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Do you think MTV had a legitimate reason for racially discriminatory programming during the early years?

If you are old enough to remember when MTV actually meant Music Television and it played music videos around the clock, you probably recall that during those first few years they refused to air videos from the major black artists. I recall the claim that they had a rock format (implying that blacks did not did rock and everything that white acts did on their station was rock). Heavy rotation artists like Madonna, Culture Club, Duran Duran, and Wham were hardly rock. In fact, they were doing R&B and dance music - genres that black artists owned. Early 80s was new wave. I listened to alot of black artists that were doing that: Rick James, Cameo, Andre Cymone, BarKays, Grace Jones, Rockwell, Nona Hendryx, and of course Prince (who one of the first blacks to get into rotation along with Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie)
akindheart · 61-69, F
I remember MTV but i didn't know about discriminating against blacks. that is interesting
@akindheart Think if those first few years after MTV launched and see if you can recall how many black artists that they played. The biggest artists in the world were black and couldn't get on MTV at first. There is an interview that one of the original VJs, Mark Goodman, did with David Bowie where Bowie calls them out on this racism. It should still be on YouTube if interested
Zonuss · 41-45, M
No.. There was never a [b] legitimate [/b] reason for discrimination. It was never justified either. Blacks have contributed to the music industry more than anyone else. And we are involved in all genres of music worldwide. But I assume they thought [b]rock n roll[/b] would die out eventually and it kinda has. But we can say the same about the state of [b]hip hop.[/b]
So it should have never been an issue in the first place. ☺️
lexiconic · 61-69, M
There is never a legitimate reason for any form of discrimination !!!
So it's gotta be no
JimboSaturn · 51-55, M
Apparently they did not want to play rap.
@JimboSaturn There were black artists doing rock and pop - That is why they eventually had to play Prince, Micheal Jackson, Whitney Houston. MTV was not a rock channel. Culture Club, Wham, and Madonna were not rock. There were black videos - I watched them on BET (when it was actually owned and operated by blacks) while MTV refused them. I am old enough to have seen the moment that MTV first went on the air and I loved it because I loved new wave like Billy Idol, Duran Duran, The Police, and The Clash. But I also loved Prince, Rick James, Cameo, BarKays, Janet Jackson, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan - who had videos and record deals with major labels. Rick James called out MTV for not airing his videos while he had a huge crossover hit with "Super Freak" - an actual new wave song that would have been on MTV if he was white. Look it up if you want to quote history to me. I was there and I know what happened.
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MrBrownstone · 41-45, M
They had Yo! MTV Raps
@MrBrownstone That doesn't count. Yo MTV Raps did not come to the US until 1988. MTV started in 1981 and they refused to air most black artists and played NO rap videos from black people through they played Rapture by Blondie - a video of a white rock group doing rap. CBS had to threaten to withhold videos from ALL of its artists if MTV did not air Micheal Jackson's video.

Black people invented rock, blues, soul, and jazz - defining them as just rap is flat out racist whether you know it or not.
MrBrownstone · 41-45, M
@ManKing What about the song walk this way?
@MrBrownstone That was 1986. MTV launched in 1981. After being shamed into integrating the programming a little (they still only played about 4 or 5 black artists like Prince Lionel Richie, Micheal Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Billy Ocean), that collaboration between Run DMC and Aerosmith proved that shutting blacks out was stupid and racist.
uncalled4 · 51-55, M
Prince was definitely played before Thriller was out. Don't forget the opening cry of "Ladies and Gentlemen, Rock N Roll!" when they launched. I do not think it was racial as much as it was being shortsighted or trying to fit a format. The bands/artists you listed were pop/CHR artists although they charted on R&B. It was good that Epic pressured MTV.
@uncalled4 In 1983, Michael Jackson became the first black artist in heavy rotation on MTV - Prince followed shortly thereafter with videos from Little Red Corvette and 1999. MTV played pop artists from day 1. Madonna, Wham, Culture Club, Duran Duran were nothing but pop - just like Jackson, Prince, Lionel Richie, Whitney Houston so that rock format excuse holds no water whatsoever. The reason they charted R&B is because they were black and the reason the white acts were classified as pop is because they were white. No one was buying the claim that MTV was a rock only format. That is why Rick James got some attention when he had the balls to call MTV out for not playing his videos when he had a major crossover hit with "Superfreak" - a song that was as new wave as anything that MTV was airing in heavy rotation.
uncalled4 · 51-55, M
@ManKing It's not an argument, that opening VO in 8/1/1981 was a clear declaration that the channel WAS about rock and roll--like a mission statement. But, i think they were learning as they went along. A major station in NYC that had previously been AOR changed to CHR in 1983(WPLJ) and I think that MTV saw the writing on the wall--they needed to get with the times. I was a DJ at a local roller rink as this was happening. Now, that meant more "club" music was coming in, like Soul Sonic Force's "Planet Rock", and yes, I had the first Madonna 12" of Everybody/Physical Attraction in 1982. That was just a club hit and hadn't crossed over yet. So there was a sea change coming, and MTV got on the bandwagon. I saw that dance music was becoming more mainstream---It no longer had the "disco" stigma, and I saw this as I DJed from 1981 to 1983.
@uncalled4 They were not rock - regardless of what they called the format or what they proclaimed. I was sitting there watching the moment MTV first came on the air so I know what they said but I know what they did as well. That is the point. No it is not an argument - the point is not refutable. They played pop from day 1 as long as it was white. There was pop and rock by blacks artists - major blacks artists on major labels - that they shut out. The only difference between them and the artists that got air time was the color of their skin. Point blank. CBS had to threaten them with pulling ALL of their videos if they did accept Micheal Jackson's videos. They had to do it because they were pressed for content - they didn't want to do it. I give them no quarter on that though I loved those first years of MTV. I listened to all that music but I had to turn to BET to see the other music that I loved that had people that looked like me.
Everything else is pablum as far as I am concerned.

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