Monday, January 31, 2005

MTV still sucks

Yes, I know it's become trite to point out how MTV sucks. Still, bear with me here. Since we have a million cable channels and at least six of them are MTV substations, and since I was home all weekend "reveling" in my womanhood (no, I wouldn't recommend beer and Pamprin, but I'm not saying it doesn't work), I had a lot of time to watch all of the MTVs. Here's what I learned. There is no way that anyone who doesn't OWN a lot of rap albums can form any opinion of rap music based solely on what they see/hear on MTV Jams or MTV Hits or MTV Soul or whatever because, it seems, MTV has some rule that states that they must blank out at least 1/3 of every rap song they air. How am I supposed to form any opinion on whether I think a song is good or the word play amusing or whatever if I can't hear all the words? Dear Sensitive Parents, here's the deal. Music, for better or for worse, is an art form. One of art's most basic tasks is to provoke a response. If you are afraid that your little chicks will be forever tainted by the complete lyrics to a song, then take a couple of pro-active steps: don't give your kid his own TV in his room to watch unsupervised and v-chip the main TV so that he can't watch videos all day. Or do what my parents did and send him to the Oldies station where all the songs are safe and sanitized for your protection. [I especially love to hear the Killer do "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On," which is only barely covered in the most transparent metaphors. Chicken in the barn, indeed.] Oh, that's right. All 20th century popular music has been one long, drawn out reference to sex. There is no asexual music that won't taint your children. So, let's just get over the idea that music has to be "safe" and let me hear the whole god damned song. I swear, if I were a rap artist and the record company came to me and was like, listen, whatever your single is, we need to make sure there's an MTV-friendly version with all the provocative parts muted. And then I'd do some song about how The Man depends on poor people being uneducated and racially and ethnically divided and blaming each other for their problems instead of turning on Him, and in the second verse I'd be all like how you should always spread the peanut butter first and then the jelly because if the peanut butter gets in the jelly and goes in the fridge, no problem, but if the jelly gets in the peanut butter and goes in the cabinet, all that sugar and fruit could go bad and taint your whole jar of peanut butter. And the third verse would be all about the shit I have now that I'm rich and all the bitches and hos and thugs and gs that wander around my house waiting for their chance to service me, and I'd mute the first two verses and leave the third one as it is. Also, I'd have a killer oboe hook. I thought, early on in the weekend, that Jennifer Lopez had a killer oboe hook in her new single, and it was almost enough to make me break my first rule of Jennifer--which is, don't get too attached to any of her songs because they will eventually be run into the ground by MTV and you will hate them, and then she'll remix them and you'll forget how the version you liked so much in the first place even went--but upon repeated listens, I think it's just a soprano sax. That's too bad, because the oboe does not get the attention it deserves. It's such a weird sounding instrument, but in that funky way that makes you think that, if only some imaginative producer could get hold of one, there'd be some really cool possibilities. Hell, if Pharrell and Snoop can make clicking your tongue sound hot, someone can make the oboe rock.


Blogger tls said...

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1/31/2005 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time I watched MTV was back when they were playing De La Soul's "Ooh Ooh Ooh" video. (I can't swear to having the correct title let alone spelling. Those crazy hip hoppers, excuse me hip hoppaz, excuse me Hip-hoppaz, with their crazy spellings....) Redman guests on that song and does that instruct-a-certain-segment-of-the-audience-to-respond thing, as in "all the ladies in the place say ho ... now all the fellas, the fellas ... now somebody, anybody, everybody SCREEEAM!" or "If you got Nikes on, stick your feet up in the air ... If you don't got Nikes on, I think you better keep your feet down" or "Put up you hands if you're out here gettin paid / Put up your hands if you don't have AIDS"--that sort of thing. In this particular song, Redman instructs various segments of the audience to say "Ooh ooh ooh," and one of his lines goes "If you never been shot or stabbed say ooh ooh ooh." But on MTV it sounded like "If you never been ____ or ______ say ooh ooh ooh." To mention violence in any way is to advocate it and therefore taboo? Is that the rationale? I don't know, but the really cool part is this: Redman made his fingers into a gun when he said the shot part (and it's a wonder they didn't fuzz that out) and tapped his chest with his fist to mime the stabbed part. I always wondered if he made those gestures just because he knew the kids wouldn't be able to hear the words.

2/03/2005 04:30:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

I think (well, I think I think because god knows my interaction with rap and hip-hop is totally mediated by Viacom, so who the hell knows if what I think has any basis in the real world) that Redman is brilliant and, really, I was stunned that they had the insight to give him and Method Man a sitcom, but didn't have the balls to really let them have a sitcom.

I watched that thing in stunned silence when it was on. It was like the TV equivalent of being promised chocolate chip cookies and getting those Chips Ahoy! Thin Crisps, as if that pseudo-baked good in any way resembles cookies, let alone the poor excuse for a cookie Chips Ahoy! is.

So, I mean, I knew that the whole sitcom genre kind of sucks as it is, but, wow, Method and Red's sitcom... I felt bad for them, because I think they thought they'd have more control--that it would be the sitcom equivalent of what you're talking about... the acknowledging and undermining of the conventions of the commercial form.

2/03/2005 08:20:00 AM  

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