Where Are They Now?

The Future of Music Television. And Then Some …

Where Are They Now?
By Nathan Jensen

"Good evening. For MTV/CBS News, I'm Kurt Loder.

"In breaking news, President Springsteen today announced progress in reunification talks with the breakaway Southwestern republics. Northern California was a reported early holdout, until the White House assured hundreds of medical marijuana growers their fields would not be used to house the ever-rising tide of AOL refugees.

"'This is still the promised land,' the president said, 'but at this point it's been promised to an awful lot of people. The Internet Depression hit this country hard, and it's not just hearts that are hungry.'

"At the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Bob Dylan stunned an already vulnerable nation by voting, with the majority, that Texas' petition to secede is constitutional and should take effect immediately. British Prime Minister Madonna and United Nations Secretary General Bono urged rebel forces occupying strategic power plants and refineries near Houston and Beaumont to release their hostages, whom the long-bearded faction had previously vowed to keep until ZZ Top's election into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

"'ZZ Top is a great band, absolutely,' Bono told a press conference this afternoon. 'U2 wanted to cover "Tush" for Rattle & Hum. But we must find a peaceful solution. People need their lights on, even in East Texas.'

"In sports, the World Series champion Boston Red Sox confirmed that, despite widespread rumors, they have no intention of moving to Las Vegas. Good news for baseball, which has been hemorrhaging at the box office since the Atlantic City Expos' mob-tainted Series win three years ago.

"Now, with a special report on America's long, strange trip into the 21st century, here's Extreme 60 Minutes senior correspondent Jon Stewart."

"Thanks, Kurt. Prominent sociologists, escaped mental patients, and old guys at the barbershop all agree: The past dozen or so years have been among the most tumultuous and transforming in all American history. And not just because we've had to readjust to life without cell phones.

"After four years of rampant cronyism, widespread environmental plunder, and the terrible flu epidemic of 2003 that crippled health-care facilities throughout the South, the liberal-led backlash against the junior Bush administration was swift and absolute.

"Ironically employing wide-open loopholes afforded by Bush's generous tax and campaign-finance plans, wealthy entertainers, athletes, and celebrities began seeking public office, and winning, in unprecedented numbers.

"'Yo, I only did this because my accountant told me I could write off weed as a campaign expense,' newly elected Staten Island Borough President Method Man said.

"'I didn't really have a platform,' former Survivor contestant Colby Donaldson admitted upon being elected Texas governor in 2010. 'They told me all I had to do was go to baseball games and fundraisers. I said sure, but I want to meet Willie Nelson and still have time to be on Hollywood Squares. Oh, and ride my Harley.'

"Many pundits attribute the sudden shift in political polarity to these well-known office-seekers' ability to connect with the millions of crucial voters under age 35, an area only isolated politicians like Kennedy and Clinton were previously able to reach.

"'Personally, I'm just relieved these kids understand how to vote,' George F. Will wrote in one 2006 column after Howie from the Backstreet Boys became Florida's junior senator. 'As to who or what they're voting for, ideology went out the window in the Eighties anyway.'

"At the same time, well-timed campaigns from Don Henley, Harrison Ford, and Gene Simmons swept them into office as caretakers of the Baby Boomers' precious forever-young image.

"'People need to know that even if you fall and break a hip, you can still rock & roll all night and party every day,' Simmons said after his narrow runoff victory over Ted Nugent in Michigan's 69th Congressional District. 'As long as you take a nap in the afternoon.'

"Truthfully, this couldn't have come at a better time for showbiz. Unchecked file-trading -- the Supreme Court's ruling after the 2002 arrival of Slapster: 'We give up.' -- left many musicians either working phone-sex jobs or moving back in with their parents. What few major record labels were left got caught twisting in the wind and toppled over like the last remaining mastodons.

"Meanwhile, after a number of strikes, the Screen Actors Guild deunionized in 2008, plunging Hollywood into chaos. After a horrific hyena attack helped Survivor 3 set every ratings record in the books, the airwaves were dominated for years afterward by so-called 'reality' shows, drastically reducing the amount of available acting work. Film production took years to recover from self-appointed watchdog Jamie Foxx's promise to 'get buck-wild' on anyone making a 'wack-ass movie.'

