|by Pierce Thorne
I Want My MTV
Dire Straits has been getting lots of airtime lately. That's because Music Television, or rather MTV, just turned twenty.
I remember those early days. Back when MTV actually was solid music television, not even interrupted by commercials. (That was the way cable TV was: you paid extra to not be subjected to advertisements.) The videos weren't as glossy and produced back then. Some were little more than a hand-held camera brought to a concert. Others took Mssr. Nesbitt's advice and showed stuff other than what the song was about. While a Monkee may have been responsible for the MTV mainstay, the once avant-garde channel has been monkeyed with to the point of being too mainstream, and little more than a vehicle for corporate endorsements and mind-numbingly stupid content.
Almost none of which has anything to do with music.
MTV has always tried to push the envelope (though corporate reins have finally figured out how to keep them from pushing too hard) and its content is nothing if not a little beyond the pale. Way back when, it used to take the form of gender-bending musicians like David Bowie and Boy George. Nowadays, it seems to revel in the absurd, the purile, and even the socially inconsiderate.
To illustrate this latter point, let me paint a scene recently shown on one of the reality-TV shows airing on MTV. Picture a city street with a curbside café. An older Asian man is sitting at a table along the traffic corridor. A young man, a part of this show, walks by. He stops immediately next to the old man, bends over double, and fusses with his shoelace. Bent over, he slowly backs into the old man's space. The old man, seen through a long lens, is clearly uncomfortable with somebody's posterior mere inches from his face, but retains his dignity and says nothing. The intrusion continues with the other man getting closer, all the while "obliviously" fiddling with his shoelaces.
Maybe I've rounded that corner, no longer the twenty-something who would have thought this is hilarious hi-jinks. Or maybe I've grown up and gained sensibilities that sympathize with that old man. But whatever the cause, I really don't see what the point is. But this is what is showing on today's MTV.
Okay, MTV clearly sees its target audience as the 18-24 crowd, with slightly less interest in the adjacent age groups. The gavel-to-gavel coverage of spring break, and numerous voyeur-TV shows that spy on youthful principles struggling with the social issue du-jour clearly demonstrate this. And maybe that's what the 18-24 demographic wants to see. Okay....
But I guess I don't see what any of that has to do with music, and MTV means Music Television.
Or used to.
So when I hear those now overplayed guitar riffs and the monotonous drone accompanying that now-ancient CG video, I think about what I see on the channel, and can only say "I want my MTV."