Thursday, January 15, 2015

I Want My MTV

 I remember when I first saw MTV.  It was at a friend's house in January of 1983, though it started in August of 1981.  The Greater Boston Area had one cable TV system then, Continental Cablevision (now purchased by Media One in 1996), and few had the premium package, and even then it was quite regional.  CC would not air MTV in the Merrimack Valley until late 1986.  During that time, Massachusetts had V-66 as a free-substitute on a UHF channel (you know, the flippy 86-number bottom dial for those before digital-input.. pure analog signal here, and UHF deserves its own blog in itself, mysterious, late-night programming when VHF primary-channels were off-the-air after 11pm, odd black-and-white programming and Japanese horror films).  I had a crush on the VJ, MaryJo Kurtz.  They'd play a lot of Boston rock and some Canadian-rock as well, with a smidge of synth-pop ala Missing Persons.  I just emailed MaryJo (who's now a journalist) and she said I made her day:
MaryJo Kurtz (VJ) on the bottom-left.  Shown: the V66 video-jockey "VJs".
MaryJo Kurtz @MaryJoKurtz 41 minutes ago
": Still love you from V-66, Mary Jo! Forever a fan."
/ "Thank you! You made my day... :) Enjoy the evening..."
Nice, MaryJo.  I will!  (She was a Rush fan and played it quite a bit)..
  V-66 was actually pretty decent for its time, but the manager of the channel 18 months later wasn't getting enough cash and converted it to a UHF home-shopping channel, but not before it did what MTV has done now.  Yes, in its last few months it added barely or non-music content.
Fast-forward to right now, today, and I look at the current day's MTV schedule lineup.  You'd expect some Headbanger's Ball or even some Yo..MTV Raps!  but no.  None of that.  Here's the lineup:


  Sorry for the diminishing size but it was in 3 pages, had to convert from .xps to .jpg, all mostly because of Google Blogger's lack of adjustability, though it's free, so I'm thankful for that.  Anyway, as you can see, there are NO showings in 24 hours of anything music-related.

Ridiculousness is a sub-par reaction-show to past-their-prime videos from YouTube.  Anyone with internet-savvy and a penchant towards slapstick, home-quality videos such as Fail Army have already seen these.  Hosted by skateboard professional Rob Dyrdek and talentless Pakuni, Chelsea Dudley, aka "Chanel West Coast" nominated for the world's most obnoxious laugh (whom Rob is undoubtedly boinking), a D-list guest-star will also watch and comment, usually horrified, mouth agape at the damage-control of lampoonish stunt-fails.  This show is best suited for age 9 to 11.
Fantasy Factory is more of Rob Dydrek's goofing-off in a warehouse he owns with some talentless help-staff, making the viewer believe that owning a clothing-line of skateboard-trendy gear is a joke.
We're treated with 2 MTV-produced movies, Harold & Kumar go to White Castle which is a high-schoolish adventure about 2 guys who crave White Castle burgers late at night and Jackass': Bad Grampa which focuses on Johnny Knoxville's eponymous character (to my horror, made back its money ten-fold, doing better than Blade Runner, Serenity or Empire Strikes Back.)  Johnny should be proud his work is far more reaching than most films ever made.. somehow.  Truly, we've entered the warning-future portrayed in Idiocracy.  Both films are, in my opinion, junk.
So when are we seeing music videos?  Never.  MTV has discarded it.  Music Television has no music in it whatsoever.  One could argue the downfall was Remote Control, a TV show MTV aired that was a gameshow questioning contestants about music videos MTV had shown that week.  Not too bad a show, actually, with Colin Quinn and Ken Ober (fellow U-Mass graduate) who died in 2009 at age 52 after a failed career (prizes for everyone!)
I'd say the real death of MTV was the popularity of the unreality show The Real World.  The show was not good.  Not at all.  It was for kids who wanted to like MTV but didn't like or understand music. It was all fake drama though.  All reality TV is scripted, kids.  All of it.  All of it.  American Idol?  Scripted.  People who say otherwise were paid to do so.  Those lines the show made were all publicity.  Sorry.  Jerry Springer anything?  Scripted.  All of it.  Listen to me.  ALL... OF... IT.  Okay?  You understand now?  Now take the red pill and let's move-on.  The show The Real World was the first non-music show MTV dared put in 1992.  This was the beginning of the end.  MTV started backing-off on music videos more and more until now, on MTV2 and VH1 you might get an hour-block on occasion once-in-a-while.  MTV's breakoff channels also show cheap shows like Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire for hours at-a-time because it's cheap.  By 1995, most of even MTV's sister-channels owned by Viacom were cancelling all music vids.
Back in 1985, if you weren't on MTV you were nobody.  You had to get a video out on MTV to survive.  All music began and ended there.  People were shoving VHS tapes by the pallate to MTV.  Now, a music-video is made sort of after-the-fact.  Kids are stealing music online without any regard for fidelity and no one seems to care.  Shame, really.
"Kanye West will make Paul McCartney super-famous!"
I miss new music videos.  I'd get excited when I learned my favorite band was coming-out with a new album and released a video for it beforehand!  That was the only way you'd really know, before the internet that is, or from Kerrang! magazine perhaps, or from friends, or a sudden discovery at a local trip to the record store.  All of those excitements are lost now, for the most part in the US.  Really a shame.  I wish MTV was relavent still, but it is not.  It's geared for the bored 9-year-old or stoner (same difference) with a bowl of Cheerio's as background noise as he's smearing his mitts over a touch-screen for endless stimuli of anger and colors exploding into his dead retenas.
I miss an album "listening", where you'd go over someone's basement and put a vinyl record on a hi-fi stereo system and you with a small group would discuss the lyrical meanings and hidden messages as the album played linearly on, and then you'd flip the record for side-B, often better, more interesting tracks there, less radio-friendly.  Now it's zoom through lo-fi MP3 files, giving each a 3-second listen before moving-on.  Shame, the world now.  Shame.
MTV Music Awards are all about butt-wiggling it seems.  Musical integrity is OUT.  Lip-synching is IN.
It's not too late!  Back in 1981, the ad-campaign for MTV was, "Tell your cable company you want your MTV!"  I remember it.  I wanted it.  I called Continental Cablevision.  Often.  We finally got it years later.   The band Dire Straits made such a claim with Sting in the song, "Money for Nothing".  You can get it back with a petition?  Is it too late?  I WANT MY MTV.. BACK!  Doc!  We need to go back to the Alternate 1985 and fix what went wrong!  To the Delorian!
   I know that changes are permanent (as Rush says in "Tom Sawyer") but can't it be for the better rather than for the worse?  Low quality for convenience is everywhere and it makes me ill.
"Don't worry, Mike.  Not everything is "low quality".  -Phoebe Cates


No comments:

Post a Comment