Well, here we are: I finally finished this 572-page book. (Not counting the index.) The music video era has truly ended, brought on by grunge and The Real World. Of course, Nirvana did make music videos, but they were intentionally subversive. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” featured all the outcasts of high school, everyone that wouldn’t normally be in a music video. Music videos in general had just become more about art and less about big hair and other excesses.
Despite the shifting profile of the channel, an executive described 1990-1992 as another “golden era” of MTV. A reason for this is that MTV demonstrated its influence in the world beyond music. When they covered the 1990 election, it engaged a demographic that historically hadn’t been inclined to vote.
The artists, staff, and viewers of MTV have conflicting feelings about what happened to the channel after it became less about music. The final chapter is titled “You Have No Idea How I Miss It.” They acknowledge MTV for what it was when it started: a cultural revolution that brought people together, created and/or broke careers, and shaped a generation. That’s the version of MTV that they miss. And indeed, that’s the nature of nostalgia. We focus on the parts that we like and were meaningful to us.
Overall I’d give the book a 3.5 out of 5. I Want My MTV is great for behind-the-scenes stories and it’s amazing how many famous voices they were able to gather. That said, I think the book could be about 20% shorter. (For example, the chapter about that was exclusively about drugs didn’t feel necessary; I got the point from the other anecdotes.) As I said in a previous review, it got a bit repetitive.