Yep, the big three-oh. And since I’m an oldster, I remember the launch of MTV. I remember the cool promos with the rocket blasting off into the stratosphere, the little astronaut dudes planting the badass MTV flag on the moon and the DUH, duh-duh, duh-duh-dah-nah…DUH, nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah guitar theme music. The TV spots with the Police, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, and David Bowie shouting into the camera, “I WANT MY MTV!” I also remember when the word “veejay” wasn’t urban dictionary slang for the female nether regions. You see kids, in 1981 veejays were a quintet of hip-yet-relatable twentysomethings consisting of Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn (who I totally wanted for a big sister), and JJ Jackson.
The MTV veejays were well-versed in rock, new wave, synth-pop, R&B, metal, and even seventies stuff like Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones. Veejays interviewed bands, answered letters from viewers, and joked around with one other like real friends.
And then, there were the music videos.
Back in the dark ages, MTV used to play bona fide music videos. Yes
And then there was the queen of early MTV, Pat Benatar**. Who could forget her four-minute slices of awesomeness; clips like You Better Run, Promises in the Dark, and Precious Time. I especially like that last video, where Pat—after pensively tooling around the grounds of her obscenely luxurious zillion-dollar estate in an old-timey Rolls—gets so cheesed off at her layabout boyfriend that she not only shoves him fully clothed into a swimming pool, but also dumps his ass out of a hammock in slow motion—twice! It’s all very Dynasty, and Pat was supremely cool.
I loved her for being so feminine and yet so tough; you got the feeling that no matter what kind of man trouble she was having—and she never seemed to have a shortage of douchebags giving her grief (remember Love Is a Battlefield?)—she was definitely a chick who could handle her own (all five feet, tall 95 lbs. of her!) and still look super-foxy doing it.
So tonight, if you’re an aging Gen-Xer like me, raise a glass of your beverage of choice (mine is club soda because…well, that’s another, much darker story) and toast to The Way We Were. And remember that really, it’s no use lamenting the death of the music video. It belongs to our generation. Our music videos will live on in eternity through the magic of YouTube, and that’s almost better than our precious old-school MTV. Seriously, how cool is it to punch in a few words on a laptop and be able to watch Haircut 100’s “Love Plus One” whenever we choose, as many times as we please?
Pretty fucking rad, as we used to say.
*But it wasn’t all fun new wavy-ness and cool and exotic Europeans in skinny ties. There was also some spooky shit happening in some of those early videos, as I explained a while back. Especially that Split Enz clip. God love ‘em, but that video still freaks me right the fuck out.
**Isn’t it funny that once upon a time, a sexy pop star could be named Pat? Seriously, her name was Pat. Not even Patti or Tricia…just Pat. No dumb dollar sign in her name like Ke$ha, no gimmicky Gaga-esque moniker. Another funny thing? Merely by typing that sentence—just like that—I’ve entered middle-age. And that’s okay; I’ve had more than enough time to prepare. I’m already at peace with that realization. Don’t worry.