I Sez: Sad That We Need Pete Wentz to Bring Back Videos to MTV
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 12, 2008
He VJs like you, only sweeter
If you had told me ten years ago that simply playing music videos on a Friday night would be an act in such stark contrast to the rest of their schedule that they’d actually take out commercials to advertise it, I probably would’ve put on Stabbing Westward’s “Why?” and cried in my room for about a month. In fact, I remember back in the day that Friday night was the one time of the week that generally wasn’t reserved for music videos, as it would generally be the time when MTV trotted out their more esoteric programming–The Head and Aeon Flux, Rockumentary Remix, stuff involving Jenny McCarthy, and so on. And that was fair enough, since that was the one time of the week outside of school hours where I wasn’t necessarily glued to the TV.
Back in 2008, Friday night is still the one time I try to make a point of not staying home and watching TV (though I love catching those House reruns on USA), and now it’s all us video lovers have left. Of course, there are plenty of other channels I have on which to find music videos now–besides VH1 and BET, there’s MTV2, VH1 Classic, FUSE, a couple of country channels if I get really desperate, and of course, a little site called YouTube. But all that said, call me sentimental, because there’s still something more special to me about catching a vid on MTV–more than any of those other channels, an appearance on MTV just means something. FUSE and MTV2, neutered though the latter has been over the last ten years, still take chances on a couple buzz artists every now and then, and being featured on VH1 might be a greater sign of irrelevancy than relevancy. But an appearance on MTV, compromises and all, still registers to me as a certain level of Making It. And as both an avid Pop Watcher and a true video fan, that’s important to me. So if this is the biggest concession MTV is willing to make to the video crowd at the moment, fine, I guess I’ll take it.
But what embassador do they choose to re-extend this olive branch to the general public? Pete Fucking Wentz. FOB’s bassist / lyricist / creative director / pinup has been handed the reigns to FNMTV, along with someone named James Montgomery, apparently. Sadly, it sort of makes sense–no popular band, and no real pop artist of any genre except for maybe Justin Timberlake–has consistently put the effort into making Event Videos the way Fall Out Boy has. They make videos with plots, gimmicks, even some pre, mid and post-song dialogue, the sort of stuff you’d see all the time back when Puff Daddy was peeling off 15-minute videos like they were three-cent stamps, but which no one really puts the effort into making anymore. The videos aren’t particulary good, necessarily–they always have the idea right, but they never seem to put enough thought or effort into the execution–but at least their heart is in the right place. And at the epicenter of all their videos is Wentz, the focal point and mouthpiece for a band that doesn’t seem to mind abdicating responsibility for mostly everything to their heartthrob.
But is this guy going to shoot the program in the foot before it ever gets off the ground? Yeah, the guy’s probably going to appeal to the girls too old for Miley Cyrus but not old enough for, uh, My Chemcial Romance, but at least according to the show’s press release, this seems to be a show more for the 18-34 demographic, or at least for the thinking 13-18 demo–like MTV’s very own Adult Swim. And despite being in a band that probably grew their fanbase out of thinking teen males, there aren’t many people who have less in common with that viewerbase than Wentz. I mean, what does your average awkward, uncool high school dude have in common with a fashionable, CRIBS-approved millionaire that makes a point to appear as shirtless as possible in all his videos and throws it into one of the Simpson sisters on a nightly basis? What’s more, the guy kinda seems like a jerk–preening, calculating, and with a terrible sense of irony (I often cite his referring to the Bon Jovi and Journey he oh-so-cleverly plays during his DJ sets as “the worst shit” as the prime example of his tooliness). Who wants that?
It’s sad that it took this guy to finally get videos back in prime time on MTV. But if he does manage to break through to the target demographic–or gets pre-pubescent girls interested in the Event Video again–I just might be willing to wipe the slate clean. Hey, Infinity on High was pretty decent, wasn’t it?