March 10, 2005

The Pretty Toney Column

Print More

About one month ago something fairly startling occurred to me: The music video is all but dead. The advent of MTV is supposedly one of the most significant events in music history, but currently, MTV has nearly brought to an end the very revolution that it once started. Not only are video-centric programs like 120 Minutes and Headbanger’s Ball extinct, but so are shows that weave videos into otherwise unrelated content, like Beavis and Butthead.

Another obvious cause of the death of the music video is the mp3. As has been said many times, as the video rose to power, it no longer mattered what an artist sounded like so much as what they looked like. With the mp3, whether or not an artist is attractive is irrelevant; everything hinges on how easily one can get their music for free without fear of being sued by the RIAA.

On the surface, this is actually a good thing, since the most anyone now has to see of Carson Daly and his swollen jowls is for 30 seconds at a time during Diet Pepsi commercials (I take it no one stays up late enough for his talk show, which could be awesome for all I know). But with music videos now in decline we’re being denied much more than endless shots of Scott Stapp pretending he’s Jesus on the edges of cliffs, because during the ’90s, videos by all bands were widely promoted — not just ones featuring pop acts — with those by artists like Radiohead, Weezer and the Beastie Boys enduring nearly as well as their albums have.

There was one video that stands head and shoulders above them all. Of course I’m talking about Blur’s “Coffee and TV,” which is probably best remembered as a song that played in the background during Cruel Intentions. The first time I saw that little milk carton parade around with its silly smile — inadvertently soliciting Big Suzy and seducing the strawberry milk carton with its cheerful dance — I was rolling around the floor with tears of laughter streaming out of my eyes. And for once, I am not speaking hyperbolically.

Videos as brilliant as “Coffee and TV” are now few and far between, and if they aren’t, then they’re much, much harder to find. MTV2 was supposed to be the antidote, but hardly anyone actually has it. I could get upset about this, but that would be to deny the profound sociological importance of shows like Rich Girls and My Super Sweet 16, something I am incapable of doing.

Archived article by Ross McGowan
Sun Staff Writer