An MTV documentary that was a 2019 Tribeca Film Festival favorite, is set to air Tuesday night on A&E.
What would Gen-X look like without MTV? My last years at home with my parents were spent stealing every moment of TV time I could get just to see my favorite music videos: Nikita by Elton John; Desert Moon by Dennis DeYoung and Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen. I had to suffer through endless reels of Elton John’s I’m Still Standing and Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love videos just to see those videos play once in a while.
Biography: I Want My MTV Documentary
On Tuesday, a wonderful documentary, Biography: I Want My MTV (1 hour, 26 minutes), will premiere on A&E. It’s been called a nostalgic and thrilling ride for Gen-Xers. I know I’ll love it but will never be as thrilling as watching real MTV when I was just 18-years-old. In some ways, it feels like that was yesterday. In other ways, it feels like that was someone else a million years ago.
According to Broadway World, the film first premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2019. It went on to become a crowd favorite at festivals all over the world, in large part because of an amazing review in Variety. Here is an excerpt from that review:
From its scrappy early days, MTV was a fusion of happenstance and necessity-as-the-mother-of-invention. The logo was found on a crumpled-up, discarded piece of paper at the bottom of a pile of proposed logos; the beauty of it is that it would prove infinitely malleable. The decision to use NASA footage in the interstitial promos was based on the fact that it was in the public domain (and would therefore cost nothing!), but what a master stroke that proved to be. It ended up defining MTV’s audacity as the moon shot of the John Hughes generation.”
Here is the trailer for the MTV documentary.
If you weren’t around to watch MTV in the 1980s and ’90s, you have no idea how big it was.
“It was Spotify, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok — all of these entities grouped into one,” said Salt Lake City filmmaker Tyler Measom, a Utah native. “Everyone in our generation has their MTV story. Everyone had this relationship with MTV. … It was, to our generation, everything.”
In 2010, MTV Officially Dumped Generation X
In 2010, I wrote about the president of MTV saying he was pushing Generation X out. It was 10 years ago when Twitter was still super fun. I memorialized some of the funny tweets about his comments in this post. Finally, when Neil Armstrong died in 2012, I blogged about the inspiration behind MTV’s famous Man-On-The-Moon branding.
MTV will always be a favorite part of my coming-of-age years. I was so sad when it all disappeared. I would love to hear about your favorite MTV videos. Join the conversation on Facebook!
More MTV Documentary Links
Here are a few more MTV documentary links you might enjoy.
Today’s Top 5: Once Upon a Long Ago…
This is a 2019 post on the blog, Old Grey Cat. It’s a look back on one Gen-Xer’s music journey including their memories of MTV. I really love this piece. I miss personal blog posts like this. Here is an excerpt:
Once upon a long ago, aka the late ‘70s, children searched for treasure. We pedaled banana-seat bikes to discount department stores – a K-Mart or Montgomery Ward, say – in hopes of striking gold in the record bins. Everything was cheaper there, but the titles were sparse, so in time we rode instead to a nearby music shop whose proprietor let us browse for what seemed like hours on end…Click here to continue reading.
From the Summary for the Tribeca Film Festival:
A nostalgic and thrilling ride, I Want My MTV takes its audience back to the beginning, when the idea of a television channel devoted solely to screening newfangled videos from music’s hottest stars seemed destined for failure. From DEVO and Cyndi Lauper to David Bowie and Madonna, the film provides a peek into how the videos that defined a generation, as well as how the team of young executives—now some of the most prolific and powerful leaders in American media—tasked with growing this seed of an idea, would quickly flourish into a beloved but often controversial cultural juggernaut. Features commentary from Sting, Tegan and Sara, Fab 5 Freddy, Jerry Cantrell, Tabitha Soren, and more.”
Anna Lensch worked on the animation, graphics, and illustrations for the documentary. She’s published a really nice piece on her website about it. Her work really makes the documentary colorful and extra special.
Inspired by the eclectic animation styles and use of media in the early days of MTV, I chose to use a combination of stop motion, hand-drawn frame by frame character animation, and digital compositing techniques. I carefully selected my color palette from studying popular colors used in early 1980’s fashion, art, and media, as well as genuine 1980’s vintage art supplies.
There was a book by that title published about 8 or 9 years ago that covered some of the same territory. I remember that the reviewer said that Martha Quinn was so cute she could make your “cranium detonate.”
I cannot disagree, although there is an ongoing contest between her and early-Scandal Patty Smyth…
The language of all first-wave Xers must include Martha Quinn and Patty Smyth! I loved both, but especially Smyth. I never owned any of her albums though and didn’t develop a big interest in her music until the early 1990s. Also, I have seen that book cover. When you look up the lyrics to the Dire Straits song it doesn’t mention the now-famous line.