23 September 2005

Viacom killed the video star, and pretty much everything else

I don't mean to turn today into "Rock Day," mostly because it is already Toby Day.

However, Mark Morford of the San Francisco Chronicle has posted a great column about the dueling mediocrity of MTV and Fashion Week as heralding the death rattle of the mainstream Sex 'n' Rock culture (find the column here, and be sure to check out the slide show, with commentary). A snippet:

When you've nowhere to turn and all seems bleak and desperate and warlike and Bush, it has been the all-American maxim lo this past multitude of years to exclaim, perhaps quietly, perhaps over a long, slow Martini, perhaps during a long tongue bath from a needful lover or whilst you sit in the tub sipping laudanum, feeling as though the world is trying to maul your spirit like the GOP molests joy, well, at least we still have rock 'n' roll.

And models. At least we still have rock 'n' roll and hot fashion models. And porn. And dim sum. And iPods and dogs and yoga and fine artisanal cheeses. But for our purposes here let's focus on the first two because rock and models, they seem to collude and interact and inbreed like happy Republican frat boys, and they are true cornerstones of our gloriously excessive and materialistic culture, and as such we've been able to exclaim, well, at least we have those to provide comfort and juicy, sweaty balm.

Unless we don't. Do we? Oh holy crap. Do we anymore?

It would appear we don't. Look here. I have just witnessed, via the wonderfully distancing and icily cold medium of television, two of the largest and most significant avatars of these twin forces of culture, the MTV Video Music Awards and Fashion Week in New York. And I am here nursing a glass of Oban 15 and pining for the lost days of Guns N' Roses and a coked-up Steven Tyler to tell you, oh holy hell, the center cannot hold. Rock is dead. Models are threadbare and nasty. We are doomed.

The premise here, while not entirely new, resonates with me. Yeah, we know MTV hasn't meant anything to music or culture for a decade, maybe more. We know this, because we who are in our twenties or older saw it rot. Imagine, though, the implications for the children. By which I mean teenagers, who frighten me, but about whom I worry. Because they may not know that Hilary Duff would not have a "Greatest Hits" album in a world that made sense.

I'll never claim to be in the know in matters of music. I'm not hip or indie, I'm mostly just grouchy. There are things on my iPod that earn derisive snorts from people I know (Dammit, Justified is a good album! Shuddup!). And, for the most part, I believe you should listen to what you like, I mean - it's your money and your ears... But there was a time when what was on MTV wasn't so offensive and humiliating, wasn't there? Am I taking crazy pills?

And the kids, they don't know any better.

Serendipitously enough, Josh is also pissed off about MTV today.

(image from cityofthornton.net)

No comments: