Happy Birthday MTV

 

 

‘I Want My MTV.’ That was the slogan used by the fledgling music network, shortly after it launched 30 years ago. I echoed that phrase while growing up in cable-deprived Northeast Philadelphia, which didn’t get wired until 1989.

Three decades after the seminal MTV launched August 1, 1981, I feel the same way. ‘I Want My MTV,’ at least the ‘80s version of the music network.

For anyone who forgot or didn’t live through the video revolution from the Reagan era, VH1 Classic has been re-running the best moments from MTV since Friday.

MTV had a massive musical and cultural impact during its hey day, which is much different than what it foists on the masses these days, ‘Jersey Shore,’ anyone?

It’s all about reality show drama now delivered by teen moms and muscleheads on the Jersey shore. MTV still has a massive impact, it’s just different than the one it had back in the day. To prove that, you wouldn’t believe how much Snooki makes speaking at colleges (can anything be more ironic?)

MTV, which doesn’t showcase videos anymore, used to deliver cutting edge music clips, particularly during the late, lamented ‘120 Minutes.’

But part of the appeal of MTV wasn’t just the music, it was how loose and fun it was to watch the Beastie Boys or Red Hot Chili Peppers storm the set and clown around.

MTV didn’t just showcase videos, they also goofed on clips. Over the weekend, a hilarious segment aired in which such brilliant comics as Janeane Garofalo, Jon Stewart and Denis Leary poked fun at Journey’s ‘Separate Ways’ video.

Funny stuff especially since Journey and the single ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ was toasted on CBS’s ‘Sunday Morning’ last week.

Speaking of Leary, how great were his fast-moving, mean-spirited rants that were used as bumpers during the ‘80s?

Former MTV VJ Pauly Shore believes that the lack of gatekeepers was the reason the fun and entertainment quotient was high as the Lemonheads Evan Dando.

“I think the reason things worked so well then was because the stuff we did was unproduced,” Shore said. “We had the ability to do what we wanted to do and it was amazing. I loved being part of MTV. I was part of a frat house of like-minded brothers.”

MTV ushered in the wave of reality TV in 1993 when it premiered ‘Real World.’ It’s difficult to imagine the Kardashians or the ‘Housewives’ shows existing without MTV, which was always ahead of the curve. It’s a shame that MTV’s content completely changed. It’s also too bad there isn’t an all-MTV channel, which features clips from the network’s salad days.

Also, it was interesting looking back at the original VJs pontificating about how everything has changed since the shift from video commenced. What’s possibly more ironic than Snooki speaking at universities is that many of those VJs, Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood and Dave Kendall, are back on radio, the satellite variety, where they started.

Watching such rock iconoclasts as The Police, Mick Jagger and David Bowie scream ‘I Want My MTV,’ brings it all back. ‘I want my MTV,’ just like Sting sang during Dire Strait’s ‘Money For Nothing.’

 

 

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