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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

MTV Turns 25

Today is the day that MTV gets a break on its car insurance. The last big excitement in birthdays until you go over the hill. 25 years ago today, our world was forever influenced by music television. Andrew Wineke, writer for the Gazette, couldn't have written anything that I agree with more. Kind of like the first time I read Call Me a Child of the Eighties. So I'll defer my comments to his article, which normally I'd link to, but for some rediculous reason his article isn't available by linking, so I'll just paste his text below.

MTV too hip for nostalgia
MTV is celebrating its 25th anniversary today. On VH1 Classic. Yeah, that’s right: MTV is so gun-shy about commemorating its first quartercentury that it’s shunted the celebration to not just VH1, but VH1 Classic. At 10 p.m. last night, VH1 Classic began replaying MTV’s first 24 hours — everything the channel aired on Aug. 1, 1981 (the 24-hour tribute also will be repeated beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday on VH1 Classic, which is available on digital cable and satellite systems). If you don’t have digital cable, you’ll just have to mark the occasion by dusting off your record player and spinning The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The milestone is bound to make Gen Xers like myself feel as creaky as our parents do when another Woodstock anniversary rolls around. I get a headache every time I look at MTV’s Web site these days and, when my channel-flipping happens to land on “The Real World” (now 14 years old), I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s so popular. Clearly, I’m well on my way to geezerhood. To stave off that depressing eventuality, perhaps I should take some lessons from MTV itself, which has mastered the art of perpetual youthfulness better than anything since Dick Clark. MTV’s reaction, or rather nonreaction, to its silver anniversary speaks volumes about how the network clawed its way from obscurity to become a prime mover in youth culture — and how it’s kept that role for so long: by utterly rejecting anything not definitively of-themoment and up-to-the-minute. Take “The Real World.” The pioneering show basically invented the modern reality show, coming up with techniques that “Survivor,” “The Bachelor” and “Big Brother” stole note for note. Trendsetting is nice, but for MTV, the show’s appeal is that it’s perpetually renewing. Every season has a fresh cast, ready to pull the same stupid stunts that last year’s crew did. The closest “The Real World” gets to nostalgia is when favorites from past seasons pop up on “Road Rules Challenge” for a victory lap before scurrying into obscurity. The band Bowling for Soup had a monster hit two years ago with “1985,” featuring the chorus “Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, way before Nirvana. There was U2 and Blondie and music still on MTV.” Which goes to show that the bands, if not the network itself, have an ironic appreciation for MTV’s roots . . . even if Bowling for Soup’s teenage fans probably had to Google who the heck Blondie is. Meanwhile, what MTV is talking about on the air today is the nomination list for the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards. One of the top nominees this year? Madonna, who shook up the very first Video Music Awards in 1984 with “Like a Virgin.” Mmm . . . the irony is especially savory today.