Mtv And It’s Affect On American History

MTV History
In 1954, the release of “Rock around the clock”, known as the original white Rock
n’ Roll song and becoming number one on the pop charts, marked a turning point in the
history of popular music and it’s success in the future.

In the late 70s, early 80s, Reagan was president, then Senator Al Gore’s wife led
the crusade against inappropriate rock lyrics and founded the Parents’ Music Resource
Center(PMRC). The hippies became yuppies and began to devote their time to raising well
mannered, preppie children. Rock music, a vital social phenomena among American youth,
had grown dull due to it’s lack of style change from earlier music. Something new and
modern was in need. August 1, 1981, was a day that would change the history of music
forever. On this day, MTV first aired with its very first music video by The Buggles
“Video killed the radio star”. This video was also the millionth to air on Feb. 27, 2000,
and third most aired in video history (Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” being the first).

This new way of presenting rock music, through a 24 hour cable music video channel,
would change Rock n’ Roll forever. The first video was a new medium without
boundaries, which meant that no one knew how MTV would impact artists’ careers or just
how big MTV would inevitably become. Along with MTV came the modo” Sit back, relax
and turn off your mind”.

Music specials were already airing on certain television channels. In 1979,
NBC-TV aired a show at the UN General Assembly, to help UNICEF raise money to
combat hunger and to provide food for the world’s children. The show featured stars such
as the BeeGees, Rod Stewart. Donna Summers and a few others. Another special was
aired on ABC-TV. A landmark documentary about Rock’s biggest names “The heroes of
Rock n’ Roll” starring Jeff Bridges. The Grammy Awards were televised from Radio City
Music Hall in NY, on Feb. 25, 1981. A channel solely dedicated to music was in need,
since the music industry was constantly expanding. MTV was a learning experience that
gradually and completely changed the future of Rock n’ Roll.
In the early 80s, Pat Benetar was one of the first artists to benefit from the new
rock channel. “The heat of the night” became an immediate hit and spawned three US
chart singles. She won a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal. MTV made her a
recognizable personality along with other bands such as John Mellencamp, who took the
appearance of a young James Dean, and was one of America’s most successful
mainstream rock singers of the past two decades. Image began to be of great importance
in the music industry since performers would, especially now, constantly be in the public
eye. David Bowie, with his flamboyant style, was one of the great enigmas of popular
In 1983, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” was the first music video to air on MTV
by a black artist, marking a turning point for African Americans and their fight for equality
and respect. His “Thriller” album generated an astonishing seven top ten singles, on its
way to becoming the biggest selling album of all time with thirty seven million units sold
worldwide. Madonna also made her debut in 1983, setting the road for her sexy new style.

MTV helped shape them into major icons of the 20th century. On Tuesday Sep.14, 1984,
MTV launched its first Video Awards show at New York’s famous Radio City Music
Hall. It was hosted by Dan Akroyd and Better Midler. Herbie Hancock dominated the
awards with his “ Rock it” video, winning in five different categories. Performing live
were stars such as Madonna, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart and ZZ Top.
In the years of 1984-1985, MTV started to find its place in the music and
entertainment industry, and began to capitalize on its unique position. MTV brought
artists and bands into the mainstream, often bringing them to immediate stardom due to
constant publicity. MTV was expanding and gaining many fans along the way. MTV had
no competition until Tuesday Jan.1, 1985, when VH1 premiered as a twenty four hour
music video channel with Marvin Gaye’s “ Star spangled banner” video. Still MTV had
nothing to fear since VH1 catered to an adult audience, while MTV focused mainly on
teens and young adults ( early twenties).
Van Halen was quite popular during these years. He was named new guitarist of
the year in 1978. They were one of the most successful heavy metal bands. Their lead off
single” Why can’t this be love” reached number three in Billboard chart, while their album
became their first US number one. U2 was one of the most popular rock acts of the 80s.

They gained fame with their creative music videos and with their use of music, not just as
mere entertainment but to raise awareness on certain issues of the world. This changing
attitude towards rock culminated on Saturday July, 13, 1985 with Live Aid. This was the
first rock benefit concert that brought stars such as Queen, The Police, Tina Turner and
many others, together for a cause- raising money to aid African famine relief. MTV
broadcast the entire concert live. 16.3 million viewers in 156 countries and capacity
crowds in Philadelphia and London gathered to watch the fourty bands perform for sixteen
hours. The Cars and The Police were also popular in the 80s. Bruce Springstien is a great
symbol of the success of rock music in the 80s. Rolling stones critic, Jon Landau stated” I
saw Rock n’ Roll future and its name is Bruce Springstien”.

