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Growing up in the MTV generation.
August 22, 2002 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Growing up in the MTV generation. Reading the earlier Eminem link just reminded me how much MTV has been part of my socialization as a child of the 80's. MTV is a business that has effected not only how i look at the world, but also how i view myself. I'm just curious if there's anyone else out there who have felt so strongly shaped by (through reaction to or following of) MTV.
posted by NGnerd (53 comments total)

 
Just as a follow up, I've always felt that MTV is this overbearing presence in my generation, telling everyone how to dress and who to love. It also seems that MTV is more a homogenizing factor then has ever existed for a generation as it's a national business that has come to control (or at least effect) the music and appearance that is considered "cool" (unlike in older generations when fads would simply go town to town). I've always felt a lot of my personality has resulted from my hatred of MTV and how it's turned my generation into a bunch of sheep.
posted by NGnerd at 7:27 PM on August 22, 2002


A Sociological Study by Rainbow Solomon...

Rainbow? Forget the MTV generation, I think she's in her 60's.
posted by debralee at 7:31 PM on August 22, 2002


I just posted a comment with a MTV reference in it.

Funny thing is I found a lot of the bands and artists I listen to these days on MTV back in the '90s, and now I don't even watch MTV anymore, except for the occasional Daria reruns. I even stopped watching VH1 often because while BTM is cool, I hate seeing it 24-7. Also having to wait till it's the middle of the night to see good old hour or so of music interrupted by commercials on a music channel isn't fun either.
posted by riffola at 7:34 PM on August 22, 2002


I was nine when MTV launched, but we didn't get it in my house until I was thirteen. I vividly remember how cool I thought A-HA's "Take On Me" video was.

Later, I was a 120 Minutes fanatic, and had many a fight with my mom about staying up late on Sundays to watch it. It was a pretty good show in the mid- to late-eighties.

I stopped watching MTV around 1992 or so. Since then, anytime I've happened to see any programming, it's been game shows and shit. Pretty boring, and obviously I'm no longer the target demographic. I grew out of MTV a long time ago. I don't envy kids who've seen only the present-day MTV and missed out on the good ol' days. Heh.
posted by acridrabbit at 7:37 PM on August 22, 2002


I remember wanting my MTV. Video did kill the radio star.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:38 PM on August 22, 2002


Did anybody see the PBS show Manufacturing Cool?
It's about MTV and who controls the minds of kids. Very interesting stuff.
posted by puddsharp at 7:39 PM on August 22, 2002


According to my Mother, "video killed the radio star" was my first sentence.
posted by Catch at 7:46 PM on August 22, 2002


a business that has effected not only how i look at the world, but also how i view myself
was that not MTVs' intention?
posted by clavdivs at 7:49 PM on August 22, 2002


Video killed the radio star.
Internet killed the video star.
posted by Beholder at 7:54 PM on August 22, 2002


i too grew up on mtv and mostly avoid it these days except when i get sucked into a weekend of real world marathons (i can't help it).
while at my folks this weekend i discovered vh1 classic - they have an eighties hour that is pure sunshine.
posted by euphrosyne at 7:54 PM on August 22, 2002


I never had cable till I was 20 years old, so I never really watched MTV.
posted by corpse at 8:00 PM on August 22, 2002


I remember when MTV came to Redding Ca in August 1981. It was such a great concept. Cool videos. No commercials. A concert on Saturday night. You had to listen to the simulcast on cable FM to hear it in stereo. Good times.

I stopped watching MTV in the early 90s when they started shifting from music programming to more non-music programming. The first season of the Real World was breakthrough, but it got old fast.

MTV2 on satellite was awesome. It had no commercials. Played videos 24/7. And played videos that was not overly commercial like MTV. Last summer that changed when MTV2 went to most digital cable homes. Now there are commercials. They do bend a little more on format but they are starting to package things like MTV did. At least they play music videos all the time.

What I liked about MTV2 was when it would do weird stuff...like play every video in the MTV/MTV2 library in alphabetical order. But they'd put together great mixes of genres that normally didn't fit together but turned out alright.

