Trends are a strange thing.
We all follow them (even if you think you haven't, you have), we all notice them, and we even come to despise them.
At my current age I am not naive enough to believe that trends won't surpass my understanding. But that doesn't keep the understanding of their popularity out of my reach.
Wacky Rubber Bands
These are a cultural phenomenon. They cost anywhere between $1.00 a package to $1,250 on ebay.
What are Wacky Bandz (or the more popular Sillybandz), exactly?
They are just regular rubber bands in the shapes of animals...seriously.
In typical fashion they are FLYING OFF THE SHELVES! We have had kids and
teenagers come into my work who literally have been dragged out of the store screaming and crying because their parents didn't buy them a rubber band in the shape of a Plesiosaur.
But the more I scratch my head as to why these animal-shaped pieces of rubber were so popular, the more I realize my generation had dozens of trends that were just as stupid.
Here are some of them:
Stupid Trends From My Generation:
1. Slap Bracelets
Slap bracelets were huge when I was in elementary school. It's basically a piece of flexible tin wrapped in fabric but that didn't stop every kid from wearing them when I was in elementary. It also didn't stop children from removing the fabric and weaponizing the bracelets like a prison shiv. Not to mention the whole idea was to take that piece of tin and slap it as hard as you can on your wrist.
The idea behind Pogs (other than being circular pieces of cardboard with pictures on them) was that you would stack up your Pogs upside down against an equal amount of your opponent's Pogs, and then use a heavy "slammer" to knock over as many Pogs as possible. Any Pogs that turned over face up now belonged to you. These bad boys were banned from my school because it was "gambling." They even created a student-run Big Brother organization to rat out the children who were playing with Pogs. They were called, and I'm not joking here, "Red Shirts" because they would wear red t-shirts. We got around the Pog Prohibition by staging fights on the other end of the school yard so that while the adults and newly appointed "Pog Gestapo" were busy breaking up the quarrel, we would play pogs. That's right, I was the Al Capone of Pog bootlegging.
I never really got into this one, but my little brother Glen did. He had all the cards and Nintendo Gameboy games, and watched the T.V. show after school. You have to hand it to Japanese marketers though: the idea was brilliant. Have all facets of industry devised around a system whose slogan is "Gotta catch'em all!" Like adult neuroses, it creates a basis that one's self-esteem is reliant on how many fictional monsters it can collect. Either way, it was really stupid.
P.S. - To anyone who read this section and said, "But Neil, those are Yu-Gi0-Oh cards in that picture; not Pokemon!" You should be ashamed of yourself.
4. Reebok Pumps & Air Jordans
Remember Michale Jordan (at least before he grew a Hitler mustache)? Remember shoes that you pumped up so they would cut off circulation to your feet? Well, they were all the rage in the '90s. I remember getting a pair of Reebok Pumps when I was a kid in the actual belief that they would make me jump higher...yes, I was a sucker for marketing when I was seven.
5. Boy Bands
Remember when the only music coming out was manufactured bands filled with sexually ambiguous boys who looked like sexually ambiguous girls with auto-tuned vocals to songs they didn't write? You do? Then stick an ice pick into your eye.
6. TY Beanie Babies
One day my newly married step-brother will have to explain to his wife why he has a storage closet stuffed to the rafters with TY Beanie Babies. My step-mom, step-sister, and step-brother collected these like they were rarities akin to the Shroud of Turin or the Mona Lisa.
People at school would claim that in several years their Beanie Baby would be worth "tons of money." Not sure if the Beanie Babies have become as popular as the lost Charlie Chaplin film but I'm not holding my breath.
As you can see, no matter how stupid some current trends are, we have to admit that ours were just as stupid.