In the late 80s, music videos became more innovative and rock music took a
slightly harder edge. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers led the way with their creative
video “Don’t come around here no more”. They started involving actors such as a Kim
Basinger and Johnny Depp into their music videos. Their body of work spans three
decades of success. Peter Gabriel took music videos to a new level by introducing
animation in his video “Sledgehammer”.

On Sunday May 25,1986, The Hands Across America concert took place. Five
million participants in sixteen states involving president Reagan, linked hands to raise
money for the hungry and the homeless in the US. In 1987 “Headbangers Ball” debuted on
MTV, this show featured videos, interviews and performances by stars. CDs began to gain
popularity and music sales rose 150% in one year. In 1987 MTV debuted in fourteen
countries in Europe. Metallica gained popularity with help from its public appearance on
Headbanger’s Ball. Guns N’ Roses was one of the most controversial heavy rock bands of
the late 80s. Although their music was a great success, their career was littered with
incidents involving drugs, drunkenness, and public disturbance offenses. Aerosmith was
one of the USA’s most popular hard rock acts, founded in the 70s but only being
recognized and reaching great success in the 80s, due to MTV and the publicity of their
videos such as “Dude looks like a lady”. Bon Jovi, Poison and Jane’s Addiction were also
quite popular in the late 80s. In 1989 Madonna, as part of a multi-million dollar deal with
Pepsi-Cola, endorsed the soft drink with a worldwide television debut of her new single in
a video commercial. MTV had become a 24 hour info-mercial, using every second on the
air to sell a product or record label.

In the early 90s, rock evolved into something containing more value and meaning.

In stead of banging their heads, musicians started to think with them and use rock music
lyrics to comment on complicated issues of the world. This was the alternative movement,
when rock began to turn grunge. Nirvana was the most significant icon for the alternative
movement, especially with their debut of “ Smells like teen spirit” video. They were
formed in 1988 and comprised by Kurt Cobain, their lead singer. Although their music was
loved by the MTV generation and they had reached the climax of their success and it was
still growing, on April 5, 1994 Cobain shot himself. This sparked non-stop coverage and a
huge tribute from MTV. The wake conducted in the press wars were matched by public
demonstrations of affection and loss, which included suspected copycat suicides. The
release of MTV Unplugged in New York offered some comfort for Cobain’s fans. Nirvana
was one the most emotive sights and sounds of the 90s, and with his death he had
displayed the relationship MTV had built with it’s devoted fans. After Cobain’s death,
alternative music had gone mainstream and suddenly underground bands were evolving
and growing in popularity. Bands such as Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Stone
Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam emerged and gained popularity quickly due to their
performances, sexually explicit lyrics and decidedly fresh take on Rock n’ Roll. REM were
the “darling’s of college radio” and became huge stars when “Losing my religion” hit

In the mid- 90s, though the true alternative music no longer existed, many of the
performers were still around and growing strong but with a slightly different style. Hole,
an all women band led by Courtney Love, resigned on MTV and demanded respect for the
women band. Nine Inch Nails, led by Trent Reznor, revealed the dark side of rock with
their mind blowing video “closer”. It was not the traditional style of music video, since it
contained techno influences. Their music expressed human degradedness, through sex,
drugs, violence, depression, and suicide, closing with personal emotional pain. They were
one of the most talked about acts of woodstock’s anniversary show. Other bands such as
Foo Fighters, Alanis Morissette, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers also gained much fame
during this period mainly because of their use of lyrics in music to sent out certain
messages. The Dave Matthew’s Band were confirmed as one of the most successful rock
acts of the 90s. Mid-90s, the Beavis and Butthead show debuted on MTV. In their own
way they changed the rock scene and style as well. They became an animated version of
video critics, while resurrecting some careers and infusing the scene with a sense of
humor. Many viewers thought of them as a mockery of American society and at times
revolting, but American youth seemed to enjoy this new way of presenting music and so
it’s ratings rose.
In the years between 1997 and 1999, the rock scene transformed into numerous
genres and various bands and music styles were formed. These years carried the
modo”Anything goes”. Bands such as Beck and the Foo Fighters constantly tried
reinventing themselves in creative ways. Others such as Bush remained more traditional
and stuck with mainstream rock. Marilyn Manson with his odd and somewhat frightening
appearance, created a new image for music. Moral majorities saw Manson as a
“corrupting degenerate” due to the explicit content of his music and his offensive
appearance. Teens and young adults were entertained by his performances and the sexual
and violent content of his music and so he became quite a successful performer, some
might even say a major icon of the 90s. Rage Against The machine, although with an
aggressive music style, used their music of anger filled lyrics addressing concerns over
inner city deprivation, racism, censorship, and many other important issues. They are
known as one of the most honest and powerful lyrical statements to be made during the
90s. No Doubt and beck grew popular due to their original musical Talents and unique
styles and self expression.

