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December 02, 1993 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-12-02

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4 The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, December 2, 1993

Change in the meter
When helping someone out becomes a crime
A week ago you were sitting Thanksgiving, just got me going
around the table stuffing yourself with about how we as a society don't
turkey, dressing and all the other tra- encourage kindness or gratitude. We
ditional fixins. Or maybe you were are so desensitized to the needs of
content with poppin' a turkey pot pie the people around us that we hardly
iq the microwave. Whatever you ate, notice homeless people huddling
the point was to be thankful and rec- over vents. We walk down the streets
ognize your blessings. as if we were wearing blinders, not

But as I sat at the table and looked
around at family and friends, Icouldn't
help but think how sad it is that most
people don't take more time out to
think about all the riches in their lives.
N4ow I know that not everyone feels
grateful for what they have and maybe
they don't have much. But it seems as
if we rarely take time to even think
about what we have unless there's
turkey on the table.
When I was thinking about all the
things I'm grateful for, I thought about
ways I could share my fortune with
chers. Then I flashed back to a con-
versation I had with my friend Mike
(how unusual to have a friend named
Mike)., He had been telling me about
this parking enforcer who practically
accosted him because he was putting
money in someone else's meter be-
cause their time had run out. Now, I
thought this was a very nice thing to
do and had never thought of doing it
myself, however, the ticket writer
didn't see it that way. She promptly
informed Mike that it is a misde-
meanor to put money in other people's
meters. She explained that the city
would rather have the money from
the parking ticket than Mike's quar-
ter. I was also surprised to find out
that Mike was not the only one who
has been told this. Several people I
spoke with had heard the same thing
from parking officials.
s This didn't exactly fly with me, so
I decided to call the city attorney's
office to find out exactly what this law
"prohibiting this good deed said. Come
to find out, the woman who answered
'the phone said there is nothing written
which prohibits putting money in some-
one else's meter. (I did hear later that
putting money in another's meter is a
civil infraction - meaning you can be
ticketed for it. This has not, however,
been confirmed.)
This incident, coupled with

smiting or even acknowiedging the
few smiles we may receive.
Maybe I sound like a Pollyanna,
but I just don't get it. I grew up in
inner-city Detroit where my mom
taught me how to watch the shadows
to see if anyone was following me
down the street at night. I know the
world sucks. What I don't under-
stand is how we can sit at home
pissing and moaning about the state
What I don't
understand is how we
can sit at home pissing
and moaning about the
state of the world,
country, state,
community we live in if
we aren't willing to do
the little things
necessary to fix it?
of the world, country, state, commu-
nity we live in if we aren't willing to
do the little things necessary to fix it?
In my opinion we have no right to
complain if we ourselves won't smile
at the person sitting next to us on the
bus, in the cafeteria or the theater.
So smiles aren't going to fix the
problems of the world. Maybe there
isn't that much hope for a miracle.
But for heaven's sake, what harm
could it do? At the very least you give
someone a little hope for humanity or
say the only kind word that person
will hear all day or all year.
I'm not talking about handing over
money to every person who asks for
it. That's not realistic and probably
doesn't do much good. Get creative.
Come up with new ways to brighten
someone's day. Make an extra sand-
wich and give it to someone who's
hungry. Volunteer at a center for
troubled children. Call that friend you
haven't talked to in a month. Ask
your neighbor how her test went. Do
something, anything. But whatever
you do, don't just sit back and let the
parking officials tell you it's illegal.

Stone Temple Pilots is just one example of a band that MTV took under its Midas-like wing, guaranteeing a success of predecessors like the Spin Doctors.
MTV molds musical tastes of its viewers

MWV
Continued from page 1
minded attempts, but these shows still
eat up a good portion of their daily
schedule. Consequently, it is nearly
impossible to turn on MTV and see a
series of videos. And it is more than
likely that if videos are being aired, it
is during a specialty program, where
it concentrates on only one genre of
music. No longer is it possible to find
rap, metal, pop, R&B and college
rock back-to-back during a blocks of
videos - you must tune into the pro-
grams offered by the network.
Therefore, MTV is airing fewer
videos during prime-time. When they
do, it tends to be the same series of

