My MTV Rant
The Sad State Of Music Television


What You Need To Know: A Summary For You Lazy Asses
MTV sucks.  More music videos!  Less “reality” TV and other crap!


So the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) are coming up, and all of the sudden MTV is playing all these music videos – the nominees, to be precise.  Ohhhhh, so now they do it!  I love how a channel called “Music Television” only plays music videos – which you’d assume it’s supposed to do based on its own name – ONE fucking week out of the whole year.  The other 51 weeks are dedicated to the filth that has corrupted MTV’s airwaves – “reality” TV, “reality” TV, Punk’D, “reality” TV, Date My Mom, “reality” TV, Boiling Points, “reality” TV, “reality” TV, and – did I forget to mention it? – “reality” TV.  And the reason why I call it “reality” TV is because I’d bet $20 that it’s not real at all, and I am not normally what you’d call a betting man.  That’s how confident I am.  They might not use scripts, but I bet the producers/directors/trash peddlers that run the shows tell the actors certain things they have to say/do.  Not to mention that people who want to watch other people’s faux “real lives” must have pretty crappy ones of their own – and this is coming from a guy who thinks his own life is boring as hell.  I know I’m insulting vast swaths of people in saying this, but you know what? 1.) Sorry if I’m offending you. 2.) MY Xanga – so bite me!


Seriously, the only good non-music video programming on these days is Room Raiders, and I’m saying that mainly because occasionally the show has some hot girl(s) on.  Otherwise, it’s only mildly interesting.  TRL is entertaining because it has as its saving grace actual, breathing music videos (not to mention that the host named Vanessa is HOT!) but I remember a year ago TRL played the music videos for at least half the song.  Now they play it for barely thirty seconds – which for most songs is only a sixth or eighth of the song.  How pathetic is that?  The non-music video parts of TRL are also somewhat interesting, partly because sometimes they have interesting guests or contests and partly because of HOT HOT Vanessa!


The other daytime hours of MTV are filled with crap like Punk’D, where a man with the recreational preferences of a four-year old goes around making life difficult for celebrities big and small.  Seriously, does Ashton Kutcher have any friends?  I know it’s all in good fun but hasn’t he already had his fifteen minutes of fame?  Don’t his friends get tired of his antics at some point?  Hopefully one day he’ll punk Demi Moore and then get the breakup/ass-kicking he so richly deserves.


Even worse is Boiling Points, where regular people rather than non-celebrities get harassed by a guerilla squad of MTV backbenchers that probably got rejected at TRL host auditions.  After fifteen minutes of getting annoyed to death, the victims are offered $100, as if that’s just supposed to smooth everything over and make everything okay.  Ah, the power of the Benjamin!  I guess that Peter Griffin from Family Guy was right: “It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black, the only color that matters is green.”  Well, will somebody use some Benjamins to get MTV to cancel this wretched show?  Please?


With the nauseating show called “Date My Mom”, MTV didn’t just scrape the bottom of the barrel, it freakin ripped the bottom out and put it on national TV for all to see.  I don’t know if that show is meant to be “reality” TV, but the lines are so cheesy and cornily-delivered that it’d be almost hilarious if it weren’t taking up airtime that could otherwise be given to music videos.  Seriously, if MTV wants to pass off an obviously-scripted show as “reality” TV, you’d think it’d pay for acting classes for the boneheads on that show.  And each show is painfully predictable: guy takes three moms out on unbelievably short dates. (He must do them all on the same day.) After each date, the mom relates a synopsis of the date and the man’s personality, looks, etc. to the daughter, who, I might add, usually looks nothing like the mother.  Each after-date talk ends with the girl saying something to the effect of “You’re the best mom ever!” and giving her mom a big hug.  Awwww.  Maybe this is the “family values” bone MTV is throwing to the FCC.  At the end, the guy, who is supposed to pick the girl based on his date with her mom, always ends up picking the ugly girl, only to regret the decision upon seeing the other (hotter) girls.  Gee, that really sends the kids at home a good message, doesn’t it?  If you’re not shallow for one minute, you’re a good, decent person, and you can revert to your superficial mentality after having done your obligatory good deed.  Kinda like if Christians go to church one day out of the week, they can freely talk about killing Venezuelan Presidents the other six.


The worst part of Date My Mom is the end, when the guy, his girl, and her mom all hold hands and run down the beach; at some point the mom lets go and the couple continue running into the distance.  That, if nothing else in the god-awful show, should conclusively prove that it’s scripted.  And that, my friends, is half an hour that could be added on to TRL so we can see more than 30 seconds of each music video.


