30 Years of (Formerly) Musical Programming


MTV logo.JPGHave you ever looked back at an historic event that occurred during your childhood and wondered why the years since whiz by at light speed (and how to make that stop)?

Not that MTV’s Aug. 1, 1981 historic debut is exactly anything I commemorate with gladness, really. I still remember hearing about the network’s appearance as a kid, and based on what I’d seen of the videos and heard older peers say, I pretty much concluded that anyone who watched it might go directly to … well, hell. Yep, that was a tad harsh of me. But I was 10 or so, and gyrating men and half-naked women rolling around on the hoods of cars just didn’t jibe with a little girl who’d grown up in a conservative church. Nowadays, of course, I look back on MTV’s genesis and marvel at how tame it seems in comparison to the network’s current programming.  (Ahem, Jersey Shore, The Hard Times of RJ Berger, Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant … the list could go on.)

Love MTV or hate MTV, though, 30 is a landmark anniversary. And as the Buggles sang on “Video Killed the Radio Star,” the very first music video MTV ever aired, “We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far.” Too far is right, but, unfortunately, I doubt our entertainment culture’s current level of nastiness is at its apex. The music “biz” will always find a way to go farther, and MTV was just the beginning of our culture’s thrust into a “bold” new era of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, today, in terms of explicit music videos and other sundry media, it’s probably not unrealistic to say YouTube is now, on some level, “killing” MTV. Where else but on YouTube can a person find virtually any type of video they want 24/7/365?

I wonder what will kill YouTube. I wonder, too, how much further MTV will have pushed the envelope when it’s 35 or 40—because there’s probably no rewinding.

Who wrote this?

Meredith has had two careers: one as a writer/editor for both Focus on the Family and The Navigators, and one as an English teacher trekking far-flung corners of Europe, Africa and Asia. She now rejoins Focus, but with souvenirs—including new eyes with which to better view American culture.

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