This Friday night MTV will premiere FNMTV, a one-hour block of uninterrupted music videos hosted by Pete Wentz and MTV News’ Tim Kash and James Montgomery. All of the feel-good phrases have been used to hype up the show’s premiere: “Trying to save the music video,” “Once upon a time music videos meant something,” and “Videos shown in their entirety.”
I’m all for it–let’s bring back the music video!
(above: Pete, I served with John Sencio, I knew John Sencio; John Sencio was a friend of mine. Pete, you’re no John Sencio.)
Before I get too excited, I’ve got to remember that I’ve heard all of this before. Back in 1996, MTV tried to “save the music video” by creating a network that showed nothing but music videos “in their entirety,” when they created M2 (later changed to MTV2 because another company shared the same name). Fortunately, I was able to work for MTV2 before it became littered with MTV reality re-runs.
Some would assume I have a bitter ax to grind with MTV Networks, since I went from hosting one of the greatest indie-minded video shows of all-time to pawning soft drinks and handheld video games in the orgy of a beast known as integrated marketing (ew). But, I would love nothing more than to see MTV succeed in their current endeavor. Before IFC’s webmaster deletes this post, let me explain. If the music video does makes a comeback (in the televised format), everyone wins. Damn, I’ll be the first in line to host IFC’s answer to 120 Minutes. More attention on music videos will mean more money for music videos, which means less of my favorite bands will have to rely on their art school buddies’ lo-fi, cut-and-paste animated videos.
It’s very easy to laugh off MTV’s latest attempt to pull off a successful video show, since they’ve done such a wonderful job of destroying the medium they single-handedly created. Yes, the internet helped kill the video star, but we all knew music videos would plateau at some point, right? I think MTV executives realized this when they began airing the game show Remote Control in the late 80’s. Even though MTV soon became littered with reality shows and pre-packaged-pop videos, there was always still some quality music content on the channel. Even some of the most die-hard indie kids, who vehemently despised the channel, would tune in occasionally. That would all change when MTV basically abandoned music a few years. Yes, they aired videos in the wee hours of the morning, but why stay up all night when you could just catch the one or two videos you wanted to see with one click of the mouse on your computer? Instead of giving us something the internet didn’t have, MTV cluttered their TV airwaves with pre-scripted teen reality shows and sent its music-hungry viewers to their website which wasn’t nearly as easy to navigate as YouTube.
I don’t even know where I’m going with this (gotta love the beauty of a blog–no need to wrap things up nicely).
MTV sort of reminds me of when I used to work at McDonald’s. Every couple of years they’d change the way we made burgers, claiming, “Ah, this is so much better than the way we used to do it.” After a few years, we’d end up making burgers the same way we did when I first started (and it’s not like making a cheeseburger is a complicated thing to do).
If the music video does make a comeback, I’m almost too frightened to see how the McDonald’s-like corporate structure of MTV, advertisers, and back-scratch-requesting record labels will do to ruin it…again.