1997 catch phrases and yadda yadda yadda
November 30, 2017 6:40 AM   Subscribe

It's late 1997. Frank Costanza has everyone saying "Serenity now!" Thanks to Dirk Diggler, we're all gonna be big bright shining stars. What other catch phrases and pop culture references would have been popular?

Imagine you were writing a Christmas letter in 1997 and you, being an unoriginal dumbass (let's pretend you're Michael Scott, ok?) wanted to include a bunch of pop culture references and catch phrases to show how hip and with it you are. What are some things you'd include?

References should be from 1997 only, or at least were at their peak in 1997. Doesn't necessarily have to be pop culture. It could be something from the news that everyone is joking about ("The blue dress!"*) or perhaps you made a Mars Pathfinder reference.

Popular is best, stuff everyone would know about. The dumber the better. Think "Wazzzzzzzzzzzup!" rather than stuff about plumbs in iceboxes that you ate but that I was saving for breakfast.

*yes I know that was still hanging in a closet in 1997.
posted by bondcliff to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
"oh, my God! They killed Kenny!"
posted by Hanuman1960 at 6:44 AM on November 30, 2017 [7 favorites]

"I'm the king of the world!"
posted by AndrewInDC at 6:48 AM on November 30, 2017 [6 favorites]

YO! I'll TELL ya what I want what I really really want
SO TELL me what you want what you really really want
I wanna! I wanna! I wanna! I wanna!
I wanna really really really wanna zig-a-zig-ah.


"I will never let go, Jack."
posted by kimberussell at 6:51 AM on November 30, 2017 [6 favorites]

¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!
posted by papayaninja at 6:51 AM on November 30, 2017 [6 favorites]

posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:54 AM on November 30, 2017 [7 favorites]

Mmmbop, ba duba dop ba du bop
posted by AndrewInDC at 6:54 AM on November 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm not qualified to do so myself, but I'm counting on you Simpsons nerds out there to know which were the 1997 catchphrases.
posted by DanSachs at 6:55 AM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Something about George Lucas fucking up Star Wars with the Special Editions. Is this when "Han shot first!" started?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:55 AM on November 30, 2017

I've still never seen Air Force One but I remember hearing Get off my plane! a lot.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 7:00 AM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

-The price is WRONG, bitch!
-You can trouble me for a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up!
(Happy Gilmore, 1996)

-You're so money and you don't even know it!
(Swingers, 1996)

-Show me the money!
-You complete me.
-You had me at hello.
-Did you know that the human head weighs eight pounds?
-Help me help you! Help me help you!
(Jerry Maguire, 1996)

-You betcha!
-Oh yah!
(Fargo, 1996)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:04 AM on November 30, 2017 [10 favorites]

(I know you said from 1997 only, but a lot of people didn't get to see 1996 movies until they were on video, and a lot of the catchphrases didn't take off until the movies were available on video. So I think of the movies as being in 1996, but the phrases as being VERY 1997. Also, for example, Jerry Maguire came out in late December.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:06 AM on November 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

No soup for you!

(The Soup Nazi episode aired in November 1995 but I think people were still saying this for a few years afterward.)
posted by lakeroon at 7:12 AM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

One Million Dollars! (and pretty much the entirety of that movie, actually. "Yeah, Baby!", Sharks with frickin laser beams, etc.)
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 7:14 AM on November 30, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yes, any phrase or reference that would have been popular and not worn out by late 1997 is fine. "No soup for you!" is probably ok. I'm sure some people still said "where's the beef?" or "Homie don't play dat!" in late 1997 but those people were generally avoided at parties.
posted by bondcliff at 7:16 AM on November 30, 2017

Accordingly, since many 1996 movies were out late in the year and hit in 1997 you might want to look at lists like this. So with that list, besides Jerry Macguire, you'd have Beavis and Butthead (any sort of "Heh you said ______" joke) and the regrettable Space Jam.
posted by jessamyn at 7:17 AM on November 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Big news items being joked about:
Princess Diana died
Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear
OJ Simpson trial concludes: "If it didn't fit, you must acquit!"
Tiger Woods, age 21, wins the Masters
Avian flu in Hong Kong- HK gov't slaughters 1.25 million chickens to stop the spread- people avoided Chinatown
Dolly the sheep
Notorious BIG killed


"You had me at hello" (Jerry McGuire)
Corn-holio and heh heh.... [murmured innuendo]... heh heh... (Beavis and Butthead)
Herkalees! Herkalees! (The Nutty Professor)
Random Scottish accents bc of Trainspotting
Do you like apples? Well I got her number. How do you like them apples?! (Good Will Hunting)
It's not your fault (Good Will Hunting)
EVERYTHING AUSTIN POWERS SAYS (I shagged her! Yeah baby, yeah! Do I make you horny? Behave!
Jim Carrey had done The Cable Guy and Liar Liar, but people were still quoting Ace Ventura (Alll-righty-then!)

