MTV without the music is just TV, right? WRONG.

Oh, MTV. MTV, MTV, MTV.

I’m tempted to start out saying that I’m sad MTV isn’t what it used to be and that I miss the videos. However, there are three problems with that. Look at me, getting all three-point thesisy over here. Putting that MA to work once again.

One, I don’t have cable and therefore I don’t actually know firsthand that MTV doesn’t show videos anymore. It doesn’t seem fair for me to complain about something that I don’t even have intimate knowledge of. I mean, I have heard that Jiffy Lube offers terrible coffee in their waiting area, but who am I to complain about it since I get my oil changed at the dealership because we have a Prius and we’re always a little afraid that it will fall apart and stop being awesome if we treat it with anything less than the best? LOGIC.

Two, IT IS A TELEVISION CHANNEL BASED ON WHAT TEENAGERS LIKE. Let’s recall a bit about teenagers. They are not exactly consistent or rife with good taste. Back in the day, teens wore bobby socks (I don’t even know what those are) and went to “mixers”, which, FYI, were parties, not Fanta and Red Bull. Aside from the ironic, hipstery teens on Tumblr, when was the last time you saw one wearing bobby socks? (Assuming you could spot them; I can’t.) Things change. Like it or not, teenagers and young people set the stage for what’s cool and efficient in the world. Why would MTV televise antiquated (albeit awesome) videos punctuated by commercials when YouTube could do it faster? It’s a bummer that the same people who made Justin Bieber rise to the top are the ones who phased out the music in Music Television, but alas, they don’t have to pay rent and can waste their money on whatever they please and somehow dictate the currents of pop culture. Life’s not fair.

The other problem with complaining about what MTV has (allegedly) become is that the videos were only part of what I loved about it when I was a kid. The videos were awesome and all, but for me, it was all about The Real World, Singled Out, and Beavis and Butt-head. These shows actually had very little to do with music but were the bedrock of what MTV was in the 90’s when I was in my adolescence. When I was in college, I actually made a tape of myself and sent it into The Real World producers so they would consider me for inclusion in the latest season. I was just so impressed with the plethora of talent that I saw on The Real World: London when I was twelve that by the time I was eighteen, I knew I could make the cut. Yeah, no. I probably talked too much about my quote-unquote quirkiness (READ: penchant for making rice in the microwave instead of on the stovetop) in the video, so I got cut on round one.

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A group of exceedingly well-adjusted young adults Source

Singled Out was another show that I really liked when I was in middle school. On it, people tried to win a date with the dishy contestants. Some of them were truly doglike*, and yet their unwavering hope that they could get a date by humbling themselves to the standards of cable TV inspired me. Maybe, someday, I could too become so desperate that I would have to resort to getting a date with Chris Hardwick as my wingman. When I went to high school, I learned that Chris Hardwick, the host of the show, had actually gone to my school (which was kindergarten through twelfth grade) briefly when he was in the fourth grade. This impressed me, so much so that I’m including the detail in a blog post thirteen years after I graduated.

*I swear I remember the guy who played Donkey Lips on Salute Your Shorts was on there once. Wikipedia confirmed my suspicions. My brain is better than your brain.

In this picture, Chris Hardwick's hair is really enjoying the '90's. Also, I am slightly concerned that ABC Family ever televised Singled Out.

In this picture, Chris Hardwick’s hair is really enjoying the ’90’s. Also, I am slightly concerned that ABC Family ever televised Singled Out.

Last but not least, I was intrigued by the weirdness of Beavis and But-thead. My brother and I were actually banned from watching it, but we often went up into our parents’ room while they were making dinner or whatever and turned it on. My dad would always come in and get all angry that we were watching it, but we would just say every single time that we were channel surfing and it just happened to be on Beavis and Butt-head at the exact moment he came in the room. Yeah, OK. The truth is that the show kind of scared me when it came out when I was in the sixth grade. I can’t even explain this. Even though they were clearly teenagers in the show, for some reason that never sunk in and I always thought they were scary adults who lived in a horrible apartment and never worked but somehow could afford braces for their teeth. The whole scenario was disconcerting and bizarre, and so it scared me. I don’t know.

So, to sum up:

A. You can’t complain about MTV nowadays if you have never tasted the coffee at Jiffy Lube.

B. I was not quirky enough to get on The Real World when I was eighteen and instead had to finish out college without event.

C. If you go on to do big(ish) things with your life like Chris Hardwick did, I may talk about you in a blog post fifteen years from now.

