The 1999 Project: A 25th anniversary celebration of the year that changed pop culture

When you think about it, the year, as applied to culture, is an arbitrary signpost. No film’s principal production is determined solely by the Earth’s course around the sun; no album’s recording is forced abruptly to end with the arrival of New Year’s Eve. Yet years, in life as in art, are among the foremost markers of the people we were, or hoped to be: The year we were born. The year we graduated from high school. The year of this loved one’s death, of that stinging disappointment, of the first job, the first kiss. Years reduce the scale of a lifetime, an epoch, to something intermediate, even manageable — something you can celebrate the start of, or hang on ’til the end.

In this, the year is also a useful tool for understanding pop culture, an expanse of time wide enough to measure trends and short enough not to be swamped by them. And 1999 — especially its film output — has already secured its place alongside 1939, 1946, 1967 and 1974 as a watershed moment, anointed the “Best. Movie. Year. Ever,” situated at millennium’s close, immortalized by Prince.

The 1999 Project, a yearlong celebration from the Los Angeles Times, broadens the argument. Across film, TV, music, comedy, books, video games and more, we argue, 1999 produced a dizzying variety of essential pop culture artifacts, milestones and turning points, not only remaking the culture as we knew it then, but creating the culture we live in now.

Throughout 2024, we’ll be marking the 25th anniversaries of those moments with writers’ reflections on what shaped them, how it did so and why understanding 1999 still matters a quarter-century on. Find each new entry in The 1999 Project below as it’s published:

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