With the start of the new millennium, rock is still evolving and moving in many
new directions. New bands such as Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach and Creed have formed.

When Pap Roach’s “Last resort” hit MTV, it was clear that rock had invaded the pop
music world. Hip Hop has become popular with performers such as Puff daddy, Jay-Z,
Eminem and Snoop Dog. Teen pop has also evolved recently, with the sole purpose of
entertaining teen fans with heart throbbing teen groups. Many teen groups such as the
Backstreet Boys, N’sync and 98 degrees have formed, and have gained fame throughout
the world due to their music talent and appearance. Solo acts, with singers as young as 15
have also emerged with performers such as Britney spears, Christina Augilera and Jessica
Simpson. You could probably refer to the millennium as the year of the attack of the boy
bands and blond teen beauties.
Many African American groups have also become popular such as Destiny’s child
who are sometimes referred to as the Supremes of the year 2000. Latin music has also
taken over the music industry with performers such as Mariah Carry, Enrique Englesias
and the Latin hunk, Ricky Martin. Image has become so important during this period and
unfortunately appearance seems to be more important then true music. Even though so
many different music styles have emerged many of the past performers are still around and
going strong. performers such as Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Madonna are just
some of those performers. Madonna has truly fulfilled her position as an icon for music
history. She has been creating and reinventing her music for about twenty years and she’s
still at the peak of her career. MTV2 has a slightly different style when compared to the
MTV in the US. Techno and house music are very popular in Europe and is gradually
gaining popularity in the US, usually being played in might clubs and certain radio stations.

MTV has recently added a listing of shows to it’s chanel. The main reason for
some of the shows such as TRL, FANatic and BIOrhythms are to interact with the MTV
audience and to create a close relationship between the stars and their fans. Other shows
such as Jackass, Fear and Road Rules feature acts of stupidity, bravery and adventures in
Although music has changed throughout history, with content, sound and image,
the true music of the past will never be forgotten. Music will always be a part of our
culture and MTV will always be there to strengthen the relationship between music stars
and their fans.
The Importance Of MTV And It’s Impact On American History
MTV is an important event in our history that has affected American culture and
the entertainment and music industry worldwide. In many ways it has expanded the music
industry and influenced youth to better the world. In different perspective, one can say
that MTV has corrupted the value of American life.

Throughout the years MTV has gained great power of influence over youth
through television and music. The average child ,ages 2-11, watches 1,197 minutes of
television per week. In this great amount of time a child’s future can be greatly affected,
so what he or she watches should be chosen wisely. It is important that the industry
regulates what it’s audience is shown and they have a big responsibility and obligation to
do so.
Music today contains explicit content such as drugs, sex and violence, and
adolescents are constantly exposed to such issues through music and with MTV’s help,
through television as well. MTV has in many ways corrupted American culture. With
shows such as Jackass, with their dangerous acts of stupidity, and Marilyn Manson
encouraging suicide and murder one can say MTV is promoting crime and violence.

Certain events which MTV promotes such as Springbreak and Woodstock contain drug
use, sex and violence and in some cases even death. According to statistics the average
number of violent acts seen by a child by the age of eighteen is 200,000. There is a
constant debate whether violence can be blamed on the gun law or on television and
music. On April 22, 1999, the Denver killings took place. Thirteen students were
murdered in Littleton, Colorado by their teen classmate. Some say that children get their
inspiration to kill from music, films and violent television programs, that have everything
to do except showing sensitivity to human life. In the absence of social values these
youngsters fall easy as prey to the act of “heroism” depicted in programs, such as Jackass
and by certain music stars such as Marilyn Manson, Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails. Such
acts of heroism have become a mean to stand up in society and “be noticed”. Others say
that the entertainment industry is hardly to blame, since the entertainment industry has
become the main source for adolescents background in values and morals. It’s hardly the
trigger but the mind behind the finger that pulls it that should carry the blame. In either
case the music industry has introduced and promoted the idea of violence and should take
responsibility of their actions.
Many believe that political action should be taken to regulate the sales of music
containing explicit content. In states such as Washington, the Harmful Material to Minors
Bill would create “adults only” sections in music stores. In Louisiana a $1000 fine or 6
month prison term could be handed down to violators of a proposed bill that would
prohibit the sale or distribution of “lyrics harmful to minors”. In New York a bill proposed
in March would prohibit the sale of music to minors with lyrics describing suicide,
sodomy, rape, incest, bestiality, adultery , murder, violent racism, religious violence,
morbid violence or the illegal use of drugs or alcohol. One can argue that such laws would
be a serious blow to the first amendment but beyond legal problems are more difficult
issues pertaining to the social responsibility of the multi-million dollar recording industry
and the increasing violence throughout American history.

