Last week, MTV cancelled TRL (Total Request Live for those not in the know) after 10 years. And that, my friends, was the final nail in the coffin of what was once Music Television.
TRL was by no means great TV (unless you count the two hour one dedicated to my sweet Backstreet Boys when “Millennium” came out, or that time Mariah Carey flipped her shit and had a nervous breakdown on live television, that was pretty awesome). It only ever played 30 to 40 second snippets of the videos being requested, and those snippets were constantly interrupted by 14 year olds, who somehow got to ditch school for this, yelling things like, “I want to say hi to all my girls at North Central High, WHOOOOOOOOOOOO!” In fact by the end, it wasn’t even live. Fuckery.
What I’m saying is, TRL sucked. A lot. But it was at least an attempt to show videos and music on the station that once defined what cool music was. Now it’s gone. And the entire lineup of MTV, again for emphasis, MUSIC TELEVISION, is lame reality shows.
Looking at the MTV schedule on its website, it’s just pathetic. Nothing but Making the Band 4 (Season Three. Seriously, what the fuck does that even mean?), that show where the parents and doucheassy significant others watch someone on a date, The Hills (the show is fake and it’s still the most boring vapid thing I’ve ever seen, dear Christ) and other putrid horrible shit that I don’t want to talk about anymore because it makes me tired and sad. They don’t even play music videos at night anymore. Though I did just see that the subject of an upcoming Super Sweet 16 is named Amberly. She sounds like a delight.
Some programs started out great and devolved into the skank parades they are today. I offer you The Real World. Back when it started, the housemates were all relatively normal looking and acting people. They had brains and social consciences. It was a pretty interesting and sometimes fascinating look at human interaction. Then Hawaii happened, and Ruthie and Teck skinny dipped and Ruthie was an alcoholic and Kaia was bi and totally into Ruthie and Amaya was a whiny sorority girl obsessed with someone whose name I forget, and thank God, because I was starting to hate myself for remembering the whole cast. ANYWAY. That season was slightly crazy, but nothing compared to two seasons later, Las Vegas. Las Vegas featured girls making out in hot tubs (and not in a “I’m a proud lesbian” Genesis-from-Boston kind of way, obviously. In the daddy-didn’t-love-me-I-need-boys-to-pay-attention-to-me way) and then it was just downhill from there. The casts became progressively skinnier and oranger and steroidyer and dumber and eyelinier and sluttier and seriously, it makes me tremendously sad.
It’s easy to say I shouldn’t get worked up about some twatty reality show on a network that lost track of its mission statement years ago. But that’s almost impossible. You see, for better or worse, MTV has always held a mirror up to society. The 90s gave us grungy and alternative icons, people who cared about the world they live in. Today’s MTV features the two horse-faces of the apocalypse, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. I hate them. I hate them because there are people out there who somehow give a shit about them, and I really hate those people. And I don’t want to believe that large numbers of these numb idiots exist, but I have no reason to believe otherwise.
Look. There’s a lot of stupid in this world. I know this. It’s a fact of life. But must we celebrate it? Must we give it a TV show and make it famous and pay for its fake tits? If Daria Morgendorfer could only see her network now. God, would Daria even work now? Would anyone that watches MTV watch a great cartoon about teenagers who are different and unusual and dark and funny? Or would they change the channel to Sunset Tan until the new Next comes on?
In all fairness, every now and again, MTV will give a little ray of hopeful sunshine. Shows like Human Giant or MTV2’s dearly departed Wonder Showzen call to mind deeply missed shows like Sifl & Olly and The State. But those are literally the only two shows I can name, and the only other silver lining is that Joel McHale has more fodder for his awesomeness. Everything else is just differing levels of ridiculous and horrible.
I can’t think about the decay of Western society anymore. So I hereby appoint myself president of MTV …
Hello subjects. I am your new president. I hereby cancel everything except Human Giant and sentence the entire cast of The Hills (except LC because for some reason I don’t mind her all that much, I think it’s because she looks like Marcia Brady) to a series of silicon-removals and nose-replasties until they look like human beings again.
Now that that’s taken care of, I hereby name the hours between midnight and 3 p.m. as music video ONLY programming. Just videos. All genres welcome.
I will give development deals to Liam Lynch, Nick Swardson, and other writers and comedians who I decree to be funny.
I will make Fridays henceforth known as “Flashback Fridays.” The videos will all be from the 80s and 90s, and the shows will all be reruns of Singled Out (not the Carmen Electra seasons), Beavis and Butt-Head, My So-Called Life and other great shows that used to be on, featuring the old animated bumpers.
I will bring back Buzzbin and Headbangers Ball. Buzzbin will now feature new and lesser-known indie artists. Ball will feature whatever the hell is happening in metal right now, it’s not really my scene, but hey, it deserves its rightful place.
I will, and this is most important, make it an official law that no reality programming ever be shown ever again. Ever. Seriously. By pain of death.
I feel that my new MTV will save society. I’m also reinstating flannel as uniform.
*sigh* It’s nice to dream. VH1, it’s all on you. Free us from this tyranny. Because comparatively speaking, Rock of Love might as well be Shakespeare.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.