Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

MTV Goes Dark

True story!

Once upon a time, MTV was so important it spent an entire day listing hate crimes and people cared. For one broadcast-day, MTV ran an endless scroll of all the recent crimes against individuals for being individuals, and other individuals paid attention.

There may be YouTube proof of this broadcast day, but my Google-fu is too weak to find it. Here is a story, though. This story proves I did not imagine the day MTV stopped being polite... and started getting real.

January of 2001. The concept of hate as a crime was still new. I mean, hate-crimes were quite old, but considering 'hate' a motive for criminal assault or murder was, in early January of 2001, a new concept to both MTV's audience and to jurors. Up until 2000, I'm fairly certain most of the audience of MTV considered a dislike of Nirvana a 'hate-crime' and the death of Martin Luther King a mere assassination.

James Byrd changed a lot of minds. Changed the concept of both 'hate' and 'crime'.

See, you'd think Matthew Shepard would be the source of change--and Shepard was certainly the raison d'ĂȘtre behind MTV's 'Take a Stand Against Discrimination' blackout. Shepard was the subject of the first MTV movie--the first dip into the water of self-produced media. To kick off the blackout, MTV premiered Anatomy of a Hate Crime, which was a (kind of awful) retelling of the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Sigh. Okay. For those who don't know who Matthew Shepard was: He was a gay kid who got crucified. His murderers tried to exonerate themselves by claiming they killed the kid because of gay panic.

Yes. Seriously. Gay panic was and remains a very real reason to murder a very real human.

Parenthetically, I do not like beets. I seldom murder Russian ex-pats who foist them upon me.

Anyway, Matthew Shepard was murdered in a most brutal and honest way--gay panic, tied to a fence post. Horrible. But James Byrd's murder is the murder that made 'hate crime' a thing.

To remind you: James Byrd, an African-American male 49 years of age, was chained--yes, chained--to the back of a truck and dragged so far pieces of his body were ripped away. He was urinated upon, he was dismembered, and he was dumped off by his murderers, who then grabbed some BBQ and went home.

In 2001, MTV had the good sense to shut the fuck up and force self-reflection on itself and on its audience. It's now 2015, and a lot of change has happened. Remarkable change. But we're backsliding quickly, and not reflecting on the slow shift back to James Byrd. To Matthew Shepard. To Martin Fucking Luther King.

Perhaps we need another blackout, and another 17 hours of reminders that hate is a crime, not a right.

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