Number 4 / August 1983:

BEAT IT, DON'T JOIN IT....
We were disturbed to see the Police, Pat Benatar, and David Bowie doing commercials for MTV, so we called the management of the bands to ask why these performers would urge people to watch a channel that systematically excludes black music. A representative of I.R.S., which manages the Police, told us that "all rock & roll is based on black music" yet would offer no explanation for Sting & Co.'s actions. Pat Benatar's publicist sure had one. "Pat loves MTV," she told us. "And all this business about MTV and black music is getting redundant. It's our business and we should stick together and emphasize the positive aspects of MTV." She went on to say that when blacks make rock & roll videos with heavy guitar, such as Michael Jackson's "Beat It," they get played on MTV. When we asked where the heavy guitar is in the music of Duran Duran and Culture Club, she replied, "Oh, that's different. There it's the different kind of beat." When asked to define rock & roll, Pat's flack responded, "Oh, you can't just put things into different little boxes." We quite agree and so were left puzzled by her assertion that "Diana Ross belongs on the black channel."

On the other hand, Bowie representative Joe Dera urged us to view it as more of an industry-wide problem rather than one solely of MTV. He related how Bowie tongue-tied VJ Mark Goodman during a January interview when he asked him on the air why they didn't play more black music. We concur that MTV is only a symptom of the format disease presently afflicting music, but we must disagree with David Bowie's assessment that "Overall, MTV is a positive force." We urge him to consider withholding videos and interviews until the channel opens up.


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