You’ve Got Mail has dated horribly in the 19 years since it was released. It isn’t just the haircuts that have aged, or the music, or even the fact that it’s about a battle between small bookstores (which don’t exist any more) and big bookstores (which don’t exist any more) over who gets to sell the most books (which nobody reads any more).
How Twitter killed the official movie website
No, the thing that dates You’ve Got Mail more than anything else is its website. Never taken down, it really goes in hard on what the internet was like in the days before anyone really had the internet. There’s a “Buy the video” link, and a link to the You’ve Got Mail soundtrack CD. There’s downloadable desktop wallpaper that strobes violently like a Japanese cartoon, and instructions on how to download it to Windows 95. There are RealAudio files of New York street drummers. Most grievously of all, the website contains the text “Sure, computers aren’t really the end of Western Civilization as we know it, but they’re full of great ways to waste a little time”, which of course has since been proved wrong on two counts now that Twitter exists.
Obviously, You’ve Got Mail isn’t alone here. In the late 90s and early 00s, Hollywood became slightly too confident about what the internet could offer moviegoers. Jurassic Park sequel The Lost World created its very own InGen site, full of menus and submenus that lead to emails where two non-film characters describe last night’s dreams to each other in excruciating detail. Space Jam basically has a GeoCities page where if you click around enough, you’ll be presented with a list of radio stations that are “currently playing the first single from the Space Jam Soundtrack, Seal - Fly Like An Eagle”. Steampunk western Wild Wild West’s site has a page where, if you must, you can perv on impractically small photographs of the film’s “lovelies” (its female cast members) in various provocative poses.