I was going into 7th grade when MTV launched. It was all anyone was talking about when school started. Somewhere along the way...before I graduated high school MTV lost its way. It got a little too commercial, too pop, and too uncool.
posted by birdherder at 8:01 PM on August 22, 2002


I was saddened when they took MTV from an all-video format and begun introducing shows. Later, I simultaneously learned about marijuana and Liquid Television, and once again became a fan. Like, wow, man!

As reared its ugly head, I became a fan of Remote Control, where Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn, and Kari Wuhrer got her start. Mmm... Kari.

Then came Carson Daly, and I stopped watching.
posted by Samsonov14 at 8:05 PM on August 22, 2002


As puberty reared it's ugly head, I meant. 11 years after Sex Ed classes, and I still apparently have trouble talking about it.
posted by Samsonov14 at 8:08 PM on August 22, 2002


MTV still exists? If you're above 35 (I'm just shy of 40--ug), MTV disappeared some time in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Do they still play videos? Does anyone care anymore about videos? I thought videos were now the sole province of Eurotrash and tacky Russian restaurants in Brooklyn. I hope, at least bands aren't obliged to make videos: what a waste of money!

Oh well, at least the Cartoon Network rocks!
posted by ParisParamus at 8:10 PM on August 22, 2002


MTV is a business that has effected not only how i look at the world, but also how i view myself.


That is just too sad. Really. Didn't you ever read books, or talk to other human beings?
posted by Ayn Marx at 8:25 PM on August 22, 2002


Echo: re it being nigh useless after the early '90s.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:25 PM on August 22, 2002


Let's not forget Beavis and Butt-head. Then again that got lame when MTV told Mike Judge that Beavis couldn't say fire. FIRE!! FIRE!! FIRE!!
posted by birdherder at 8:26 PM on August 22, 2002


We didn't have cable, but I remember really wanting MTV in the early 80s, though I have no idea why. The few times I watched at friends didn't really do that much for me, but I still doodled MTV logos during various high school classes. Oh the power of marketing. [time passes] Most of my MTV memories are of early Beavis & Butthead while in college, followed by a short Real World hangover after graduating.

grammer police: affect / effect check. I think 'effected' should have been affected.
posted by joemaller at 8:29 PM on August 22, 2002


While MTV is a really good example, what we're looking at here is really much bigger than MTV. Really, we're sort of cutting to the heart of modernism here, and some people, at least, think that the overall trend is quite corrosive to the whole idea of 'childhood'. Neil Postman's Bridge to the 18th Century talks about childhood as an invention of the 18th century, which he thinks might well not survive the 21st. While he's a touch too conservative in a few places for my tastes, I can't particularly quarrel with him. Steve Talbott has also written a lot on the subject - I'd post a link to a specific essay I'm thinking of, but I can't find it, and, to be honest, I'm somewhat fucked up on 6% fruit spritzer, which - stop laughing - is surprisingly potent. I think it's the carbonation.. But hell, everything the man writes is excellent. Go! Read him! Now!
posted by slipperywhenwet at 8:50 PM on August 22, 2002


I had MTV on all the time when I was a teenager, back in eighty-*mumble*, until the Discovery Channel hit our local cable carrier, then MTV became passé.

Christ, I'm a nerd.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:05 PM on August 22, 2002


Internet killed the video star.

No it didn't. (better have Flash) (and broadband) (come to think of it, it's kinda slow on my Pentium 3) (damn you Material Girl! always one step ahead).
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:16 PM on August 22, 2002


I was saddened when they took MTV from an all-video format and begun introducing shows. Later, I simultaneously learned about marijuana and Liquid Television, and once again became a fan. Like, wow, man!


To this day I'm not sure if the Art School Girls of Doom were actually men or not.


As reared its ugly head, I became a fan of Remote Control, where Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn, and Kari Wuhrer got her start. Mmm... Kari.


Remote Control featured one Jon Stewart as well.
posted by mathis23 at 9:16 PM on August 22, 2002


"Remote Control featured one Jon Stewart as well."

They thought about featuring two Jon Stewarts but figured that would just confuse the viewers.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:18 PM on August 22, 2002


grammar police feedback: it depends whether MTV was causative or influential. If MTV wholly caused his selfview/worldview, then his original 'effected' is correct...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:19 PM on August 22, 2002


I watched that little spaceship launch and heard "The Buggles" start up and I was mesmerized. I was 15. My best friend spent the night and she and I stayed up all night watching. At that time there weren't really many videos so it didn't take long to see everything.

