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100 club

the 100 club is an historic music venue in london. i'm looking forward to popping in there in a few weeks' time. however, this post has nothing to do with that. well, not directly, although i am going to rant about music later on.

congratulations! you are all now part of the 100 club.

that's right kids, she sees red turns 100 with this post and for those of you who have stuck around all that time, i'm sorry 'cos you will never get those hours back. but hopefully at least a couple of them were worth it.

i started this blog as a way to have a bit of online space and exposure for my work until i got my shit together to get a website. then somewhere along the way i got up on my high horse, started reviewing shows, talked about magazines and the state of the world. and occasionally plugged my own exhibitions. i'm glad that deviation happened because i've somehow evolved through it too. and i'm grateful for the people that visit me on a daily basis. nothing earth-shattering, but still kinda cool.

and now i have a website, so i can justify my random ramblings a lot easier too!

when my myspace blog turned 100, i created a big long list of 100 things that pissed me off. it was very satisfying, if not altogether a great piece of literary masterpiece. this time, i'll try to be a little more mature and just focus on one: MTV.

'what does mtv have to do with art?' i can hear you asking. absolutely fuck-all. the long-term bee in my bonnet about it got aggravated on a blog the other day and rather than slag off rob's client on his blog, i thought i would spew about it here.

i've been into art and music for ages. art is my first love thanks to my primary school teacher's attention to my 'skills' [more about art education another day] but music is more my passionate lover to my committed art love. i can have vicious arguments with friends about whether the sex pistols are a crock of manufactured shit like N*Sync which almost come to blows (especially 'cos i'm obviously right).

so, when the topic of MTV came up, i saw red. because in my not-so-humble opinion, MTV is responsible for the worst bands in history and a generation of self-centered arseholes with no concept of anyone further than their myspace friends list.

MTV's mantra in the 80s was "I want my MTV". it's pretty catchy, targets youth with a voracious appetite and certainly reflected the need for something with a bit of spunk.

But that's where my respect for them ends. The 80s was all about gimme. gimme a fast car, a hot girl, nice clothes, a blow job and music to fuck to. now. profits soared, CEOs became the new spiritual leaders, coke became socially acceptable and so did cocaine. AIDS blossomed and New York was the centre of the fucking universe. What better climate than to launch a cable channel that took popular music, used the instantaneous nature of the television and pumped it into homes across the world.

Music became a commodity based on external and ego-driven factors, like everything else. Musicians with 1 hit single became instant celebrities without having to work for it, music became about brand recognition and unit shifting, rather than something that inspired passion. I know that age and probably rob will argue against me on this one. so be it. i'm pig-headed about this. almost as much as i am about woody allen.

So music 'stars' are suddenly celebrities, the pressure to 'perform' in an accessible way is now ridiculous. Record companies and publicists have worked out the film clip before the last verse has been recorded and thanks to MTV, beating consumers over the head with a product has become standard. Ever notice how many times the latest Beyonce film clip gets played around the time of release? A brazilian, that's how many!

And thanks to MTV, instead of music being judged on its ability to make you feel something, what it may be saying, the skill and craft of the musician or the relevance to the world at large, music is being 'charted' based on album sales, single sales and awarded on these ideas as a result. No other creative industry has been economically rationalised in the way (popular) music has and i believe MTV has played a huge part in that.

The other thing that fucks me off about MTV is that the core, the very seed of the idea behind the channel is actually not that bad. The idea that music moves people and that people want to have access to that often. What MTV could have done is to actually really support musicians over a really diverse range of styles, countries, languages and intentions. MTV could have actually unified so many people, despite their difference in taste. All it has managed to do is to alienate people in creating a greedy, superficial, territorial ideal about music that can be manipulated at the drop of a hat.

OK. so. some of that may not make much sense. that happens when i get angry. i hope it made you think though. if not about MTV, maybe about the greedy rationalisation of art or film or theatre or stamp collecting.

or maybe you'll just have to come back in a couple of days. i'm reviewing the first draft and MOP show and everything should be back to normal :)



At 05 April, 2007 02:07, Blogger sublime-ation said...

Video killed the radio star.

I'll be in London 12th-15th April, then 29th-3 May. Scotland in between.

At 05 April, 2007 02:08, Blogger sublime-ation said...

ps chuck me your MySpace?

At 05 April, 2007 02:28, Anonymous Rob @ Cynic said...

Hello ... that's not too bad, I was expecting far worse.

Look, I can definitely see your point, however MTV never said they would only play 'good' music, because lets face it - what is good to one person is terrible to others, and I should know ... in my life as a session guitarist, I played on more bad 80's records than you could probably cope hearing again, ha!

You see MTV was originally started by American Express ... yes, THAT American Express ... and it's mantra was - and still is - 'everything is for sale', so if someone paid them cash to get their clip on air, they would play it - which is how Frankie Goes To Hollywood got exposure after their single 'RELAX' got banned in the UK.

