|The Buggles were right my friends ...and it's only taken nine years for
their prophetic MTV track Video Killed the Radio Star to weave its inevitable web around
an industry which presently appears to be inches from the back door of Mdme. Tousseau's
house of wax. The question "Beta or VHS?" quickly replaced ordinary dinner
dubitations such as "red or white wine?," "meat or potatoes?" and
"salt or pepper?".
In fact, if the classic track Tales of the Great Ulysses
had ever been caught in the swirling vortex of modern video delusion, we might be asking
ourselves a far more serious question. Creme or Sugar? The affordability and visual
ecstasy that modern day music offers for many of our prima donna artists has gotten way
out of hand. And I'm not just talking about the secular frontier, where people like Alice
Cooper can call every person under the age of 18 "Stoopid", while tossing in a
few buxom roadblocks amongst his distorted video trail mix.
As you can already tell by the tone of this piece, this exposÚ will not be some
self-serving milk toast plea to be a good little boy and join your local 4H establishment.
Let's just consider this opinion a warning of sorts; to the future of our visual industry
and the youth which look to our artist's example and instruction. MTV has taken the sultry
and suggestive radio lyric and given it arms, legs, tentacles and God knows what else. In
other words, they have become the landlords of Enema Cinema and our young people are
paying the rent.
Christian film kings have appropriately and obviously avoided the unrelatable
combination of music performance and scantily clad women. In fact, the closest we've ever
come may have been the old Stormie O'Martian aerobics videos (or was it the classic
"Amash-Aid: The Concert"). However, I feel that we're already on the verge of
touching the serpent's tail by turning ordinary, ministry-oriented artists into sleek,
streamlined, ready-for-idolatry figurines.
Much like the bronzed televangelist (a.k.a "Two-Take Tilden"), our most
admired artists make up for what they can't achieve on DAT or in concert by lip-syncing
and air-brushing their way into our VCR or video channel through elaborate sets, props and
makeup. Reality quickly emerges, sad to say, once they descend from the golden platform
and return to their humble surroundings. Hair extensions are folded and tucked neatly into
a moth-free environment...the two rolls of duct tape that held in their gut must be
surgically removed in order to pull off shiny rock boots and the quick tan lotion that
would make Don Ho envious must be cleaned off with a forklift and blowtorch.
It's no secret that concept and concert video is the way to go economically. And this,
of course, is the major lure. Video rentals across the country have doubled over the past
five years. Live concert attendance is down at least 30% from last summer and ticket
prices have escalated 15% in the same time frame. Fewer and fewer concert hounds are
leaving the security of their 99 cent concert hall, renting instead glossy reproductions
of Rush, Yes, White Heart or Amy due to the exorbitant cost of an arena ticket ($23
average). Even Metallica's lead singer, James Hetfield, whose band has just completed only
their second video, feels the crunch and compromise. "Nowadays it's really strange -
all these giant acts selling millions of records, and no one comes to see them,"
Hetfield told Entertainment Weekly, "They can watch them on MTV, pretty much. And
they can get a better look at 'em."
As a child, I was blessed to have a father who allowed me to become "junior disc
jockey" on our ride home from grade school. With the touch of a button I was able to
hear Brownsville Station's "Smokin' In the Boys Room", Sweet's "Ballroom
Blitz" and "I'm Not In Love" by 10 CC just before the garage door closed
loudly behind our bronze cruiser. The radio was my remote control and my mind became its
backdrop. At that time of my life I didn't need preconceived video images to decipher a
lyricist's intentions. I still don't. When a classic track envelopes my surroundings, a
certain mental aroma creeps up from behind and returns me to the song's point of
reference. Notice the word "classic track", a term which now relates to any song
recorded before the birth of MTV; a three letter word which often carries more weight than
G-O-D in the eyes of today's secular artist, management and label team.
As you can tell, video bores me to tears. In fact, if there were such a thing, I would
much rather watch a 24-hour channel devoted exclusively to fish cleaning and the history
of bait. Sarcastic, yet serious, I feel that this industry's vid-kings may want to
re-evaluate their intentions before video kills the Christian radio and concert star.
Begin by eliminating the ego barons whose soul desire is to be the next Jon Bon Jovi or
Kip Winger. If Jesus were a modern day producer, he would probably concentrate on the
concept (or parabalic) video which would translate a message through a sequence of
relative events. Concert and stage shots have their place, in small doses, especially for
those whose geographical status make it impossible to view today's most popular acts in
the live setting.
I'm sure that this opinion will be quickly extinguished with even the smallest sigh of
disdain, yet its an eerie feeling that has been rustling through my soul for several
months. Video certainly has the power to minister, edify and entertain; as almost any
medium does. However, it may also provide our na´ve and absorbent masses with just
another excuse to worship the little black container that lives inside the little black
box that keeps the big black book in the top dresser drawer. I don't hate videom; just
cheeseball video. I don't hate people; just the ones who star in cheesball video. In fact,
I don't even hate cheeseballs; just the ones that try to jump out of the can when I pop
open the safety cap...