Watching MTV a test of nerve

Kevin Cowherd

November 22, 1991|By Kevin Cowherd

RECENTLY I sat and watched 12 consecutive hours of MTV to see what effect this would have on the human mind.

Conditions were as controlled as possible. The experiment was conducted in a bright, well-ventilated room. Pedestrian traffic was kept to a minimum. A large veal Parmesan sandwich, two bowls of trail mix and three beers were consumed.

What follows is a journal of the events that transpired:

3:45 p.m. -- Well, this is it. I'm nervous, but determined. Few people have tested the limits of sensory endurance to this degree. First up is a video by a group called Painless singing "Baby Animals." Unless it's by a group called Baby Animals singing "Painless." Whatever. The music is very loud. Images explode on the screen in a frenzied montage effect. I feel as if I've just returned from a brisk walk.

4:00 -- It's the new Michael Jackson video "Black or White." Memo to cosmetic surgeons on Jackson retainer: Nice work, guys. Michael's looking more and more like a young Lena Horne. Yo, Mike, might want to think about a testosterone booster, maybe 500cc's to start. Video's kinda neat, if you can get past Macaulay Culkin posing as a gangster. Kid looks more like one of Santa's elves. My pulse has quickened perceptably.

4:14 -- It's the Bryan Adams video "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)." The band is supposedly playing near a stone cottage in the middle of the woods -- despite the fact there's no visible power source in sight for electrical instruments. Ohhh-kay, Bry, if you say so. Sensation I'm feeling is not unlike caffeine buzz from two cups of strong Turkish coffee.

5:10 -- MTV news bulletin: Jodie Foster turns 29 today. I am strangely calm.

5:44 -- It's the Motley Crue video "Home Sweet Home." Say, isn't this a pretty sight! Striking the requisite sullen poses are four dudes with fishbelly-white skin, vacant eyes, long, greasy hair and tattoos -- the type you want to bring home to mom. I notice my breathing is coming in short, shallow bursts.

6:12 -- It's something called Club MTV. Earnest young people in bizarre get-ups dancing furiously in garish studio to Bel Biv Devoe's "She's Dope." I'm dying for a cigarette and I don't even smoke.

7:42 -- We're enduring the comedy hour and a parade of mostly lame jokesters. Odd, my hands are trembling slightly.

8:39 -- We're five hours into the experiment and the strain is beginning to show. Body chemistry seems noticeably accelerated. Slight feeling of anxiety. On screen is Guns N' Roses video with clips of ultra-violent Arnold Schwarzenegger movie "Terminator II: Judgment Day." Just another day at the office for the T-man, who's blowing people away with a shotgun, beating them with his fists, etc. The Gunners wail in the background as I try to decide who's more menacing: the Terminator or fuzzy-headed guitarist/substance abuser Slash. I make sure the doors and windows are locked.

9:05 -- It's Hammer video "2 Legit to Quit." I'm on my feet, waving my fist in the air and screaming: "Go Hammer, go!" My right eye keeps twitching.

9:30 -- Whoa, what have we here?! Steamy Salt-N-Pepa video 'Let's Talk About Sex." Heavy on the cleavage, dirty dancing, suggestive poses, etc. Is it me, or is it warm in here?

10:16 -- Another Guns N' Roses video called "Don't Cry." Slash is completely out of control, thrusting his guitar this way and that. Another rehab stint just around the corner? I suddenly feel like crying.

10:17 -- Uh-oh. Just stood and slammed my head against the wall for no reason. Possible psychosis brought on by too much exposure to Slash?

11:12 -- More lame comedians. Fat guy named Fred Asparagus appears to be simulating an orgasm. Great career move, Fred. There's a nice wholesome act for the Carson or Letterman shows. I notice I'm talking to myself.

12:01 a.m. -- Central nervous system deteriorating badly. I'm having problems concentrating. On the screen is a stark Metallica video, "The Unforgiven," which features frightened old man trapped in a dungeon. I am curled in the fetal position on the couch, with a quilt over my head.

1:26 -- Hallucinating dangerously now. Just saw a huge fire-breathing monster vaguely resembling Billy Joel swoop across the room. Maybe another beer would help. I think I'm gonna pass out.

2:10 -- A man is singing a song . . . a man is singing a song . . . a man is . . .

3:45 -- I . . . have to go to bed now.

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