Wednesday, February 9, 2011
MTV and the "MTV Generation"
MTV was launched on the 1st August, 1981 as a new channel playing music videos. The first video played was the prophetic choice "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. It became a major presence in the TV industry but perhaps more importantly in the overall American landscape.
As radio before it, MTV became of great commercial importance for rising stars and was soon recognised in the industry as a key method to increase a musician’s commercial success. This is true for artists including Madonna and Michael Jackson; however it is perhaps best illustrated by the transformation of the fortunes of British band Duran Duran who, until their video was repeatedly played on MTV, were struggling to “break” America. A similar phenomenon was seen with New York Band “Talking Heads”.
The reasons I chose MTV are twofold. Firstly MTV’s reflection of the changing attitudes of Americans over the decade, illustrated by the move from focussing on rock to a wider music variety and by the eventual inclusion of black artists to the line up (reflecting possibly the acceptance of an African American Miss World as discussed earlier in this blog). Secondly, the significance and influence of this music channel on teen America.
MTV became such a powerful symbol of American Youth in the 1980s that they soon became referred to as the “MTV Generation”. This phrase was coined to describe the demographic of MTV viewers from as early as 1983 and by 1985 was used to describe Brett Easton Ellis as the “voice of the MTV generation”.
MTV now faces great criticism for no longer showing music videos, but instead focussing on programmes such as “My Sweet 16” and “The Real “World”. It could be observed that as MTV and video killed the radio star, the internet is now killing off the music channels. As discussed in Miles Clements’ article, perhaps MTV is just doing what it does best and simply moving with the times.
Posted by Sarah Heaword at 10:04 PM