POP RHETORIC: R.I.P. MTV

Arts & Entertainment by

The Buggles need to come out with a new one-hit wonder: “Internet Killed the Video Star.”

This is the sad but true fate that our music age has come to. Remember when VH1 only played new music videos? How about MTV? Or MuchMusic? For the latter, you may be thinking, “but MuchMusic still plays music videos.” Really? Turn on your television right now. The only chance you have of seeing a music video is if you happen to catch MuchOnDemand, which currently only plays a collection of top 10 countdown crap. What you’re more likely to find is a popular teen show about rich kids who love to gossip.

Everyone loves music videos. Many nostalgic memories from my childhood revolve around them – from my first exposure to sex in Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs,” to the beginning of my (very healthy) obsession with Christopher Walken sparked by his bizarre appearance in Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice.” Half the fun of discovering new bands and songs back in the day was by dissecting their video premier on TV. Just think of all the cool/crazy/inspiring/unique/weird videos that you’ve seen, and what that did for the artist’s popularity. A music video was nearly as important as sound in defining a band. Today, the videos that are being made definitely aren’t appreciated nearly as much as they were when they were played on TV.

At its conception, MTV – standing for Music Television, lest we forget – was a sister channel to VH1, and both were created simply to play music videos, and showcase both mainstream and indie artists. Then owned by CHUM, MuchMusic was created as a Canadian equivalent to MTV. Since then, all three channels have, in unison, made completely pathetic 180s from their original purpose.

What’s to blame for this downward spiral of music television? The Internet, of course. The Internet has taken over music television. I know the progression makes sense – it’s much easier to go to YouTube and search for whatever music videos you want to see – but what’s the incentive for artists to create cool/crazy/inspiring/unique/weird videos there’s no gurantee that they will be seen by anyone? The truth is, there isn’t much incentive anymore, which is precisely why there just aren’t as many amazing videos being made (with a few exceptions, of course).

Of course, some videos get spread virally by word of mouth, but this just doesn’t happen as much as it used to. The truth is, the Internet has shoved music television into dark corners; dark corners that resort to not-even-real reality shows that appeal almost exclusively to tweens to get light. But can we really blame this on the Internet’s power to give us and future generations access to whatever we want? Yes.

Obviously, it was the networks’ decision to revamp the music channels, but this was done out of necessity. Media has switched to the Internet, and therefore demand for music television has declined.

But wait, doesn’t this point fingers at us? Did we kill the video star? Maybe our society just needs a wake-up call: if we stop spending so much time watching viral videos and start paying more attention to what musicians have to offer, we’ll go back to the good ole’ days where it was actually worth it for them to show what they could come up with.

The recently launched TV channel Aux (currently only playing on Rogers Cable), is on my side. Aux is programmed to showcase music videos by new and emerging artists in a wide variety of genres. I think a revelation of music-video comeback is in order; it’s just a matter of us all screwing the Internet and watching channels like Aux. Then, maybe, we can snowball ourselves back into a music era reminiscent of the nineties where music videos were actually appreciated. Because who doesn’t love the nineties?

This may seem a little improbable, if not impossible, but I can dream. Plus, if it weren’t for Ricky Martin on MuchMusic, who knows when I would have first seen people “banging” in a closet?

– Alex KnollA & E Contributor