WHO KILLED THE VIDEO STAR? MT[&A]V.
MTV long ago reached its goals of rockin’ the suburbs, and, after luring its target audience, has turned to rapin’ the borders. Every country in the world equipped with the staple of cable television, save Canada, has been infiltrated with the whiny apathetics of the Real World, the teeny-bopping of Becoming/Diary/Whatever other innocuous show that producers can substitute in place of real music, and of course, Carson Daly’s soon-to-be-networked blank face and five o’ clock shadow. [How bitchy is this current cast of the Real World New York? Usually, there’s an annoying tantrum thrower or naïve cry baby, but this current group just makes you want to give up on the amusement that is reality television altogether.] That is, of course, until the great digital cable explosion of September 2001. Now even the true north can no longer be strong and free as MTV Canada sinks its tenterhooks into my homeland. [As for my lovely shark-infested, hurricane-threatened hometown in South Florida, MTV represents high culture. -MFK]
MTV used to be about payola disguised as youth rebellion—now it’s not even about the videos. The New Yorker recently reported that the number of music videos on the channel that begot them dropped by a third between 1998 and 2000. Numbers aside, witness the atrocity that was the 2001 MTV Video Awards: The Spike Jonze-directed video for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” was clearly shafted when “Lady Marmalade” was awarded best video of the year. Apparently not even the sight of everyone’s favourite perennial film psycho shaking his booty across a hotel lobby could compete with the sight of jailbait in a garter belt. Christina Aguilera’s own grandmother chastised her on the pages of People, lamenting “What gets me is that Christina thinks she is doing something clever but anyone can strip…she looks like a whore.”
Not to mention that most presenters there were guilty as sin of shameless self-promotion—maybe Macy Gray should have spent less time sewing that dress and more time memorizing the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner…”
What ever happened to moody artists who believed in “artistic integrity”? In 1997, Rivers Cuomo told Alternative Press that he wasn’t eager to make anymore “gimmicky” videos because he thought that Spike Jonze’s “Buddy Holly’” video was responsible for Weezer’s rise to fame. Only one video was made for Pinkerton—a straightforward three-minute ordeal panning over the geek boys playing “El Scorcho.” But now Cuomo seems to have re-evaluated the art of video—unless he sees the sumo wrestlers in the “Hash Pipe” video as a straightforward expression of a song about a teenage transsexual prostitute. Not only was “Hash Pipe,” or, as they call it on puritanical M-bleep-bleep, “H*** Pipe,” the gimmickiest gimmick that ever gimmicked, now they’ve shot an alternative video for “Island in the Sun,” laden with Jonze love. Production, of course, was without bassist Mikey Welsh. And speaking of music celebrity nervous breakdowns….
The most recent victim of this summer’s new trend of celebrity freak-outs is everyone’s favorite scantily clad diva of age, Mariah Carey. After a bizarre strip show on TRL and numerous accounts of getting silenced by her publicist, the rumored paramour of Eminem left the ramblings of a crazy on her fan site before checking into a rehab center. Her publicist has since assured fans that she was merely suffering from “extreme exhaustion” and those bandages were simply the result of “accidentally” cutting herself with glass. But she was only one of many worn out stars this summer; actor Ben Affleck and comedian Paula Poundstone are currently inhabiting the same Malibu rehab center, where check-ins are free to leave, and are rehabilited with gourmet dinners and field trips to the spa, for the measly price of $33,850 a month.