I want my MTV back! Celebrate the golden age of music videos

I want my MTV back! Celebrate the golden age of music videos
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Reality stars might have killed the music video, but the classic era of MTV is not forgotten.

A vintage music video aficionado is bringing his vast knowledge of the subject to Williamsburg bar-theater Videology on Aug. 2, where he will give a talk on the art form’s heyday, the best clips of all time, and the time dolphins saved Axl Rose’s life.

“I was in junior high to college from 1980 to 1990, and those were MTV’s shining years,” said Park Sloper Stephen Pitalo, explaining his interest in the subject.

Pitalo runs a blog called “The Golden Age of Music Video,” and is working on a book of the same name. He has interviewed more than 60 music video directors in the course of his research, including the directors of many hair metal videos, Madonna’s videos, and John Landis, who directed Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

The golden age of music video was between 1976 and 1993, according to Pitalo. It began with Queen’s epic “Bohemian Rhapsody” video and ended with a series of overblown short films for the songs on Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Use You Illusion” albums. In one of those videos, Axl Rose jumps off of a battleship and is subsequently saved by a pod of dolphins.

“That was at the time of multi-million dollar music videos and also when reality television started with the real world,” said Pitalo. “Marketing people started dictating the creative process, and like with any other creative process, the art suffered.”

Pitalo will also share some of his favorite music videos with the audience of his Videology presentation, which include Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone,” Ian Hunter’s “All of the Good Ones are Taken,” and “Drive” by R.E.M.

He will also offer some reflections on the current state of music videos.

“Things are totally and completely different in the ingestion of entertainment now,” said Pitalo. “Now, there are enormous personalities with enormous budgets like Lady Gaga and Weird Al, and the other side is people taking advantage of how cheap it is to make a clip now.”

After the hour-and-a-half presentation, Pitalo plans to video jockey classics for at least two hours.

He will also be at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Gowanus on July 25, where he will show more classic clips as well as giving away pinback buttons, heavy metal trading cards, and vintage MTV shirts.

“The History of Music Video, Part One (Pre–1993)” at Videology [308 Bedford Ave. at S. First Street in Williamsburg, (718) 782–3468, www.videology.info]. Aug. 2 at 9 pm. $8.

Classic Music Video Shuffle at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club [514 Union St. between Nevins Street and Third Avenue in Gowanus, (347) 223–4410, www.royalpalmsshuffle.com]. July 25 at 10 pm.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.