MTV is lame; plain and simple. It has always tried to give an impression of being “cool” and “underground”, with its colour-changing logo complete with a spray-painted graffiti-style “TV” against a solid-looking “M”. In reality MTV is far from cool. From the minute they played the mundane “Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles, this channel has preferred the mainstream over the underground, the popular over the untested, and more importantly; white over black.
Ever since its first broadcast, MTV has been guilty of many shitty decisions, the main one being; that it originally didn’t play any videos by black musicians. It was their unwritten policy not to play “black music” on MTV in the 1980’s, and even the biggest pop star of the time, Michael Jackson, went unaired for some time. MTV’s official excuse was that it was “a Rock music channel” (which translated as “a white music channel”) and even though its name was “Music Television”; MTV had a very narrow definition of what it considered music.
Certain songs by black musicians of the day, such as Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”, were played only because Herbie himself did not feature in the video (he appeared briefly on a video monitor). Songs like “Rockit” were put on low rotation at first, thanks to this policy. But as popularity grew, MTV had to relent and Herbie Hancock went on to win numerous MTV Video Music Awards that year along with Michael Jackson. This I assume sent a pretty big message to an institutionally racist broadcaster; either that or they saw how much profit would be lost if they continued with a black music blackout.
Their pretence of suddenly “accepting” black music hit its peak with “Yo! MTV Raps”. MTV had originally labelled Hip-Hop music as a passing fad, but rap music was finally backed by the channel in 1988 over a decade after it began and only when it had become profitable. The show “Yo! MTV Raps” was probably only accepted due to the fact that it was created by a white Ted Demme. Even then; Hip-Hop music (predominantly a black art form at the time) was heavily censored and its imagery blurred and edited. This went on past the life of MTV Raps, where here in Europe, Hip-Hop was edited and censored even in late night broadcasts. Strangely, in Europe at the same time; Eminem videos were shown uncut with all the language uncensored. Double standards were rife with this network even into the noughties, and exceptions were made for a genre interloper by this horrid racist network.
Aside from all the prejudice, MTV despite being called “Music Television” has since the Millenium; moved toward airing banal shows rather than playing actual music. From the mid nineties, the focus of the channel has switched towards airing as much dire Reality nonsense as possible. Shite shows like The Osbournes,16 And Pregnant, and the pointless Snooki & JWoww, is what this channel has been pumping out for over a decade. Beavis And Butt-head and maybe Wonder Showzen were (by a fluke) the only decent shows produced by this wack channel, but the network has produced more misses than it has hits.
Instead of blatant racism and exclusion, the channel has more recently favoured mocking minorities. The show Pimp My Ride with the super-sellout Xzibit, was seen as acceptable probably because it stereotyped African-Americans and Latinos as gaudy and tacky. If a white person supes up their car, it’s called “Car Tuning” but if a black person so much as adds a dashboard air-freshener; they’re seen as a “Pimp” in MTV’s eyes. Why someone like Xzibit or even Rev Run took part in anything to do with this racist black-Hip-Hop-hating channel, I’ll never know. Even to this day they promote segregation thanks to their compartmentalised genre-specific channels.
With its history of racist policies and prejudice programming, MTV has probably helped destroy music more than the music industry itself. These days Miley “I think I’m punk ‘cause I’ve shaved the sides of my head” Cyrus with a foam finger is seen as the most controversial thing to grace their shit-stained fuckboy channel. I guess that twerking, along with Hip-Hop, House, and Grime is only acceptable when a white person does it.
It’s not as though, when it comes to music; we have much choice on television. In the UK, all of the music TV channels focus on mainstream white-controlled Pop music. The only alternative we had in Britain was Channel U, but even that got taken over, re-branded, and was eventually ruined. With all the UK TV music channels owned and controlled by Viacom, Bauer Media/Channel 4, and CSC Media, we are basically left watching three channels disguised as twenty something channels; all showing the same crappy videos, the same playlists, and the same shows. If it weren’t for the logos in the corner, I don’t think you could tell one from the other.