I stopped watching MTV years ago. The last show I watched there with any regularity was Headbangers Ball. God, that was 15 yrs. ago.

The thing that I think that was most pervasive about MTV was how it affected the looks of rock stars. Before they were seen 24 hrs. a day they looked like regular guys with long unkempt hair and not particularly well dressed. With the invention of the video, the more beautiful singers and bands got more air time and therefore became more successful. New bands had to not only impress a potential A/R man with there music but also with their looks. Really, do you think that Angus Young would have gotten a deal for AC/DC if they had come along in the age of video?
posted by bas67 at 9:21 PM on August 22, 2002


"do you think that Angus Young would have gotten a deal for AC/DC if they had come along in the age of video?"

I don't know, bas. Remember, for the first year or two MTV was literally begging for videos from anyone who would give them one. If you had a video, you got airplay, regardless of how repulsive you looked (Joe Jackson, anyone? Even Gallagher made a joke about how ugly Jackson was, and that's saying something). Also, I think the first time I ever saw Lemmy Kilmister (Mötörhead) was on MTV, and that man's got ugly that could knock a buzzard off a shit-wagon.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:34 PM on August 22, 2002


Yeah, but how much Joe Jackson or Motorhead would you see today on MTV without the outrageous makeup that covered groups like Twisted Sister and currently Marilyn Manson?
posted by bas67 at 10:02 PM on August 22, 2002


mtv taught me to hate my generation.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:02 PM on August 22, 2002


MTV brainwashed me to be a synesthetic.
posted by hama7 at 12:38 AM on August 23, 2002


Rainbow? Forget the MTV generation, I think she's in her 60's.
Maybe if the Summer of Love happened in the 50s--get a grip, girl.
It's times like this that remind me I'm surrounded here by...
sperm, esentially.
posted by y2karl at 12:48 AM on August 23, 2002


y2karl, ditto. MTV? I'm glad I missed it!
posted by HTuttle at 1:10 AM on August 23, 2002


I was just starting high school when MTV launched, so I was in the target demographic for many years, but haven't watched much. I have never liked music videos, other than concert films. I just don't get it.
posted by planetkyoto at 2:31 AM on August 23, 2002


Lem-my!
Lem-my!
Lem-my!


Also : I'm surrounded here by... sperm

You did don the body condom and break out the spermsnorkel before logging on, right?

Music videos were perfect, back in the day, for watching at 3 a.m. when you came home...uh...altered and just wanted dancing phospors to make pretty senseless pictures before your dilated pupils. I've watched very few of them sober.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:44 AM on August 23, 2002


MTV Europe is still heavily video-based. It shows Kylie and Enrique in a loop 24-hours. Every now and again the kiddies will be asked to text in their personal messages, from which MTV makes a tidy profit.
posted by Summer at 3:16 AM on August 23, 2002


Back in my day we only had Hullabaloo

And we liked it!
posted by emf at 3:33 AM on August 23, 2002


That is just too sad. Really. Didn't you ever read books, or talk to other human beings?. actually i did much more of the former because i didn't really fit into the image of the culture which was around me (i was a stereotypical nerd).

I, like many others, can't stand MTV in it's current state, but did enjoy (and still listen to) everything from the early 90's (yeah grunge!). It really is fascinating to see the power of it's draw, where people say they wanted MTV even if they weren't that thrilled by it. I think the output is stuff like american idol, where they care more about the appearance of an "artist" then actual singing abilities.
posted by NGnerd at 4:17 AM on August 23, 2002


I think it has less to do with MTV than you. Lots of people here have said "Sometime in high school, MTV got bad/populist/unhip." Well, same for me and high school for all of us was not the same actual time. It's just a fact of life that at one point some of us start hating something Big and Media.

