Last week, MTV announced the impending relaunch, on MTV2, of 120 Minutes , the "alternative" music-video showcase that introduced viewers to bins full of buzz>"/>
Last week, MTV announced the impending relaunch, on MTV2, of 120 Minutes, the "alternative" music-video showcase that introduced viewers to bins full of buzz bands throughout the late '80s and '90s--complete with lovable mid-'90s host Matt Pinfield. This summer, Beavis and Butthead are scheduled to make their return to MTV as well. Obviously, for a certain demographic--people who remember these shows' original runs and are prone to making bitter "jokes" about how "MTV used to play music videos, maaaan"--this is good news, a welcome relief from the network's increasing reliance on tween-targeted, musically apathetic reality-TV dreck like My Super Sweet 16 and The Hills. But last night, watching the above clip from 120 Minutes' original run--an awesomely self-parodic interview/performance from Thurston Moore and Beck (joined in the clip below by Mike D)--some friends and I wondered: Does 120 Minutes even matter in 2011? How high are the stakes, really?
(More after the jump.)
Back in the show's heyday, MTV (and, for your mom, VH1) were the only games in town if you wanted to see music videos--at least before they made it to either official or homemade VHS. When "regular" MTV had a hold on the music-video monoculture, then programs like 120 Minutes and Beavis and Butthead represented much-needed alternatives (in the literal, not the marketing-buzzword, sense of the word) and escape valves. 120 Minutes played videos that you wouldn't--couldn't--see anywhere else, while Beavis and Butthead acted as a kind of white-trash Statler and Waldorf to the channel's more typical fare (while also airing partial clips you might not see in regular daytime rotation).
Today you can watch almost any music video you want, new or old, on YouTube--at your leisure, programming exactly the fare you want to see, without waiting for Matt Pinfield to get it. When a big "event" video premieres, it doesn't happen after a very special episode of the Simpsons (a la Michael Jackson), it just pops up on Kanye's Twitter or Odd Future's Tumblr and starts making the rounds from there. This is precisely why MTV has largely abandoned music videos for reality TV, of course.
So what exactly is 120 Minutes going to offer an alternative to in 2011? Sure, Beavis and Butthead will still have plenty of material to work with, but what kind of televisual mainstream is even left for the likes of Beck and Thurston Moore to play at subverting with their inspired fucking-around? If a buzz clip plays on late-night cable, does it still make a sound?