MediaLog MediaBrief: 25 Years of MTV
"What Ever Happened to the Music in Music Television" Dept.--This coming Tuesday, August 1, marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of MTV on August 1, 1981. The "M" in MTV originally stood for "music"; today it stands for "mediocre," or maybe "muddled." The network has long since (like, at least ten or fifteen years ago) abandoned any serious focus on music in an attempt to pander to teenage viewers. Apparently, the network has even chosen not to recognize its landmark anniversary with any on-air celebration--because it will remind those teenagers that the network is old, and because the audience it is currently targeting wasn't born a quarter century ago and doesn't care about the benchmark.
Some people care, though, and so there will be some recognition of the momentous event despite MTV's stubborn refusal to count any higher than sixteen. The media, of course, is not going to ignore this birthday, not with so many Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers still interested in vintage music and music videos.
"USA Today" today has a couple of stories online featuring MTV's 25 years. One story discusses how the network itself is refusing to mark the occasion (and apparently planning a misguided initiative to program more scripted series). Another story talks more about the twenty-five years of music video history with a 25-item timeline of network highlights. Available also on "USA Today"'s site is an audio gallery and an area for reader comments regarding MTV's 25th anniversary.
In addition, the Associated Press offers this quiz on MTV's 25th. Other stories by other news and entertainment outlets will surely appear between now and the middle of next week.
The most exciting development, and the only on-air recognition by MTV Networks of the anniversary, will be on VH1 Classic, which is replaying the first 24 hours of MTV programming on the anniversary day, next Tuesday, August 1, and again on Saturday, August 5. From the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" (the first video ever played on MTV) through the whole first day of 1981 music hits (and misses), the MediaLog will be clearing off its DVR to make room for this one.