected but the distribution wasn’t equal. Some received several million while others got less. It was said that the distribution of money was based on medical records but Hinkley’s residents noticed that there was no rationale behind how much money each individual received. Some would appeal their settlements seeking more justifiable sums.)

Christopher McCandless:

Christopher McCandless resented his parents for some reason. (Contrary to Into the Wild, in the Jon Krakauer book, McCandless’ reason why he resented his parents was because they weren’t legally married. Rather his dad was already married to another woman and had a family with her, which his mother kept secret from him and pretended nothing was wrong for the sake of their reputation.)

Christopher McCandless worked at Burger King. (According to Jon Krakauer, he worked at McDonalds.)

Sports:

Mickey Ward and Dickie Eklund appeared in court together before Dickie went to jail for over multiple serious charges. (Contrary to The Fighter, Micky was arrested for interfering with Dickie’s arrest who committed a relatively minor offense.)

Micky Ward:

Micky Ward met his girlfriend Charlene Fleming in a bar in 1988 just before his fight with Mike Mungin. (Contrary to The Fighter, they actually met around the Neary fight in 2000 {which his mother didn’t attend} through his dad’s acquaintance. Thus, Amy Adams’ character probably shouldn’t be in the film at all. Also, at the time, he was still with his daughter’s mother who’d later leave him for a guy 30 years older. This led Micky to quit his job as a prison guard and take up boxing again. Still, his sisters weren’t happy with The Fighter who said they were portrayed as unattractive and angry drunks and Dickie Eklund actually got into Christian Bale’s truck and cursed him over it. Yet, he was pleased at Bale’s portrayal of him so I think Dickie complained to the wrong guy.)

Micky Ward was knocked down in a fight with Shea Neary. (He never was. Also, contrary to The Fighter, Neary was from Liverpool not Ireland.)

Micky Ward trained for his comeback without interference from his family alone. (Yes, but contrary to The Fighter, the decision to do so wasn’t as difficult because his brother Dickie was in jail and his dad was on his way to prison for defrauding two elderly women, including one with Alzheimer’s out of more than $90,000 which was her life savings. He said he just came back to boxing because he wanted to. Yet, even though his hand still nagged him as in the film, he had been bed ridden for 4 months after an embarrassing and serious work related injury he suffered while paving roads. He jumped off a roller and landed on a metal pole that ripped a one inch gash in his rear end and traveled four inches to his rectum. This required emergency reconstructive surgery of his bowels yet, good luck with finding Mark Wahlberg complaining about that in the movie.)

Dickie Eklund:

Dickie Eklund was arrested by cops while he was carrying on a prostitution scheme. (Contrary to The Fighter, this didn’t happen though he has been arrested after a man he had robbed went to the police. Dickie went to his sister’s house and hid in the closet to avoid police. She gave him up. Also, by 1995, he’s been arrested 27 times. Yet, he didn’t stay clean once he got out of prison and had been arrested in 2006 for cocaine possession.)

Music:

Ike Turner was still serving prison time in 1993. (He was released in 1991.)

John Denver died in 1996. (His plane crashed in 1997. Yes, he left the world on the jet plane but we’re sure he won’t be back again.)

Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg were famous West Coast rappers in 1991. (Snoop Dogg wasn’t famous yet, while Dr. Dre was still part of the N. W. A. and had yet to release his first solo album.)

Sean Combs and Biggie Smalls were responsible for the 1994 Quad Studios shooting in New York where Tupac Shakur was shot five times. (Contrary to the 2009 Notorious, Combs denies this but Skakur believed that they knew about it before it happened. Still, him and Biggie were said to be friends before the shooting happened which led to their feud.)

The Notorious B. I. G. (a. k. a. Biggie Smalls or Christopher Wallace):

Biggie Smalls’ mom mistook her son’s drug stash as old mashed potatoes. (Contrary to the Notorious biopic, Violetta Wallace learned of her son’s drug dealing when her son was arrested in 1990 for possessing an unregistered loaded gun. Of course, she refused to believe it was possible at first but eventually confronted him in which he admitted that the accusations were true. Still, she also learned about some of the bad things he did after he became a star. Still, it’s funny that his real name was Christopher Wallace and that he did tell off his math teacher who said he’d never make it to no more than a garbage man by saying that he’d make more money as a garbage collector than his teacher {and his mother was also a teacher by the way despite calling him “Chrissy-Pooh” and did name him after Christopher Robin}.)

Biggie Smalls’ mother kicked him out of the house when he was 17. (Except, unlike in Notorious, she only kicked him out for two weeks after she discovered he was dealing drugs and took a life insurance policy on him. Of course, it would pay off seven years later.)

Biggie Smalls’ daughter was born in 1990 when he was released from jail. (Contrary to the 2009 Notorious, she was born in 1993 about nine months after he was locked up. But, yes, he had a daughter before he was famous.)

