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fame in 1998

Diablo Cody on Britney, Can’t Hardly Wait, and Other 1998 Pop-Culture Moments

In 1998, screenwriter Diablo Cody (then still going by her real name, Brook Busey) turned 20 — an impressionable age for a college student poised to one day become an Oscar-winning screenwriter with a penchant for pop-culture references. So what does the Juno scribe remember about some of the most iconic movies, songs, and TV shows of the year? As part of our week dedicated to fame in 1998, we got Cody riffing on eight matters of entertainment importance that year:

Can’t Hardly Wait
The nineties fashion in that movie is flawless. Jenna Elfman had that big Tweety Bird hair, Seth Green was adorable, and Jennifer Love Hewitt’s boobs were perfectly cradled by that structured tank. I remember watching the movie with my best friend; there’s that scene where the angry girl yells, “You’re all sheep! BAAAAA!” And my friend nudges me and says, “That’s you.” Basically.

Titanic
I still take issue with the scene where Rose hocks a loogie off the side of the ship. WTF? Rose wouldn’t do that. It’s the weirdest comic relief ever. They might as well have a farting contest. This is a rich girl on a luxury ocean liner in 1912. Please.

“My Heart Will Go On,” Celine Dion
LOVED! That was allegedly a one-take vocal from Celine! It’s still haunting. Does anyone else remember the version they used to play on the radio where they cut in actual dialogue from the film?

Seinfeld Finale
I remember NBC showed a farewell montage that cut to Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” — which was weird, because it’s not like we’d been through a lot of hard-hitting emotional stuff with the gang. (NBC used to get real sappy and self-important, though. Case in point. LOLLLLL.)

Dawson’s Creek
Dawson’s Creek blew people’s minds. Kevin Williamson is a genius. Nobody had thought to put dialogue like that in the mouths of 15-year-olds before. I hated Joey at the time because, to me, she seemed like a dude’s fantasy of how a girl should be: low-maintenance and coy and kind of smiling out of the side of her mouth. And of course all the guys love her, while Jen, who was a total dish who just puts it out there, winds up hanging out with a gay guy and her grandma all the time.

“Bittersweet Symphony,” the Verve
I can’t hear this song without thinking about the final scene in Cruel Intentions. It’s like it was written for the movie. I remember listening to it in my studio apartment in Iowa and totally relating to it, even though Richard Ashcroft was English and fabulous and I was wearing pants from Express.

Britney Spears’s “Baby One More Time” video
There is nothing revolutionary about this video, which is why it’s so brilliant. Britney was just a regular teenage girl with an average voice doing a mating dance. After years of alt-rock acts trying to be ugly and edgy, it was so refreshing to see a mundane display of traditional hotness. We’d become so removed from bubblegum at that point that it was actually shocking to behold.

The Spice Girls
Spice Girls! I was 20 in 1998 and too old to appreciate the boy bands. But I did buy the Spice Girls CD, and a pair of platform sneakers. The best part about the Spice Girls is that they were really sloppy. It was like watching a junior-high talent show. I remember reading that Prince William had a crush on Baby Spice and I was disappointed in him, because Baby was such an obvious choice. Like, of course you like the blonde one. I always wanted to meet a guy who liked Scary.

Photo: Getty