SOUNDBREAKING | Jimmy Jam: MTV Was White Rock Music Television | PBS

SOUNDBREAKING | Jimmy Jam: MTV Was White Rock Music Television | PBS

There weren’t any
black artists on MTV. MTV was music television, but it was basically…
white…rock music television. It wasn’t really
music television. -♪ Everyone’s watchin’
to see what you will do ♪ ♪ Everyone’s lookin’ at you ♪ Oh -A lot of the early videos that
were played on MTV were rock video clips. And MTV didn’t necessarily see
itself being in the business of broadcasting kind of
diversity of popular music. -♪ Get it right -It was basically
an exclusionary medium. The founders of MTV
always imagined that their primary demographic
were white males, um, young males who were
into rock music and didn’t listen
to anything else. -♪ Everybody’s goin’
off the deep end ♪ ♪♪ ♪ Everybody needs
a second chance, oh ♪ -It was a good point. I would say that in those days,
MTV’s format was — it was a little bit too careful
and overly restrictive. -♪ Do you really
want to hurt me? ♪ ♪ Do you really want
to make me cry? ♪ -But what wound up happening
fairly quickly was we could play Culture Club, who was basically
doing R&B music. You know, we could play bands
that were doing what black artists were doing,
but they were white. And we weren’t playing black
artists doing the same thing. -♪ She’s a very kinky girl ♪ The kind you don’t
take home to mother ♪ ♪ She will never let
your spirits down ♪ ♪ Once you get her
off the street, oh, girl ♪ -Rick James was a rock ‘n’ roll
artist who belonged on MTV. -♪ She says that I’m
her all-time favorite ♪ ♪ When I make my move to
her room, it’s the right time ♪ ♪ She’s never hard to please ♪ Oh, no ♪ That girl is pretty wild now -♪ The girl’s a super freak -♪ The kind of girl
you read about ♪ -♪ In New Wave magazines -♪ That girl is pretty kinky -♪ The girl’s a super freak -♪ I’d really love
to taste her ♪ -♪ Every time we meet -He’s sitting on the sidelines
like “I want to be down. I have stuff to say, you know,
I want to be part of this — this — this dialogue
that’s going on.” -It’s a strange thing.
I watch MTV and I see all these acts, some of them don’t have
record deals, some of them
don’t sell 9 records. Then there’s acts that sell
millions and millions of copies of records and people want
to see them, and we’re not seen. Maybe it’s the skin we’re in. I don’t see many black videos
on MTV. I wish we could see more. -Michael Jackson broke
that race barrier because of the pressure
that his record label at the time put on MTV, saying, “If you don’t play
Michael Jackson’s videos, you’re not getting any other
videos from the record label.” -CBS at that time really
put the foot down and really, you know,
really used their leverage to get him in rotation
and the rest is history.


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