90s Media Archaeology: Encino Man

Imagine everything else we know about the period between the LA Riots and Woodstock 99 was deleted in some tragic system backup meltdown. All that is left is a VHS copy of Encino Man that some forward-thinking patriot had in his rumpus room protected in a lead-lined suitcase. Is there any better artifact for recreating the hokey shallow goofiness that is the 90s popular culture aesthetic?

Even this, a three and a half minute “behind the scenes” vignette–a quick cut mash of scenes from the movie, 20 seconds worth of cast and crew soundbites and at best, 30 seconds of actual behind the scenes material–is a great example of the sort of pointless bonus of media trash that was pioneered in this era. They usually stuck these on the end of the tape, right after you saw the actual movie. Now it’d be hidden in a Extras submenu on the DVD. I could never quite wrap my mind around what this sort of extra was supposed to accomplish. If you’ve just watched the actual movie, why would you want to watch three minutes of it again, cut to looping riffs from the soundtrack, especially if you hustled into sitting through it with the promise of some real insider view of the making of such an epic as Encino Man. I imagine there’s a film studies major out there writing a paper on this subject right now, thereby creating an overly self-serious low-content media artifact in discussion of another.

Cheap promo hustles aside, we could do worse than recreating a decade from a Pauly Shore vehicle that paired a future Hobbit with the readymade Cro-Magnon good looks of Brendan Fraser. Perhaps the all-screaming spray-tanned whoreapalooza of contemporary pop culture will one day give way to a simpler, goofier, oblivious resurrected 90s that will rise from its suspended animation like a frozen caveman found in an LA backyard. Hell, why not. Let one hologram swallow another.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *