May 13 2014
MTV is a lot like the story of Icarus. It was small, but had huge aspirations. It was that boy who wanted to fly. Then, miraculously, it flew, and flew for quite some time. Then it got all cocky and shit and flew into the sun and melted its wax wings. This article is about the short period when it was still soaring. When it hadn’t yet figured out that its wings were wax, and it was learning all the cool things it could (and couldn’t) do. Back when MTV was (believe it or not), a part of our daily lives. For any of us with half a brain cell, those times have long since passed. So it is with a tear in my eye that I look back at five amazing shows that somehow came out of MTV. Now, it is all pregnant teenagers and fighting gen X-ers who wish they were pregnant teenagers still. Man, times have changed.
Ren N’ Stimpy
This show wins. Everything. Ever. The end.
Do I even need to say anything right now? I have written thousand word articles dissecting how essential and important this show was to my youth and all the cool youth of the nineties. From the insane (and now highly imitated) art style, to the fact that the show was clearly aimed at adults but disguised as a kid’s show, there is a good chance the best cartoons that exist right now (Like Adventure Time and Rick and Morty) would not exist had Ren N’ Stimpy not pushed the envelope first.
Also, happy happy joy joy. Nothing beats that.
Man, that logo is still cool looking to this day.
You guys didn’t just think I was going to talk about animated shows, and skip music completely even though this is MTV we are talking about, did you? I know MTV no longer has anything to do with music, but the 90’s were the last time it was ALL ABOUT the music. 120 minutes was a show that would air at midnight on Sunday nights, and would last, well, um, 120 minutes.
What made the show special is it pretty much went on to define the alternative sub-genres of music from the time. While regular MTV was playing Color Me Badd and Madonna, 120 Minutes was playing Radiohead and Tori Amos. It opened my eyes to how powerful and good real music was, and I knew no matter what, late Sunday nights there was going to be some amazing music on. I just had to get through a week of all the pop bullshit to get there.
Also, huge props to host Matt Pinfield. That dude really knew his shit about music.
In a time before shows like Robot Chicken fed our A.D.H.D need for ever-changing stimulation, shows like Liquid Television set the tone. It was a show that consisted of bits, 90% of which were animated and highly stylized. Basically, it was the show that pretty much set the tone for the entire Adult Swim network. Insane bits that seemed like they were made by people on drugs FOR people on drugs.
I mean, who can forget Dog Boy? I sure as shit can’t. Charles Burns (who directed that insanity) would go on to make Black Hole. One of the creepiest and best graphic novels of all time.
I still miss this show.
Sorry, but I just dig The Maxx. No excuses.
Yup, I am bringing up The Maxx, again. I know, I know. You kids are sick and tired of hearing me plug The Maxx every chance I get, but do you know what this is like for me? This Sam Keith comic was one of my favorite at the time, and the fact that the cartoon got almost EVERY ASPECT of it right was unheard of. Even the Spawn cartoon HBO was doing at the time was not as true to the source material that this was. Okay, I may be pushing it a bit, but Maxx was WAY ahead of its time.
A homeless dude who may be living in some dream world where he and his social worker are actually the alter egos of his super hero and her amazonian counterparts. Yes, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. I am sorry, but I will NEVER stop bringing up The Maxx, at least once a year on this site. I feel it is my duty.
Yo MTV Raps
That logo is so iconic.
Right now, in front of me, I have an unopened pack of Yo MTV Rap cards. I got them in 1995 and threw them in a drawer. And here I sit, clutching the unopened pack in my hands, wondering what wonders of 90’s rap may be lurking inside. Could it be Tupac? Could I have a Wu-Tang card in here? What if I have some insane, one hit wonder rapper like Vanilla Ice? Hell, that would be even cooler. Alas, I am not opening this pack. If you want them, you can hit me up here and offer me something cool. Other than that, they stay unopened.
I may have this card, right f*cking now, and not even know it.
Oh, but the show? I know some people liked one genre or the other of music (rap or rock?), but I liked everything, and I liked that MTV would put aside certain times for certain shows to focus on certain genres. Plus, the show was wild. Random people would show up drunk.
Oh man, this is priceless.
How can you NOT be into that? The point was, with shows like 120 Minutes and Yo MTV Raps, MTV was admitting that they knew most of their bubblegum audience sucked, and they still gave the best of us shows, too. I also loved Headbangers Ball, but you get me started on that shit, you’ll be here all day. My point is, shows like this showed they weren’t just some corporation who wanted to only focus on the teens and assholes. The sad part is, this piece just goes to show us how much further the network has fallen from grace since those days. Now, they only want to appeal to the pop audience full of douches and tools. But let this list stand as proof that once, once they existed for all of us.
Damn you, MTV. How far you have fallen…
Shows like this make me want to light the world on fire.
Guys, I always ask nicely, but this week I demand it of you. Go “LIKE” me. It is how I value myself as a person, and hovering around 685 is just not okay, if you ask me.
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