I Want My MTV (2012)

Sports & Music

Moderators: AArdvark, Ice Cream Jonsey

Post Reply
User avatar
Flack
Posts: 5950
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Flack » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:56 am

I just finished reading I Want My MTV, a lengthy book from 2012 that spans from 1981 to 1992. It essentially begins with the formation/launch of the network, and ends with the first season of the Real World.

For the book, hundreds of different people were interviewed, and then their interviews were all chopped up and reordered by subject. Each chapter is basically a string of paragraphs by different people. I'm not explaining it very well, but this is what it looks like:

It seemed like almost half of the people interviewed were the people behind the scenes. I didn't find that part very interesting, like which guy ousted who or whatever. But then there are entire chapters on types of music, and entire chapters about specific bands and their videos, and that was a lot more interesting.

And then there's a lot about the politics, which was super interesting. There's a story about how the network absolutely did not want to play Cult of Personality by Living Colour (apparently MTV was more racist than we knew). And Epic Records really wanted the video played, so they went down to MTV with two tapes in hand, one with Cult of Personality and the other with Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal. And then Epic said, "you can either play them both, or you can play neither." And that is the only reason (a) Cult of Personality got played on MTV and (b) any of us know who Living Colour is. Interesting side note, when this happened in the future and MTV was "forced" to play songs they didn't want to, they made them "buzz bin" tracks.

There's a lot about the video directors. The vast majority of artists had little and no say as to what their videos were about. There's a chapter with ZZ Top and the lead singer said, "I owe $500,000 on this classic car and would like to use it in a video so I can use it as a tax write off." And so the director came up with the whole thing with the car and the ZZ Top key chain, everything. But there are a hundred stories from Boy George and Duran Duran and REM and pretty much every artist who all tell the same story which is basically they didn't know what the video would be about until they showed up on set.

There was a funny story about DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince filming some video in Mike Tyson's boxing gym. On the day of the shoot, Mike Tyson showed up and said he wanted to show Will and Jeff his car, and when they got in he said "I want to show you my house" which was like an hour away. And then while he was driving he got lost and pulled over to ask random people if they knew where he lived. Also, apparently Tyson's favorite prank was to walk around punching people in the ribs.

The biggest takeaway of the book was the answer to the question, "why did MTV quit playing music videos?" In the early days, MTV had no budget, so they asked record companies to give them videos for free. This made sense because some artists were recording videos but had few places to play them. The videos greatly affected record sales, so it was worth it to the record companies to give away the videos for free*. Also, most early videos cost like $5,000 or less to make. Eventually budgets went up and MTV had to start paying for videos. So in the end, the idea of a reality television program was kind of a return to roots for them -- cheap programming.

(There's another story about how the day before Nirvana's first video played, someone from MTV bet a coworker that after the video aired, Nirvana would sell 30,000 albums within the month. A lot of people took him up on the bet. He said the day after the video for Smells Like Teen Spirit aired, Nirvana sold 30,000 albums that day, and half a million that month.)
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
bryanb
Posts: 49
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 2:56 pm

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by bryanb » Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:16 pm

Flack wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:56 am
Each chapter is basically a string of paragraphs by different people.
If there's ever a Trotting Krips book, we're going to use the same format. Dee Snider will also be heavily involved.

The MTV book sounds interesting. How did you feel about MTV's extremely broad view of what metal was? I don't think the fan overlap between Slayer and Whitesnake was ever all that large, but MTV seemed to think hair metal, hard rock, and heavy metal were all largely interchangeable categories. That confusion continues on in pop culture; for instance, Carla in a Scrubs episode refers to Poison as a heavy metal band. In real life, though, I would be really surprised if someone who described themselves as being a heavy metal fan turned out to just be really into Ratt. Still, maybe MTV deserves credit for mainstreaming the genre even as it muddied the waters. What did you think of Headbangers Ball?

User avatar
Tdarcos
Posts: 5326
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Tdarcos » Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:46 pm

Flack wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:56 am
And then there's a lot about the politics, which was super interesting. There's a story about how the network absolutely did not want to play Cult of Personality by Living Colour (apparently MTV was more racist than we knew).
I was somewhat aware of this. I had heard that MTV had a rule, "Basically, they (MTV management) said, 'we'll show no [n—word| videos,'" (except for established artists, e.g. Michael Jacjson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, etc.) And it was Michael's record company that broke the color barrier.

