Greg Moberly: MTV: Mmm Television?
So, you say, “Video killed the radio star.”
Nope, that didn’t happen.
It was a bit much to think that the bold pronouncement from the first music video to appear on MTV would come to pass.
Sure, music videos made some people stars more than they might have been without the medium, but performers still caught on with audiences by radio, strength of live performances and simple word-of-mouth.
Of course, the Internet now has broadened opportunities for musicians to expose new audiences to the fruits of their labor. But the music video no longer appears to be a good way for an up-and-coming artist to reach a larger audience.
If you missed it, last month MTV quietly scraped “Music Television” from it’s corporate logo. The influential cable behemoth officially lost it’s foundation.
MTV began losing its ‘religion’ in 1992 when they started airing one of the originals in reality programming – “The Real World.”
Whether you like “The Real World” or not, isn’t relevant here. This is about steering a network that was largely devoted to music – a seemingly broad enough form of entertainment – toward reality programming because popular tastes of teens and young adults supposedly had changed.
I get it. Times change. People’s tastes change and you want to appeal to that young demographic. Blah, blah, blah. But does somebody want to make the argument that music isn’t popular anymore and the foundation can’t be spruced up? Can anybody say “American Idol?”
Perhaps, MTV didn’t have a broad vision of its musical roots from the beginning and no other network has realized how expansive their programming can be within the musical realm.
Certainly, since MTV started in 1981, other cable music television channels have been added. In my book, Palladia HD and VH-1Classic are OK. (Yes, I know both are under the Viacom corporate umbrella, just like MTV.) Still, it’s the abandonment of the original purpose of the mothership music network that sticks in my craw.
What’s wrong with a most requested music video countdown show? What’s wrong with a program devoted to independent, alternative and, or, up-and-coming bands?
Musical styles have become so fragmented in the past 30 years that exploring genre music programming a little deeper would be entertaining and educational.
Yeah, “MTV Unplugged” is a different way to showcase talented musicians. (It has been somewhat revived, showing up on Palladia HD.) But, more concerts in general would be even better. A case could be made that the network probably relied too heavily on music videos in the beginning.
What about shows that discuss issues in the music business, different eras and societal implications? Sure, there were some of these shows and they are still being played on MTV sister networks but there could have been more.
Pictures didn’t come and break my heart as the inaugural MTV video stated. They – the music videos – enhanced my vision and other people’s vision of the music. Music videos simply gave an added creative outlet for the performer, who could take advantage of that new opportunity to reach larger audiences or shun it.
MTV seemingly, as the aforementioned Buggles tune suggests, doesn’t want to rewind. It’s “gone too far.”
Greg Moberly says when he is “Hungry like the wolf,” like Duran Duran, he downs copious amounts of pizza. He can be reached at 477-4234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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