Today, MTV is thirty years old — how tragic.
Before you start to complain and e-mail me critical rants as a result of reading that first paragraph, please allow me to explain the hows and whys of MTV has going downhill in terms of both quality and artistic vision in almost the past twenty years (and I suspect that there are those of you who share my sentiments).
When MTV debuted back in 1981, its vision was crystal clear — namely, airing music videos by many of the biggest names in the industry, while helping to advance that art form in terms of visual and storytelling techniques. The music videos that spotlighted such talents as Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Bruce Springsteen owed their enduring popularity in part to — among other things — the classic movie musicals from Hollywood’s past and the path paved by past entertainers like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, who were extremely popular with their fans, whose children and their off-spring (and theirs) would one day embrace Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bon Jovi, Nirvana, Destiny’s Child, Lady Gaga, etc.
By the 1990’s, however, MTV took several wrong turns when it strayed from its original vision — true, they still aired music videos (not to mention superb shows like Unplugged, which featured nearly everyone from Rod Stewart to Tony Bennett). But MTV also started to air such so-called “Reality TV” shows like The Real World, one of the cable channel’s most successful shows — and one, sadly, that has since become a parody of its former self. (On the other hand, maybe The Real World was a parody from the very beginning — and explains why I wasn’t even a fan of the series.)
Today, MTV is a shell of its former self — not only because it (and MTV2) rarely airs music videos these days, but also because the network believes that shows like The Hills and Jersey Shore are far more entertaining than innovative and entertaining music videos, when in truth they’re not. It’s an example of one of nature’s basic laws: adapt — or perish. But by abandoning the artistic vision that brought about its creation, MTV has long since hovered on the edge of the abyss, facing a possible and permanent Waterloo — and becoming history with little chance of staging a Lazarus-like comeback.
And yet, MTV does have the power to regain both its promience and popularity — by returning to the original concept that made its success possible, while getting rid of the dead weight that has made it nothing more than a mockery of what it once was. And just as important, those who grew up watching MTV will have great input as far as the cable channel’s future is concerned. (And as a personal aside, if anybody’s reading this — I’m hoping that this little piece’ll help encourage MTV to not revive Beavis & Butt-Head. Such TV shows like that deserve to stay dead — and in the case of the controversy that it caused almost twenty years ago, forgotten.)
John Lavernoich is the author of the novels Code Name: Chameleons and Chameleons To The Rescue, as well as close to three dozen articles and short stories that have been published in print and on the Internet – to learn more about Mr. Lavernoich and his writing achievements, please visit his official website (http://jlavernoich2008.web.officelive.com/default.aspx), as well as his pages on Windows Live Spaces(http://cid-ef88d131988ab38f.profile.live.com), Facebook(http://www.facebook.com/john.lavernoich?ref=name), MySpace(http://www.myspace.com/jlavernoich), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/JLav65). Mr. Lavernoich also maintains his own video channel on YouTube(http://www.youtube.com/user/JLav65?feature=mhsn).
©2011 John Lavernoich.