I had a serious problem sleeping last night. It was really awful - if I laid awake with my eyes open, I was okay, except for a Live song pounding through my head at hyper volume, and a sensation that my heart was racing even though it didn't actually seem to be upon actual inspection (not that I pulled it out to check, but I've discovered there's a way to detect the rate at which your heart is beating through external means - I call it "taking a pulse", and I plan to patent it soon, because apparently patenting the blatantly obvious is the thing to do these days). But when I closed my eyes, I'd immediately fall sort of asleep, only awake. My mind would race around doing something weird, I didn't really understand what, but it was vaguely related to the videogame I was playing yesterday (Rygar for the PS2), but not really connected, and I didn't play the game that long that it should've invaded my brain... it wasn't like one of those awful Tetris fever-dreams, just my mind going nuts. I was seriously going over everything I had eaten, wondering if I had had a whole bunch of caffeine or somehow some kind of speed had been laced in my food. Seriously!
Anyway, around 3AM, I gave up and decided 'occupying' my brain was the way to go (occupying goes in quotes because...) by watching TV. I did. I saw a lot of cool stuff on the news, and some music videos. There's nothing else on at 3am. But on MTV2, I saw an ad that was disturbing. They were advertising their upcoming MTV-2OON Weekend, as in Toon weekend. They were going to be showing anime all weekend. On MTV2. If you're not familiar with it, MTV2 is the channel MTV created to pretend that they still show videos, since they discovered recently that there simply wasn't any time to show them between reality shows. Actually, I take that back. They DO show them between reality shows. Literally! During the credits of every one of their shows, they show a little clip of a video. And that's about it for MTV's video playing. So they brought MTV2 out for the people who actually wanted to see some sort of fusion of music and television on Music Television. It took about 3 months for them to start showing shows on MTV2. But they still mostly showed videos for a while.
Ladies and gentlemen, that age has past. Just as you can know you are at the end of the universe when you see a Starbuck's across the street from a Starbuck's, MTV2OON is the end of music television. When the all-music-video channel dedicates an entire weekend to showing NO MUSIC VIDEOS, it is the end of music television. This was an end we all knew was coming, the signs have been there for years. Seen VH1 in the past 2 years? It's a fashion network, except when it's being overrun with Top 100 lists, or sometimes they mix it up with Top 101 lists, ot Top 87 lists. And just in case you haven't seen it, I want to be clear - these top lists are NOT lists of top music videos. They are Top Car Crashes, Top Sexy Moments In Entertainment, Top Pizza Toppings, Top Funny Moments In Icelandic News Broadcasting, and other such gems. Sometimes, they'll do something like "I Love The 80's", and pretend it has some bearing on music by mentioning 80's music, but you'll note that even when they discuss music videos in it, they just show clips of them, not the actual videos themselves!
So I have two thoughts on all this. The first I had while my mind was racing around in circles seeing this ad last night, and it's quite simple. It appears that music video television is simply not a profitable venture. And that makes sense if you think about it - do people really sit down and just watch videos nonstop? There's nothing investing them in it, it's a very easy thing to drop out of and do something else. Unlike a TV show, nothing is there to make them sit through the commercials for what's coming up next - because whatever it is, it's totally unrelated to what just aired (except possibly in the same genre, which if we're talking MTV in the past 5 years, would be HIP HOP augh), and on top of that, they don't even know what it's going to be, so there's absolutely no reason for them to care. Their favorite video ever might be coming up, but nobody tells them that, so why stick around? Anyway, I think the path that MTV1, 2, and VH1 all have taken proves that somebody corporate has discovered the money lies not in playing music videos. It just doesn't work. And if you think about it, it must really
not work, because they're replacing music videos, which they don't pay a dime to create (don't know - do they pay royalties when showing them? Or maybe have to pay some fee to acquire the rights to show them? Probably the latter, which makes it scarier still, because they already paid for all these videos, and they're not showing them!
), with reality TV shows which cost them millions to produce and air.
The other thought I had was a little scarier: all these stations have taken to playing brief clips of videos instead of whole videos, in one way or another. Could it be that our attention spans have gotten so bad that a music video
is too long and coherent for us to
Ooh, shiny penny!