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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Kicking Television: Reality killed the video star

On this date back in 1981, MTV — the music television network — seized the air, broadcasting a catchy video by a once and again obscure brit band called the Buggles. Playing a hunch, the plucky station chose the group's song "Video killed the radio star" to launch a volley across the bow of the old music biz. The music world did change in response, as video production became an essential part of band promotion, and radio lost influence. The upstart network's success lead to its complete consumption by big Media and its final descent into commercial inanity.

Today, the network bears little resemblance to its early self. Obsessed with "reality programs" that twist the world toward the consumer culture corporate America likes to purvey, music videos themselves are hard to spot.

If you want to check out your fave act, it's much easier to search for them on YouTube. In fact, these days I get the vast majority of my information and culture from the Internet, rather than that spoon-feeding Television. With the digitalization of content, the Web has everything TV does, and more: news, opinion, music, art, film, video, poetry and fiction. Surfing the net is much easier and more rewarding than the static-tinged, rapid-fire channel changing that my TV viewing experience has become.

On its 26th birthday, I toast the MTV that was while also celebrating the demise of its medium that's so lacking in message. The dawning of the connected Web has put the video star into an early grave, and considering the addled state TV has fallen into over these its twilight years, it can be called a mercy killing. Join me as I lyrically kick them while they're down with the help of Wilco.


Kicking Television
by Wilco

I'm serious
You'll see

I'm working on my abs
I'm working on me

Oh, I'm kickin'
Yeah, I'm calm
Oh, I'm kickin'
Television
Television

Stop shopping
Stop buying things

I'm kickin'
Oh yeah, I'm calm
Oh, I'm kickin'
Television
Television

Oh, I'm serious
You'll see

Yeah, I'm kickin'
Yeah, I'm calm
Oh, I'm kickin'
Television
Television
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