MTV hasn't really changed a bit. They're a little more self-aware, more extracted from the Viacom Teat, they do their own R&D and are pretty innovative, but their target market is still 12-17, and then 17-23 if they want. You just don't.
posted by neustile at 4:35 AM on August 23, 2002


old mtv: music all day (usually not so good), 120 minutes played ride, lush, cocteau twins, stereolab, my bloody valentine and unrest (they were CMJ based playlists.) The State was on.

new MTV: almost no music, awful non-musical programming all day. 120 minutes plays new-alternative (not innovative or good, NOT college playlist based.)

how is it hard to understand people thinking that something has changed at MTV?
posted by n9 at 5:33 AM on August 23, 2002


I grew up without cable. For a while, I did feel like I was missing out on a common thread with others, especially when I went to college (there was no cable in college either.) I was actually happy to see "The Box" (now MTV2) appear on regular TV, because now I could finally see what all the hullabaloo was about. After seeing a few interesting videos that were clever, and a whole bunch that weren't, boy I didn't miss out on much.

And yes, I have yet to see the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" video, but I've decided there are many other things in the world to use as the basis for a common culture.
posted by absquatulate at 5:43 AM on August 23, 2002


how is it hard to understand people thinking that something has changed at MTV?

Because all the things you listed are due to the music industry, not MTV. They're not going to play 4AD bands anymore because there is no more 4AD. Even if there were, they wouldn't put out videos. Times have changed. You also claim that 120 minutes no longer plays anything 'innovative or good', which, as a wholly subjective statement, proves my point that we're changing, not The Big Hulking Complex.

Someone 5 years younger than us can come in and say, man, MTV used to be cool when Beavis and Butthead weren't censored and when they were played 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' with the lyrics under it, and now they just play crap. And we 'know' that by their time, MTV had already been crap-- it's the plague of growing older.

I remain that MTV will remain: it will look different, but the message will stay put. It'll adapt to its surroundings.
posted by neustile at 5:51 AM on August 23, 2002


Remember how difficult it was for African-American artists to get any airtime on MTV? It was a wasteland of pasty white English hair groups and synthesizers, as I recall. Not a pleasant memory.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:37 AM on August 23, 2002


I haven't watched MTV since 1991 or so, but way back in the day I was a total MTV freak.

My brother and I used to have MTV endurance contests during the glorious summer that cable television arrived in our Minnesota suburb. It was 1986 or so. I think our record was just over eight hours. Until then, my knowledge of music was limited to my mom's John Denver records and the occasional K-Tel compilation album. MTV blew my mind.

It so totally shaped my musical tastes that I can look at my music collection right now and trace most of my favorites to when I first saw them on MTV: U2, REM, Split Enz, Elvis Costello all go back to pubescent me, sitting gape-mouthed on the sofa, absorbing videos like a dorky sponge.

I also thought Michael Stipe (circa "Radio Free Europe") kinda looked like Simon LeBon and was therefore dreamy. I blame MTV for my sad Duran Duran obsession, and my regrettable Monkees phase, so watching so much MTV at such an impressionable age was definitely both a blessing and a curse.
posted by kittyb at 7:20 AM on August 23, 2002


Because all the things you listed are due to the music industry, not MTV. They're not going to play 4AD bands anymore because there is no more 4AD. Even if there were, they wouldn't put out videos. Times have changed. You also claim that 120 minutes no longer plays anything 'innovative or good', which, as a wholly subjective statement, proves my point that we're changing, not The Big Hulking Complex.

No 4AD, but there is Dischord, and Gern Blandsten, and 3OneG, and Hydrahead, and Tortuga, and Escape Artist, and Relapse, and Jade Tree, and Second Nature, and Magic Bullet, and Rotten, and Ipecac, and Excursion, and Quarterstick, and Gravity, and Neurot, and Crank, and Barsuk, and Desoto, and... well, you get the idea.

MTV is changing, and it's helping the major labels pander their wares to the people. Indie darlings At The Drive-In, now defunct, had one video on M2, but only after they signed to the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal. It's a catch 22: small labels don't make videos because there's no outlet for them, and MTV doesn't play new and innovative small bands because they don't make videos. We are changing, and we are the Big Hulking Complex, but the much of the change exists outside of that big hulking complex. I know I've written about this before, but I feel strongly about it.
posted by The Michael The at 8:14 AM on August 23, 2002


Ray Cokes, Steve Blame, Maiken Wexø, Lisa l'Anson, Pip Dann, Rebecca de Ruvo, Paul King, Mareijne vad der Vlugt (sp?) and Kristin Backer - thanks for the memories.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 8:28 AM on August 23, 2002


I don't have cable and never did, but I remember clearly what a treat it was to watch a TV channel where videos and music were shown all day when I went to friend's houses. Now, about 5 years later, I get a chance to watch cable TV when taking care of my neighbor's bird, and it is totally changed. When I first switched it on and saw something like "the diary of britney spears" I thought music videos would come on after the show was over...but they never did.

