It’s MTV’s thirtieth anniversary, so I felt the need to throw in my two cents on the channel since it was such a big part of my life, for better or for worse, in the 1980s. My family actually had MTV the day it premiered, and I distinctly remember my mother walking in while I was watching “I Know What Boys Like” by the Waitresses, and asking me, “What the hell is this?” …Which is funny because I find myself saying the same thing as I watch MTV today.
When it first started, there was plenty to like about it.
Music you wouldn’t have heard on the radio was able to reach suburbia. While the radio was playing The Little River Band, MTV was blowing our minds with Missing Persons and Adam Ant.
And let’s face it, popular music was in need of a change. Punk rock brief moment in the spotlight had just ended, and we were left with a lot of music that sounded like “The Lady in Red” by Chris De Burgh and “It Might Be You” by Stephen Bishop. As much as I liked Christopher Cross and “Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder, it was time for a change…. and MTV provided us with just that.
But there was a downside. As much as MTV ushered in new sounds (especially in their offbeat programs like The Cutting Edge and later with 120 Minutes), it also forced musicians to become focused on image over producing quality albums.
You've turned rock and roll rebellionMy wife grew up in an area without MTV – she didn’t see a music video until 1986, and because of that songs from the early 80s are associated with memories rather than videos. For example, when I hear “Electric Avenue” I am instantly reminded of the video; however, my wife associates memories of the roller rink to the song. I’d much rather be reminded of roller skating than that dumb video of Eddie Grant slouched in a chair. Thanks a lot, MTV.
Into Pat Boone sedation
Making sure nothing's left to the imagination
MTV get off the air
- The Dead Kennedys
But MTV’s days as a visual medium for music were actually short lived. Shows started popping up on the channel that had nothing to do with music: Remote Control, Beavis & Butthead, Singled Out, The Jon Stewart Show, and…. (queue foreboding music) The Real World (gasp).
After The Real World, I think it is safe to say the MTV as I knew it was officially dead. The channel quickly dropped any pretention of being a music channel, and started its long line of reality shows (Road Rules, Jackass, The Osbournes, etc.) and other nonsense. Now, I don’t really even know what the theme of the channel is – smutty lame garbage, maybe? The “M” no longer officially stands for “music” – so, what does it stand for?
For me it now just stands for “meh”.