So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
July 19, 2019 2:22 PM   Subscribe

When, through the nighttime murk of the Amazon River, an electric eel locates a feeder fish, what happens next is instantaneous: A jolt of electricity surges through the fish’s nerves. Its muscles contract simultaneously, and it is transformed into a living, floating statue. This is roughly the same reaction that women born between Labor Day 1985 and New Year’s Eve 1991, approximately, exhibit when exposed to the opening seconds of the Spice Girls’ debut single “Wannabe.” Pharmacists, statisticians, probation workers, bank tellers, event planners, bartenders, psychologists, paralegals, market research analysts, junior members of Congress, phlebotomists, journalists — in the void between the salutatory “Yooo!” and the song’s first plonked-out musical note, all of these become temporarily incapacitated, frozen between heartbeats with lightning in their blood. Caity Weaver writes for the NY Times Style Section on the Spice Girls Generation
posted by ChuraChura (28 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
At work when I am trying to get somebody to write a specification, or list requirements, or otherwise define the thing I’m going to work on, I will often just say: “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.”

(I don’t sing it though.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:34 PM on July 19, 2019 [9 favorites]


Back in the day, when they were all the rage, I would break the ice with my artsy-architecture school crowd by asking them to name their favorite Spice Girl*. For some reason, they laughed as if I were joking.

*Posh, of course.
posted by signal at 2:46 PM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


I fall into the top end of that age bracket. My immediate impulse at the time was to dislike them, due to the rampant commercialism that surrounded them (I once picked up “spice girls” spray-on deodorant while on vacation in South America, because it was the only women’s deodorant option the country store carried.)

But their songs were unavoidable. We once picked up a Spice Girls cassette at a gas station, for entertainment on a long road trip, because again, it was one of the only options available at that little gas station in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the quality and variety of their songs. They were excellent at communicating emotion, both sonically and visually. Completely compelling.
posted by mantecol at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


I taught chess to elementary school kids in an after school program in the mid-00s. At the time the Spice Girls seemed like ancient history, but the girls in the program talked about them a lot more than any contemporary musical act. Also, if any boy was being a pest to a girl, they’d all back each other up with shouts of “girl power!”

So yeah, when we’re all living in a gynarchy, we’ll know who to thank.
posted by Kattullus at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


I have no interest in the Spice Girls, but that is one hell of an opening paragraph.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:22 PM on July 19, 2019 [19 favorites]


Caity Weaver is a national treasure.
posted by palegirl at 3:25 PM on July 19, 2019 [9 favorites]


came for the fish and eel and got the spicy grls
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 3:32 PM on July 19, 2019 [14 favorites]


I still have my Spice Girls cassette in a box of sentimental items.
posted by wellifyouinsist at 3:49 PM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I got very excited for an electroception fpp. Watch this space....
posted by sciatrix at 3:50 PM on July 19, 2019 [11 favorites]


Wait, there isn’t a Spiceworld reboot, is there?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:51 PM on July 19, 2019


...but that being said, that was a really excellent article. I am just a hair too young for the Spice Girls, or maybe I just wasn't really paying attention as a kid. But I had no idea about many of the anecdotes the article brings up, and I'm honestly pretty impressed over some of it (like offering to fight Liam Gallagher at the '97 Brit Awards!).
posted by sciatrix at 4:00 PM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]




I am here for this content. Spice Girls AND Caity Weaver? Be still my heart.

I was on the young end during their reign (I think -- my favorite was Baby Spice and it must have been been because she was the youngest), and it's sometimes surprising how thoroughly their influence has permeated into my DNA. Just this afternoon I was shopping for a small memento to give an influential mentor who's retiring. She really helped me find my voice when I was just beginning my job in some adverse circumstances and is generally an all around badass, so I really wanted something that highlighted the confidence she gave me. I found tons of things with, "nevertheless, she persisted" slogans but that didn't hit quite right for me. I got flustered in the store because damn it, what happened to all the "girl power" magnets and buttons before I realized that merchandise is like twenty years gone. The wording itself is outdated (I'd cringe if anyone called women "girls" these days), but Caity Weaver captures exactly how instantly the phrase takes me back to the wide-eyed admiration only a 12-year-old can muster.

Weaver's point about the Spice Girls targeting a micro generation is also very true, so I ultimately settled on something more universal for my gift. But just so the universe knows, I personally would still be thrilled to receive Spice Girls swag from someone.
posted by lilac girl at 7:46 PM on July 19, 2019 [8 favorites]


I will often just say: “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.”

I would tell you what I want, what I really, really want.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:04 PM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Ha, at least for me this is pretty much on point. I'm just young enough to be part of that microgeneration and the Spice Girls is pure nostalgia for me. Really conjures up the feeling of my teens.

