Friday, August 04, 2006

They still want their MTV

MTV turned 25 this week. It barely resembles its newborn self.

When I first watched MTV, in 1984, I thought it was coolest, most unique thing in the history of the world. It was a friend's house situation, and he was forced to do nothing but watch MTV when I came by.

Back then, MTV was a couple dozen videos on a loop. Some were surprisingly
good, others predictably bad.

It has been years since the music video was MTV's bread and butter. But they've done everything else: Game shows, talk shows, sketch comedy, cartoons, documentaries, movies, anything involving warm places and bikinis, dance contests, dating shows, softball games, live music, atrocious but star-studded awards shows, political debates, extreme sports, movie reviews, auto restoration, house tours and daredevil behavior.

About half-way through its existence MTV introduced America to
reality television. Neither MTV nor America has looked back.

Reality TV has been MTV's biggest cultural accomplishment to date, even though the "M" suggests it wants to be the music video.

I barely watch MTV these days, but have seen enough to notice they have been taking the reality format to its next logical step by producing shows that merge "real" people with blatantly scripted stories and more traditional production values. I'm sure this will soon catch on with the rest of the TV world, just like their early reality shows did.

I wonder if a kid today is as blown away the first time they see
Laguna Beach as I was when I saw Duran Duran?

I seriously doubt it. But not because the videos got small. It was the world that got big.

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