Carson Daly Killed MTV, But Not For The Reason You Might Think
Here Lies MTV Aug 1, 1981 - Jan 7, 2002
Beloved By Millions. Adored By Fans.
Killed When Last Call With Carson Daly Premiered.
Brittney Spears was nine years old when Nirvana released Nevermind; that flagship of alt-rock ascendancy. The band that killed hair metal and ushered in an era of apurpose snark and homespun narcissism ruled the airwaves.
Brittney Spears was in the fifth grade.
When Kurt Cobain blew his brains out, she was lip-synching with Justin Timberlake on The Mickey Mouse Club.
But when the Backstreet Boys shut down Times Square in October of 1999, Brittney Spears’ cohort was high school age, impressionable, and after nearly two decades of unsurpassed American prosperity, ready to spend mommy and daddy’s paycheck. And spend they did.
MTV was always prudish with their product. One can never determine exactly how much the success of the acts promoted on the station was attributable to MTV and how much was simply MTV reacting to society. Up until TRL, they were always coy drivers of culture. After its premier in 1998, MTV were the unapologetic shovelers of Glitterati, and where in the past the youth would not be content with being pitched to, the majority were on too happy a pop-sugar high to care.
But as the life-cycle of that particular cohort was winding down, MTV was hesitant to change strategies in programming to attract the next wave of youth culture. They stubbornly refused to evolve, to stay cutting-edge.
The #1 video on TRL on that fateful January 7th, 2002 was Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me A River. Far from the Stones’ Altamont, it still represented the end of the crazy pop-laden fever that drove MTV for much of the previous half-decade.
The song is Timberlake’s ode to Ms. Spears; suggesting that she had fucked another guy while they were the teen-dream golden couple. In the video, he breaks into her house and videotapes himself on her bed fucking another woman. Quite a bit more adult than the bashful jailbait of Oops I Did It Again.
The mindbogging part of the equation is that MTV never read the writing on the wall, but it’s not hard to see why they refused to. 2002 was far from the end of the train ride. The crowds were still in Times Square. The stars continued to stop by the studio. The money continued to roll in.
And while MTV continued to delude themselves on Gold, Carson Daly realized it was time. He had grown up. The original fans of the show had grown up. But MTV continued to try to court those high schoolers (who were in fifth grade when Baby One More Time was released) by convincing themselves that Avril Levine was Britney Spears.
By the end of 2002, Daly was barely visible anymore in the Time Square studio, and was out for good by 2003. Here are just a handful of albums that were released in those two years:
Elephant - The White Stripes Songs for the Deaf - Queens of the Stone Age Hail to the Thief - Radiohead Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco Fever To Tell - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
All incredibly influential albums to the high school aged subset of American culture, and all completely ignored by MTV. Ever content to stick with the TRL format, the American Bandstand of its generation continued to spat and fizzle for five more years until it’s quite timely death in 2008.
Since Carson Daly left TRL, facebook was founded, youtube launched, 300 million iPods were sold, and the replacement program for MTVs flagship follows eight drunk, deplorable Guidos as they demolish Western Civilization.
January 7, 2002 was the apex; the point of no return. It represented the crest. On that date, the of influence MTV had on music reached its high tide. From then on, the behemoth that was Total Request Live began to shrink into a shell of itself. It was on that date the MTV sealed its fate and committed hare kari. And for that, we should all thank Carson Daly every day.
I could tell you a number of things about last night’s premier of ¡ROB!, but it wouldn’t be anything you didn’t already know.
I could tell you how unbelievably unbelievable that a guy like ¡ROB! can end up with a leggy, three-inches-taller-than-him mannequin of a wife like Claudia Bassol. Or, I could just remind you that Rob Schneider — yes, the real Rob Schneider, like, the dude in real life — is married to this woman.
I could tell you how completely convenient all of the characters plot point’s were. That so many situations benefit so perfectly from ¡ROB!’s “OCD”. Why else would somebody drop their smart phone into a pitcher of sangria if not their terrible fear of having his personal space bothered by his new family gathering around to it to see his wedding photos. Or perhaps we can forgive the CBS writers for confusing OCD with claustrophobia.
I could tell you that Uncle Hector’s scheming, quasi-Azaria-esque, undermining personality will eventually — and perhaps [fingers crossed] in every episode — lead his penis into places where it shouldn’t be. I mean, why stop with just ¡ROB! fake sodomizing his grandmother? It’s only a matter of time before Hector’s peevish illegally immigrated ass ends up arrested for statutory rape.
I could tell you that perhaps the producers shot their wad a little too early with almost every single certainly full-blown racist Mexican reference you can think of. Siestas, Julio Iglesias, veladoras of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Selena, tequila, gardeners, and a family of countless aunts, cousins and nephews (except, suspiciously, ¡ROB!’s new belle, is an only child). I assume they’re saving that killer Menudo joke for the season finale.
I could tell you that Cheech Marin’s blasé delivery matches perfectly the unenthusiastic tenor of this spud’’s viewing experience, making it the only relate-able aspect of the entire show.
I could tell you all of these things.
Or I could tell you what everybody already knew before the numbers came in. That 13.5 million people watched last night. That ¡ROB! is a hit. And that the only thing left to do is wait for the CBS intern to hit the laugh track the exact moment after Uncle Hector says “¡ROB!, I swear, she toll me she was eighTEEEEEN!!” and wait for the inevitable destruction of America.