Panem Et Circenses…


“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the people have abdicated our duties; for the people who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.” -Juvenal, Roman poet circa 200 A.D.

I want my MTV!” -Sting, rock musician circa 1985

Dire Straits – ‘Money For Nothing’

Nearly thirty years ago, in 1981 to be exact, the Music Television channel changed the soundscape of American music by broadcasting music videos. These videos weren’t simply montaged clips of artists holding their instruments while ain a studio recording session, they were shortform musical narratives. Back then some of the videos had million dollar budgets capable of bankrupting today’s independent music labels (Koch Records, er, E-1 Entertainment). This was because music videos became the primary promotional tool for records. That’s a dangerous game to play though when you use something visual to convince your ears it is worth your time and engagement. The racket worked for Music Television up until recently.

If videos killed the radio star then the internets killed the music channel. For Music Television to retain the attention of the vaunted 14-24yr old demographic (i.e.: people living in their parent’s homes spending all of their income on material shit) they are going to have to get more modern, not cooler, but hipper. The old people that sit in the offices of Music Television still think that choreographed stunts will keep them as the apple in the eye of the youth. Don’t you ever think for a minute that when Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s horrifying breastring at the same exact moment his ‘Rock Your Body’ verse stated “cause I gotta have you naked by the end of this song” that moment wasn’t choreographed? This is the shit they do now. Madonna tongue kissing Britney and Cristina is also their design. Sasha Baron Bruno’s ballsachs on Eminem’s chin is on their resume also.

As the music industry has been transformed by the internets so has Music Television. Viral video clips have replaced programming so instead of producing a themed show the producers at MTV are busy trying to craft a viral video moment. If ou think the exec that liberated Janet’s tittay wasn’t promoted when the smoke cleared you don’t understand the entertainment industry. MTV wants your eyeballs so bad they would do anything. In the high stakes game of dwindling advertising monies I won’t put them above staging anything. Their offices are on BROADWAY for crissakes!

The desire for Music Television is for the spectacle that has responsible people discussing these moments long after their value. One of the main reasons I don’t have cable television (aside from the fact that I can’t afford it) is that I don’t want to hypnotized by Music Television’s vacuous programming. This includes all the MTV substations like MTV2, Vh-1 and B.E.T. Sometimes I have to laugh that Black Entertainment Television is kept in the Viacom’s virtual slave quarters. They receive only the slave portions of programming. Pig’s feet amd chitterlings. B.E.T. recently fired their online editor Andreas Hale. I wonder if it was because he failed to be the company man that Viacom demands, especially of their Black employees.

Look at the Black people that work at MTV as an example. Other than generating lists that relate to rap as well as a Vibe list might they at least have the good sense to forego any individual acclaim. They are called the ‘Brain Trust’ which is certainly an oxymoron in itself, but recently they have renamed themselves the ’1515 Boyz’. This is hilarious to me since I know that 1515 Broadway is the address of MTV’s headquarters. Since 1515 is the building’s house number aren’t these MTV employees actually referring to themselves as ‘house boys’? Let the internets SMH in unison. There is nothing good that will come from Music Television. Nothing but a choreographed circus. Hip-Hop isn’t dead, but MTV is.

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  • Dallas Penn

    J7M ya’ deeg?!?

  • Sleepy Wonder

    I Don’t Fuck With Radio, MTV Or BET. All I Have In This World Is My Balls And My CD’s And I Don’t Break ‘Em For No One. You Understand?

  • ri067953

    To quote Brother Ali…”they saying hip hop is in some kinda rut/thats because they watching MTV and ignoring us/It ain’t our fault they don’t realize that we tore it up!

  • Pierzy


    Actually, I think MTV killed the video star. Although for those of you with Comcast, you can catch those videos on MTV Jams, Hits or Tr3s as I’ve been telling you. Regular MTV is all about “The Hills” and that bullshit. I’m a white dude from the ‘burbs and even I can’t stand that shit! Either way videos are not EVENTS like they used to be. Like everything else, it can’t stay the same…

  • Silly Chilly Willy

    What’s good, Dallas!

    MTV was just a platform. But for every genius that used video efficiently (MJ, Madonna,etc…), there were questionable acts that had access to that platform. Mostly because, as you said, it was a huge promotional tool and a big portion of an artist’s budget (I mean, the company’s money) is involved. Since MTV ate the money, they had to play the video and when it wasn’t interesting anymore for our collective goldfish attention span, they had to create other contents remotely related to music. That’s when the shit really went down. That gave birth to today’s MTV which is fucked up on so many levels.

    All in all, greed and enterslavement complex (word to Opall) killed one of their bastard kids, not MTV the station…

    My 2 cents



  • thoreauly77


    D- a couple random thoughts. did you know that DEVO created the music video format? in fact, they started with that in mind — each song would have a complimentary visual medium. after putting on shows in their beloved akron ohio, and then getting signed to warners, who were only to well aware of DEVO’s ideas, a very short time later eMpTV was born. a couple years later and “whip it” was the number one video.

    - eMpTV, for all of its flaws, is not completely to blame. they largely cater to the consumer, and the consumer today happens to have been raised on 15 second sound bites, (faux) controversy, and an addiction to newness and ritalin (hmmm, correlation?). look at how bat shit the country has gone over kanyegate! fuck the two wars, kanye dissed a fake country bumpkin because their manager decided it would get them (and eMpTV) ratings!

    and lo and fucking behold….

