POP CULTURE THROUGH POGS

by Alex
|
Nov 3 2010, 4:10pm

I was born in the mid-80s but didn't turn into an actual person with longterm memory or any sort of distinguishable personality until the 90s. Because I grew up during that unique decade, I played pogs. It was the introduction to my lifelong fascination with cheap, worthless things and gambling.

It also marked the first time I took boundaries or rules seriously in any way. Admittedly, the rules were simple until you fell into the bureaucratic maelstrom concerning the legality of metal slammers. I don't know how many times I pulled out a metal slammer right before gameplay, only to be told I had to use a plastic one so I wouldn't mess up the other players' pogs. Fucking pussies. Because the game of pogs was a strange cultural phenomenon that, while it originated on a small Hawaiian island in the 1920s, enjoyed its most widespread popularity during an incredibly small window of time during the 90s, the artwork on the pieces present a huge well of historical knowledge about the stupid shit we were into 15 years ago. Here's some of the best. I would say about 40 percent of all pogs had skulls on them. Historically, skulls have been a big part of various religions and tribal rituals long before the 90s, but for some reason the creepy world of human remains and kids' games collided big time in the pog industry. Jackie Kennedy is best known for being John's smoking-hot wife, but for some reason she was also immortalized as a zombie on a pog in 1995, one year after her death. OJ Simpson was a hilarious character in a bunch of the Naked Gun movies who was accused of killing his ex-wife and her "friend" in 1994, right around the crest of the pog-craze wave. The trial polarized the country as well as the pog world, where players could express their solidarity with OJ or their condemnation with "Guilty" or "Not Guilty" slammers. Aside from the slammers, there was also a collection of pogs featuring the cast of the Simpson murder fiasco. As evidenced by this sparkly unicorn slammer, everyone wanted to be gay in the 90s. By the middle of the decade the AIDS scare was slowly beginning to wane, so everyone was ready to put it in each others' butts again. As far as I remember, girls weren't really into pogs, and if they were, they were probably lezzies. Everyone liked eight balls during the 90s. Even people who didn't give a shit about pool or pogs had black balls on the backs of their T-shirts. This show was hilarious. Why the hell was it canceled? People were already super into God way back in the 90s. Jesus. How the fuck did a Taoist philosophy end up being embraced by so many dipshits back then? This, along with the eight ball, is probably the symbol that I associate most closely with my pog era. Taking the Yin-Yang thing mainstream in Western culture seemed to be the mission of '94 and '95. One of my teachers, who was probably great at pogs, had it tattooed on her forearm.
More VICE
Vice Channels