As we continue to celebrate David Bowie years after his passing, a fascinating 1983 interview has re-emerged of the artist calling out MTV for not airing videos by Black artists.
The clip is making the rounds once again thanks to a tweet by author Morgan Jenkins. In January 2016, MTV itself actually posted the interview on its YouTube channel to celebrate the late musician.
In the interview, which was filmed during promotions for ‘Just Dance’, Bowie confronts MTV VJ Mark Goodman on the absence of Black musicians on the channel.
“I’m just floored by the fact that there are so few Black artists featured on it, why is that?” Bowie asks Goodman.
The VJ then attempts to defend the company by arguing that MTV is moving “in that direction”. “We want to play artists that seem to be doing music that fits in with what we want to play for MTV. The company is thinking in terms of narrowcasting.”
Unsatisfied with his answer, Bowie then criticises the network for keeping Black artists outside of prime time slots. “The only few Black artists that one does see are from about 2:30 in the morning to around 6:00,” he continues. “Very few are featured predominantly during the day. I’ll say that over the last couple of weeks these things have been changing but it’s a slow process.”
In a response that rings uncomfortably today, Goodman then argues that MTV has to consider what viewers outside of New York and Los Angeles like, and that a town in the Midwest would be “scared to death by Prince”. This is despite the fact that Prince is from Minnesota, which is in the Midwest.
Goodman adds that, though he enjoys Black artists, he doesn’t think a 17-year-old would feel the same way, to which Bowie argues that seeing them would mean a lot to a Black teenager.
As the interview resurfaced on social media, people praised Bowie for being one of the few white artists to champion and stand up for Black musicians.
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