Why Doesn't MTV Play Music Videos Anymore? Brian Firenzi Knows Why (Hint: It's Filesharing)

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Brian Firenzi in "Why Doesn't MTV Play Music Videos Anymore?"
Maybe you remember the hilarious video we (and lots of others) posted earlier this week, in which a (fake) MTV executive answered a question that bugs many of us: Why doesn't MTV play music videos anymore?

Brutally, cruelly funny -- and probably way too accurate -- the clip made by Brian Firenzi and Maria Del Carmen has officially gone viral. It's been posted on Gawker, made the front page of Reddit, and got responses from both Tommy Lee and MTV itself. While Firenzi's sketch comedy videos typically get 10,000 to 20,00 views, this one has so far been seen more than 1.2 million times.

To find out what inspired the video, how it came together, and what he really thinks of MTV, we fired off a few questions to Firenzi via email. Turns out he really does wish the channel would still play music videos.

What inspired the video? Were you a big MTV fan?

We (Maria and myself) were on the tail end of the generation of people that could remember when MTV aired music videos. I would watch TRL from time to time when I came home, and in the morning before school I'd watch their early morning two-hour block. So, it wasn't necessarily our fond memories of MTV that inspired the sketch, but rather our belief that we all had more to do with the downfall of music videos than we'd care to own up to.

When did you notice that it was getting quite a bit of attention -- more so than your other videos?

For the last couple of years, Maria and I have been making sketches on our bfirenzi channel (and we also work at the substantially more popular 5secondfilms.com), so we're used to seeing our small but awesome group of fans bump a video up to about 10-20,000 views when all is said and done. But we've never, ever, ever popped like this before, and frankly we're such novices at making viral videos that we're still trying to figure out why. It's probably got 40 percent to do with the above-average cinematography (for us) and 60 percent to do with the angry, cynical message that we're all self-entitled complainers who are getting old.

How long did it take to make? How much did it cost?

We were on vacation in Maria's native land of London, England, and we popped over to the YouTube Creator Space there to shoot this in about an hour (for zero dollars -- our favorite budget). Our friend Matt Hargreaves (YouTube name: wallycube) was behind the camera for most of it, and helped us find an incredible prop randomly lurking in the back of the set -- a full-size astronaut statue, just like the old MTV mascot. It couldn't have been more fortuitous!

You said on Twitter you were afraid people would just get mad at the video? Has anyone?

We read a lot of the feedback, because the filesharing debate is obviously a sore spot for lots of people. And the character I'm playing doesn't really mince words or have a very pleasing tone of voice. So we definitely got a lot of people who were either positive MTV stopped airing videos before the advent of filesharing, or adamant that MTV should change its name if they're not going to play music anymore. To the latter point, yeah sure -- MTV will gladly trade in their decades-strong brand, symbolizing youth, sex and cool, just to appease people not in their demographic anymore. Whoops, I'm slipping into Michael Destiny again...

Have you heard anything from MTV about it?

MTV tweeted us back, which we thought would be a really awkward encounter. But they were on our side, despite how much of a jerk I made their (fake) head of programming out to be. I'm sure their offices get crap like this from ex-viewers all the time, so maybe the video acted like a release valve. Also Tommy Lee tweeted us, which we think is the cherry on the Crazy Sundae.

Arguments in the video aside, do you think the network should play more music videos?

Sure, I'd love to see MTV play more music videos. While we're at it, I'd also like it if they played videos by Butch Walker, Andrew WK, Gaslight Anthem, Phoenix, Arcade Fire, Japandroids and more. But I know that's even less likely. Ah well, time goes by and the world spins on.

What else you can tell me about the making of the video and the reactions you've gotten?

We just never thought any of our videos would get much traction. We always prefer to make weird sketch comedy, the kind we want to see (because the money isn't going to be much either way), and while there's a home for everyone on YouTube, we figured this sketch, like all our others, would make a small dent and make our fans happy. But we're blown away, and very grateful that something clicked -- I guess we just got a mandate to keep trying this sketch comedy thing out!

-- @iPORT



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