Another “Holy Crap!” Moment

As I perused the online news yesterday in a brief moment of calm, I noticed that one item covered the fact that MTV – Music Television – turned thirty years old.  My calm moment shattered like glass with a mouse click.

Really?  Seriously?  For real?  The thought that was triggered: “Holy shit, I’m old.”

Yours truly was twelve years old, maybe thirteen.  I was just beginning, at this juncture between 6th grade and 7th grade back in 1981, to actually develop my own taste in music.  Reagan was President (sigh).  Up to that point, I’d relied on a portable radio sitting on my desk in my bedroom to access what was musically hot.  Not a boom box, mind you – those had not yet hit the scene – but a one-speaker box with an analog tuner (you turned the dial, the orange plastic marker moved over the frequency list).  I could get maybe seven stations clearly, and one was a talk format and another one ‘light’ music commonly associated with elevators.  So you can imagine that the advent of music videos was a pretty spectacular event.  I mean really, what a concept: you can now see the band singing that song you like.

Of course, sometimes the cognitive dissonance of a cool song with the unexpected appearance of the band was jarring.  Sometimes a mediocre tune could get nudged into my Cool List because the video was awesome.  I think also that 1981 was probably the last year that a really talented but ugly performer could reasonably expect to keep making hit songs (male or female).  Now they have to be mere songwriters because they can’t overcome the image thing.  Video truly did kill the radio star.

Back then, it was totally new, cool, and radical.  We now had something new to do over at friends’ houses – watch MTV and have running commentary.  I had the hugest crush on Martha Quinn too, along with probably 50 to 75 million other people in a certain age bracket.  Now, however, I’m just lost and confused about MTV.  There’s no music at all, and I don’t care at all for “edgy” low-budget series or the bizarrely-popular and completely scripted “reality” shows.  I lost interest in MTV long ago, though, so this is not a wrenching problem.  When rap and hip-hop bumped out most of the other genres, I tuned out.

Thirty years.  Wow.  I guess the only thing keeping me from being officially middle-aged is the fact that I don’t own a minivan.


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