Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I knew MTV when MTV didn't suck

Well, that's not true. MTV has always sucked in one way or another, depending on your point of view

I was 13 when MTV first came out 25 years ago. We didn't have cable yet so the only places I saw it were at friends' houses or in the TV section of department stores. MTV was a big driving force in getting a lot of fence-sitters to take the plunge and get cable - and in the early days it was considered a "Premium" channel, or not carried by some systems at all. Hence the "I want my MTV" promotion.

The MTV of today bears little resemblance to what it was back in the early days. They used to show music videos. A few years ago they ran a series of promos in which characters would assault people complaining about the lack of music videos on MTV and shout at them "THE MUSIC'S ON MTV2!" Yes, once again you had to buy a premium cable package to see music videos.

Still, MTV has always had things about it that sucked, and even they are sometimes remembered fondly. "Remote Control"? OK, that was one of the early steps down the slope that led away from music videos. Still, that game show introduced us to Colin Quinn and featured categories like "Inside Tina Yothers" (human anatomy questions, asked in the context of the body of the youngest daughter from Family Ties.) And that was back in the late 1980's, less than ten years after the channel came on the air

This morning during the "Happy Birthday, MTV!" segment on Good Morning America they showed a clip of the beginning of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, the tracking shot across the tough-girl cheerleaders as the opening guitar notes are played. It gave me goosebumps. That was the dawn of the Alternative era, from the beginning of the 90's.

Sometimes, just sometimes, MTV didn't suck.

We'll see what happens over the next 25 years.


Super G said...

I watched MTV in the dorm at U of M when it arrived on cable in A2. IMHO MTV pretty much sucked back then, I just didn't have too many alternatives since I was cash poor.

On average the music of the 80s doesn't compare to the 90s to me - but it does hold some sentimental value. Though I admit that some stuff I used to dislike I appreciate much more now.

Domestic Zookeeper said...

I was 4 when MTV devirginized cable as we knew it.

Sadly, my first real memory of MTV was some Boy George video, and I was always trying to figure out if it was a he or a she (I've since figured out that mystery, luckily).

Jennifer said...

We were just talking about it at work today. I aksed one of my 20-something co-workers what was the first music video played on MTV? She said, "Oh! I know this! Ummmm. Something weird, wasn't it?" I looked at an older co-worker next to me, and we both said, "They were all weird then!"

Anyway, I used to watch MTV, and then VH1, all the time. Now, neither one of them has played music videos with any sort of consistency for years, and I couldn't tell you off the top of my head what DirecTV channels they're on. Sad.