You know...MTV, VH1, CMT...
The ones all owned by huge-ass media conglomerate Viacom, the same company that owns and operates, under the flag some puppet subsidiary called the "MTV Networks," the likes of Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Spike TV, and Noggin, designed to market a particular cultural interpretation to the masses as nothing more than oversexed, downright ig'nant Tweens and a few cans of something called Crunk Juice...
I don't know where, exactly, I get this urge. Maybe it's simply nostalgia.
I remember the first subscription-based television programs I watched, when my grandmother decided to invest in a satellite dish for the farm, included the now-defunct TNN's Nashville Now (1983-1993), MTV's legendary Headbanger's Ball (1987-1995) and its alternative partner in crime, 120 Minutes (1986-2003).
As a kid growing up in the early 1990s, the ability to see musicians, live and in living color via some satellite in the sky, was still something fascinating, an adventure of sorts. There was a time when the concept of "music television programming" meant one had an opportunity to be exposed to rising new talent and old favorites alike, for kids in rural Virginia to have the same access to the hottest sounds as kids in New York and Los Angeles.
Holy hell, how things have changed...
MTV no longer plays groundbreaking music, just overhyped artists, bad reality television, and programming designed to play to something below the lowest common denominator.
And then there's MTV2 and something called Fuse.
Wow. Just love the "we're cutting edge because our marketing guys say so" spin on packaged rebellion.
VH1? They gave Flava Flav a reality show. And if I see one more "I Love the [INSERT DECADE HERE]" special, I think I may be forced to commit hara-kiri, tossing myself onto a spork to keep from hearing any more of this scripted nostalgia.
And that's just pop music. I've tried watching CMT a few times recently, hoping to catch a glimpse of something other than what the Nashville Establishment calls "country music." Sadly, the Establishment has done just about everything in its power to keep the "redneck dance party" stereotype a viable commodity.
You know why Hank, Waylon, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Ralph Stanley, Bill Monroe, and Merle Haggard are legendary country musicians? Well, they didn't really have time to worry about marketing to "country" fans. They were just fine being their own wonderfully chaotic, sometimes tragic selves to worry about building an image.
Hell, there are punk bands and rappers that sound more authentically "country" than most acts on country music TV.
As I said, often, I get the urge to watch the remnants of music television, watch as it slips closer and closer into informercial oblivion, watch as artistry becomes minstrelsy, watch and wonder why the hell anyone watches this shit anymore.
And then I get on the computer, check out the record label web sites, big and small, cruise the artist mySpace pages for my own "next big thing," subscribe to the mailing lists of bands who will never make a music video.
There's a lot of great music out there. And so little of it is made-for-music-television.