Happy Birthday MTV! You Don’t Look a Day Over 29

saturday at mountain laurel, i've got a pair of tickets to give away!

saturday at mountain laurel, i've center, got a pair of tickets to give away!

Interviewing Larry the Cable Guy tomorrow, feel free to send in a question for me to ask him. I think I’ll take the best question I can find in the comment section down below to ask him, so come up with a good one. I already asked his management, and they’re cool with me asking him just about anything. So I’m trying to come up with some good ones to skip the ol’ “How did you get into comedy?” routine that makes me want to puke. (Puke! That’s a funny word!) So if I see a decent question in the comments, I’ll make sure to ask it and give full credit to the asker.

Oh, and in case you forgot, I’m giving away a pair of tickets to see LTC on Saturday at Mountain Laurel. All you have to do is follow the rules to enter for the tickets. The deadline to enter is 2 p.m. Thursday, so get crackin.’

On a non-redneck topic, it hit me at about 2 a.m. Monday morning after I had been zombiefied watching the previous three hours of the incredible MTV30 anniversay special on VH1 Classic: MTV was a more important part of my life than I’ll ever give it credit for.

Maybe it’s because the channel is 110 percent removed from the channel I grew up with. Maybe it’s because I can no longer relate to teenagers. Or maybe it’s just because there isn’t one watchable show on the network anymore, at least until Beavis and Butthead make their return in October.

It also hit me that you can break up MTV’s history in five distinct phases:

THE “HOLY CRAP, WE’RE A CHANNEL!!!” PHASE (1981-1984)

and a new era begins

and a new era begins

The channel was born out of a brilliant idea — to put the radio on TV. Most new TV stations have to come up with programming to fill those 24 hours, but not MTV. Rock stars sent them their videos, and BAM! You had material to fill all 24 hours of broadcast. So they went with that for the most part, throwing stuff on the wall to find out what stuck, and went through the obvious growing pains every new enterprise goes through. Luckily for them, they did it in relative obscurity. No one had MTV because no one felt the need to get cable at this point. If you got basic cable around this time, you got three extra channels — MTV, ESPN and CNN. That was it. And the parents who were paying the bills at the time were being brainwashed about how this new channel is corrupting the minds of their kids, so they refused to pay for it. So let’s just say if you were a 6-year-old like me that did have cable because it was the only way their father could watch Phillies games, then you were the envy of your block. Cousins of mine that didn’t have cable routinely visited and did nothing but watch MTV, because that’s what they were being told they were supposed to do. Then, a funny thing happened …

THE FUN PHASE (1984-1993)

it is impossible to understate how tied together michael jackson and mtv really were

it is impossible to understate how tied together michael jackson and mtv really were

… And that funny thing was Michael Jackson. The music video in 1980 was what the Internet was to music in 1995 — it was supposed to destroy the entire music industry. So some artists balked at making videos in protest, but Michael Jackson was the first to make it an art form. Next thing you know, everyone wanted in. The remaining Beatles. The Stones. Springsteen. Legitimate leaders in the integrity of rock were making videos and getting rich off them. Instead of destroying the music business, videos and MTV revolutionized it. All of a sudden, MTV was the most important channel on the dial and was flush with money, so it started making original programs. The network had a blast with it, and we had a blast watching. During this period is when every important moment from the newly spawned MTV Video Awards happened. Really. I’m serious. OK, maybe not. But of the 50 best and most culturally important moments and performances of the VMAs, there are no more than 10 that have happened since 1993.

Noteworthy show premieres: VMAs, Club MTV, Dial MTV, Headbangers Ball, Yo MTV Raps, Remote Control, Beavis and Butthead, Liquid TV, Unplugged, House of Style, The Week in Rock, Just Say Julie (a personal favorite), Alternative Nation, Live Aid 48-hour broadcast coverage

THE SERIOUS PHASE (1993-1999)

think this wasn't the Serious Phase? then kennedy has something to talk to you about

think this wasn't the Serious Phase? then kennedy has something to talk to you about

Has MTV reflected the times, or have the times reflected what MTV is doing? Just when the country was discovering grunge in full force, MTV either started reading the newspapers or started realizing, “Uh oh, the kids that grew up with us are getting old and crotchety and all informed on issues and stuff. We better get with it or we lose them forever.” So the news got newsier, the shows got all messagey (it’s a word now), the fun was gone and MTV actually tried to be the Cool Channel instead of letting it happen organically like it had until now. Know what happens when you try to be cool? You suck.

Noteworthy show premieres: The Grind, Singled Out, The State, The Jon Stewart Show, Loveline, Daria, Aeon Flux, Real World (actually 1992, but fits more in this era and helped usher it in). Not exactly Murderer’s Row there, is it?

THE REALITY PHASE (1999-2004)

and a new era starts at mtv ...

and a new era starts at mtv ...

Imagine if all of a sudden, CNN started a reality show about Anderson Cooper. Then it got so popular, that it basically saved the channel from getting swallowed into oblivion (like is happening now). So instead of just running with that show and using it to boost its news coverage ratings, CNN decided to start showing more reality shows about its talent. Then it got the actual newsmakers their own shows. Before you knew it, there wouldn’t be any news programming on CNN, just reality shows about news. Well, that’s what happened at MTV. The channel was completely smarting from the Serious Phase where no one really gave a crap about anything it had to say. Then along came the raunchier versions of Real World (San Francisco and Puck, Boston and alcoholol, etc.), and then came The Osbournes. Before anyone could even notice, the music was gone from Music Television and reality TV programming had completely taken over. By the time people started noticing and saying, “Wait, what happened to the videos???” Jessica Simpson was already trying to figure out how Chicken of the Sea could actually be tuna. And we would never get the music back.

Noteworthy show premieres: The Osbournes, Making the Band, My Super Sweet 16, Pimp My Ride, Real World/Road Rules Challenge, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, Run’s House, Punk’d, Jackass, Tom Green Show, Total Request Live  

THE TEENY BOPPER PHASE (2004-present)

you asked for it. so this is what you've got.

you asked for it. so this is what you've got.

Right around 2004, MTV realized its original core audience was staring down Age 40 and therefore was no longer useful to the advertisers that made the channel rich in the 80s. So it did what any American company would — it abandoned its loyal customers and remade the brand. Gone was anyone with gray hair, a wrinkle on their forehead or a college education. In came Snooki, Spendi and the collective lowering of America’s IQ.

Noteworthy show premieres: Laguna Beach, The Hills, Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, Skins, 16 and Pregnant, Meet the Barkers, Tila Tequila, Parental Control

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