time to change the way we view music and the arts

The Power of Having Power and Possibly Not Having Power

Everything for the past few days and especially the last 24 or so has been about the impending landfall of Hurricane Irene on the New York City / Long Island areas. New Yorkers are seen heeding warnings and mandatory orders to evacuate, there haven’t been any reports (yet) of people trying any insane stunts like surfing in the storm and getting swept away with the high tides. Although, I could say there’s a bit of irony to be noted in the fact that reporters themselves have been caught getting battered by winds, knocked down and even nearly swept away when reporting from quite literally, in the rough waters. I suppose that makes for a tough reporter though; willing to go the distance to bring you a first hand account.

In any case, as I was one of the fortunate people in an area that was not forced to evacuate, I spent yesterday surveying the incoming weather, reading about people’s plans for “hurricane parties” and “hurricane playlists” and then catching wind of side talk about the MTV Video Music Awards; which was mostly flying around on Twitter. With most people jut being asked to stay indoors and stay safe, the world around NYC and Long Island wasn’t exactly bustling with non-weather instigated activity. This photo of Times Square, taken by Brad Walsh using Instagram even shows a rare sight of a “Saturday night, August, no people,” as Mr. Walsh puts it. The internet being the one way left to be talking up a storm with friends and family, music was certainly a hot topic throughout the night. During my perusal of the talk on the VMA’s, it was amusing, to say the least, the watch multiple news sources reveal short writing pieces based on a single ‘short, (not) sweet and to the point’ tweet by one Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and televised singing competition The Voice. In case you weren’t cheering or booing this comment, here’s what Levine had to say about today’s upcoming ceremony:

“The VMA’s. The one day a year when MTV pretends to still care about music. I’m drawing a line in the sand. f–k you VMA’s.”

(Cit. @adamlevine)

Now, there’s always that delicate and sometimes unpredictable balance of when the general public will enthusiastically support or turn against a high profile media figure for unexpected statements or behavior in favor of or against any particular thing at any time. It’s either, “They should know better since they’ve chosen to be in the spotlight” or “Right on! They can totally say that because they’re famous and not give a crap what people think!” Of course, it’s my belief that in this case, Levine just didn’t give a crap what people would think of his comment, regardless of his celebrity status. It’s more so just because that’s the kind of person Levine can be, as he has been raw and honest via his self-containted Twitter before, with fearless tweets like this and this and even one of his most recent tweets, which affirms his stance on the VMAs.

So as not to bore you just posting about the same old thing everyone has already said since yesterday and leaving it at that, I’d like to take a moment to expand on Levine’s feelings; pointing out the state of MTV in general.

I’m sure the amount of people that have openly expressed disappointment or dislike or outright anger at the decline of music related programming and more importantly, actual music videos, on MTV probably numbers in the several thousands for just the United States alone. Here’s a spin on that view that popped into my head this morning:

I manage a blog. I try my best to come up with topic-relevant material, insert new points and food for thought for my readers to contemplate that will grow and mature the topic but I also try to keep with news and trends -not always looking to reinvent the story wheel. Bloggers re-cover material a fellow writer has posted every day. It’s inevitable as there can only be one first poster. Those are blogs though. Particularly if a blog is self-managed, as mine is, for those posts where I’m commenting/reporting on a pre-existing story, I’m watching the galaxy of internet buzz, unfolding events and choosing an angle to write about that suits either the day, time, my mood, etc. The point of inspiration if you will. To a degree I follow along with what I can find and take things from there. However, for a media giant like MTV –something that was at one point, a completely new, standard-setting vehicle in the music industry and something that broke the mold, to me it seems as though comments like Levine’s and sentiments that have been reflected by a noticeable portion the music-appreciating public for at least several years now, translate to the idea that MTV has shifted gears. By that I don’t just mean the obvious in how they’ve all but eliminated music video play from their programming, but that they’ve shifted from being an industry leader, a place where I would expect to be inspired for stories on my little corner of the blogosphere, to a large, awkward follower in its own industry, due to its remaining corporate size, which makes it like a conspicuous but meek giant in a room of smaller but more active figures and outlets. What makes MTV feel even more awkward and makes their position of power even more frustrating for people like me and even more so for people with stronger, more long-standing blog status, is that while managing to hold onto massive elements of power like television channels, far reaching PR staff and a music industry rolodex that can get Madonna on the phone in one flick of the smartphone redial button, they are not the main source carving new paths or directing people to new artists anymore.

Their actions in regards to the changes and development of the industry make them look like a neophyte pilot trying to fly the space shuttle. So much potential and control but no idea how to work with, steer or control it. Right now, to me the VMA’s appear totally unnecessary and over-gorlified. It comes off as having no more of a status boosting power than if I were to announce the start of my own award and give it out every year. With broadcasting videos hardly at the forefront anymore, I simply picture some MTV employees watching artists’ video debuts on YouTube like every other average person and choosing their nominees and winners that way. Imaging them not having a sense of “privilege and exclusivity” in the viewing of and exposure to singers’ / bands’ videos anymore. Therefore, if MTV could be keeping up with the industry instead of leading it, doesn’t that just cement the point in that their bestowing of “best ______” status is about as influential and significant to those artists as any high schooler telling their friend Justin Bieber is the hottest singer out there? That’s merely one figure’s opinion and will inevitably get lost among the sea of millions of other opinions; having virtually no bearing or noticeable change for those artists after the award than how their status was beforehand.

In short, MTV has the tools but no longer the leading capability or I suppose, desire, to use them.
Power in the wrong hands my friends.
Wouldn’t all the smaller bloggers and reporters out there love to have the reach of a mogul like MTV….

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