MTV Without the Music is Just TV, Right? Wrong.
By Emily Austin on August 08, 2013
Oh, MTV. MTV, MTV, MTV.
I’m tempted to start out saying that I’m sad MTV isn’t what it used to be and that I miss the videos. However, there are three problems with that. Look at me, getting all three-point thesisy over here. Putting that MA to work once again.
One, I don’t have cable and therefore I don’t actually know firsthand that MTV doesn’t show videos anymore. It doesn’t seem fair for me to complain about something that I don’t even have intimate knowledge of. I mean, I have heard that Jiffy Lube offers terrible coffee in their waiting area, but who am I to complain about it since I get my oil changed at the dealership because we have a Prius and we’re always a little afraid that it will fall apart and stop being awesome if we treat it with anything less than the best? LOGIC.
Two, IT IS A TELEVISION CHANNEL BASED ON WHAT TEENAGERS LIKE. Let’s recall a bit about teenagers. They are not exactly consistent or rife with good taste. Back in the day, teens wore bobby socks (I don’t even know what those are) and went to “mixers”, which, FYI, were parties, not Fanta and Red Bull. Aside from the ironic, hipstery teens on Tumblr, when was the last time you saw one wearing bobby socks? (Assuming you could spot them; I can’t.) Things change. Like it or not, teenagers and young people set the stage for what’s cool and efficient in the world. Why would MTV televise antiquated (albeit awesome) videos punctuated by commercials when YouTube could do it faster? It’s a bummer that the same people who made Justin Bieber rise to the top are the ones who phased out the music in Music Television, but alas, they don’t have to pay rent and can waste their money on whatever they please and somehow dictate the currents of pop culture. Life’s not fair.
The other problem with complaining about what MTV has (allegedly) become is that the videos were only part of what I loved about it when I was a kid. The videos were awesome and all, but for me, it was all about The Real World, Singled Out, and Beavis and Butt-head. These shows actually had very little to do with music but were the bedrock of what MTV was in the 90′s when I was in my adolescence. When I was in college, I actually made a tape of myself and sent it into The Real World producers so they would consider me for inclusion in the latest season. I was just so impressed with the plethora of talent that I saw on The Real World: London when I was twelve that by the time I was eighteen, I knew I could make the cut. Yeah, no. I probably talked too much about my quote-unquote quirkiness (READ: penchant for making rice in the microwave instead of on the stovetop) in the video, so I got cut on round one.
Singled Out was another show that I really liked when I was in middle school. On it, people tried to win a date with the dishy contestants. Some of them were truly doglike*, and yet their unwavering hope that they could get a date by humbling themselves to the standards of cable TV inspired me. Maybe, someday, I could too become so desperate that I would have to resort to getting a date with Chris Hardwick as my wingman. When I went to high school, I learned that Chris Hardwick, the host of the show, had actually gone to my school (which was kindergarten through twelfth grade) briefly when he was in the fourth grade. This impressed me, so much so that I’m including the detail in a blog post thirteen years after I graduated.
*I swear I remember the guy who played Donkey Lips on Salute Your Shorts was on there once. Wikipedia confirmed my suspicions. My brain is better than your brain.
Last but not least, I was intrigued by the weirdness of Beavis and But-thead. My brother and I were actually banned from watching it, but we often went up into our parents’ room while they were making dinner or whatever and turned it on. My dad would always come in and get all angry that we were watching it, but we would just say every single time that we were channel surfing and it just happened to be on Beavis and Butt-head at the exact moment he came in the room. Yeah, OK. The truth is that the show kind of scared me when it came out when I was in the sixth grade. I can’t even explain this. Even though they were clearly teenagers in the show, for some reason that never sunk in and I always thought they were scary adults who lived in a horrible apartment and never worked but somehow could afford braces for their teeth. The whole scenario was disconcerting and bizarre, and so it scared me. I don’t know.
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