August 1, 2006, - 7:27 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Twenty-five years ago, today, MTV was born with the broadcast of “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
Radio is still here (though under mild attack by its satellite stepsister). But MTV is on life support. Internet killed the MTV star. And so did irrelevance.
At 25, MTV is an old fogie compared to the demographic the network is targeting. For years, there’s very little music left on the network. From IPods to YouTube, the young market MTV craves has found other, better outlets to get the music programming they want and weren’t getting in the myriad of inane shows like “The Real World.”
And even all the outrageous stunts of the last 25 years of “Music Television” combined won’t bring them back.
Twenty-five years ago, today, I was part of the first “MTV generation.” But MTV lost us. It simply wasn’t good for America.
Instead of keeping up with new trends in music, it chose another path–social engineering, left-wing politicking, and shock TV. Eventually all of us were turned off, and most of MTV’s “programming” died a quick death.
Remember “Beavis & Butthead”? Outrageous stunts on “Jackass,” that resulted in copycat stunts by children who ended up injuring themselves? “The Osbornes,” a reality show, which later turned out to be scripted? All of them are in the trashbin of MTV non-history.
“Yo! MTV Raps” is history, too. Unfortunately, the hip-hop culture it spawned isn’t. Both “Live Aids” and “Hands Across America” raised a lot of money for the poor. But the money didn’t go to them. Most of it went to administrative expenses and can’t be documented.
The most remarkable comments made on MTV are a thing of the past, too. Bill Clinton answering the “Boxers or Briefs” question (it was briefs) and saying he smoked pot but “didn’t inhale.” Al Gore saying he “smoked the herb on occasion.” Both of them have been out of office for at least six years. The last time MTV’s uppity “Rock the Vote” and “Choose or Lose” campaigns worked was in electing Bill Clinton in 1992. In 2000 and 2004, they backfired.
Boy George, George Michael, INXS, Duran Duran. All of these pop sensations created by MTV are over. Then, there are the more classless MTV moments, whose perpetrators have also bitten the dust in their show-biz careers:
* “Comedian” Tom Green masturbating animals on “The Tom Green Show.” Remember him? Today, looking for the former Mr. Drew Barrymore and his career is significantly more difficult than playing “Where’s Waldo.”
* Madonna and Britney Spears’ open-mouth kiss on the MTV Music Awards shocked the world. Today, it’s doubtful that even kept husband Kevin Federline wants to kiss Britney Spears, whose sexpot image and figure are long gone. Her career is down the drain, unless you count bizarre Matt Lauer interviews on Dateline. Madonna is entangled in pseudo-Kabbalah and can’t get radio airplay for most songs on her new album.
* Jenny McCarthy–The former Playboy Playmate host of the silly “Singled Out” dating show has no career, unless you count playing someone’s trashy mom in a bit part of a bad teen movie.
* “The Real World”–Watching 7 insipid 20-somethings (including the standard gay one) in a house got old. It spawned a lot of reality programming all over television. But that got old, too. And viewers fought back, by going to unreality shows like “24” and “Desperate Housewives.”
* MTV’s 1999 “Woodstock” reunion wasn’t all that, either. Multiple women were raped by drunk men. Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit–another MTV creation now in the dumpster–is credited for provoking much of the violence.
* Do you remember MTV’s original movies, like “Anatomy of a Hate Crime”? Me neither. Apparently Naveed Afzal Haq didn’t either, when he committed the hate crime, Friday, at the Seattle Jewish Federation and shot six people.
* Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video mini-movie and his kiss with then-wife Lisa Marie Presley. Well, we know what happened to “them” and to him. They’re over. His MTV career is now safely under wraps, somewhere in the Middle East.
Even “Newlyweds,” the show about Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey’s marriage, the network’s most recent hit of note, is laughable. They’re now divorced.
USA Today listed “25 Key Moments” from 25 years of MTV. Was your life changed when you got to see the chubby, middle-aged, has-been rockers of KISS without make-up, for the first time? Or the now ex-con rapper Lil’ Kim’s exposed breast with a pastie on it? Or Janet Jackson’s nipple at the 2004 MTV-produced Super Bowl half-time show?
Was your life enhanced by whipped cream bikinis contests on MTV Spring Break or at the MTV beach house?
MTV celebrates its silver anniversary today. But in dog years, the network is far older and out of touch.
And a lot less relevant.
The saying that “everything old is new again” doesn’t apply to everything. Leggings, big hair, and Vans from the ’80s days, in which MTV was born, are in again.
But MTV isn’t. And that’s a good thing. MTV was a bad influence on America.
Like the bad tattoo you got in a moment of foolish youth, it’s a fad, whose 15 minutes–or 25 years–are up.
Read my piece from MTV’s 20th anniversary in 2001, here. Original MTV VJ Martha Quinn won’t let her kids watch MTV. Original MTV VJ Nina Blackwood won’t watch MTV, either.
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