It has always been so, it always took a corageous (for the time) stand by a white person to break the back of discrimination and segregation.
* Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who, in 1945, decided to put Jackie Robinson in the lineup, beaking baseball's color line.
* Frank Sinatra, in the 1940s, on discovering the club he was performing at refused to allow Sammy Davis Jr. in to watch his performance, tore up his contract and refused to work there again, and this was when he wasn't known and needed the money. Years later, when they were performing in Las Vegas, at a hotel that he discovered would allow Sammy to perform, but wouldn't allow him to stay there, Frank informed the manager either they both would be staying there or he would be leavng, and borh would perform elswhere. That was the moment that hotel became desegregated.
* Collins J. Seitz, Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery, who heard the case of Gebhart v. Belton, was asked to find the system of racial segregation in Delaware Public Schools to be unconstitutional.

The evidence at trial showed that black schools in Delaware were vastly inferior to white ones. The Chancellor, in his decision, admitted that he was bound by the 1896 United States Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which permits segregation if the facilities are "separate but equal," and felt, as a state court judge, it was not his place to try to change the law, and "that must come from the Supreme Court." However, he could find the facilities were unequal, which made the segregation unconstitutional, and order the white schools to desegregate and admit the black plaintiff's children, and did so order. His decision was upheld by the Delaware Supreme Court.

On appeal by the school district to the U.S. Supreme Court, this and three other cases were combined to form the famous 1957 Brown v. Board of Education [of Topeka, Kansas] case, and was the only one of the four cases where the trial court had found segregation unlawful. Some time earlier, Chancellor Seitz had given a speech where he hoped someone would bring a case to attack a taboo: segreation in public school education, so that it coud be eliminated as the scourge that it was.

The same lawyer who argued Gebhart had won an earlier case of Parker v. University of Delaware, which resulted in a ruling from the Court of Chancery that segregation at the University of Delaware was unconstitutional.
For a good time, call 202-762-1401, in Colorado and the West, call 719-567-6742.

User avatar
AArdvark
Posts: 7777
Joined: Tue May 14, 2002 6:12 pm
Location: Rochester, NY

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by AArdvark » Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:49 pm

MTV to Delaware court cases in three paragraphs. Not bad, not bad at all.

User avatar
Tdarcos
Posts: 5326
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Tdarcos » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:08 pm

AArdvark wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:49 pm
MTV to Delaware court cases in three paragraphs. Not bad, not bad at all.
I had forgotten Johnson's support of what woud become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and he figured it would cost the Democrats the South for 20 years.

The point being it is usually the ruling class who has to concede that the lesser class is entitled to civil rights, and with limited exceptions, the lower class didn't get rights otherwise. Even the King had to be kidnapped by the nobles and forced to sign the Magna Carta. He wouldn't have agreed to it otherwise. Currently, or at least up through the 1970s, the so-called "ruling class" is considered to be white people.
For a good time, call 202-762-1401, in Colorado and the West, call 719-567-6742.

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 5950
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Flack » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:27 pm

bryanb wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:16 pm
The MTV book sounds interesting. How did you feel about MTV's extremely broad view of what metal was? I don't think the fan overlap between Slayer and Whitesnake was ever all that large, but MTV seemed to think hair metal, hard rock, and heavy metal were all largely interchangeable categories. That confusion continues on in pop culture; for instance, Carla in a Scrubs episode refers to Poison as a heavy metal band. In real life, though, I would be really surprised if someone who described themselves as being a heavy metal fan turned out to just be really into Ratt. Still, maybe MTV deserves credit for mainstreaming the genre even as it muddied the waters. What did you think of Headbangers Ball?
The guys that founded MTV didn't think of it as an equal-opportunity channel. They thought of it like a radio station, and like a radio station, they intended it to have a single format which was 70s/80s rock. They loved Bowie, they loved the Stones... that's pretty much what they wanted to air. So anything outside that scope, like rap or heavy metal, only got airplay because the ratings were so high that they simply couldn't afford to ignore them.

