MTV Was Never THAT Great.

There appears to be this rumor floating around - I'm not gonna lie to you, I may in fact have been (a moth) a perpetuator of this unfounded defamation - that MTV was once better than it now is.

All I have to say in response to that is Poppy Cock.

You're talking about a network from the start that never showed black videos until Michael Jackson became so wildly popular with his Thriller album that he forced open the door for Prince and everybody else.

If I tried to list all the shit bands, shit singers, shit pop music duos that graced that network's television screens, I'd be here until the end of the year, but I think this will suffice: MTV made The Proclaimers international stars.

Don't get me wrong, MTV did a lot right by me over the later 80s / early 90s years. Bands like Faith No More, Jane's Addiction, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, and Nirvana had their big breaks on MTV; bands like Metallica, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, and AC/DC revived middling careers, becoming household names (granted, your household would've had to have been pretty badass to be holding fireside discussions of Metallica's change of musical direction once Cliff Burton died in that bus crash); old stalwarts like Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton all came back from the dead through various Unplugged ventures (introducing impressionable Generation X youth like myself to music of the 60s and 70s when I had no business listening to anything outside of then-present-day music from the mystical land of "Seattle"); and shows like Remote Control, The State, Liquid Television, and Beavis & Butthead pushed the boundaries of what Game Shows, Sketch Comedy, and Animation could accomplish with the proper amount of freedom.

Something happened though - I don't want to blame it ALL on 9/11 - and I'm looking squarely at the entity known as The Real World. Not so much The Real World itself - because shirley the first three seasons were entertaining enough accounts of what it's like to manufacture a household full of people who would otherwise have no business living together except to make fools of themselves and trivialize whatever hardcore issues they were about - but the man known as Eric Nies and more specifically the show known as The Grind.

As the Head Whitey In Charge has said many times, he had a decision to make about the vision of MTV: he could've let the network grow old with the audience that built it to the success it became in the first decade of it being on the air, or he could've revamped it, introducing it to a newer, younger, and dare I say more beautiful crowd? And, as we all know, he chose the latter, with many believing disastrous results for mankind.

The Grind signifies MTV's tipping point, or as we like to say in the business of Anything Criticism: when MTV Jumped The Shark. When you're a radio station on TV, you have to do certain things to make watching your network more appealing than sitting in your bedroom with your tidey whiteys around your ankles listening to the AM/FM band on your clock radio. Hello Music Video. And for a few years, that was good. Some people would go on to do wonderous things with the Music Video until finally Madonna took us on a journey through the S&M Hotel and everyone realized that she would not be topped (that is, until Fiona Apple romped around in her underwear and everyone who witnessed decided then and there that they'd never eat solid foods again, but that's neither here nor ... just give me a second for that image to sink in ...). MTV then decided it needed to package the videos in new and fresh ways, so it introduced: The Top 20 Video Countdown. That's when people realized that Videos + Counting = Awesome.

But, that's not all! We needed Music News - because there was just no way Peter Jennings would ever get around to talking about the new drummer in Guns N' Roses - so the Week In Rock was born. And then MTV discovered that people liked it when certain types of music were played together in a cohesive block, and they liked it when the TV Guide told them when said cohesive block was on television, so MTV gave Ricky Rachtman (Headbanger's Ball) and Ed Lover and Dr. Dre (Yo! MTV Raps) jobs.

And so, as MTV catered more and more to the TV Guide-reading rabble, and as non-music-related shows proliferated the weekly schedule, the network we all thought we loved so much was evolving before our eyes. As The Real World took off and rattled some cages, the executives at MTV were positioning themselves for a wholesale music write-off; but they couldn't go and dump the videos altogether. Which brings us back to The Grind.

For 30 minutes of your natural life, if you were to sit down and watch an installment of The Grind - first of all you'd be treated to no less than 10 minutes of commercials ranging from Oxy-10 acne medication to Stridex medicated acne pads - you'd see outRAGEOUS camera work focusing in and out on the gyrating behinds of beefy studmuffins and babe-a-licious hoochie mamas as they shook their stuff in unison to such dancable tunes as Technotronic's "Pump Up The Jam", C&C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)", and "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

So, not only did the music suck, and not only did you miss seeing Marky Mark do his shirtless pushups, but the show single-handedly made you feel like a loser (if you didn't already). You're such a chump that you can't even go to a club and dance to these songs yourself, you have to watch cooler people do it; or, you're such a chump that you don't know how to dance so you have to watch a mostly-white crowd teach you the dance moves that would get you laughed off of Soul Train in two seconds.

The Grind aired for five seasons. The Grind took Eric Nies - some cocklick model from Jersey - and kept him gainfully employed in front of the video camera for years and years. The Grind single-handedly bridged the gap from a mostly-all-music MTV to a mostly-non-music MTV.

Of course, when the mostly-all-music MTV is showing acts like Roxette, Milli Vanilli, Warrant, Winger, Quiet Riot, Mr. Big, Richard Marx, Vanilla Ice, Gerardo (Rico Suave), Twisted Sister, Great White, Nelson, Kris Kross, Michael Bolton, Whitney Houston, Colour Me Bad, Paula Abdul (oh, wait, I used to kinda like Paula Abdul), Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, New Kids On The Block (oh, wait, I think I broke their cassette tape I listened to them so much), Wang Chung, The The, The Thompson Twins, Ah Ha, Hall & Oates, Heart, Lita Ford, Al B. Sure, Another Bad Creation, Heavy D & The Boys, Kid N' Play, Eddie Money, Eddie Fucking Murphy ... need I go on?