Of course they're not perfect - but then who is - but at least they don't play Mariah Carey 80 times a week like the radio syndicates all around the World do who are - if I am being honest - even more influential in getting music to a wider audience as MTV Cable is still rather restricted in its global reach.

Then what about the ad agencies? They've helped really annoying, bad music get out to a massive audience - infact they were totally responsible for the revival of 70's music [which is better than many decades] thanks to ads for Levis and Wrigleys.

Look you are of course entitled to your opinion and I absolutely can understand where you are coming from - but some of your comments were less about MTV and more about the attitude of a generation in a particular time and as such, were more responsible for the crap output of MTV than the other way round.

Saying that, I am going to show them your post and see what they think. Believe it or not, they care quite alot about music - well, some of them do - so I am sure they'll be interested, or at least more so than SONY were when I showed them Mr M's rant about them, ha!

Keep the rage, I like the rage.

At 05 April, 2007 02:47, Anonymous Rob @ Cynic said...

And if you are angry about MTV being the cause of 'musicians' to now be signed/promoted on their looks rather than talent, then can you get angry about television news companies who now sack serious, integrity-focused journo's in favour of hot babes who can only read an autocue. [Sorry, a friend of mine has just been moved to 'other duties']

At 05 April, 2007 03:11, Blogger lauren said...

hey sub - as i was typing away, the buggles did come to mind.... he he he. myspace.com/lozza_b52 is my profile.

hey rob. firstly, thanks for responding! i did tone back on the vitriol 'cos, well, sometimes i can be quite unreasonable when i get up on my high horse and i'm working on being a little more, well, rational these days.

i'm not saying the MTV are solely responsible for the birth of crap music or the barrage of immature musical celebrities. well, maybe it seems that way, but not the intention. i do, however, think that MTV has a lot to answer for with the (relatively recent) concept of instantaneousness about a musical career and the birth of the sole focus on external appearance. in the same way as charles saatchi has a lot to answer for the phenomenon of "insta-celeb for artists".

I believe that MTV has played a big part in relying on TV (and syndicated radio) to forge a career. They have encouraged a sense of dictatorship with bands, rather than musicians and bands having a true connection with their fans, having played a bunch of shows, released a couple of records, had some time on community/net radio and being true to what it is they do and say. I'm not against making it big, but if there has to be a foundation, otherwise all you get are the Paris Hiltons of the world and MTV doesn't seem to give a shit about that kind of development.

I think what's sadly missing about MTV, which could atone for a lot of their sins is that, if they care about music, as much as you say, then actually go out on a limb and show that. Produce shows that focus on a truly wide range of music. I don't even mean 'alternative' stuff [i couldn't give a crap if a shit punk band got on MTV] but a true range - have jazz musicians, fusion acid hippie stuff, HC gangsta rap from the ghetto of south central, nu-rave stuff from the north island of new zealand, acoustic ballads from newfoundland - whatever. celebrate the diversity of music, rather than focus on a few very limited (albeit probably very profitable) styles.

Business is business and i understand that. i'm not that much of an idealist, but when it comes to music i hate to see the life squeezed out of it.

And don't even start me on the newsreader/talking head business. I'm sure you know how i feel about that. Thank god for SBS and ABC here 'cos we still have real women reading the news.

Now, i'm on holidays and going outside to enjoy the sunshine and stop being a grump for the day.

At 05 April, 2007 05:47, Anonymous Rob @ Cynic said...

I like you being a grump and to make you feel better, I'm emailing you a paper written for MTV about how Brands can learn from Bands [but only those with soul and integrity] - which ironically, could also be relevant to MTV themselves.

Have a top easter and I'll speak to you soon.


At 05 April, 2007 06:51, Blogger lauren said...

have a great easter too.. look forward to the email - will respond soon-ish.

At 05 April, 2007 16:08, Blogger Stan Lee said...

For an interesting take on how not to crack it big in music and get on MTV might I recommend the Wilco film, "I am trying to break your heart."

Congrats on the 100...Stan x

At 11 April, 2007 11:03, Blogger Lisa Breslin said...

I agree with a lot of what you are saying Lauren, especially about the lack of diversity on MTV, but i don't think that they are solely responsible for this.
I've got friends from many non-english speaking countries and having spent time with them it amazes me how little of the music prevalent in their countries filters through to the UK, unless you really go looking for it. I have never heard of many of their favourite artists, while they know of most of mine.
I like a very diverse range of music and i'm sure i'm not the only one who would like to hear music from different countries. I think it's time for MTV, radio, etc to stop being so tunnel visioned and bring a wider range of music into the mix.

At 12 April, 2007 01:55, Blogger lauren said...

hi lisa,
i agree that MTV are not solely responsible for the state of popular music, but they sure don't do anything about helping it either.
i think exposure and diversity on MTV would be amazing. The frat boys and girls across the atlantic might not like it for a while, but hey - they can deal with it.


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