When Michael Jackson died, a strange thing happened: MTV rolled back its reruns of Pimp My Ride and actually began to play Michael Jackson videos. The man basically changed how we all view music videos, and his video memorial reminded us how glorious the golden days of music television were back when they actually played music (and we actually watched). After the tribute was over, we started wondering what runs during a normally scheduled day at MTV. So we thought we'd find out by watching for 24 hours straight.
At first, I was sure someone had done something similar. I seem to remember a college lecture where my Postmodern Literature professor talked about guy who locked himself up in a hotel for a week of TV watching and recorded the whole thing in writing. I later discovered that Chuck Klosterman wrote an article about watching VH1 Classic for 24 hours, but where his article focuses on 24 hours of music videos, I kinda wanted to see how little music is actually played on Music Television network.
I begin after a day of work and lay one simple ground rule: I can only leave the couch for food, drink and bathroom.
8:00 p.m. — 16 & Pregnant
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to attend prom while bearing child, this is the show for you. The show emphasizes two things: 1. High school is a terrible, terrible place that I never want to experience again 2. I never want to be pregnant, even though it would take some freak scientific phenomenon on par with Schwarzenegger in Junior for that to happen.
This episode sees Amber and Gary as they ready for the birth of their baby girl, and I feel a little dirty watching it. I’d like to think that this program was made to educate viewers, but it feels like it's just scaring the living shit out of everyone while glorifying the potential monetary gains of teen pregnancy.
Amber and Gary’s midwife passes along tidbits of knowledge, like what an epidural is and what induced labor means. Death Cab For Cutie provides the soundtrack for Gary’s proposal and Feist’s “I Feel It All” is (accurately) played during the labor.
I come away from the program remembering the midwife’s comparison: “Pushing a baby out is a lot like pushing a poop out.”
9:00 p.m. — Another episode of 16 & Pregnant, with Ryan and Maci.
Maci divulges that she broke the news of her pregnancy to her mom in a text message—a sign of the apocalypse?
9:14 p.m. — 16 & Pregnant has its own Rhapsody station. I barely catch this as a little tag at the bottom of the screen informs me that Coco B’s “Bluebird” is playing. Well, kind of playing. To say music is featured on this program is a generous statement. Songs play for roughly 20 seconds and are hardly a focal point. Music is to MTV as Mike Gravel was to the presidential debate series. They're both there, but you don't pay much attention.
9:56 p.m. — Ryan is getting a tattoo when Death Cab’s “Brothers On A Hotel Bed,” comes on. Music videos have been subsisted for background music to construct some sort of mood in reality television.
An emo band called All Time Low serenades me on a sandy beach while the credits roll. I pray for no more 16 & Pregnant.
10:00 p.m. — 16 & Pregnant
Sigh. During the first commercial break, an ad for Rhapsody comes on with Rob Thomas walking in slow motion through a stampede featuring a fire breather, a giant green bear, a yodeler and an angel. It’s too early to be hallucinating. “Rhapsody. Music without limits,” the announcer says.
Sorry Rhapsody, my music has a few limitations, one of which is Rob Thomas.
10:37 p.m. — I take a break to make a quesadilla. I come back just in time for the labor and a glimpse at the umbilical cord. I no longer want to eat my quesadilla.
11:00 p.m. — 16 & Pregnant
It's a rerun of Ebony and Josh, and I pick up a lot more of the show's essential minutia this time around. Both Ebony and Josh come from military backgrounds and want to join the air force after graduation. Josh’s parents are very protective and make him ask permission to stay over at Ebony’s.
11:19 p.m. — A clip for Lady Ga Ga’s “Love Game” heralds the show. Ga Ga’s lyrics,"Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick, I wanna take a ride on your disco stick” seem ill-fitting to welcome back a show revolving around teen pregnancy.
11:39 p.m. — During labor, a song comes on that I find vaguely intriguing. I miss the name of the artist and song so I write down what I think are the words. Then I Google “free roam make it home in my head lyrics,” but for some reason I don’t think “Wherever I May Roam” by Metallica is the song.
11:43 p.m. — I discover Perez Hilton pees 18 times a day during a cryptic ad for GYT. I think it’s an advocacy group for STD testing. Thanks Perez, I’ve never read your website, but I already know way more about you than I care to.
All Time Low rounds out the credits as I happily discover my tour de 16 & Pregnant is ending.
12:00 a.m. — Is She Really Going Out With Him
Yay, a new show! The name pretty much sums it up. Thirty minutes of tools sporting Ed Hardy shirts, greased muscles and Oompa Loompa tans while girlfriends ruminate on the pros and cons of their relationship.
In this episode we meet jobless Blake, whose girlfriend Michelle provides for his every need, while Blake “chills” with his “entourage,” while referring to a certain body part as his “baby arm.” Michelle’s critique of his television veg-outs make me a little insecure. I listen to "Man In the Mirror" as I long for old MTV.
12:30 a.m. — DJ & the Fro
There seems to be a whole genre of cartoons that air late at night and are geared toward an audience that is either A) really stoned B) really drunk or C) a combination of the two. Unfortunately, neither Redman or Method Man could make this show interesting, and the red-headed character with the afro reminds me of Carrot Top. I zone out while trying to drum up a list of illustrious careers in red-headed comedy:
1. Conan O’Brien
2. Lucille Ball was funny back in the day.
3. Wasn’t Janeane Garofalo a red head at one point?
4. Doesn't Zach Galifianakis have a red beard?