Thursday, January 19, 2012
The 1980s and the birth of MTV.
First launched on the 1st of August 1981 by Warner Communications, MTV may be argued to have begun a ‘new era’ in which the promotion and consumption of not only popular music but also, through association, popular culture became irresistible to the masses – in particular the American youth, who became known as the ‘MTV Generation’.
MTV is said to ‘revolutionised ’ the music industry through its non-stop showing of popular music videos to a growing American, and later on global, audience. The constant availability of such music videos made the artists behind them more accessible, with fans and audiences being able to see their favourite stars regularly for the first time. Not only did this increase the popularity of the artist’s music – for instance, Michael Jackson’s fourteen minute ‘Thriller’ video resulted in more than 800,000 copies of the record being sold each week – but also that of their fashion, style, and even dance moves. It may be argued therefore that the accessibility of artists and their music videos through MTV was significant in fuelling an explosion of popular culture and in turn consumption during the 1980s.
The image I have chosen is of the MTV logo, bright and bold in a seemingly typical 1980s style. The image also shows the iconic Rolling Stones ‘Lips and Tongue’ logo as well as the words “I want my”. By using the popular Rolling Stones logo within its own it is immediately apparent that MTV is at the forefront of popular music, which, along with its uniqueness, kept it in high demand.
For me this image reflects the historical and cultural context of 1980s America, which was arguably defined by affluence, consumption and a significant investment in, and celebration of, America and her popular culture.