Willie Osterweil at The Paris Review:
The eighties, at least, were drenched in cocaine and neon, slick cars and yacht parties, a real debauched reaction. But nineties white culture was all earnest yearning: the sorrow of Kurt Cobain and handwringing over selling out, crooning boy-bands and innocent pop starlets, the Contract With America and the Starr Report. It was all so self-serious, so dadly.
Today, by some accounts, the nineties dad is cool again, at least if you think normcore is a thing beyond a couple NYC fashionistas and a series of think pieces. Still, that’s shiftless hipsters dressed like dads, not dads as unironic heroes and subjects of our culture. If the hipster cultural turn in the following decades has been to ironize things to the point of meaninglessness, so be it. At least they don’t pretend it’s a goddamn cultural revolution when they have a kid: they just let their babies play with their beards and push their strollers into the coffee shop. In the nineties, Dad was sometimes the coolest guy in the room. He was sometimes the butt of the joke. He was sometimes the absence that made all the difference. But he was always, insistently, at the center of the story.