  • Dallas Penn

    DEVO wasn’t the first group to make music videos in as much as they may have been one of the first groups to understand the gravitas of the medium.

    I totally agree that the choreographers are the ones that have fuxed up the medium in pursuit of ratings.

    Never forget Jamal7Mile

    • thoreauly77

      D- DEVO, made the shit. from concept, to style, to incarnation. everything before wasnt anything. i am serious. in 1973 at kent state they performed “The Complete Truth About De-evolution”, which was made into a film series.

      i agree that they understood the gravitas of the medium. but in my opinion, they understood it because they invented it. i respect you dallas, so if you refute this, please tell me who the creator of the modern music video is, in your opinion.

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine


    MTV. The batty boys of video/award show “shock & awe”.

    And by the way, those “Moon Men” awards are a plastic piece of she-it. Real talk.

    1515 Boyz sounds like a ghey frat collective.

  • Tony Grands

    Like P! pointed out, Mtv isn’t a music television channel any longer.

    Somewhere between ‘Thriller’ & ‘Remote Control’ they lost sight of what made them famous. When Mtv debuted, it was one of a kind; a trend setter. The more success forced them to chase their own shadow, the more confused they became, & now they expect us to tune in & watch Snoop Dogg conduct duck-sauce interviews in a night club. Or a bunch of spoiled rich kids arguing about who used the last of the Noxema. Or, ugh, TI trying to save the world, one juvenile delinquent @ a time.

    During the interim, they attempt to convince us that their opinion of music is still relevant with infomercials disguised as Award Shows. No Dice. The shit is just the radio, with moving pictures.

    Perhaps their worst mistake, as of the last decade or so, was allowing the fact that they “staged” events leak to the public. That’s like having a homie you’ve had for years admit to you that he lies a lot. @ that point, how can he be pissed if you never look to him for sincerity again? No matter how many times he tries to earn back your trust, it’s just not going to happen.

    @ least BET is cognizant enough to accept their meager position & Chicken George around with a scant amount of self respect & pseudo-dignity. Mtv has been having an identity crisis for years, with no signs of regression.

    Damn, I miss JukeBox.

    • Tony Grands

      Stand up for J7Mile……..

  • Dallas Penn

    Devo is the shit no doubt. There were concerts recorded for film before that DEVO concert though. Wattstax comes to mind.

    But to talk about the modern music video that projects artists in fantastical surroundings can even be credited to Berry Gordy and his artist refinement school.

    Gordy’s robotic handling of artists made them popular music icon’s and they were recorded in the earliest music videos which were the tapings of Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand.

    The modern video though is something being made today. Right at this moment. My favorite modern music video is DOOM’s ‘Microwave Mayo’

  • caino

    l remember growing up and my mum didnt have the money for no cable or satelite TV, l had to go to a friends house to watch MTV, then when l finally moved out on my own got my own pad, and could afford cable myself, to find out that mTV sucks balls and doesn’t play videos anymore , all they got now is crap reality TV programmes from z-list celebs or rich white kids living near a beach !

    You-tube is where l go now to see my music videos!


  • The Southern Comfort

    I know everyone’s said that mtv’s other channels are where the music’s at, and yes the hills etc is utter shit, but i dunno why DP is that mad at them.

    mtv when they started were kinda subversive and whilst they’re far from perfect have done a lot of dope things for music, videos and wider “music culture”. the problem is they became a victim of their own success, rather than representing youth culture they started creating and selling it. once they got a monopoly on things beavis and butthead were out and rich kids’ fake problems were in.

    as the saying goes though, everyone hates a monopoly until they own one.

  • Moving Sideways

    The question then becomes, was the Kanye incident staged? With their recent history, I would probably say yes. As for MTV, they lost the war for the hearts and minds of impressionable youth to the Disney channel years ago. Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and Jonas Brothers run shit these days.

  • Jhon da Analyst

    MTV died a long time ago. Also, fuck a VMA!!!!

  • dronkmunk

    You’re thinking of Dire Straights, not sting.

  • Devi Gargon

    Dallas You are so on target lately!

    I wrote a small blog on the fact that its the corporate ownership and need to pay dividends and stay in the black are the downfall of all of entertainment.

    In the 80s they wouldnt let us watch MTV, like it was SO TABOO, but we had been watching BET. I started watching in like 90. This was the beginning of the real world era, beavis and butthead, and there bastardization of west coast hip hop culture. By 98 or so, it was obvious the videos took a backseat to POP CULTURE!

    But its a triad, Labels, Video Channels and Radio, all corporatly controlled! So on no level of entertainment is there any push to find THE BEST artists with longevity, but a 15 minute investment.

    The artists are making singles
    The Videos are mundane and unimaginative at best
    And the radio keeps 12 songs that you dont like/but wont turn the channel on,just 12!

    The internet has cut through the red tape, and allowed folks to represent themeselves how they want as much as they want! Thats the freedom ART SHOULD HAVE!

  • capcobra

    mtv over-exposed and pimped my beloved hip hop…word to xzibit…FUCK MTV!!!..i was happy with video music box and the rap attack.

  • Brooklyn

    i haven’t fucked with mtv in a minute, i don’t even watch sucker free anymore, it’s bullshit. the only channel affiliated with mtv that i watch is vh1 soul, because they play a lot of old school joints. fuck a b.e.t., i haven’t watched them since big tigga left rap city.