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46 comments

  1. Great post. Here’s where you went wrong though…..

    You are ALWAYS allowed to complain about something – ESPECIALLY if you don’t know anything about it. That’s what makes America great and keeps us bloggers busy.

    That being said, you’re dead-on correct about noMusicTV. It’s just a joke now – as are MTVU, MTVSoul, MTVLatin, MTV2 and all of the various VH-type channels. Not one of them shows videos all day – they MAY have a Top 20 countdown but it’s the exact same every day. It’s just horrible.

    Keep complaining!

    1. WORD. It’s a good thing I feel so privileged. I will never run out of things to complain about ;D

  2. I’m not defending non-MTV, because i did enjoy the non-cable MTV2 where I was introduced to the song “Put it on Me” by Ja Rule (they played it constantly). But it seems like most channels have drifted from their roots… Isn’t Honey Boo Boo on The Learning Channel?

    1. Ashley Austrew · · Reply

      Aw. I remember when it was The Learning Channel. Then “Trading Spaces” happened and all hell broke loose.

      1. Do you remember “A Baby Story”? My friend Britni and I used to watch it religiously when we were teens, and I credit it for the fact that I didn’t get pregnant until I was nearly 30.

        1. Ashley Austrew · · Reply

          Yes! I started watching It again while I was pregnant, and then once I had Sonia and actually experienced labor and it wasn’t that horrible, I was like, I can’t watch this anymore. These women are dramatic and annoying.

        2. What? “A Baby Story” is not on anymore? Shows how much I know. I no longer own cable. Once I got my Roku box, I was set. My friend has HBO so he gave me access to HBO Go, Netflix, Crunchyroll, Amazon, Hulu, all my needs are met. MTV doesn’t play music videos anymore? They stopped that a long time ago. I miss MTV and VH1 when they were good.

          Great post as usual!

    2. Oh my Lord, yes she is. I’ll take her presence on that channel as learning about the fabric of America.

  3. I’m so happy you were not on The Real World because I hear it leads to crabs.
    You are right to criticize MTV even if you don’t watch it in the same way I am right to yell at those kids to “Get off my lawn!!!!”
    I can’t think of a third thing, but I wanted to include a third thing so that’s why this sentence exists.

    1. hahaha about the crabs.

    2. When I was a sophomore in college, my roommates were all seniors and they actually lived with a Real World cast member when they were freshmen. By all accounts, the crabs rumors are true.

  4. ardenrr · · Reply

    Hooray! I was so happy Chris Hardwick hosts the Talking Dead now. I had missed him. Did you know that the Real World is still airing?! I hadn’t watched since San Diego in 2003 and thought for sure it was over by now. NOPE! I just heard they are looking around my city (Charleston, SC) to possibly have it here for its TWENTY-NINTH season … sheesh

    1. Y’know, I didn’t know he was still working until I started doing “research” for this post (ie, trolling MTV.com while I was sitting on the toilet), so I’m glad he’s still out there! That is truly the most horrifying thing that it is on its 29th season. Between that and Johnny Depp’s 50th, I am decaying into middle-agedom before the eyes of the world.

      1. ardenrr · · Reply

        JOHNNY DEPP IS FIFTY!!!!!

  5. Haha, I am not suprised that ABC Family aired Singled Out – see my post on why in the world they air Pretty Woman – a movie about a prostitute. What’s more family than that?

    1. Are you serious?!? DUDE, before you know it, they will also be airing Breaking Bad. *Shudders.*

  6. I remember hearing that MTV doesn’t show music videos anymore because the generation of people born prior to 1995 starting stealing music, which lead us down a path where videos aren’t worth making anymore because their internet promotional options like Twitter are free. ANYWAY, I watched the shows when I was a teenager like you did as it was very much a part of MTV. I have me a youtube for videos–a least there I get to watch whatever I want and not sit through 4 Katy Perry songs to get there. I think this is the longest comment I’ve ever made…and it’s about MTV. Lovely.

    1. Yay! The very longest comment La La has ever made was on my blog! ;D Can I have a badge for that in my sidebar? ;D

      The very first time I heard YouTube existed, all I did was watch old videos on it. I think the official video for Karma Chameleon has 30,000,000 views, and I am fairly certain that I am responsible for at least half of them.

