D.he music broadcaster MTV turned forty on Sunday. Should one congratulate or be silent? Just like about those one-hit wonders among the MTV faces, whose music videos, since the channel began operating as a promotional station for all kinds of television broadcast innovations in 1981, have been carved into insignificance via heavy rotation. In some cases it is better not to ask what they are up to today. The reality show meat grinders of private television are still the sanctuaries among the possible final stages.
MTV was really “cool” or “fat”. MTV was indeed a single Aerosmith loop in the glorified memory of 1990, but then its own trick series (“Beavis and Butt-Head”, later the fantastic “Celebrity Deathmatch”) colored a light-years-bridging creativity boost in music video production and that of the time the fruitful commercialization of American hip-hop made the screen more colorful. You could look forward to a set of hot ears – like the guys on the self-destruct show “Jackass”.
Germany was unlucky in that the German offshoot MTV Central softened its audience from 1997 primarily with Eurodance, the musical equivalent of Sesame Street, just with less clothes. Of course you looked anyway. As the formats became more differentiated, MTV made sure that if you weren’t a schoolyard gatekeeper when it comes to pop music – the shaped CD of the “Dismember” album appears briefly “Death Metal” in the mind’s eye – at least had a say.
aside from that Has(-te) MTV concerts for eternity in the program: Nirvana with MTV Unplugged in New York. With the amusing reality show “The Osbournes” (2002) about the retirement of the ex-Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne came the decline: in the mid-noughties, when the economy began to draw attention to and through its channels on the Internet, linear music television, which at its core consists of two- to three-minute videos, became obsolete.
What is left? Between braces insurance and online mail order advertising, well-intentioned formats that quickly disappeared, a flood of worrying torso-free reality shows, B-celebrities who comment on music videos like on RTL – and a little tradition: Yo! MTV rapeseed. MTV has become unusable as a tool of distinction, a made-up zombie who – resting his chin in his hands – sits at the grave of his German colleague “Viva” (1993 to 2018) and waits for the internet to be turned off again. MTV has not been able to gain importance there.
A look at popular video content on Instagram, TikTok, Reddit or Youtube reveals that MTV can no longer win a flowerpot even by imitation: man-bun men strumming Van Halen songs on the guitar, car accidents, fitness women who filming while breathing, a talking parrot that alerts the police by screaming for help. In a post on Reddit it laconically stated: “MTV went on the air 40 years ago – thank you for 15 years of music. . . “ All the best and thank you very much for your attention.