Saturday, September 29, 2007

Revising History

Before you read this, you have to check out James’ post over on SRO. Seriously, this whole post is me arguing with that post, so you better read that first or this will make even less sense that I normally make. And it's pretty good, too.

James is definitely correct that MTV was never perfect. Many people in the MV community have an incredible amount of nostalgia for a Viacom sponsored Utopia where clips ran like honey and it was always “120 Minutes” (but never “Yo! MTV Raps” – hmm). James is right, we all need to let that fantasy go. “Where Have You Gone, Nina Blackwood?!?!”

That being said, MTV hasn’t always sucked. James writes that MTV was flawed from its inception, but I completely disagree. Sitting through three hours of Erasure and Lionel Richie videos to get to ZZ Top is obviously not gonna work today. But back then, it was great. I eagerly sat through the clips I didn’t like (and probably learned a lot, like sometimes it rains men, whatever that means) because it was way better than doing my homework. Would that young version of me have preferred to click and watch “Hot For Teacher” over and over again? Sure, but he might have never seen a music video once he learned he could also click and see porn, but I digress.

Early Roman sewers would seem terrible by modern standards (now there's a digression). For more info, check Those early sewers would not meet today’s building codes, but at the time, they were an advancement that allowed for urban living – where cities could grow large without disease wiping out swaths of the downhill population every summer. Early MTV, was a leap forward – but still not what viewers want today (insert river of shit joke here).

Okay, sewers may be a stretch. Watch an old music video and see how long the shots last. They hold on some angle as the singer awkwardly lip-syncs, unsure if they are supposed to faux-sing AT the lens or not – and the shot holds and holds and it seems like forever. Tastes change. What worked back when doesn’t work now – but that doesn’t mean that it sucked back then. Our perspective has changed, but the history has not.

You could argue that YouToogle is great for viewers – we can see what we want, when we want it. That certainly is progress. But what is convenient for us is not always better for the industry. It would be convenient for me if Ferraris were free, but the people that make Ferraris probably have a different view.

When MTV (and radio) pushed content at us – we passively absorbed clips we didn’t specifically search out. They shoved stuff down our throats and a lot of the time we bought it, like a pre-blue pill Neo. Freedom’s just another word for “nothing left to lose.”

The IntraTubes have not shown much of an ability to convince people to go buy an LP/cassette/CD/MP3/brain-chip implant. This new “click it yourself” model is great at getting the videos out there, but – at least so far – not so good at turning those eyeballs into dollars. Those dollars turned into music video budgets for all the clips we loved (and the ones we sat through as well).

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Solid points all around. I definitely agree with you over Jones for the simple fact that you can't say Viral Video is the now and then mention that viral doesn't equal sales. If you had a hot video on MTV, you had a hot album, period. That's just how it worked. I saw The Chemical Brother's "Block Rockin' Beats" on M2 back in 1997, and promptly had my mom drive me to the store to buy it. Sure, I had to sit through video's by Primus and Republica, but we all have our crosses to bear. As well, exposure to different types of music can be healthy, or at least give you increased perspective. The Internet is great for giving me what I want, but what about the days when I don't know what I want.
Well, there's always Yahoo Music!

Seriously, the internet is here to give us the middle ground we need, and it doesn't have to worry about ratings.

Plus the record companies get a chunk of the profits, and then there is the Yahoo-covers they do, which keep people interested, and puts money in the label's pockets.

I know I sure enjoy them.

You're right, most people want the variety, and what's popular, is usually popular for a reason.

Suggestion can only push so far, in the end there has to be talent. MTV used to give us a sample wide enough that we could find it.


Long live the Suggestive-Playlist! Giving viewers what they want, and still making money.

- Nicci
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