Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy Birthday MTV - You Suck!

Oh no, it's another "This Day In History" post. Deal with it...

On this day in 1981 (27 years ago!), MTV made it's debut at 12:01 am, starting off with "Video Killed The Radio Star" by the Buggles. Some might view this event as something to celebrate. I'm not necessarily one of those people. Don't get me wrong - I have nothing against videos in general. They can be a welcome distraction and sometimes are interesting. At the risk of sounding like an old crotchety windbag (which in all fairness, I am), to me MTV ceased being relevant or interesting many years ago. Let me be the 1,726th blogger to rail against the ills of the MTV. Here are my beefs with MTV, both currently and in the past:

1. They don't show videos
The moniker "MTV" stands for "Music Television." Originally, the concept was that MTV would show music videos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Fine. In the early days, this was fantastic, because the videos were new and interesting, in addition to being a novel concept. Sure, there were not a lot of them, which led to replaying some videos over and over again. Sure, the quality of the videos left a lot to be desired (in hindsight). But they were showing music videos more or less constantly. A few years ago, MTV just stopped showing music videos. They air awards shows, reality shows, game shows, dating shows, "idiotic stunts" shows, etc. It's not really "Music Television" anymore - it's more like "Pop Culture for People Under 25 Television." Where is there a place for videos from good rock and pop bands like Wilco, Old 97s, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, Bright Eyes, Son Volt, Ben Harper, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Death Cab for Cutie, My Morning Jacket, etc?

2. "Image is everything"
Music videos became ubiquitous due to the existence of MTV. Every record label now has to consider the video when they are making a CD. This led to empty headed prima donna no talent "artists" who looked good in front of the camera being featured on MTV - hair bands (Poison, Cinderella, etc), Britney Spears, Duran Duran, boy bands (NSync, Backstreet Boys, etc), etc. Good old rock and roll has been diminished because of MTV and their repeated play of crappy videos that featured scantily clad skanks, and artists that are only getting played because they dress a certain way or look a certain way. The Rolling Stones would not have stood a chance if they had gotten their start in the MTV era. That is one ugly band.

3. Reality TV
I place the blame for the current reality TV craze squarely on the shoulders of MTV. When "The Real World" debuted in 1992, the downward spiral began. Granted, not every scripted show on TV is some sort of award winning endeavor, but some are worthwhile diversions. Thanks to MTV, instead of scripted shows, we have shows in which people stab each other in the back and connive and scheme to vote each other off the show (Big Brother, Survivor, etc.), shows in which participants race to see who can eat testicles and bugs the fastest (Fear Factor, etc.), shows in which people humiliate themselves in order to potentially "date" a famous attention whore (Tila Tequila, Flavor of Love, I Love New York, Rock of Love, etc.), shows in which people compete for the chance to date a non-famous attention whore (The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, etc.), shows in which odd stunts are performed in a race to a finish line (Amazing Race, Road Rules, etc.), shows that are supposedly unscripted, but are so well lit and filmed that there is obviously writing and re-shooting involved (The Hills, Laguna Beach, etc.), shows that display the vapid excessiveness of celebrities and non-celebrities alike (Cribs, My Super Sweet Sixteen, etc.), and shows that are just about someones insane and/or unusual behavior at home with their family (The Osbornes, Newlyweds, Breaking Bonaduce, The Kardashians, etc.). It's all thanks to MTV and The Real World.

What started out as a great idea - making videos as a complement to the audio of popular music - has turned into a steaming pile of crap. Who knew how apropos the first video shown on MTV would be: Video did indeed kill the radio star.

Now get off my lawn, you hooligans! I will not tolerate any more shenanigans from you youngsters!


Anonymous said...

Hey Dumbass,

How about you start watching FNMTV.

Assman said...

Wow, another milestone for our blog. It's the first time that any of us has been officially called a dumbass by anyone other than ourselves. Thanks for that (I'll knock that one off the bucket list). Anyway, if I knew what FNMTV was, I'd check it out.....Okay, I just googled it and it appears that it's on at 8 pm on Friday nights, which is past my bedtime. Also, it's hosted by douchebag hipster Pete Wentz. I don't think I could take it.

Seriously though, thanks for the tip. I might discover something new on that program.

However, MTV having one video show per week does not change any of the points I made in the post. Go to the MTV website, pick a day and check out their schedule: Date My Mom, Juvies, Parental Control, Room Raiders, True Life - oh, and FNMTV occasionally. It looks like maybe 20 hours a week is music video programming - which is actually a bit more than I thought it would be.

Brandman said...

Saying MTV sucks is like saying we all suck now because we're old.

MTV was revolutionary and has an important place in the social consciousness of more than a few generations of Americans and others. Some of the things they did, for better or worse, were extremely innovative and ahead of their time.

But with that said, yeah, they suck now and have for awhile. Even their award shows have become passe.

Anonymous said...

I read your piece too, and agreed with most of it, but poison is NOT an empty headed band, and neither is any hair metal band. Try saying that to one of their band member's faces..I doubt you'd have the balls. and if you don't like it? no one's forcing you to watch it. Try Vh1 Classics to see what the real shit is. but I doubt you'll do that either as it seems your mind is very, very closed. I'd put my name but I write for a major printed music publication. And you know what? Let's remember what channel Headbanger's Ball was on. MTV. Get with it.