Dude, where’s my music?

Michael Venutolo-Mantovani

Have the so-called “experts” who run MTV and VH1 decided to forego playing music videos for boring, repetitive, repulsive reality TV shows and specials? We, as a nation of pierced, tattooed, mp3-toting music junkies, have been left in the dust by the networks that first brought us cutting edge music to feast not only our ears, but our eyes on as well. And now, in the age of the million-dollar music video shoot, are we abandoning what made these networks great and replacing them with horribly redundant TV shows? What about Radiohead? What about Outkast? What about Beyoncé? Where are the videos? Have they left us in search of better findings? Have they disowned us?

After I quietly brushed my teeth, took a quick shower, and got into bed on a night not too long ago, I decided it would be nice to fall asleep to some music. And not the CD I have listened to one trillion times over; that would only keep me awake humming the melodies and quietly singing as if my quiet, gentle, dorm room bed were the Hollywood Bowl or Madison Square Garden. I wanted music I didn’t know. Music I could ignore. So I did what any half-brained Gen-X-er would do … I put on MTV. Sure, it’d be a great place to find background music; after all MTV does stand for Music Television. But instead, what did I find it showcasing? Jessica Simpson trying to argue whether or not Chicken of the Sea (Tuna!) was actually chicken.

So I laughed a bit, then turned to channel 41. VH1. Another music station just 10 channels above MTV. Surely they would have music videos. Wrong again. I began to feel like an aging suburbanite. One who has totally missed the bus that is commonplace American teenage television. Driven: Ashton Kutcher. A whole hour dedicated to TV’s biggest fool and how he got to where he is. Who cares! Please MTV, VH1 … leave the exposés to Barbara Walters, not Kurt Loder.

So of course, this show caused me to question our society and MTV’s values just a little bit. But there was still one gleaming ray of hope. One renegade station that could save my night. One station that introduced me to such amazing bands like Pavement, The Flaming Lips, and Ben Folds Five. MTV2 would save my night, and more importantly, it would save the souls of music networks everywhere. So I collected myself, took a deep breath, repeated a mantra and flicked to channel 82.

And my spirits were crushed. There was no going back now. The past is the past and the future looks bleak. A “Rock the Vote” special. Now please, don’t get me wrong, I’m as concerned with political activism as the next guy, but come on, can’t we leave the politics on CNN? Since when did the presidential election make it’s way from CNBC to the station that sparked a punk rock nation? Where is Headbanger’s Ball? Where is Yo! MTV Raps? Where is 120 Minutes? I’m forced to listen to Gideon Yago tell me how to vote? I suggest Music Television begin playing more music and airing less idle banter.

The music of my childhood revolved around the new and exciting bands I would see on MTV. That’s because they used to play videos. They used to break rules. They weren’t your mother’s TV station. MTV was something that was inherently ours. It belonged to us. And now we question nothing as we come home on weekends and find our fathers and mothers huddled around the TV as if it’s a campfire, watching The Osbournes.

The videos were nothing back then. Looking back, it seems as if those Tears For Fears videos were shot on your father’s VHS. Yet, they still captivated us. They still drew us in. The colors were horrible. The sound syncing was very often off cue. The plot lines were non-existent. And now, as we advance to an age where we have the ability to duplicate Andre 3000 eight times and put him on the same stage as his clones, we still try our hardest to avoid these amazing pieces of art to watch 7 strangers finding out what the real world is like, who don’t work or pay rent in this “real world.”

Somehow television has taken over music television. And what a sad time it is for those born at the advent of MTV. We no longer relate to the renegade punks that were Tabitha Soren, Kurt Loder, Kennedy, and so many other MTV VJs that shaped music television. We are now forced to relate to overpaid, undereducated people such as Ozzy Osbourne and Jessica Simpson. Are they supposed to speak to us? Because I listened much more intently when John Norris had something to say about music.