By Andrew Goodwin
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Additional resources for Dancing in the Distraction Factory: Music Television and Popular Culture
Apart from independent and MTV- 10 SILENCE! ACADEMICS AT WORK funded market surveys, academic research has shown that exposure to music video is widespread and is prevalent among pop music consumers : a study in San Jose, California, reported that 80 percent of 600 high school students surveyed watched MTV, averaging an astonishing two hours a day viewing music video. Not surprisingly, a number of the stu-dents looked to the videos to provide either the dominant or an addi-tional element of meaning to their favorite songs (Sun & Lull, 1986).
Kaplan (1987) reverts to simple forms of auteur theory at key moments in her text, for instance, in her account of MTV as the "creation" of one person (Robert Pittman). Other postmodern writers tend to opt for an economism, in which MTV in particular is condemned as a "twenty-four-hour advertisement" and in which music videos are seen as an incorporation of the true spirit of rock and roll music. I take up this issue in more detail in chapters 2 and 6. In the research that follows, the attempt to read music television for traces of the "pressures and limits" (Williams, 1973) of the production context implies an effort to open up our understanding of the politics of music television, not a project of economic reductionism.
This perspective combines a misunderstanding of the meanings of pop and the sites of its discourses with an approach to visual media that is sadly reminiscent of the literary critics of an earlier era, who bemoaned the intrusion of radio and TV into the culture of the written word, and who similarly overstressed the power of the image. Indeed, this initial period of music television recalls earlier moments in the history of broadcasting. Then, as now, critics and professionals were apprehensive about the introduction of the visual.