Saturday, September 02, 2006

I want my MTV

This weekend, I watched the Video Music Awards on MTV for the first time in a couple years. Boredom will do that to you. What shocked me most was not how bad most of the music nominated was. I was also prepared for the fact that I had never seen a single one of these videos. Calling it the "Video" Music Awards is kind of a joke at this point, since everyone knows that MTV doesn't play videos anymore. In a sense it's kind of like the Radio Music Awards, because that's the only place these songs are actually getting played. Video killed the radio star and then somehow died itself, being replaced again, magically, by radio. How meta. But I digress.

What was really surprising to me was how old I felt watching the VMAs. When did it become obligatory for dudes in rock bands to wear black eyeliner? Why was Jordan Catalano himself wearing eyeliner?? How come I've never heard "Dani California" by the RHCP before today? People still think Jack Black is funny? When did the Killers start singing over piano? What is Jack White doing onstage being a sideshow for Jack Black's "humor?" And what on earth is the visual imagery in the video for "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" by Panic! at the Disco supposed to represent?

Obviously I am showing my age here. I can remember Kurt Cobain singing "Lithium" at the VMAs, and I can remember shows like "Headbanger's Ball," "Yo! MTV Raps," and "120 Minutes." I still have on tape the "120 Minutes 10th Anniversary" special from, oh, 1994? 1995? Does anyone besides me even remember what "120 Minutes" actually was?

Music has always been an important part of my life. Lately it has been much less so. I usually blame that on the state of modern music, but I think MTV is partly to blame for this too. Ever since they shifted formats from showcasing new music to showcasing blond idiots I lost my easy access to finding out about good new bands. I enjoy "Laguna Beach" as much as, if not more than, the next guy. But why must the "reality" shows and portrayals of guys who allow lobsters to bite their tongues for fun preempt the good work MTV used to do? I used to sneak out of bed to watch my favorite video show on MTV, which aired Sundays at midnight, and I'd learn about new bands that way. I'd write down the videos I liked and go buy the CDs the next day. Hell, this was so long ago I might have bought the tapes the night day. I learned about some of my favorite bands in this way. And now what? I may have learned a fair amount about the real Orange County, but now where am I supposed to go for music? I know there are sources out there, but where? MTV: come back!!

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