Thursday, August 03, 2006

MTV's Birthday

So MTV had a birthday... 25 years. 25 years of crap. 25 years of idiots in skinny ties telling the rest of us what we were supposed to be listening to. 25 years of manufactured style over substance. Yes - we all know - they started with the Buggles... but with a next 9 of:

2. “You Better Run,” Pat Benatar
3. “She Won’t Dance,” Rod Stewart
4. “You Better You Bet,” The Who
5. “Little Suzi’s on the Up,” Ph.D.
6. “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” Cliff Richard
7. “Brass in Pocket,” The Pretenders
8. “Time Heals,” Todd Rundgren
9. “Take it on the Run,” REO Speedwagon
10. “Rockin’ the Paradise,” Styx

It sure as hell didn't start off strong. From the AP story - their gift on this inauspicious occasion was a 'look back at 25 memorable MTV moments'. Looking over their list - it wasnt much of a gift. I'll do better with 10 of my own.

10) August 1, 1981 -- They hired Martha Quinn, a woman responsible for more adolescent male ejaculant than any playboy pictorial. Yes girls, that whole girl next door thing really does work... sad that it's Kari Wuhrer of Beastmaster 2 fame that still has a job in film.

9) The Jon Stewart Show -- Not really the same - but they did let him run with it.

8) The Ben Stiller ShowSure - it encouraged them to make non-music content... but at least it wasnt terrible (even if no one watched).

7) Beavis and Butthead -- Having a show that made fun of music videos on a music video channel? oh the irony... well... not really... since they were usually making fun of artists that sucked. Oh wait... didnt most of the artists on MTV at the time suck? hmmmm....

6) Downtown Julie Brown's Club MTV and the ensuing broad societal acceptance of the upskirt camera technique. What? You're saying taking shots up a girls skirt and broadcasting them nationwide isnt cool? Ummm... but that's why we were watching...

5) 120 MinutesMarch 10, 1986 -- The Bolshoi, The Cure, Skinny Puppy, Hunters and Collectors, The Cult, Front 242, Sonic Youth, Sinead O'Connor, Ultravox, Hüsker Dü

They were out in front on all the college charts... REM, Depeche Mode, The Smiths etc... This was where directions in music could experiment in video (unless you were watching public access cable... which tended to have even better stuff). It was the only MTV that mattered - the rest being littered with the Dwarves of Love and the Bananamamas.

4) Live Aid -- They actually showed Status Quo... they let Bono wander off into the crowd (as he was wont to do in those early days)... and Queen? damn... never saw a band own a crowd quite like that. Oh sure - all that Sir Bob Geldoff crap got annoying - and things in sub-saharan africa sure as hell didnt get much better - but at least someone was trying I suppose.MTV showed it - flipping back and forth between venues and not wasting too very much time talking about how cool it was (though there was a bit of that). No one really knew how this was going to come off - it was a hell of a lot bigger than the concert for Bangladesh - and there were a LOT of egos - but it managed to work somehow.

3) Tony James takes over -- For a week - Sputnik Television took over MTV at night with it's 'Mars needs food' campaign. No one remembers Sputnik TV for some reason... maybe I was the only one watching... but there was Tony playing at VJ spinning videos that fit somewhere between a 120 minutes playlist and a CBGBs set - peppering it all the while with a bout of sarcastic criticism of the music industry in general (not that he had any reason to be jaded, did he Billy)

2) Hands Across America -- 3pm May 25th, 1986 - 5 million idiots held hands to defeat hunger. Ahh - now that we've held hands - hunger has been defeated, my guilty conscience assuaged, and the world has become a much better place. The organizers expensed away 17 million dollars of the proceeds - but at least some soup kitchens got paid. Of course... if the 5 million people had just taken their $10 to the soup kitchens themselves it would've helped more - but MTV wouldnt have had a bunch of idiots to film and interview all afternoon.More of that backslapping participatory tribute bullshit that defined the 80s music scene so well (i still remember Bono's mullet from the Sun City video). However - this event wouldnt have made the list if it werent for the Ramones standing tall and calling a spade a spade."If you're not in it... you're out of it"

1) Woodstock 1999 -- A show built for MTV - a giant megaconcert supposed to draw a tv audience like flies to shit - and it did. 220,000 kids drawn to an EPA superfund site to mosh in the toxic mud with NIN.
From Kurt 'Rear End' Loder:

"It was dangerous to be around. The whole scene was scary. There were just waves of hatred bouncing around the place, (...) It was clear we had to get out of there. It was like a concentration camp. To get in, you get frisked to make sure you're not bringing in any water or food that would prevent you from buying from their outrageously priced booths. You wallow around in garbage and human waste. There was a palpable mood of anger."

Yes that's right - RHCP handed out candles to a huge angry crowd, they built bonfires, and hell broke loose. Watching MTV's coverage of the riot was a riot in an of itself... oh look - we've raised a generation of angry consumerist whores... good to see Grace Slick could get in on the act. MTVs coverage of the riot was laughable. Here they were on the scene of a self-perpetuated calamity and all Kurt could do was whine about how much danger he was in and flee the scene.

MTV jumped the shark that day... i dont think i've watched more than 5 minutes since.

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