A few weeks ago we loyal citizens of the Colbert Nation were treated to the kind of television glory that can only arise from massive administrative failure. Stephen Colbert’s attempt to serenade us with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” (brought to you by Hyundai) was rudely circumvented by MTV’s president Van Toffler.
Functioning under the mistaken impression that his network and its accolades were in any way still relevant to the direction of popular culture, Toffler sent a missive across the court of Viacom to inform the Colbert Report that MTV had secured exclusive performance rights from the reclusive band, and, therefore, Colbert and Comedy Central should not be allowed to feature them prior to the MTV Video Music Awards. It was a move that smacked of sibling rivalry, a game of “He took my toy” that resulted in opportunity – as Colbert’s star studded Daft Punk dance party remains a viral mainstay weeks later.
Never mind that MTV’s target audience – the hip, edgy demographic that makes the trends and sets the standards – now follows the beacons held aloft by the likes of Colbert and Jon Stewart.
Beyond the exodus of their following, MTV’s sense of the Now seems to be staggered by a 15 minute delay. Their desire to maintain exclusivity on Daft Punk’s performances was based on their coronation of “Get Lucky” as the Song of the Summer. Never mind that, for the past several years, this moniker has been awarded by Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News.
No, “Get Lucky” was released in May. It was the Song of the Spring if anything. And a damn fine song it was, and is.
Following the NBC News rubric, “Blurred Lines” had already been declared the Song of the Summer, and everyone seemed to be pretty happy with that.
It would have been fair to argue a desire to maintain exclusivity on any Daft Punk performances based on the reclusive nature of the band. Instead, it seemed MTV was attempting to slough off existing media trends and make their own determinations regarding what was hip. And it was a pretty weak offering.
Nothing could have highlighted this more grandly than the ultimate failure of MTV to include their touted “secret performance” in Sunday Night’s VMA’s. Instead, we were treated to Robin Thicke performing the previously touted Song of the Summer, but, not content in their apparent surrender to the whims of culture, we had to watch Miley Cyrus molest him while he did it.
MTV, once the finely honed edge of a sword that split counter culture from the mainstream, cutting new facets in the gem of art and spectacle, seems finally to have dulled beyond whetting. What remains are the tattered banners and rusted amusements of a faded carnival, evoking pity and disgust in equal measure. With any luck, however, the programming trends that brought us 16 and Pregnant and Jersey Shore may push their wagon train over a cliff, and the ensuing explosion of human indignity will ensnare our attention like so much flaming wreckage.