MTV made its debut in 1981. Tweenage angst would never be the same.

Photograph by Aaron Escobar, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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  • On August 1, 1981, just after midnight, the MTV television network made its first broadcast. A video clip showing a United States astronaut planting an MTV flag on the moon was accompanied by a voiceover stating, "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” MTV’s astronaut logo quickly became an iconic image in popular culture. The first video was the Buggles’ "Video Killed the Radio Star." 
    MTV changed the nature of the music industry. Today, artists and music labels consider videos and video production as part of their promotional work. Feature film directors, such as Spike Jonze, David Fincher, and McG, got their start directing music videos. MTV itself branched into original programming, with pioneering TV series such as The Real World and Bevis and Butthead. It also supported social activism—the network is one of the most diverse on television, and its “Choose or Lose” campaign encourages young people to vote.  
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    astronaut Noun

    person who takes part in space flights.

    broadcast Verb

    to transmit signals, especially for radio or television media.

    diverse Adjective

    varied or having many different types.

    encourage Verb

    to inspire or support a person or idea.

    iconic Adjective

    event or symbol representing a belief, nation, or community.

    industry Noun

    activity that produces goods and services.

    pioneer Noun

    person who is among the first to do something.

    popular culture Noun

    goods, services, ideas, and patterns of their use in a population.