  7. CombatBabe · · Reply

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that wondered how he could afford braces on his teeth. LOL

    1. It is truly a question for the ages.

  8. I fell asleep the other night with MTV on (I’m not sure what I could have been watching, but it could have been anything because I’m sleep deprived and delirious) and when I woke up crazy early in the morning, there was music. But it was terrible, electronic scariness that, I imagine is played in those places young people go to called “clubs” and probably illicits fist pumping. It was horrid. HORRID!

    1. There is a lot of newish music that I like (M83, Grimes, Passion Pit, Washed Out), but I like to curate it myself. I don’t need a bunch of 19 year olds telling me about it and then showing me a Noxema ad.

      1. Truth. I know all about noxema anyway.

  9. You discussed Singled Out and didn’t once mention Jenny McCarthy. You can tell this was written by a lady. Jenny was the only reason dudes watched/appeared on the show. Donkey Lips included.

    1. Y’know, I figured just as much. I refuse to speak of her on my blog because I still resent the two hours I lost while reading her “humor” book about pregnancy.

      1. I always think back to Singled Out whenever I read something where she’s talking about vaccinations and autism. That way I can remember the source of where this stuff is coming from.

        1. Yeah, God bless her for caring, though.

          1. If she could just care to herself…

  10. Ashley Austrew · · Reply

    Zach and I were just talking about Singled Out the other night because he couldn’t remember what it was, and I was trying to explain it, and gah. Only when you try to explain how that show worked do you realize how truly terrible it was. Buuut, I still watched it all the time.

    1. I KNOW! When I looked at the synopsis of the show on Wikipedia, I could not believe I ever watched it. You either have to be 15 or have a head injury to enjoy it.

  11. “Chris Hardwick’s hair is really enjoying the ’90′s.” That is award-winning caption writing if I’ve ever seen it.

    So, you’re post made me feel a little old, because my adolescence was influenced by the MTV of the 80’s…when it really WAS about the music video. I still watched all this stuff…I was just actually of an age where it was probably appropriate for me to do so. “Real World” was a staple in every college dorm room and apartment I lived in.

    Also, bravo on your summation. That MA was totally worth however many thousands of dollars it took to get it.

    1. Thanks! I still pay about $250 a month on it (and will continue to do so until I retire) so I’m glad that even one blog post kind of hints at the fact that my debt exists.

      1. ACK! I just realized in a comment where I mentioned your obvious MA education, I made the totally unforgivable mistake of using “you’re” when I should have used “your.” I will promptly expect the grammar police to come strip me of my English teacher degree tomorrow morning. Damn.

        And as far as your blog posts go, I would rate you at Ph.D.

  12. We didn’t have MTV (we had MuchMusic), but I LOVED Beavis & Butthead. I could watch their full-length movie a dozen times (probably have).

    1. It is pretty awesome, right? Even though Canada doesn’t have MTV, it did bring us Trailer Park Boys. That may actually cancel out Beiber.

  13. I remember watching MTV when I was old enough to stay home alone and my parents weren’t there, or when I was littler and my cousins would watch me and watch MTV. It’d be a mad scramble for all of us when my parents got home because they’d hear my dad yelling not to watch that crap in his house. And this was mostly not the TV shows, but the music videos. :P

    1. Yes! One time I was sick and had to stay home from school, and my mom who usually stayed home with us had a thing she had to go to, so my grandmother came over to stay with me. She was faaaaaar more lax than my parents, and I’m fairly certain I watch Jewel’s video for “Who Will Save Your Soul” 900 times that day.

  14. I remember telling my KIDS they could not watch MTV because it had nothing but lousy, raunchy reality shows and no music.

    Old lady, party of 1?

    1. More like totally realistic and very wise lady, party of one ;D

  15. Such a great line: “You can’t complain about MTV nowadays if you have never tasted the coffee at Jiffy Lube.” Ha.

    1. It’s just so obvious ;)

  16. considering I don’t watch mtv, I could care less what goes on tv show..:/

  17. Nothing made me laugh harder when I was younger than Beavis and Butthead. It was just goofy sound effects and keywords that triggered it. I also remember watching Singled Out a lot even though I never understand the card that said “Package.” I used to fantasize about being on the show and getting the Golden Ticket.

    1. Some of the videos they watched were truly hilarious. I love the time they watched “Creep” by Radiohead and Butthead was like, “I guess this song had to suck so hard at the beginning to rock so hard at the end.” Great philosophizing.

  18. As an aside, I also have not tasted the coffee at Jiffy Lube. Nor have a tasted the lube at Jiffy Coffee.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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