Both Yo! MTV Raps and Headbanger's Ball started off as one time specials (I think the original time slot for Yo! MTV Raps was like 2-3 a.m., Sunday night). And even then there was a ratings boost. Trust me, after reading this book, if a band didn't have four white guys playing guitars, bass, and drums, MTV executives hated them. And even with things like Headbanger's Ball, once the ratings went up they started making them do a top 10 countdown where they would play Def Leppard and Bon Jovi just so they could try and sell records to the metal crowd (as if!).

Personally I loved Headbanger's Ball. We didn't have a heavy metal radio station in Oklahoma. Where else was I going to hear Slayer or Danzig tracks and discover bands like Corrosion of Conformity or whatever? When I got a job and started working Saturday nights I would set the VCR and record it every single week. I loved the Ball, man.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 5950
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Flack » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:34 pm

Excerpt from the book on Whitesnake:
MARTY CALLNER: Whitesnake were signed to Geffen Records, and they couldn’t get arrested. David Coverdale was dead broke. He was living at the Mondrian Hotel, but he couldn’t pay the bill. He couldn’t drive his car because he couldn’t afford insurance. He was making money singing seltzer commercials. We went to lunch and he had $5 and a condom in his wallet. He said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t even afford to pick up my share of the lunch.” Now I’m feeling really sorry for this guy, and I know that this is his last shot, so I got really passionate about doing the video for “Still of the Night.”

JOHN KALODNER: Making the Whitesnake album took more than a year, but we finally finished. For the first video, “Still of the Night,” Marty Callner was a real auteur: director, writer, creator. The band you see in that video wasn’t a band. David had fired the rest of Whitesnake, so I assembled a great bunch of musicians for his new band. That video was the first time they met one another.

MARTY CALLNER: We had $125,000, and we made a performance video for a six-minute song. As I’m editing the video, I start to realize it’s a piece of shit because the guys in the band aren’t communicating. And the reason they’re not communicating is because they’d just met. It was like Milli Vanilli. I called their manager, Howard Kaufman, and said, “This is not gonna work.” Luckily, Coverdale had marched through my house the previous Saturday night with a girl named Tawny Kitaen, who at the time was having an affair with O.J. Simpson. She was drop-dead gorgeous. I asked if she wanted to be in a music video, and she said yes . So I told Kaufman I needed $35,000 more to shoot Tawny and re-edit the video, and he said, “Fuck Coverdale. I’m not giving him the money.” Geffen said the same thing. I had to personally lend Coverdale the money to finish the video.

TAWNY KITAEN: I remember it as if it were yesterday. Like, I don’t remember yesterday, but I remember that . David was in debt to Geffen to the tune of $2 million. He was pretending to be a rock star. One night, I went with David to Marty Callner’s house. They were shooting “Still of the Night” the next day. The second I walked in, Marty went, “Fire the chick we hired—you’re gonna do the video!” And I said, “I don’t do videos. I’m a professional actress.” But Marty said, “No. You’re the girl. You’re the one who’s going to make this video.”

SAM KAISER: We introduced a spot on our playlist called “Hip Clip of the Week,” where a video would get played six or seven times a day for four weeks. I mean, we pounded the daylights out of it. John Cannelli came and played Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night.” I’m like, Oh man, this is spot-on . It was brilliant and we made it “Hip Clip of the Week.” As soon as it got on air, Jeff Ayeroff at Warners called me: “I can’t believe this! That’s not hip!” I said, “Maybe not to you and me, but it is to Joe and Janie out in Iowa.”

EDDIE ROSENBLATT, record executive: Even though it was a six-minute track, MTV must’ve played it fifty times a week.

MARTY CALLNER: David Coverdale became a megastar. Tawny and David made three videos together, and ended up falling in love and getting married. That was never going to last. Tawny relished the exposure. She was cute, sexy, sassy, charming. It was the good Tawny Kitaen. She wasn’t the girl on the rehab shows yet. She was young and rock n’ roll and fun. The cars that Tawny gyrates on at the beginning of “Here I Go Again” are my Jag and David’s Jag. We didn’t have enough money to rent cars. Paula Abdul choreographed that scene for me. I said, “Will you stage this dance on the Jaguars for me?” And she did.

PAULA ABDUL: Tawny started doing cartwheels on top of the Jaguars. With rock videos, you can do whatever you want. It doesn’t even have to make sense.