Celine Dion belting out Near Far while pounding her chest
Top songs with quotable hooks: Spice Girls' Wannabe, Backstreet Boys' No Diggity, Ginuwine's Pony, R.Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly, Missy Elliott's I Can't Stand The Rain, Wyclef's Guantanamera, Elton John's Candle in the Wind, Toni Braxton's Unbreak My Heart, Hanson's MMMBop, Sheryl Crow's If It Makes You Happy, Chumbawumba's Tubthumping, Aqua's Barbie Girl
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:47 AM on November 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Men in Black (both the song and the film) came out in summer '97, maybe a reference to "here come the Men in Black" or the writer's memory getting wiped by MiB.

References to the 'bat-nipples' on George Clooney's Batman costume in Batman & Robin.

Ellen came out as a lesbian on her TV show in spring of '97. I think for a while people were just announcing "...I'm gay" as a (bad) joke.

References to "I better go feed my Tamagotchi" or "My Tamagotchi died," the toy came to the US in May '97 and was one of the hot Christmas gifts that year.

Something something Beanie Babies funding my kids' college.
posted by castlebravo at 7:52 AM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Austin Powers came out in May 1997, so...everything from that. YEAH BABY! Shagadelic! Do I make you horny? ONE! MILLION! DOLLARS!
posted by themadthinker at 8:30 AM on November 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

That was the year I graduated high school, and I will strongly second Simpsons references (anything pre-1997 except for "don't have a cow" because reruns were so pervasive), Austin Powers, Titanic, Spice Girls, Jerry Maguire. Of those I'd say that Jerry Maguire was the most 1997-specific; it came out late in '96, had a major moment, but by '98 everyone was sick of "You had me at hello."

Ally McBeal premiered in '97 and was HUGE in my peer group. Any catch phrases from that show should be in there (I'm only remembering the Hooked on a Feeling song). Anything from Friends would still have been popular. In college, my friends and I still impersonated the AOL guy when handing mail to our roommates.

It was late for Beavis and Butthead, and early for South Park. Grownups may have still been watching Seinfeld but kids weren't--your theoretical letter writer might have.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:21 AM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

To this day, when I'm standing on the edge of a roof, I raise my fists to the sky and shout "I'm a Golden God !!""
posted by humboldt32 at 11:35 AM on November 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Those execrable Budweiser frogs were still everywhere, as I recall, though by 1997 I think they were getting replaced by the equally terrible Budweiser lizards.

Those 'priceless' Amex commercials were everywhere, too, which may tie in well to a Christmas theme.

Other notable musical earworms that could potentially be incorporated: Third Eye Blind's Semi-Charmed Life, anything Smash Mouth, Marcy Playground's Sex and Candy, Sarah McLachlan's Building a Mystery, Natalie Imbruglia's Torn, that 'I'm a bitch, I'm a lover' song, the 'WOO HOO' from Blur's Song 2.
posted by halation at 11:35 AM on November 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ooops, sorry, I was off by a few years.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:40 AM on November 30, 2017

if you do go the South Park route, 1997 was indeed the year of Mr Hankey The Christmas Poo. Not sure if this is too trendy or esoteric for your defined scope, but I just felt like you should know.

i literally made chocolate turd-shaped meringues that year and dubbed them 'Mr Hankey cookies' and handed them out to high-school friends and let me tell you this was the height of transgressive hilarity in my set in 1997
posted by halation at 11:59 AM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest "How YOU doin'?" by Joey Tribianni, but the first time he said that was in an episode that aired January 1998. Damn it.

1997 was the year Titanic came out, so: "I'm King Of The World."

In December 1996, Jerry Maguire came out, so "Show me the money" may have still have had some juice, as well as "You had me at hello."
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:02 PM on November 30, 2017

1997 was also one of those transition years at SNL That season (Season 22) there was the Ambiguously Gay Duo, The Joe Pesci Show, NPR's Delicious Dish, Norm McDonald as Larry King, Celebrity Jeopardy...

Howard Stern's Private Parts was released, which definitely saw the popularity of Baba Booey! rise.

Also, on Seinfeld the episode The Strike aired which introduced Festivus and coined the "Festivus for the rest of us!" phrase and "The airing of grievances! I gotta lotta problems with you people"... and "It's time for the Festivus Feats of strength!"
posted by Benway at 12:27 PM on November 30, 2017

The Soup Nazi episode aired in November 1995 but I think people were still saying this for a few years afterward.

Confirmed. Tired catchphrases in our shared house circa 1997 were all Seinfeld all the time.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by flabdablet at 5:06 PM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

They may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM! - Braveheart, but usually sarcastically and changing out Freedom for whatever you were talking about. Not too dissimilar to today. :)

Mmm hmm - Best in gravelly Slingblade voice. You would say stuff in the slingblade voice in general too, "french fried pertaters" etc.

"I've fallen, and I can't get up!" - from the early 90s but people still said it.
posted by frecklefaerie at 5:49 PM on November 30, 2017

Also, people weren't saying anything from Titanic in 1997. It came out that year, but not until December, so it wasn't really a thing until 1998.
posted by frecklefaerie at 7:04 PM on November 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I feel like Tommy Boy quotes were still a big thing.

"Not here or here so much...but RIGHT HERE"
"Look, Magellan..."
"Bees! Bees in the car! Your firearms are useless against them!"

Possibly also still Matt Foley? In a van down by the river? Maybe not. RIP Chris Farley anyhow.
posted by daisystomper at 9:44 PM on December 1, 2017

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