- Uncategorized

“The 20 Greatest Liquid Television Segments”

A still from Æon Flux (of course).

I don’t usually link to this kind of thing, but this list, from geek culture site Topless Robot, is worth peeking at for a few reasons:

  1. It’s understandably nostalgic for a time when some pretty unusual stuff made it onto mainstream television*—check out, for instance, at number 20, the Was (Not Was)/Christoph Simon video, “Dad I’m in Jail”;
  2. It offers a clarifying glimpse at some of the dominant aesthetics in underground cartooning in the late 80s/early 90s (what an influence R. Crumb and Keith Haring were having!). The animation on display here looks so different from the cartoons popular today;
  3. It provides yet more evidence of how so very little, today, is inaccessible: given time, everything ends up at YouTube. It’s also evidence of how audience viewing patterns are changing: Who cares that MTV has failed to collect Liquid Television on DVD when one can watch so much of it online? (And isn’t it even more fitting that way?)

*Actually, unusual stuff is always making its way through; it just becomes easier to see it in hindsight. And underground artists aren’t necessarily better than popular ones. But MTV—like a lot of the culture—definitely used to be a lot less slick, a lot less orchestrated and polished. Some grungy folks were once given surprisingly free rein….

  • A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

6 thoughts on ““The 20 Greatest Liquid Television Segments”

  1. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Aeon Flux. What a wild show. Definitely one of my favorites from LT. Was actually thinking of buying it on DVD just to relive that whole experience.

    1. Æon Flux renders the high art/low art divide utter nonsense. And not unlike music videos, it’s also a perfect television artwork, drawing its strength from the unique features of that medium. I don’t like television all that much myself, but that show was sheer genius.

      It wouldn’t be the same on DVD, though, dontcha think? Part of what was so great about AF was its isolated, almost spontaneous nature. I wouldn’t want to watch a bunch of episodes in a row. They’re more like poems—highly concentrated enigmas designed to interrupt the mundane, then flee, and be savored.

  2. my girlfriend has been saying “tell mom i’m in jail…i like it here” for years and i’ve never known what she was referencing…

  3. “Actually, unusual stuff is always making its way through; it just becomes easier to see it in hindsight.”

    I think this was something DFW talked about in his old essay on fiction and tv, or maybe something else I remember reading by someone else, that user generated content creates a situation where what is good entertainment is whatever is the most unusual/spectacleful, which isn’t necessarily ideal. But I guess we know what we’re getting into going in.

Leave a Reply