TAWNY KITAEN: I got on top of the cars and started doing cartwheels and splits. I’d been a ballerina and a gymnast until I was fifteen. I was very limber.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
Jizaboz
Posts: 1194
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:00 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Jizaboz » Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:01 pm

Lots of good stuff in this thread! I’ll get to more later because it’s a lot to process..

Every time I hear the Whitesnake song I envision the video and how the girls would react when it came on at the local Roller Dome. The latter made me not care about how much nonsense the song and video contained.

I remember when MTV first became a thing. We had a cable box with a dial on it haha. It’s funny because once they did allow “metal” videos I remember adults saying “They used to play all kinds of videos, but now when you turn it on there’s always half-naked women on.” Then we all complained that the network quit playing music videos at all.

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 5950
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Flack » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:17 am

When Whitesnake got big from those videos, everybody I knew bought the album. I remember I was at the bowling alley one night... our bowling alley had an arcade off to the side that was almost like its own little club. There were four pool tables, maybe 20 arcade games, and a jukebox in there. Anyway, I was in there one Friday or Saturday night with my friend playing pool and someone played a Whitesnake song on the jukebox and the whole room started cheering. Some girl got up on one of the bar stools and was singing. My friend and I used our pool sticks as pretend guitars and rocked out. The whole place looked like a music video. It was one of those moments that makes me miss the 80s.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
Tdarcos
Posts: 5326
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Tdarcos » Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:48 am

Jizaboz wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:01 pm
Every time I hear the Whitesnake song I envision the video and how the girls would react when it came on at the local Roller Dome.
U>f^
Unfortunately, every time I hear Whitesnake's "Here .com Go Again" it reminds me of the Geico commercial,
For a good time, call 202-762-1401, in Colorado and the West, call 719-567-6742.

User avatar
pinback
Posts: 13189
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2002 3:00 pm
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by pinback » Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:38 am

Unfortunately every time I see the Geico commercial, it reminds me of Whitesnake.
Above all else... We shall go on... And continue!

User avatar
Tdarcos
Posts: 5326
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Tdarcos » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:29 pm

pinback wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:38 am
Unfortunately every time I see the Geico commercial, it reminds me of Whitesnake.
"You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe."
For a good time, call 202-762-1401, in Colorado and the West, call 719-567-6742.

User avatar
Flack
Posts: 5950
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Oklahoma
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Flack » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:51 am

I recently found an online archive of digitized VHS recordings from the early years of MTV. After watching many hours of these old recordings, I find it surprising how many unpopular songs they played on MTV. In my memory all they played were those "awesome 80s" songs we all remember from the era, but most of these tapes are filled with songs I have no memory of.

The one I'm watching right now is from May 1983, and the guest host is Dan Aykroyd. He says "some people still remember me from Saturday Night Live," and apparently was on MTV to promote his upcoming/new film, "Doctor Detroit." Other than those two things, Aykroyd would have been best known at that time for the Blues Brothers. This airing predates Trading places and Twilight Zone: The Movie by months, and Ghostbusters by a full year.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

User avatar
Jizaboz
Posts: 1194
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:00 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Jizaboz » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:35 pm

Huh I never knew Dan Aykroyd did anything for MTV.

But yes, I do remember shit that would come on and I'd just have to sit through it. Thinking "argh AGAIN?!" Here are a couple that come to mind..

White Lion - "When the Children Cry"
Just fucking awful. At least "Wait" had kind of a catchy verse but my god this song and video just sucks.

Enuff Z' Nuff - "Fly High Michelle"
Some dudes that look like girls. Sunglasses that shoot rainbows and other stupid shit. Horrible song to go along with it.

User avatar
Jizaboz
Posts: 1194
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:00 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Jizaboz » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:00 pm

KIX - "Don't Close Your Eyes"

Six the cereal? Cool. This? Arghghg just make it stop.

User avatar
Tdarcos
Posts: 5326
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 9:25 am
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Contact:

Re: I Want My MTV (2012)

Post by Tdarcos » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:52 am

I'm waiting for some group that decides to name itself MMCM or MDC or something like this, and makes up a bacronym for it, but in reality, these are Roman numerals for 2900 and 1600, respectively.
For a good time, call 202-762-1401, in Colorado and the West, call 719-567-6742.

Post Reply