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No shock to Miley, no more voice from progressive radio

August 26, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
I preface everything that follows by noting that my days of MTV watching ended sometime about when The Boss (at Home) walked in and said, “I’m pregnant,” somewhere back in late 1987.

Our early and mid-1980s courtship and the early years of our marriage were partially scheduled around rock video shows. Does anyone remember “Radio 1990” on USA or “Friday Night Videos” on ABC or “Night Tracks” on WTBS or MTV actually airing creative music videos?

Still, I am not shocked to find that a formerly “wholesome teen” from a Disney show is now a gyrating, lingerie-wearing mess on stage performing what passes for music nowadays on some MTV program.

I was put off track only because it took me several minutes to finally find a photo of the Miley Cyrus performance that would be acceptable in the print edition Monday morning, both because I had to look through a lot of photos and because I HAD to look through a lot of photos (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), many of which looked like they should have accompanied a page of letters that start with, “Dear Penthouse, this never happens to me…” (And what was with the teddy bears anyway?)

But shocked? Nah.

First off, “wholesome teen” and “Disney star” should not be used in the same sentence, ever. There is a track record of them growing up into a life that looks like a slow-motion train wreck, often with disastrous consequences, but always with tabloid-screaming headlines attached. Indeed, if I’m ever told my granddaughter has won a Disney audition, I’m heading for the hills and dropping off the grid, after strongly advising against it.

Second, given the state of MTV and its provocative nature from back in the days when I was part of the MTV Generation, there’s nothing to be gained by being shocked in the least. It just fuels the MTV spirit, whatever that is. As one wag said Monday morning, it makes one long for the days when Madonna kissed Britney Spears (another Disney product) full on the mouth. Good clean fun? Please.

Third, given what is aired on MTV nowadays, it kind of makes me laugh to myself that mainstream radio stations are editing the words in formerly acceptable songs. Indeed the MTV anthem “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits is no longer acceptable in unedited form, given its absolutely politically unacceptable lyric in the second verse about the fellow with the earring and the makeup. The progressive rock founding station of the 1960s is now politically correct in its lyrics, kind of like some sort of Ed Sullivan show.

“Let’s Spend Some Time Together” is what the Stones sang on Sullivan, instead of “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” Jim Morrison and the Doors were banned from Sullivan for Morrison’s failure to change the lyric “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” in “Light My Fire” because it was a drug reference.

In the dim light of the 1960s and 1970s, there was no question that folks were going to spend the night together, girl, and not get much higher on ‘DVE.

Times have surely changed. I outgrew the MTV demographic a generation ago, and I pulled, for the first time in my life, the 'DVE button from my car radio this summer. Pandora hasn't been editing my song choices.

Each generation has a right to what passes for art and music. I get that. My dad sure as heck HATED the Doors (though I have a bunch of Glenn Miller in my collection nowadays, go figure.) It's not about not liking the music of those darned kids.

The Buggles were only half right. Video has usurped, not killed, the radio star in terms of sheer shock value. But if MTV is providing the voice to today’s generation that progressive rock radio did in its heyday, then God help us.


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