Thursday, June 17, 2010

R.I.P. VH1

I can officially add VH1 to the list of networks that can, to paraphrase the incomparable Ice-T, “suck the sheets up my buttcrack.”

It happened during their “100 Most Shocking Moments In Music” countdown show. Chris Jericho was hosting, which was, admittedly, a reason to tune in. And I love these sort of countdowns. The ones that E! does about Hottest this, that, or the other…not interested. Good music countdowns? Ones about, you know, what VH1 is about (or so I thought, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself)? Sure, I’m game. So, I settled in and caught it from #30.

Ball one came from seeing the Rolling Stones/Altamonte debacle at #22. Really? The incident that marked the end of an era of music that produced some of the most notable work in history didn’t even crack the top 20? The skepticism set in, but I was still willing to play along.

Strike one came in seeing the commercials for new shows on VH1. Remember the thing about VH1 being about music? Yeah, forget it. I learned – and maybe I’m late to the party here – that, except for special occasions, VH1 apparently gave that up. “Dad Camp”? “The OCD Project”? What the hell does any of this have to do with music? I was crestfallen that the last bastion of music on basic cable was about to go the way of the dinosaur. I turned to my wife and said, “My God, VH1 is turning in to MTV.”

Time for a sidenote. For those that don’t remember when MTV was more than “The Hills” or “Laguna Beach” or whatever crap is on there now, this is not a good thing. This is the channel that once revolutionized music. Because of that, this is the channel that the world of music revolved around for a long time. MTV used to matter. Now, no matter how many Heidi Montags they give us (along with Douchelord Supreme Spencer Pratt), they can no longer make that claim. And to see VH1 going that route is truly a reason to mourn.

Strike two came with another commercial – this one, at least, for a music-related special. I’ll give them that little credit. The special, however, is about Bret Michaels. As a guy that covered his health issues in detail for Examiner, this may sound a little strange coming out of me. But, let’s face facts here for a minute: aside from making this generation’s panties wet when they were teenage girls (and how he did that IN FULL FRICKIN’ DRAG I still have no clue to this day), Bret Michaels has contributed the square root to diddly-squat to music. Period. For each “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, there’s a “Don’t Know What You Got (‘Til It’s Gone)”. For every “Talk Dirty To Me”, there’s a “Seventeen”. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing no one else didn’t do first, not even anything original. There is NOTHING that Poison – or Michaels – did that contributed anything to the lasting legacy of rock music. Anyone who cons themselves in to thinking that because he’s had a hard time with his health lately is nostalgically delusional.

As far as his health goes, you’d think a guy who’s fought with diabetes and has now had two serious health scares involving his brain would stop to take it easy for a minute. Instead, this clown sees this as his last five minutes of fame! He admitted that his doctors didn’t know he would show up on the “American Idol” finale to perform. Of course they didn’t, because they would have asked him, “Dude, is pushing yourself to sing that lousy ballad really worth risking your life?” Now, he’s back on television after hobbling out to become the new Celebrity Apprentice. Again.

The sad thing is, once he drops dead, everyone will rally around how great and important he was to music when that theory was already shot to hell two paragraphs ago. Every one of them will also overlook how much of an idiot he was for pushing himself back in to the limelight when he was literally risking his life to do so and hail him as a hero or a survivor. He’d actually be a survivor if he just stopped for a while, made sure he was healthy, and then resumed his career when he’s in better shape to do so. But, like every other rube that can’t stay out of the spotlight (once again, Montag, this has you written all over it), he refuses to do so.

Strike three – as in you’re out, and what finally pushed me to renounce VH1, even as a credible source – was their #1 pick for Most Shocking Moment In Music. SPOILER ALERT: it was the death of Michael Jackson. An incident not even a year old and, considering all the troubles he’d had post-trial and the fact that it’s out now that he was eating Prozac (among MANY other things) like the Foo Fighters ate Mentos, they still had the audacity to call “shocking”. Meanwhile, John Lennon, who was gunned down out of nowhere, was relegated to #2.

There’s no tirade about Jackson to be had here, because it’s already been done. I’ll snatch a few paragraphs from it, though, to basically illustrate what all the talking head comments on the show were about (and probably why he made top spot):

Then a funny thing happened. In the midst of a comeback staged because Jackson had found a set of financiers to bail him out of his personal debt, Jackson blindsided his fans and foes alike with the ultimate career move – he died when no one saw it coming. No one even knows how yet, let alone why. Maybe the stresses of a life no one would wish on their worst enemy. Or years of prescription medication abuse (to which Jackson himself has admitted to several times) catching up to him. Hell, between the debt and facing a world that hated his guts, it may well have been deliberate. Putting aside a lot of unanswered questions, the world stopped for a moment and realized that an immense talent had left this earth, never to be heard from again.

Then, the world did something equally strange. It forgave him. At long last, everyone believed his stories of being abused as a child, and how he was just a simple kid at heart who only ever wanted to laugh and play with other kids like he never could when he was a child himself. Everyone talked – after 18 long years – about how talented of a musician he was, and how that gift and the music it produced would never be forgotten despite the fact that it had been almost two decades since anyone thought to remember that fact in the first place.

Phrases were thrown around the internet like how "THE DEATH OF MICHEAL WAS LIKE 9/11 EVENT IN WORLD TRADE CENTER". And that was just the beginning, as those very same people that mocked and condemned the one-time King Of Pop now stood among those who voiced their desperation and sadness that Jackson had suddenly passed away. Hands were held and people sang the praises of one of the greatest careers in music history and bemoaned the star-crossed life that Jackson lead, feeling pity for the man they had once derided so openly.

So, basically, because America is alluva sudden in love with Michael Jackson again, he makes top spot. Not because, in taking the context of their countdown literally he deserved it (once again, Lennon’s death and a few others – like Kurt Cobain – came as more of a shock than this), but because everyone would have been mad if he didn’t.

I’m sorry, I’m not buying it. I don’t like being told how to think and feel. Between that and the fact that this is all coming from a trusted source for music yet another reality channel, VH1 and I are done. Thank God.

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