Biggie Smalls met Sean Combs after a friend submitted a tape he recorded. (Well, contrary to the 2009 Notorious, the story is more complicated than shown in the movie. Yet, the friend submitted the tape to a DJ for a rapper known as Big Daddy Kane who Biggie was an admirer of who passed on to an editor named Matty of The Source magazine where Biggie was listed among March 1992 “Unsigned Hype” column. Matty then passed the tape to Sean Combs at Uptown Records after he told him he was looking for some hardcore rappers. Still, Combs was a record producer at the label where he had started from intern to vice-president after dropping out of college following his promotion. He would earn “Puffy” as part of his collection of nicknames for his impatient and unruly behavior in 1993 which caused Uptown Entertainment’s CEO to fire him. He would later form Bad Boy Records taking Biggie and Craig Mack with him.)

Biggie Smalls’ car accident in 1996 impaired his health. (Well, yes, he did have to use a cane after that since the rod in his leg made him unable to walk during his two months in therapy but he weighed over 300 pounds so you do the math. Still, what Notorious fails to mention was that the car accident was a blessing in other respects since Biggie had health problems before the accident that could’ve been fatal if left untreated due to him having asthma and smoking a lot of pot. Thus, while Biggie’s 1996 car accident temporarily crippled him, it might’ve saved his life.)

Biggie Smalls mother had breast cancer. (Yes, but she beat it twice.)

Nobody is sure who killed Biggie Smalls. (Yes, this is true. Yet, contrary to the 2009 Notorious, Biggie’s killer was described as a black man wearing a suit and bow tie kind of like Brother Mouzone from The Wire. Also, he’s said to have driven a dark Chevy Impala.)

Biggie Smalls was supposed to be in Los Angeles at the time of his death. (Contrary to what the 2009 Notorious implies, according to Sean Combs, “That morning I got a call from Biggie. … He was supposed to go to London. He called me and said, ‘I’m not going to London.'” Biggie instead decided to go to LA with Combs to the Vibe party to celebrate finishing his second album Life After Death. Combs would confess, “The call just plays over and over in my head. I’m like, ‘What if he would have just got on the plane?'”)

Sean Combs (a. k. a. Puffy, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, etc.):

Sean Combs gave Biggie Smalls a $60,000 advance for signing with Bad Boy Records. (According to Biggie’s mom Violetta Wallace, she writes in her book about her son, “The truth is, Christopher accepted the illusion of a friend and mentor for about $25,000. That’s the amount Puffy lured my son with… It was enough money to make my son believe that Puffy was ready to do anything for him.” Still, Combs really did care about him since he said the 2009 Notorious, “Going to watch the movie is one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done. It opened up so many wounds for me.”)

Tupac Shakur (a. k. a. 2Pac):

Tupac Shakur was shot in the head during the 1994 Quad Cities assault. (Yes and twice, he was but the 2009 Notorious ignores that he was also shot twice in the groin as well as the hand and thigh {though some sources said that he accidentally shot himself. He was also robbed of his jewelry. Then again, he was in New York to for a trial for sexual assault in which he was bailed out by Death Row Records who he signed on a 3 year contract and went to the Quad Studios to do a rap song that night.)

Tupac Shakur hooked up with Biggie Smalls’ wife Faith Evans. (While it’s implied in the 2009 Notorious, Tupac and Faith {a songwriter in her own right} were probably no more than acquaintances or professional colleagues. Though a magazine photo with Faith and Tupac made Biggie pissed off, Faith denies whether the two them hooked up. However, while rumors did exist, Tupac milked it for all it’s worth and accused Biggie of plagiarism in the process. Yet, whether Tupac really hooked up with Biggie’s wife or was just saying it to piss him off can’t be confirmed.)

Miscellaneous:

The Trump World Tower existed in the 1990s. (Construction didn’t begin until 1999 yet its appearance in the 2009 Notorious can be forgiven.)

Gary Locke had a thick Chinese accent. (His portrayal in Battle in Seattle is offensive since he speaks English like a native since he’s a 3rd generation Asian American.)

The 21 Blackjack team consisted of white MIT students. (Contrary to 21, the team was almost completely Asian, including the main character and the guy played by Kevin Spacey. Also, they came from other schools like Princeton and Harvard. Also, none of the students got beaten up by Vegas casino security, used strippers to cash out their chips, or even drink, visit strip clubs, or play slots.)

The Stratosphere Tower was in Las Vegas in the 1990s. (It wasn’t completed until 1996.)

The Union Bank of California was around in 1992. (It was formed in 1996.)

The Energy Consol Center was in Pittsburg during the early 1990s. (Why is this in The Perks of Being a Wallflower? It wasn’t built until 2008.)

The Marlboro Man died of cancer. (Contrary to Thank You for Smoking, there has been more than one Marlboro man but the first Marlboro man who appeared in the 1960s commercials died of AIDS in 1996 {and yes, he was openly gay who owned a bar}. Two of the verified guys who appeared as the Marlboro Man are said to be still alive. Still, there have been four guys who claimed to be the Marlboro Man who have died of smoking related illnesses like cancer with two of them being anti-smoking activists. There may even be a fifth.)

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