Brow Beat

David Bowie Slammed MTV On-Air in 1983 for the Lack of Diversity in Its Music Videos

In this 1983 MTV interview, David Bowie turns the tables on his interviewer—“original five” VJ, Mark Goodman—and asks why the newly-burgeoning cable station wasn’t airing more music videos by black musicians, or geared toward black audiences. (Bowie, of course, had a long and influential history of championing underexposed artists, and that wasn’t going to change now that his album, Let’s Dance, had vaulted him to new heights of mainstream success.) Goodman initially plays the good company man and challenges the accusation, but a persistent Bowie eventually gets Goodman to reveal some of the fear- and commercially-driven interests at play for MTV. As Bowie notes in his sardonic response, the explanations are “very interesting.”

It seems only natural that Bowie would try to nudge the new kingmakers in the right direction; few musicians were more fearlessly sure of their own artistic convictions.