I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution - music and television history

You may not be aware of this, but MTV doesn't play music videos anymore. If you are the kind of person that loves to lament this fact, then I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution may be the book for you. Even if you are just merely interested in the early days of MTV, or just want to hear some gossip, you may want to pick it up as well.

The book, authored by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, covers the channel from its creation up until 1992, when The Real World debuted, which was considered a sea change for the network away from its original ethos, even if non-music shows, such as Remote Control and House of Style premiered before the show that began the reality TV revolution. That being said, don't think this book is going to short change you on information. The book runs over 500 pages and includes interviews with hundreds of people.

It is an oral history, which means that most of the book involves quotes from a litany of folks, with the authors both organizing said quotes and providing introductions to the chapters. The interviewees range from musicians such as Dave Grohl and Weird Al Yankovic to MTV personalities like Julie Brown and Cindy Crawford to music video directors to many executives, including the founders of the network. In particular, if you are a fan of hair metal you are in for a treat, because there are a ton of them included in the book, which makes sense considering MTV pretty much turned these bands into commodities.

The book isn't all just stories of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. There is a lot of interesting stuff about the machinations of creating the network, and how various shows came about and what it was like working for MTV. There is also plenty of good information about music video directing as well, and how it really grew overblown, in thanks to folks such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince, three of the most prominent musicians in the book. You can learn about David Fincher and Michael Bay's early days as video directors, or how shows like Yo! MTV Raps came about.

Of course, if what you are interested in is sex and drugs, your cup will overflow. There is an abundance of stories about the salacious goings on not just on music video sets, which were more or less coke parties where they took a few minutes to create a video in between doing lines, but in MTV's offices as well. Drug use and sex were abundant there as well. When you are young, running a network, making big bucks, and hangings with celebrities, that can happen. Few of these stories feel gratuitious, however, as most of them tend to speak to something about the culture or of the business at the time. For example, if you are for equality for women, you may find yourself fairly annoyed at times.

Since these stories are being told by a ton of people, there is often different details given to the same story. A lot of them are just slight variations on the same thing, one story says a guy was punched in the face, another said he was punched in the chest and so on. However, on occasion the stories are very different. In particular, there is a lot of competing tales about how Michael Jackson first came to be played on MTV. As such, in some instances you can't really know the whole truth, but that doesn't make the book any less interesting.

I Want My MTV is pretty much a must read if you have any interest in the history of MTV or music videos. The book is funny, informative, and engaging. I don't remember the early days of MTV. In fact, I didn't watch a second of it before 1992 (my age has a lot to do with that.) Despite that fact, I thought the book was really good. I laughed, I learned, I found out that Julie Brown is a real obnoxious woman. If you remember the early days of MTV, then you will probably like this book even more than I did.

By Chris Morgan

About the author

Chris Morgan has written for an abundance of websites. He once cowrote a show for The Second City in Detroit. It was closed soon after. He has a podcast: http://cheers.libsyn.com/rss He wrote a novel: http://www.amazon.com/Smoke-Gets-Your-Eyes-ebook/dp/B00961KJNW/

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