MTV does not promote Classical Art music, such as Beethoven and Bach which
now can be said is on the verge of extinction. Today the ability to pay attention has
become endangered. Adolescents do not want to try and understand the meaning behind
valuable music rather they prefer to just sit back and listen. As a result of this Classical
music which requires the audience’s attention are endangered too. Involvement in
Classical music promotes important human qualities such as self discipline and creativity,
which much of American youth are lacking.

“The music industry does not care about values and American culture, rather the
whole part of the relationship with the teen is just to turn them upside down and shake all
the money out of their pockets”.

MTV is a mockery of American culture. Shows such as the Tom Green show and
The Andy Dick show display gruesome acts of stupidity, which to some is not at all
amusing and can in no way be seen as entertainment. MTV has brought about many
stereotypes. Blacks are perceived as violent sex driven gangsters. Women are displayed
solely as sex symbols, lacking any integrity or value as human beings. After the many years
of fighting for equal rights, MTV has emerged and turned everything around.
MTV has changed the quality of music. Image and performance has become of
such great importance that the quality of music has slowly disappeared. True music has
MTV, although containing so many bad qualities has brought about some good in
the American culture and entertainment and music industry. It has helped our economy
remain on top. With publicity and constantly keeping performers in the public eye, various
artists have been recognized and risen to stardom. MTV shaped stars into teen ro-models
and with publicizing certain images it promoted an idealized teen lifestyle. Stars can
express themselves in just about which ever way they please and can set themselves with a
certain image they want perceived of them by the public. MTV is a vehicle for promoting
trends and new styles. MTV helped build the booming multi-million dollar entertainment
and music industry we have today. MTV uses commercial logic. This being the idea that
everything is dedicated to the idea of selling something. The teen’s power has risen
throughout the years since certain products and music go by what they, the consumer,
wants. MTV is like a 24 hour infomercial. Sometimes it’s an advertisement paid for by a
company to sell a project. Sometimes its a music video, which in other terms is an
informercial to sell a record label. Sometimes it’s a set filled with trendy clothes to sell a
look that includes production of that set. MTV is the ultimate gatekeeper of the American
industry because so many people watch it and if an artist is on there the chances of success
increase greatly.

With MTV’s power to influence American and worldwide youth, it has been able
to bring across certain messages about serious issues such as racism and drugs through
music and television. MTV has so much power since it consists of television and music,
two very important aspects of communication. Music was given more importance and
value since now it was not just for mere entertainment but rather to bring about change in
the world. Today even religion is brought into music. Music is changing and connecting
with a whole new audience, increasing sales and changing the way people perceive music.

MTV has hosted and aired many Benefit concerts and fund-raiser to raise money for
causes such as s hunger and worldwide poverty. It in many ways brought the people of
the world closer together in its pursuit to create a better world.

MTV has given American youth a club where they can always belong. They were
given a channel of their very own where anyone could be a member and a door was
opened which allowed adolescents to interact with their ro-model on a more personal
basis. MTV keeps American youth updated with every day news and events occurring
worldwide. It keeps them aware of certain issues and problems they must face.
MTV brought blacks and whites closer together, primarily because of pop culture.

Today hip-hop, rap, ragae and R;B have been greatly accepted in the music industry and
have had great success. Blacks were given more respect and were looked up upon by the
Youth of America. Blacks have finally received their reward for the constant fight for
equality and acceptance throughout the years. Latin and Middle Eastern music have also
been greatly accepted. Women are now ro-models for the youth of America and are seen
as powerful figures equal to all. Women solo acts and groups were formed. Women were
a great addition to the rise of our economy.
MTV promoted and encouraged creative music. Many different kinds of music
have emerged from dance to country due to MTV’s publicity and support of various new
artists. Without MTV many artist may not have achieved the success that they had.


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