A little under a year ago we got tremendously excited when we learned that VH1 Classic was going to be reborn as MTV Classic. Visions of Remote Control marathons filled our heads along with the chance to finally see if lost classics like The State, The Ben Stiller Show, The Tom Green Show and The Andy Milonakis Show lived up to our memories. The MTV vault was overflowing with half-forgotten gems and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to see them again.
The first sign of trouble came when they only aired Beavis and Butt-Heads from the lame 2011 reboot, but we were so happy to see vintage Road Rules, Real World and unplugged concerts (including the super obscure Neil Young 1989 Freedom show) that we overlooked it. It felt like they were just getting started. Surely they were on the verge of dusting off tapes of Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes, I.R.S. Records Presents The Cutting Edge, Just Say Julie and countless other things from the golden age. It had to be only be a matter of time, right?
It wasn’t to be. Without any warning, they quietly yanked almost all non-video programming a few months ago. Now its basically nothing but Rock Block, total request playlist, i want my 80s and 90s nation. That may sound like a lot, but it mostly seems like they just show Tone Lōc’s “Funky Cold Medina” video 87 times a day. There are no VJ’s. There are no concerts. There are no old MTV shows. It’s the biggest disappointment since The State’s one night run on CBS in 1995.
To give you an idea of the kind of stuff we hoped that MTV Classic would serve up, here’s one hour and 18 minutes of MTV from June 16th, 1982. It was a time when the Kenny Loggins made young girls scream in his “I’m Alright” video, REO Speedwagon were young and cool, people knew Rick Springfield songs that weren’t “Jessie’s Girl” and the world was breathlessly waiting for the premiere of Glenn Frey’s video for “I Found Somebody.” VJ Alan Hunter was on hand to tell the world about new Genesis tour dates and the Talking Heads’ plan to play the Montreux Jazz Festival. Martha Quinn came on later to hype up an upcoming Squeeze concert on MTV and announce that the Rolling Stones had added “Chantilly Lace” by the Big Bopper to the setlist on their ongoing European tour. (They had a lot of time to kill each day, so any news was worth sharing.)
Why do we have to rely on the generosity of random YouTubers to see this stuff? Why has MTV Classic forsaken us? Do we need an MTV Classic Classic to take us back to those promising days of August 2016 when MTV Classic seemed to still be trying?