Young celebrities these days are hyper aware of their images and as savvy as Wall Street brokers when it comes to orchestrating their own successful careers. They can't help it — they can, literally, track their popularity in the form of the number of "likes" and followers they accrue via Instagram and Twitter. Who could resist the temptation to keep up and, sadly, mistake personal worth with social media fame? Saved By the Bell's Mark-Paul Gosselaar recently admitted modern celebs are very different from '90s celebrities in an interview with HuffPost Live. And the way he tells it, you can bet he's pretty happy he found fame in the last decade before every move any celeb made started quickly going viral.
"I had really good friends and family," Gosselaar said. "My parents were not in the industry. And I think we can credit the fact that we did not have social media around us. We didn’t know we were — quote, unquote — celebrities. The very term of ‘celebrity’ is much different nowadays than it was back when we were growing up.”
The 41-year-old Truth Be Told actor went on to explain: “Our barometer for telling us how cool we were was when we did these mall tours and 2,500 people would show up and we’re like, ‘Yes, we’re successful! We made it!’
Ah, the good ol' days. Here are seven more ways things were very different for celebrities in the '90s.
1. Celebs Didn't Need Stylists
You can't really tell which celebrities have amazing personal style these days unless you see photos of them on the street. This has everything to do with the fact that so many employ personal stylists who dress them — you can thank intense online scrutiny for that. Liv Tyler told Into the Gloss in a 2013 interview that things were much more laid back in the '90s:
I remember Gwyneth [Paltrow] came to the premiere for Armageddon and danced with me at the after-party and she had no makeup on, this little slip dress and no bra and maybe flip-flops. It was just a different time. There weren’t as many paparazzi, the red carpets weren’t what they are now — there’s a lot of scrutiny going on and the maintenance is intense! Think about seeing Julia Roberts on the red carpet in the late '80s and early '90s in a suit with no makeup on, and that was OK. I sort of miss those days a little bit.
2. No One Really Knew Who Celebs Dated
Sure, you could read a magazine and learn that Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck were dating, or that Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were in love. You could even speculate the possibility of Spears cheating on Timberlake based on his "Cry Me a River" video (I realize I'm now dipping into '00s territory, but they'll always be a solid '90s couple). But people didn't talk nearly as much about celeb gossip back then, partially because random people couldn't put in their two cents using social media.
3. TV Show Secrets Never Leaked
Tori Spelling claims she hooked up with Jason Priestley when the two appeared on Beverly Hills 90210 and that she also dated Brian Austin Green and crushed on Luke Perry. Casts and crews of uber-popular shows managed to keep their secrets for decades — something that would never happen today.
4. Celebs Could Be Less PC
The politically correct movement really didn't take off until sometime in the late '90s. As a result, celebs felt more free to say things in interviews that would be deemed totally inappropriate in 2015.
5. Far Less Selfies
The only time a celebrity took off clothing for a camera was when he or she was getting paid a major sum of money to pose for a magazine. The idea of giving up the goods for free wouldn't have made sense — until the selfie came along and changed that forever.
6. Young Celebs Could Get Away With Saying Silly Things
Somewhere along the way, everyone forgot that a 16-year-old will generally say some pretty goofy things. These days all celebs, no matter their age, are expected to act like little 40-year-old's and when they get caught licking a few doughnuts, they're expected to release public apologies and do whatever it takes to change up their images before it spells the end of their careers. Check out old footage of Timberlake and Spears and you'll see them acting their goofball ages.
7. Teen Celebs Looked Like Teen Celebs
With few exceptions (Beverly Hills 90210 is one, but to be fair, many of the show's stars were older than 18) teen celebs were cast as ordinary teens and not hyper-sexualized mini-adults. Clarissa Explains It All, Dawson's Creek, California Dreams, and Blossom are just four examples of shows that allowed teenagers to act like goofy, flawed kids with (for the main part) youthful appearances.
Modern celebrities will never know what it's like to not have to obsess over their social media accounts or watch every little move they make out of fear that one wrong step could ruin their careers. It's easy to see why '90s nostalgia is alive and well.
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