The MTV Generation

By Jason Landry

really pivoted left of center when they basically threw to the side the very thing that established them as a force—music.

The network was founded on music videos and changed the way that music was experienced. I mean, they came out with a bang with their very first video, Video Killed The Radio Star. They were taking a stand and making a bold statement from day one. Twenty years later, it was reality television that filled the channel leaving any sense of what the were known for as a thing of the past.

When they started the series The Real World: New York, that tipped the scales. It became so popular that they then started to create The Real World in every big metropolitan city in the US and abroad. This ushered in a new era for the station. I wonder what the bands and the musicians really thought about this transformation. One day their videos were everywhere, and then the next day, the music stopped.

It’s Sunday morning and my wife just walked by asking, What are you watching? I responded, I Want My 80’s on MTV Classic. This didn’t have to go away, they could have easily just started a separate channel called Reality TV in the same vein as their MTV 2 channel. I miss videos like this. Now I have to find them on YouTube or other platforms and it’s just not the same. I loved Headbangers Ball with Riki Rachtman, 120 Minutes, and even Yo! MTV Raps. Maybe it’s because I came form the MTV generation. I can remember it like it was yesterday when we FINALLY got cable television. It was the first thing I turned to, and I would watch it for hours.

Duran Duran, Gary Numan, Journey, The Clash—oh, remember the premier of the Michael Jackson Thriller video. That was epic for the time it was created. Because MTV played all genres of music twenty four hours a day with only a few genre-specific shows and some news, I was able to dip my toe into all types of musical styles. This to me is why I like so many different genres now that I’m older. These videos turned bands into overnight successes. MTV was how bands went “viral”, now it’s apps like TikTok or Instagram. But is it the same?

I wonder if kids today would appreciate it as much as we did back in the 80’s and 90’s. The MTV Classic channel is like a renaissance for me. Tune in sometime and get teleported back to your youth.