Tuesday, November 01, 2005

MTV and Supreme Court nominees

"I never listen to any music that's on MTV."

That comment is itself a hopelessly outdated one, but let me explain. Once upon a time, there was a premium cable channel called MTV. The "M" stood for "Music", specifically things called "music videos", little mini-movies built around songs. MTV, when it first started out in the early 1980's, showed these "music videos" nearly all day and all night. People ate it up. "I want my MTV!" was a chant taught to the public by MTV, telling us to demand that our local cable suppliers carry the radical new channel.

That was a long time ago. Over the years, non-music-video programs crept into the schedule. An early reality show called "The Real World." Another called "Road Rules." A game show called "Remote Control." And more, and more, until today MTV shows about 12 minutes of music videos each day.

In the years between its birth and its conversion to 95% non-music programming, MTV played music videos. Some shows featured specialized music - "Yo! MTV Raps" addressed the lack of black music on the network in the late 80's. "Headbanger's Ball" featured heavy metal music. "Alternative Nation" and "120 Minutes" showcased obscure Alternative acts like Nirvana and My Bloody Valentine and They Might Be Giants. But for the most part, MTV played Pop music.

Insipid, overplayed Pop music.

So MTV got a reputation: most of what it played sucked. If your song was on MTV and not ghettoized in one of the specialty programs, your music probably sucked, too. Even if it was good, it would probably be overplayed to the point of suckage.

So bands like The Verve and The Eels got tarred with the same brush as all the other crap on MTV. "I never listen to any music that's on MTV," people would declare, feeling that this was a mark of their good taste in music.

"Then you're letting MTV dictate what music you do listen to," I would retort.

They would usually walk away, shaking their heads at my poor, deluded foolishness.

A lot of Liberals had no real sense of who Harriet Miers was when Bush selected her to be his nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. Of course, she was probably a bad choice - look at the idiot who had picked her. And she clearly was lacking in judicial experience, having never been a judge, but that was not without precedent.

But the thing that interested Liberals the most about Harriet Miers was how much she pissed off the Far Right. A great howl rose up across the land as the ultra-conservative machine that had railroaded an unqualified candidate into the position of President not once, but twice, by the slimmest of margins, now turned on that candidate. This nominee had not met their most important qualification: she was not firmly and undoubtedly set against Roe v. Wade. She failed their litmus test, and they were filled with wrath.

The Wingnuts were howling. And this cheered the Liberals.

In time, Bush buckled, and flip-flopped on the issue as he had on so many before. Darnit, he said, if those mean old Democrats in the Senate are going to demand confidential communications between me and my White House Counsel, well, forget about it, I'll just withdraw her name. Never mind that this was not yet an issue. That was the face-saving excuse he used so he would not have to acknowledge that his nominee had been blocked by his own side.

Now Bush had an opportunity to nominate someone who all sides could find acceptable. Someone who could finally let him start to make good on his old rhetoric about being "a uniter, not a divider."

Nothin' doing. Instead he decided to appease his base by nominating Samuel Alito, an extreme conservative whose positions frequently have been not just outside of the mainstream of American thought, but have often been directly in opposition to decisions reached by the Supreme Court. And he is someone who does pass the Roe v. Wade litmus test. Anti-Choice forces (they may call themselves "Pro-Life", but their concern for "life" begins at conception and ends at birth - from that point, baby, you're on your own) are already rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation of seeing Roe v. Wade quickly overturned by a 5-4 decision.

And religious extremists like James Dobson of the politico-religious group that calls itself "Focus On The Family" are well pleased:

"Perhaps the most encouraging early indication that Judge Alito will make a great justice is that liberal senators such as Harry Reid and Charles Schumer and leftist pressure groups such as People for the American Way and Planned Parenthood have been lining up all day to scream that the sky is falling. Any nominee who so worries the radical left is worthy of serious consideration."
To be sure, anything that cheers a religious extremist like James Dobson should scare the hell out of anyone who cares about crazy notions like liberty, freedom, and separation of Church and State. But regardless of which side you're on, you probably shouldn't let the dismay the other side is feeling dictate how pleased you are about a nominee for the Supreme Court. You might be right. But you might also just be letting MTV dictate what music you do listen to.


Ashley said...

Hi D.B. Just browsing through a few blogs to see what everyone's writing about. I enjoyed reading your post about MTV and Supreme Court nominees. You've got an interesting view. I'll stop by again.


Super G said...

D.B. you got it right with this one (and hopefully not too Right).