When I was young I loved watching music video shows on TV. In Australia we had "Countdown" and "Trax" which would showcase live acts as well as music videos from the latest artists. I loved watching all the grainy music videos from the likes of Midnight Oil, Australian Crawl and Daddy Cool. I would wake up early on the weekends to catch the final top ten on "Video HIts" and if I was feeling particularly cheeky I'd sneak into the living room and watch the late night risque music videos on "Rage" with the volume turned way down low. I guess you could say I've had a long running obsession with the world of music and its accompanying visual spectacle. MTV wasn't so huge in Australia but we knew what it meant and what it represented - Music TeleVision for the Cool Kids of America. Countdown was good, but MTV was American...so it had to be amazing right?
In the 90s MTV was edgy, investigative, bold and subversive. Since then it seems to have been eaten up by "The Corpocracy" and has since become a bloated, self indulgent beast that claims to represent the Cool Kids of today. Instead it is feeding us lies and sensational shock value tidbits that leave one feeling less than satisifed and have little to nothing to do with edgy, bold new music coming out of the US.
Take the VMAs that were held recently. Yes, I couldn't help but have an indulgent look at it (from a purely journalistic P.O.V. you understand) as I wanted to see what message it was sending to the Kids of today. What I gleaned from it all is this: The 2014 VMAs may as well as featured a mud wrestling match between the female singers that were there that night. Seriously, from what I saw it was a question of "who was the biggest bestest female" game show. Didn't see much coming from the XY camp really. It was all about the girls. But it didn't exactly feel like a sisterhood. More like a battle of "whose got the best legs in the house? Never mind the music, here's your booty call" I couldn't help but cringe when Beyonce just happens to round off the night standing before a neon lighted sign saying "FEMINIST" and then be awarded the Vanguard trophy by none other than her MTV Kingpin husband - toting their daughter for the "awww" factor. OK. Now I know who pays the MTV executives salaries. Excuse me but do I detect a little convenient image branding? Real feminists don't need to advertise themselves as such or prove to anyone their alignment with the movement. Honestly it would've made more of an impact if Jay Z had come out and said "I'm a feminist!"
Phew! You may think I'm just jealous, but think about this. What if, in some other dimension, Lilith and Eve (you know, the two women in the Garden of Eden, the former being Adam's first "rebellious" wife and the latter his "underling") just turned around and said "screw you God and Adam, we're Sisters and we're NOT sorry for eating the forbidden apple!" Fast forward a couple of millenia later and perhaps we wouldn't see so many women in the public eye being pitted against each other for the indiscriminate pleasure of the male eye. In this case, where grandiose drama wins out over actual musical integrity, MTV could adopt a less perverted stance and remember what it's REALLY about, and that is THE MUSIC. Perhaps then Beyonce's claim to being "Feminist" wouldn't seem so trite? If she really wanted to make a political statement in her music, one that's visual, she wouldn't mind going out there on stage sans makeup and sporting some incredible armpit hair. If she's a real musician it SHOULDN'T matter what she looks like right? THAT would satisfy me, and it would allay my fears that MTV doesn't have the proverbial noose around musical integrity. I would certainly stay up late to watch that!