Tuesday, July 05, 2005

MTV and Live 8: The Video Star Is Dead

Live 8 was touted as being the greatest musical event in the history of this planet. And I saw many indications on Saturday that this was indeed the case. But the brunt of the world may have to wait until the DVD packages hit the stores - if they do - because thanks to MTV et al, the true power of these varied musical acts was blunted by a motley goo of commercials, meaningless audience interviews and copious amounts of the "music" network's patting themselves on the back for bringing Live 8 to our eyes.

It made me pine for the heady days of Live Aid almost exactly 20 years ago. Back then I remember bitching about the many PSAs, hosted by no less than Sally Field, reminding us about why Queen and Led Zeppelin and Phil Collins and all these other legends and newbies of the rock and pop realms had congregated onto the stages of London and Philadelphia - not merely to entertain us, but also to urge us to donate money to the famine-stricken African continent. But, looking back, at least then the music actually was presented just about in its entirety. And, after all, it was a telethon.

This time, to be fair, MTV had some additional hurdles to deal with. Instead of two concert venues, there were 10 to deal with, so presenting every song from every act was an impossibility. But MTV could have tried. After all, they now have several branded networks thanks to that 500-channel universe that's not a reality. Wasn't it worth it to, say, place the Philadelphia portion of Live 8 on MTV, the London venue on VH1, disperse the others on MTV2, VH1 Classic, MTV Hits, etc.? And even if that wasn't part of the plan, how about at lease not cutting into actual songs to tell us what a historic event we were experiencing? When they interrupted the extraordinary Pink Floyd reunion - during David Gilmour's guitar solo in "Comfortably Numb," no less - I nearly threw something at the TV screen. Sure, it was the last song of the band's set, but still, what, they couldn't wait another two minutes?

For many, Live Aid was the peak of MTV's existence, a triumphant melding of music and pop culture with some social consciousness thrown in for good measure. Live 8 may be not only its nadir, but perhaps its death knell as a television network of any importance. They should be ashamed.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Damn, you're a good writer!