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videos. Consequently, MTV is dictat-
ing America's musical tastes. When
they pick a video for heavy rotation or
label it a "Buzz Clip," the network is
setting the video up so it will almost
assuredly sell. The video will be aired
constantly during a fixed amount of
time - the public is exposed to the
video repeatedly, without stop during
the few hours of pure video time avail-
able during the day. Because of this,
nearly every major success story since
Nirvana - Spin Doctors, Stone
Temple Pilots, Soul Asylum,
Radiohead, Blind Melon, 4 Non-
Blondes, White Zombie and even Dr.
Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg - has
been because of MTV's heavy rota-
tion of their video. Soul Asylum was
struggling to stay afloat for years, but
when MTV jumped on the "Runaway
Train" video they became overnight
sensations. However, they are the
exception to the rule. Most- of the
bands that MTV has brought to the
forefront are new artists that hap-
pened to hit the jackpot.
Sometimes the bands are worthy
of attention, but most of the time the
bands will not be able to follow their
major hit. After a string of one-hit
wonders, MTV is finally beginning to
push bands - Smashing Pumpkins,
the Breeders, Suede and Urge Over-
kill - that deserve the exposure, but
that is only because those groups have
made videos that subscribe visually
to MTV's idea of alternative. Of
course, MTV has destroyed whatever
underground that existed in America
with "120 Minutes," "Alternative
Nation" and the constant airing of
Nirvana and Pearl Jam clips.
MTV has become something
America has never had - a national
radio station. For decades, Great Brit-
ain has had a national radio station as
well as two powerful music
newsweeklies. America's musical

scene has become smaller under MTV.
No longer does each area of the coun-
try have its own specific, regional
music - everyone is exposed to ex-
actly the same songs, at exactly the
same time. It effects both new and old
bands alike.
Older artists, like Aerosmith and
Soul Asylum, are pressured to either
redefine themselves for a larger audi-
ence with their video or solidify their
support with the medium. Occasion-
ally, artists can resist making a video
without hurting their sales. Pearl Jam
has no plans on shooting any videos
for "Vs.," and the lack of videos has
certainly not slowed the sales of the
album. However, they are the excep-
tion to that rule. It is more likely that
the artist is either severely damaged
by not releasing a video or is simply
not allowed not to make a video.
Geffen Records will not release
Nirvana's next single, "Rape Me,"
not because of the subject matter, but
because the band is not interested in
filming a video for the song.
Although not impossible, it has
become much harder for a band to
build support - a small, solid follow-
ing across the country - without
MTV. Breaking artists desperately
need MTV exposure in order to stay
afloat; major labels will drop a new
band instantly if the record is not
moving. Even for semi-established
artists like Smashing Pumpkins and
the Breeders, it is imperative that their
video be placed into heavy rotation as
a Buzz Clip. Consequently, the
nation's taste is at MTV's whim.
When it comes to Nirvana, it is a
blessing; when it is Stone Temple
Pilots and Radiohead, it is distasteful.
When it is the "Unplugged" phenom-
ena, it is downright insidious.
Although "MTV Unplugged" has
produced some genuinely outstand-
ing music, the practice of releasing

albums of the concerts is much dirtier
than anyone imagines. Since MTV
owns the program, it gets a share of
the royalties from the sales of each
record. And since they have the powe
to plug the record, they air the videos
from the albums incessantly, instigat-
ing even greater sales. Combined, the
Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey and Rod
Stewart albums have brought the com-
pany a hefty amount of money. Beavis
and Butt-head's new album functions
exactly like the "Unplugged" albums.
MTV is constantly playing commer-
cials for the album and as soon as th
video for Cher and Beavis and Butt-
head's rendition of "I Got You Babe"
is released, it will immediately be
placed in heavy rotation. And since
they are marketed as "MTV's Beavis
and Butt-head," you can be damn sure
that MTV is receiving a huge amount
of money from any merchandise from
the show.
Still, none of this makes MTVaxa
inherently evil force, no matter wh
some would like to believe. As long
as it is watched with a critical eye, it
can be embarrassingly entertaining.
And that is all it is - entertainment.
It markets everything from Denis
Leary, Cindy Crawford, Beavis &
Butt-head and Dr. Dre & Ed Lover, to
Jackyl, Primus, Madonna and PJ
Harvey as if they were exactly the
same thing.
And that is where "The Music
Revolution" lies - MTV treats all
videos as if they were interchange-
able. PJ Harvey is as important to
"120 Minutes" as Madonna is to
Prime-Time; to MTV, they fulfill the
same role for their separate times.
MTV doesn't make judgments about
the music, they simply pick what is
the most marketable. As it happens
they mold the tastes of nation, but that
is not their intent. They just want to
make lots of money.

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