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This Year in Pop Culture: 1998

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5. Animated Movies

Who knew that 1998 was actually a big year for animation? After the mild disappointment of the previous year (whose highlights were “Hercules,” “Princess Mononoke,” and “Anastasia”), 1998 restored the faith of moviegoers in talking cartoons. Each of the major American studios released a hit which went on to become a classic: DreamWorks reinvented the bible with “The Prince of Egypt,” Disney transformed our lives with “Mulan,” and Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life” — the big winner — grossed more than $360 million worldwide.

4. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

Even though the long-standing dispute regarding the best book of the popular series will probably never be settled, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” seems to have been universally acclaimed from day one. Well, almost. Back in 2001, a critic named Mary B. Stuart found the final battle in the Chamber of Secrets “quite intense” and “extremely frightening to sensitive (and younger) children.” Even though her review was positive overall, Stuart warned her readers that “it feels almost as though Stephen King donated a few lethal paragraphs to the book's ending.” It seems as if times have changed: Later works like Neil Gaiman's “Coraline” and Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” have redefined for what counts as a “frightening” young adult book.

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3. Britney

On October 23, 1998, the world stood still when a young American singer, almost unknown, released the first single from her debut studio album. With an irresistible beat, Britney Spears’s “...Baby One More Time” revolutionized what we know about pop music and went on to become one of the singer’s greatest hits. In fact, this single was one of the main reasons that the Daily Beast declared in July 2013 that 1998 was “the Best Year in Music for Millennials.”

2. “Sex and the City”

Four months before Britney came into our lives, a momentous event took place on television screens when a blonde woman appeared with a tutu skirt to the sound of a catchy theme tune. This young woman, Carrie, and her three friends — Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda — would soon become frequent guests in living rooms all around the world. Though in retrospect the show might not seem as glamorous as it seemed back in the 1990s — from its overwhelming whiteness to its controversial contribution to the feminist struggle — its tremendous impact on American television cannot be overlooked.

1. “The Truman Show”

It seems like this 1998 classic has almost everything: Jim Carrey at his best, an unforgettable soundtrack, and a brilliant script by Andrew Niccol that provides a fascinating indication of the state of mind in America on the verge of the new millennium. If you haven’t watched it yet, please log in to your Netflix account and do it now (and in Truman’s words: “In case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”).

—Staff writer Eli Zuzovsky can be reached at eli.zuzovsky@thecrimson.com.

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