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Culpeper Times • August 9-15, 2018


When MTV changed the world THE MARSHALL PLAN

In the early 1980s the future emanated from a small television Marshall Conner in the upstairs room of my grandparent’s home in New Jersey and it was riveting, addicting and slightly dangerous. Somewhere around midnight I found a show — I think it was called Rock World that blended live rock performances with early forms of the music video. It featured bands like Blondie, Boomtown Rats, The Cars, The Police and The Ramones. The term music video evolved in front of my eyes. The combination of music, theatrics, visual art and marketing were captivating. Things were changing for me too in 1981 — my hormone addled brain and the rest of me was packing my possessions for military school. A year earlier I had discovered youthful rebellion, metal, girls and the joys of delinquency. Music Video Television (MTV)

debuted just after midnight in the summer of 1981. It hurts to say that it was 37 years ago. It was groundbreaking, visually dynamic and it was on 24-hours a day. I quickly discovered that if I watched it long enough, I might see a favorite band. My music education occurred during the hundreds of “other” videos that were rapidly expanding the borders of my musical tastes. We had a satellite dish at military school where I could watch MTV. We all watched it regularly on the weekends and whenever else we could find a television. The guitars, ladies and oddly directed videos were perfectly suited to our brains. One of the great benefits of my five-years at Fishburne Military School was the diversity it brought to my life. We had cadets of all colors, many nationalities, economic backgrounds and many tastes in music. At school I heard many genres of music and MTV added even more to the mix. I smile when I think about a spring break when I first watched Prince perform “Little Red Corvette.” The girls in the neighborhood went wild. We weren’t exactly sure what Prince was


I went to a restaurant recently and got a drink with no straw. I was informed by the waitress that they no longer provided straws unless they were asked for. Apparently, the big problem in the world was drinking straws. I had no idea. I saw the news reports two weeks later reporting that straws were damaging sea turtles and was responsible for clogging landfills. Plastic straws were the new weapons of mass destruction. These fully-automatic assault straws were a crisis that had to be dealt with immediately. Seriously? This is an issue? When I was a kid, I remember scientists claiming that we would be buried by our garbage by the year 2000, that we produced so much trash that we would never be able to handle it. I’m


sure conservation has helped, but I fear that the children of those scientists are now raising false alarm over, of all things, plastic drinking straws. As it turns out, the mainstream media (ABC, NBC, CNN, et. al.) reported that 500 million plastic straws ended up in landfills per day. Of course what they all neglected to say (or correct) is that this figure was calculated by a nine year old off of a survey he did as a class project. I am not making this up. As it turns out, it was as valid as their presidential election polls, and just as fictitious. Starbucks, in a fit of political correctness, tossed their straws in favor of sipper-cup-like lids. Of course these lids use as much if not more plastic than a straw. They are recyclable, but so are plastic straws. In other words, Starbucks is not helping the environment one bit. They are simply creating the illusion of helping the environment while making you look like a three-year old when you drink your Frappuccino. I saw one news report that asked,

singing and doing splits about —but we knew it was damn cool. This process continued. Some bands were amazing, others funny, some shocking and others were bad. Throughout the 1980s we bought the tapes, watched MTV and attended concerts. We enjoyed a greater variety of music each year. Where else could a kid trapped in military school see a video by Men at Work, a band from Australia? Back at my parents’ home in thenrural Stafford we didn't have cable, so I had to be a bit more creative. My little brothers and I made use of VCR technology. We spent many a night recording our favorite music videos in the family basement. Most of our videos were recorded directly from television shows like Music Video Connection, talk shows, Friday Night Videos and even the occasional use of a hand-held video camera placed in front of the TV. In the cultural tsunami of MTV things began to change — a musical artist had to have visual appeal. Musical talent was not the only mandatory ingredient for the video star. Television shows and films also reflected the influence of MTV. A great example was the stylistic appeal of Miami Vice. "Why not go to paper straws?" The answer was we couldn't do that because paper comes from trees and that would be bad for the environment. In other words, the best way to save the planet right now is to ban plastic straws. In my lifetime I have endured government imposed conservation, and hated it each time. Low-flush toilets and florescent light bulbs, and government mandated gas containers are on my list of crap I have had to endure without anyone asking me. Granted, this pseudocrisis of plastic straws is not driven by the government, but it rankles me the same. It is someone or some entity imposing their desire and will on me, without my consent. It is, at its core, against the American way. A few things are beyond disturbing about this. One, CEO's and companies are making decisions based on pressure from lobby groups based on a nine-yearold's data. Shareholders should boot these morons before they do some real damage. Two, the media running with this story and deliberately inflating it only confirms their bias, desire to manipulate us all, and solidifies their well-earned title of "Fake news." Three,

There were political shifts too. MTV and its featured artists helped crumble the Berlin Wall, it brought awareness to South African apartheid and it urged young people to feed the hungry in Africa. The channel also encouraged environmentalism and urged young people to vote. MTV also had its critics who questioned its moral compass, materialism and time-wasting power. It was the favorite target of cultural critics. MTV was grumbled about by parents much like smartphones are today. The once hot debates on MTV’s cultural impact seem dated. MTV introduced us to reality television and promptly stopped showing music videos. In a short time, MTV was rapidly replaced by the advent of computers and smartphones. It has never recovered… technology killed the video channel. YouTube is now the most favored platform for music video fans to find their favorites past and present. The late great Prince once said, “At one time, MTV was hip and suddenly it all became outdated.” Do you still enjoy watching music videos? this is all about power, the power of groups to simply make us change. It is not very different than people suddenly demanding to remove Confederate war memorials. It is someone imposing their social/political/environmental views on the rest of us without our agreement. Finally, our forefathers went nuts over a less than 2% hike in the tea tax and launched the Boston Tea Party. Imagine how they would react to a faceless group of conservationists inflicting their will on them? Imagine if you worked at a company making straws and learned that in a matter of a few months, you were going to get laid off because some hempwearing, tree-hugging, do-gooder cost you your job. There are always unintended consequences of these kinds of political campaigns…and don't fool yourself, politics is behind this. I will continue to request straws when I eat out. I do this because I like straws and now, I do it because I'm being told I shouldn't. When restaurants stop providing them, I will stop eating there - plain and simple. I refuse to have someone inflict change on me without my input and will respond with my dollars.

Profile for InsideNoVa

Culpeper Times | 8-9-2018  

Principal Interest, Kelsey's Big Give gives back, National Night Out makes a connection and more

Culpeper Times | 8-9-2018  

Principal Interest, Kelsey's Big Give gives back, National Night Out makes a connection and more