"Tragically, the cast and crew of Survivor 13: Detroit were slain 'execution style' in the season finale, prompting the infamous congressional 'Reality Hearings.' Viewers turned en masse to long-running lightweight diversions like Making the Band, Popstars, and Bands on the Run. VH1's Behind the Music Studios turned out a number of inexpensive, profitable 'Where-are-they-now?' biographies of Shaggy, 3 Doors Down, and Lil' Bow Wow, locating the latter studying -- what else? -- veterinary medicine at Virginia Tech.

"Still, the biggest shake-up, so to speak, to hit pop culture came when former President Bill Clinton and outgoing Long Beach mayor Snoop Dogg started Doggworks, their own production company. Inspired by Groove Armada's raunchy 2000 music video 'I See You Baby,' the duo launched a cable network that broadcast nothing but security-camera tapes of ladies' restrooms at various office buildings, sports arenas, and nightclubs. Ratings were so high a number of channels, including Fox News, Lifetime, and the USA Network, were forced to suspend operations.

"Dogg and Clinton next bought up all the rights to spring break coverage and prurient young-adult serial dramas (including The Real World's Miami season). Scrambling to hold onto advertisers, MTV took to airing music videos and concerts by bands who were more than grateful for the exposure. Though they even brought back 120 Minutes, the music channel was soon airing skateboard competitions left over from ESPN. However, it did inspire the two moguls to begin featuring musical performances on Big Snoop & Fat Willie, the two-hour nightly call-in show live from the pair's very own Bada Bing, the Hollywood strip club Cherry's.

"Among their many other accomplishments, the Dogg and the hound were able to raise enough capital to withstand the Great Freakout of 2007, the inevitable day when the last possible corporate merger was completed (Exxon bought Universal) and a few hundred million people realized they all had the same bosses. While world governments sorted out the mountains of paperwork, Snoop and Clinton built an empire of pawnshops, betting parlors, and speakeasies that rivaled anything Capone had in Chicago.

"Then the unthinkable happened. Massive volcanic eruptions on Venus released a gas into Earth's orbit that acted like a cosmic eraser to anything wireless. Cell phones, pagers, PDAs, nothing worked. Satellites shut down and people had to go back to forecasting the weather by how much their knee hurt. Worse, conventional phone lines became so overloaded that, even in the face of massive public demonstrations, both houses of Congress voted unanimously to dismantle the Internet in December 2009. Term limits appeared on the ballots of 42 states over the next 18 months -- and passed.

"America found itself set back, both economically and culturally, at least 20 years. But the news wasn't all bad. People started talking to their neighbors again, calling their friends instead of e-mailing them, actually working at their job instead of surfing the Web. They formed bands, shot movies, grew gardens, went for walks, started small businesses. And they always knew somebody, or knew somebody who knew somebody, who could get them online if they really, really wanted it; i.e., could come up with enough dough. Repeated FBI and FCC investigations into an alleged underground electronic message service called Snoopcom have been inconclusive.

"'Well, it's easy to say America went a little crazy there for a while,' U.S. Senator Chuck D, D-N.Y., told the Associated Press earlier this year. 'But I think we learned a lot, too. Just dealing with hip-hop becoming a part of society alone would have been enough to make most countries totally bug out. And then this Internet thing ... damn. America hung in there. And got a little funkier because of it.'

"'The U.S.A. is always gonna be No. 1, baby,' chimes in Ambassador to Mexico Charlie Sheen from his Guadalajara hacienda. 'We've got the best babes, the best bands, the best booze. And we can party any other country under the table. It is America's destiny to forever kick ass. Whooo!'

"For CBS/MTV News, I'm Jon Stewart. Back to you, Kurt."

"Thank you, Jon. Part of our world tonight. After your late local news, stay tuned on a few of these CBS/MTV stations for The Late Show With Eminem." end story

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Madonna, ZZ Top, Kurt Loder, Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton, Snoop Dogg, Charlie Sheen, MTV

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