Archive for November, 2010
I didn’t get the opportunity to watch any MTV till way after its ‘heyday’, so I’m completely unfamiliar with plenty of videos like this. This video is definitely “breakin’ all the rules” — at least the lyrics of the song are. Yet it also strikes me as an absolute codification of 80s videos… the wonky doors in mismatched perspective on a noir set, cheap curiosities like the prevalence of ‘little people’, outrageously dressed people making fun of guys in suits, pinks and turquoise, mannequins…2 comments
We’re new, we’re now, and we’re gonna change the world: with cigarette-smokin’ models in satin tour jackets.
OK, I figure many Scufflers have the same mixed feelings about ye olde MTV that I do: but for a moment, let’s ignore our mid-80′s memories of endlessly repeated Dire Strait’s “Money for Nothing” videos and other cultural grumbles and recall that early on (when videos weren’t de rigueur for every band) they showed videos by the Specials, Clash, and other less-mainstream bands alongside whatever Hall and Oates barfed up. Yeah, that era lasted about five minutes; but let’s also recall Peter Zaremba of the Fleshtones hosting “The Cutting Edge” (later to mutate into 120 Minutes), bizarre segments by underground animators, and even old-school soul singer J.J. Jackson VJ’ing along with the likes of Mark Goodman and Martha Stewart. MTV quickly became a corporate phenomenon, but starting out was a different story.
I learned about that inside story via my boss, whose brother Frank Olinsky designed the iconic MTV logo. His recounting of that assignment is really fun to read: a brash young studio hooks up with a startup cable channel wanting to “break the rules” with its identity and programming. Frank’s work with Manhattan Design did exactly that, and gave MTV a look which has lasted decades (the above photo coming from fredseibert.com’s selection of early promo items.) Among other notable aspects, the MTV logo was likely the first corporate logo that pointedly didn’t have corporate colors: the big M and gooey TV could be anything, so long as the outlined letterforms stayed the same. (HBO and Cinemax would probably not have been on board with that concept.)
Frank went on to a long and enviable design career that includes LP and CD packaging for a zillion bands. I was particularly impressed that he did the spare and evocative “Daydream Nation” for Sonic Youth; the Gerhard Richter painting and stark type fit the title and music perfectly. This short video interview gives some insight into his career and current doings.
As for MTV: well, we all know where that went. Lately however there has been renewed interest in their early “rebellious” days. Frank and others were invited to speak at a recent panel discussion about MTV’s gestation in Manhattan, and a documentary film about the subject is currently in production.
Anyway— long post, but I thought since many Scufflers are design/illustration folk (or at least appreciate the fields) you might find this story of interest.3 comments