The most ridiculous thing about MTV is that when the channel actually does play music videos, they do so at 3 in the morning in the program called “After Hours”.  Yeah, that speaks volumes about the sad state MTV has sunk to – it plays what it’s supposed to play when no one’s watching.  Rather than going to good, artistic music videos with scantily-clad women singing downright catchy tunes or acting as eye-candy props for gold-toothed rappers, the prime-time slots are given to your choice of crap, crap, and crap.  (Note: MTV plays music videos from 6 AM to 12 PM, which are MY After Hours.  While I praise MTV for doing so, who in the 18-30 year old demographic that MTV targets is actually awake at that time?  MTV should play music videos all the time – or, at least, put the music videos in the afternoon.) 


Why does MTV even still call itself MTV?  Why not call itself RTV, for Reality Television?  Or, better yet, “R”TV, for “Reality” Television?  Then maybe those of us who prefer good music to crap where young men run around with women twice their age can finally get our own, real MTV.  As it is, I watch BET for music videos.  Now there’s a channel that promotes the arts – and its name doesn’t even imply any such mission, unlike the corrupted MTV (“R”TV).  BET’s daytime programming is the model for what MTV should be.


At any rate, the MTV that we do have is a pathetic shadow of its former self – and what it could be if it would only pull its head out of its corporate ass.  Save the reality crap for some more disreputable channel, or move it to 6 in the morning.  Start playing actual music videos – and play them when we’re actually awake.  Extend TRL to two hours so we can actually see all of the music videos that crazy teens vote for.  And since I’m such an advocate of “big government”, I wonder if the federal government could actually start playing music videos on PBS and subsidizing up-and-coming but largely unknown rappers through the National Endowment for the Arts. (By the way, I support massive funding increases for both the NEA and PBS – don’t you think it’s pathetic how PBS spends hours of airtime begging viewers to donate money and showing all those phone banks with phone operators bracing themselves for a flood of phone calls that never materializes?) Wouldn’t that be rich – the federal government supporting gangsta rap!  I’d love to see Bill O’Reilly’s reaction to that one – hope that big vein in his forehead doesn’t burst.

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Douchebag Of Liberty


Poor Robert Novak


 


Note: Starting with this column, each column will end with “What You Need To Know: A Summary For You Lazy Asses”, which provides a succinct take-home message for those of you who can only get through two sentences before clicking on the little “x” at the top right/the little red circle at the top right? left? (I don’t use Macs often enough to remember which.) Of course, I still think that ya’ll should try reading the whole fucking column!  Reading’s good for you!  Less TV, more words!  Read it a little at a time if it hurts your eyes to stare at the computer screen.


 


 


Well I’ve been maintaining a studious silence on politics since I’ve been busy with math at UC Davis (ugh!) but it’s all over now.  MAT 21B belongs to fate now.  Expect a slew of political analyses in the coming weeks, beginning with this one (unless I have to return to Hayward for the rest of the summer.  There, I will have no Internet, so my political barrage will have to be delayed until late September/October.)  Let’s begin with one man who’s been around the news a fair bit lately.


 


Ah, Robert D. Novak.  In case you don’t know who he is, he’s an aging conservative political commentator for CNN who’s been around since… forever.  He’s old enough to remember politically analyzing the Eisenhower administration.  Just how old is he?  He was born February 26 1931, making him 74 years old.  Okay, that’s not that old, especially compared to some aging farts in the Senate like Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Robert C. Byrd (D-W.V.), but clearly age is getting the better of him.


         



          A *nice* picture of Mr. Novak. (Source: cnn.com)


 


When you’ve been around the political scene for that long, you build up quite a résumé that might not look so good for any prospective employer.  Novak is firmly on the right, a loyal Republican who occasionally has disagreements with President Bush over what he perceives to be departures from conservative orthodoxy.  Thus, most of his offenses come at the expense of Democrats and other opponents of the GOP.  Among his earliest antics took place in 1972, he published an anonymous quote from a “Democratic senator” calling that year’s Democratic presidential nominee, Senator George McGovern (S.D.), as being for “acid, amnesty, and abortion”.  As it turns out, that quote was completely made-up.