Also this paragraph really resonates:
Members of the Spice Girls generation are the only people in history to have both grown up with the internet and to retain childhood memories that predate it. Born primarily in the mid-to-late 1980s, they are human bridges between two eras, whose anachronistic birth years, with their faraway century, will cause their heirs’ eyes to widen at their obituaries.
posted by peacheater at 8:31 PM on July 19, 2019 [12 favorites]


(I was born in January of 1988 ... right smack dab in the middle of it. And I've had Wannabe stuck in my head since precisely 5:21 PM when I finished reading this article and came to post it to metafilter.)
posted by ChuraChura at 8:34 PM on July 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


I was born in 1968 and MTV2 was on DISH and I was taping it 6 hours overnight and then skimming through videos to find interesting stuff to watch (Yes, even MTV2 used to play videos 24/7 with VJs in the mid 1990s!) and... I didn't see the world premiere, but I was there during premiere week, and it was so clear and so obvious that this was going to be gigantic. I didn't know the eventual scope of it, but it was really clear this was a rocket ship taking off.

Also, there is a cadre of gay men 10-15 years younger than me who are entirely Spice obsessed and remain so to this day. One of the ones I know on twitter went to one of their shows in the UK (flying there from the US for it).
posted by hippybear at 9:06 PM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


My fav was Baby Spice because she had a swing! On the Spice Bus!

I unironically believe the Spice World movie is far better than people give it credit for.
posted by airmail at 11:27 PM on July 19, 2019 [8 favorites]


Spice World is a far better movie than people give it credit for.

It's not a great movie, but what it achieves across its runtime is pretty amazing.
posted by hippybear at 11:54 PM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


The Spice Girls have a real sense of humor. And Posh is particularly funny.
posted by chavenet at 1:12 AM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


And yet, when it came down to it, what they wanted, what they really, really wanted, was a zig-a-zig-ah. I firmly believe they should have one. One each. In fact, give them several, so they have a spare should they accidentally break it. It's laudable to have ambitions, and taking ownership of a zig-a-zig-ah is as good as any, I'm sure.
posted by Grangousier at 2:33 AM on July 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Rachel Bloom was, of course, born in 1987, and is, like me, smack dab in the middle of this generation:

Squad goals!
Stay together forever!
Squad goals!
Take control of the banks!
Squad goals!


I was too cool for the Spice Girls (this was about the time I got really into The Beatles because I liked real music), but they were unescapable, and I am now nostalgic for something I constantly rolled my eyes at.
posted by damayanti at 5:48 AM on July 20, 2019 [9 favorites]


Also, there is a cadre of gay men 10-15 years younger than me

Yes my immediate thought when reading the intro paragraph was wait, what about our Spice Queens
posted by dis_integration at 6:38 AM on July 20, 2019


Honestly, I'm pretty sure that "taking ownership of a zig-a-zig-ah" with confidence and moving through the world in a like manner is exactly what Girl Power was all about.
posted by hippybear at 6:41 AM on July 20, 2019


Came here to post this! I’m 9 months older than her window but my middle sister was obsessed with them and so I absorbed it all! Lots of my friends went to the various concerts and loved them.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:38 AM on July 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


You may not want to know what zig-a-zig-ah really means.
posted by bink at 7:44 PM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Members of the Spice Girls generation are the only people in history to have both grown up with the internet and to retain childhood memories that predate it. Born primarily in the mid-to-late 1980s, they are human bridges between two eras, whose anachronistic birth years, with their faraway century, will cause their heirs’ eyes to widen at their obituaries.

I learned HTML at 11 just so I could make a Spice Girls fanpage so... yep.
posted by thebots at 1:04 PM on July 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ha! Recently on my twitter:

If you wanna be my lover,
You gotta get with my

E̹̫̤͂̇͂̚X͕͙͓̿̐̅ͮ̿̿̀ͪ͒͘I̤̺̫͚̋ͬ͞S̘̭͌ͥͅT̪͍̖͇͈ͮ̐ͣ̈́̓͊E̼̘̩̭̥̐̆̌́͜N̵̜̼̽ͯ̾ͧ̓̑͠Ţ͔̪͓͖̲͇͈͚̿̂I͋̐̈́ͧ͒ͪ̚͢҉̘͓̖A̵̸̛̺̜̠͉̣ͮ̐̇̏ͤL̳͙̖͍̽̋̇̃ͦͦ̆͜͡ ̶͕ͩ̿͑͗ͨ̚D̙͕͉͇͕̼͍̬ͪͭ̔͋ͪ͟͞R͖̺̬̘͙̲ͤ̑͌̈͑ͬ͗̂̅Eͭͨ͌̉̃͏͙͚ͅA̩̬͕̾̐̈͑̍̾̂ͬD̡͉̤̥̺̪̝̦̻̟̓ͯ̓̀ͩͤͦ̈́
posted by hippybear at 2:20 PM on July 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


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