MTV Turns 30

by Ryan on August 1, 2011

in Anything Else,Culture,Media,Nostalgia,Reality Television

Thirty years ago today, a few cable providers started carrying MTV.  August 1, 1981 saw the beginning of a major revolution in the way people got music, the way musicians got heard, and the culture gets spread.  I believe, as do many others, that MTV reached its peak in the 1980s, or maybe even the early ’90s when it still showcased music and began modern reality TV with its show, “The Real World:  New York” in 1992.

I can reminisce about a few MTV moments:  the first time I watched it;  the first time my parents forbade us from watching it;  the first time my parents let up on their ban — to watch Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” of all things;  the first time I stayed up to watch “Headbanger’s Ball” with Riki Racktman; the first time I noticed music changing as MTV played Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” about 150,000 times a day;  and sadly the first time I noticed that music “shows” were replacing music videos.

By the time Jersey Shore showed up, MTV was well lost, a shell of its former self, less about music and more about showcasing reality TV train wrecks.  “The Real World” reality-concept replaced the music — with more shows, there’s more commercials; with more commercials, MTV makes more money.  Simple math and, as it were, simply not worth my time.

However, check out the first music video aired on MTV and tell me it’s not awesomely nostalgic; some kind of British New Wave silliness, whose video wasn’t even trying to make complete sense:

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