The year was 1984 but it seems like yesterday. I was six years old and it was a night I was allowed to stay up late and watch the MTV Video Music Awards. I can still hear my dad shouting from the other room that I was “going to get radiation if you sit so close to the screen like that.” Brain tumors were the last thing on my mind. Madonna was about to perform “Like a Virgin.”
She came out looking pure on top of a big fake wedding cake. As the performance got progressively wilder and raunchier, my face got closer to the screen. She ended it writhing across the floor in her wedding dress and our jaws dropped. I heard my mom muffle an “Oh my god…what are we watching?” and my dad enter the room from whatever he was doing in the kitchen. Time stopped. And my life was never the same after that night.
Daily begging to watch MTV ensued. Deals were made that involved cleaning, chores, “being good,” leaving my little sister alone, anything to get another glimpse. My low point of desperation came when I confined a babysitter to a chair and threatened her with sewing needles unless we got to watch MTV. We got our way- but she never came back.
MTV opened my eyes to music and it also changed musicians by forcing them to also be good performers. And in exchange the videos seen on MTV made those artists superstars. Video really did kill the radio star. For me, this one started it all.