At 30, MTV Is Already Over the Hill

The party seems a little subdued, doesn't it?

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It's really been that long: today marks the 30th anniversary of MTV.  But unlike the return of classic (by which we mean early 90's) Nickelodeon programming, the birthday celebrations planned for the now-mostly-reality-TV focused network seem a little subdued in our opinion. Take, for instance, NPR's music blog's down-beat appraisal of the last decade of the channel:

Not much has been added to the narrative in the last decade. Total Request Live limped off the air in 2008; scripted, reality (and scripted reality) TV eclipsed music programming; issues of censorship and taste continued with the 2004 MTV-produced Superbowl halftime show and Jersey Shore; music videos themselves declined briefly in popularity until faster web connections gave them a new home on another channel called YouTube.

But MTV isn't dead yet, just somewhat approaching middle age. For those looking to revel in a bit of nostalgia, here's the birthday celebration coverage we'd recommend:

  • The 'What It Meant For Generation X' Article - Slate's XX Factor blog opines about how it shaped and embodied the time and place: "MTV was not only my constant companion throughout my entire youth, but arguably it had the single biggest impact on the aesthetics and pop cultural attitudes of Generation X, the irony-loving generation that has quietly receded into the background while our earnest and more populous younger sisters of Generation Y take the media spotlight."
  • The 'Nostalgic Love Affair' Column - Entertainment Weekly's Dave Holmes love affair with MTV leads with a reference that only Generation X could decipher: "I’d trade their [the family's down the street] kid an hour of play with my Magnavox Odyssey video game console for an hour in their living room in front of MTV."
  • The 'What Happened to the Music' Birthday Refrain  - ABC News and New York Daily News swipe at the network's continued evolution away from the Music part of MTV. From ABC: "The truth is, MTV in its peak form, as a free-form, eclectic place to view music videos and learn about new music ruled!  Now it is a shell of its former self."
  • The 'Complete 30 Year Retrospective' Package - Think of it as the boxed set of tributes. Courtesy of The Guardian, you'll find the most comprehensive round up ("The 30 Best Moments") of the network along with a well-written pulse check article on its current vitality.
  • The 'Most Controversial Moments' Listicle - SF Weekly rounded up the more controversial moments, (spoiler) Madonna's "Like a Prayer" music video topped the Top 10.
  • The 'Famous Musician Blog Comment' - Kanye West's favorite whispery folk singer Bon Iver appears to have written a mini-defense of the network on his website today. At least we think so.
  • The First Video MTV Aired - The list of first videos the network aired has been circulating throughout this week, and here's the video that--as CNN pointed out--aired on midnight to kick off things. We, perhaps showing our age, hadn't previously heard of The Buggles:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.