MTV takes on a new music channel with a short Fuse

Sept. 30, 2004, midnight | By John Visclosky | 16 years, 3 months ago

The original music-TV hybrid fights a losing battle against a punky competitor

It's very easy to entertain me. I can stare at a lava lamp for hours and wonder how the manufacturer got molten hot liquid magma into a bottle. I've kept myself up for entire nights in hotel rooms because I love the way the light turns on and off when I clap. I even enjoy calling the cable-company just because I can't get enough of that music they play when they put me on hold for hours at a time. But even I stop being amused when I have to watch Nick and Jessica do their dumb and dumber Newlyweds routine for another season.

Over the years I've watched with mounting disgust as MTV—and yes, it does still stand for Music Television—has steadily digressed from music into a veritable dullapalooza. I saw MTV News transform from an topical information outlet into the show that gives hourly updates on Paris Hilton's latest sex scandal. I looked on wistfully as the casts of the Spring Break specials became whinier and stupider. I cried as the TRL rankings began to fill up with videos from the untalented sisters of untalented celebrities featuring music that sounds like a drowning kitten being dragged through an engine and lyrics that could have been written by gerbils on speed.

I'm not mad because MTV has stopped fighting The Man by turning into The Man, or because the channel insists on airing shows that are less entertaining than watching a gaggle of senior citizens in a nursing home try to break dance to a Swedish polka. I'm mad because the "Music" in "Music Television" has utterly disappeared.

Taking the place of music videos on MTV are poorly written, high-gloss soap operas passed off as real life. How many times will we have to watch Jessica Simpson eat potpourri leaves before she figures out that they're not a salad? How long will we listen to the Osbournes say *&@% before we get *&@%ing tired of it?

Desperate, I turned to my TV Guide Magazine. Surely there remained a music channel that played something other than videos from the soundtrack to the latest Hillary Duff movie.

That's when I found it: the Holy Grail of the music channel. I had discovered Fuse, a scrappy cable channel that promised to play all music, all the time. It was like being caught in a time warp—Fuse was the rebel of television, the channel that dared to salute those of us who are about to rock. Fuse was the MTV from 20 years ago.

Curious to see if I could survive in an MTV-less universe, I completely cut myself off from my estranged channel, hoping that Fuse would be enough to satisfy my music-television palette.

Fuse had everything I ever wanted from a music channel; it featured videos and live performances from some of my favorite bands like P.O.D. and Puddle Of Mudd, and the channel allowed me to influence what music was played by web vote.

Feeling vindicated, I realized that I could abandon MTV without any guilt or shame and adopt Fuse as my official new music channel of choice. Sure, in another five years or so, Fuse may become just like the current version of MTV when it will stop airing music videos and start churning out repulsive reality shows. But that's okay because by then, some other music channel will have come along with an even cooler name.

They could even dedicate this new channel to the current MTV. I'm thinking that something like Empty-V would be an appropriate name.

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John Visclosky. John Visclosky is, suffice it to say, "hardly the sharpest intellectual tool in the shed," which is why he has stupidly chosen to here address himself in the third person. He's a mellow sort of guy who enjoys movies and sharing his feelings and innermost … More »

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