         



George McGovern.  Doesn’t he look like Mr. Acid himself?  And I’d bet he’s had a couple of abortions under his belt. (Source: wikipedia.org)


 


More recently, Novak has become embroiled in Rovegate (or Plamegate, depending on which term you prefer).  In short, Novak learned somehow that Valerie Plame, the wife of anti-Bush/anti-Iraq war former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was an undercover CIA analyst.  In a blatantly cavalier fashion, Novak revealed this fact in a July 2003 column, and all hell broke loose as Washington panicked over the idea that someone in the White House might have loosened their lips just to get back at a Bush foe.  If anyone would fit that description, it would be the actual President of the United States, Karl Rove.  His official titles are Deputy Chief of Staff and “senior political adviser” but by all accounts his role seems more befitting of a U.S. President telling the “official” POTUS G.W. Bush what to do.


 



De facto President Karl Rove, described by Jon Stewart as “the only person in Washington with flesh-covered hair”. (Source: http://www.southerner.net/blog/weeklyblog046.html)


 


I can go on about how horrible President Rove is, but this column is about Novak, a slightly-less sleazy Republican.  Needless to say, Rove is slime, pure and simple.  Anyway, to make things worse, it turns out that even though Novak adamantly refused to reveal his source for Plame’s identity, he did a nice little flip-flop and called on CBS to reveal their source for forged documents regarding Bush’s truancy in his National Guard service. (Who says Republicans are stubborn?) Apparently, Novak believes that some hooligan who wants to mock Bush’s military service rather than talking about real issues is more important than a breach of national security.  Well, it wouldn’t be the first time Republicans have made homeland security a low priority. (See “Jackpot! I Found The Republicans’ Achilles’ Heel!”, September 11 2004) Novak’s role in the whole mess was ridiculed by The Daily Show host Jon Stewart as “sending a message to our enemies: If this is how we treat our own spies, just IMAGINE what we would do to yours!”  Another goofy Novak column saying that Kerry was guilty until proven innocent of war crime charges led Stewart to hail Novak as a “Douchebag of Liberty”.  Previously, Novak’s Beltway nickname was “Prince of Darkness”, which itself isn’t too complementary unless you happen to be Napoleon I.  Needless to say, this, combined with a whiny voice, advanced age and a scary smile that makes him look like a pedophile, sunk Novak’s public standing to a new low.


 


The psychological weight of a trail of political droppings stretching back to the fifties, combined with recent strain from Rovegate, must have pushed Novak over the edge.  On the August 4 2005 edition of CNN’s Inside Politics “Strategy Session”, where a liberal and a conservative face off in a more tame version of the great-but-now-cancelled show Crossfire, Novak and his liberal counterpart, the great James Carville, were discussing the senatorial prospects of controversial Representative Katherine Harris (R-Fla.).  Novak opined that Harris should not be underestimated, something I think my fellow Democrats would do well to heed.  Carville, in what I must admit was poor taste, derided Novak’s view, saying “He’s got to show these right wingers that he’s got a backbone, you know.  It’s why the Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you.  Show ‘em that you’re tough.”  An incensed Novak shot back, “Well, I think that’s bullshit, and I hate that.  Just let it go.”  Then, in a truly amazing moment, he got up and walked off the set.  Watchie for yourself:


 


Novak takes a hike 


                  


Now, for my comments.  I don’t fault Novak at all for swearing on TV.  Hell, I can remember a time or two when I called something “bullshit” in an inappropriate setting.  And I do think Carville is to blame for provoking him.  But just getting up and walking off the stage is really immature.  It only lends credence to the growing perception that Novak is just some bitter, old fart who’s way past his prime.  Maybe he is, I don’t know.  But he still clearly thinks he’s game, and in my experience Novak (the gaffes described above notwithstanding) has always offered sensible, principled, sometimes even useful opinions.  And I disagree with CNN’s decision to indefinitely suspend him from future airings.  A few days off, maybe.  But he’s apologized, and I think he deserves to be back on air by next week.  I never thought I’d be saying this, but CNN, bring back Robert Novak!


 


What You Need To Know: A Summary For You Lazy Asses


·         Robert Novak is an old fart but he usually knows what he’s talking about.


·         Robert Novak’s been in the business for a really long time and made quite a few enemies along the way.


·         Robert Novak plays a pretty disreputable role in the Karl Rove/Valerie Plame scandal.


·         Robert Novak said “bullshit” on national TV and then walked off the stage.  He seems like a bitter old man to me, but I think he deserves to be forgiven and placed back on air.