I think it's definitely changed, and has become the driving force behind mainstream plastic pop. It's hard to imagine groups like the Backstreet Boys and N Sync getting so far without MTV. Basically, what bas67 said: it made being good looking much more important for musicians.
posted by puffin at 8:42 AM on August 23, 2002


No measurable effect here. I doubt I've seen 30 music videos, ever.
posted by rushmc at 9:41 AM on August 23, 2002


I can't believe somebody here is knockin' Joe Jackson! You should be steppin' out!
posted by puddsharp at 4:10 PM on August 23, 2002


A couple of MTV thoughts:

I didn't get MTV in my small town until around 1984. Until that point, my introduction to music videos consisted of Night Tracks on TBS -- Friday and Saturday nights, 6 hours each. Anyone else remember that little gem?

Like any other 80s teen, my two best friends and I always had MTV on when we were hanging out. We were all smartasses and we would spend hours watching that shit and ripping on anything and everything that came across the screen. Yes, we were like a proto-Beavis and Butthead -- but with clever little nerd brains.

It's one of my favorite teenage memories -- all that free time, few responsibilities, laughing our asses off. We knew it was crap, and we loved it. No shame.
posted by Dirjy at 7:52 PM on August 23, 2002


You don't know how bizarre all this is to me, who remembers beyond MTV to beyond color TV to before TV just barely. It's like a matter of moments, the spans of which you write--I remember when it came on, liked it better early. But what about the distortions video brought--bands who had a career because of a video and their haircuts... Tears For Fears comes to mind. Like I need to have seen that.

On the other hand, all the low budget masterpieces I'm glad I've seen from Falco's Der Kommissar to Beck's Loser with a few years of Yo MTV Raps in between (Doug E Doug! Kwame! Gang Starr!) and so forth--and aren't Beavis and Butthead the larger political unit anyway?--two guys with force and power of the robots in Mystery Science Theater, passively consuming mass quantities inferior media and ironically distancing themselves from it through vigorous polymathic witticisms?
posted by y2karl at 9:52 PM on August 23, 2002


I remember that one of the popular videos back in the early days of MTV was 'Once in a lifetime' by Talking Heads. Strangely enough, they still play that on MTV to this day!

I've seen both US MTV and UK MTV, and I think the UK's MTV is more like the US one was five years ago. Unfortunately the UK is starting to slide towards the US trend of showing too many gameshows and documentaries now.

That said, MTV2 was launched in the UK before the US, so it's nice to see they still try out their crazy new ideas on us in the UK.

The UK also has MTV Base, a black music station, and another MTV channel whose name I forget.. MTV Beat?

MTV is pretty good at night when they ditch the shows, and just have hours of weird non-mainstream videos. That's how I found out about Royksopp a year ago.
posted by wackybrit at 1:53 PM on August 24, 2002


It also seems that MTV is more a homogenizing factor then has ever existed for a generation as it's a national business that has come to control (or at least effect) the music and appearance that is considered "cool"

I totally disagree.

Compare today's youth with that of years past. Nowadays we have teenagers who are goths, vampires, homosexuals, bisexuals, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, criminals, students, celebrities, and what not.

Teenagers a long time ago were mostly the same, and it was just class differences that defined them. These days, many teenagers can just do whatever they want to do, and not be slapped down by society for doing it. There's much more variety in teenagers these days than there ever has been before.
posted by wackybrit at 2:11 PM on August 24, 2002


Teenagers not a long time ago were mostly the same. There were the jocks, the mechs, the geeks, the artsies, and the dummies. And a lot of cross-pollination, so to say, between the classes. I'm thinking back about 20 years.

Northern BC, though. I imagine we were many years behind the curve. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 PM on August 24, 2002


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