VIDEORGY: "The Wild and the Young," the new Quiet Riot video, world-premiered on MTV last weekend. That much everyone agrees on. After that, it's up for grabs. Did MTV initially try to censor part of the controversial clip? Or just edit it? And is the 24-hour video channel playing the entire clip now all the time? Or just some of the time? And why do we even care? What makes the tale so intriguing is that the video isn't just a typical heavy-metal monster mash. It's a clever rock-censorship satire, which portrays the band trapped in a "1984" style police state, ruled by a military dominatrix, where musicians are herded into detention camps and their guitars are flung into shredding machines.
At the end of the song, the band wakes up in its tour bus, signaling that it was all a bad dream. Just then we hear a TV newscaster intoning: "In Washington, Congress has just passed legislation that requires record companies to reproduce song lyrics on all album jackets. Warning stickers must be affixed to alert parents to explicit subject matter. The government has cited the rock band Quiet Riot as one of the chief offenders. . . ." The clip then shows us the tour bus driver, who's played by the same military lady, implying that the nightmare may have been real after all.
In the mindless world of music video, that qualifies the clip as one of the few videos worth watching at all. But what made the video even more of a conversation piece is that CBS, Quiet Riot's record label, complained to various media outlets last week that MTV was only airing a sanitized version of the clip, trimming the explicit newscaster commentary about warning-sticker legislation. MTV often edits clips (especially ones with lots of dialogue), but you had to wonder whether the video channel got cold feet about airing a thinly-veiled attack on rock's new morality crusade.
MVT insists that no censorship was involved. "The editing has nothing to do with content," a spokeswoman said. "It's been running both with and without the ending, depending on the configuration of the hour that it's scheduled for." However, CBS execs insist that the video channel has promised to run the clip in its entirety, but only after complaints from the record label and the band's management. "MTV acknowledged to us that we had made some very persuasive arguments," a CBS spokesman said. "And they've now informed us that rather than play the edited version, which we felt altered the meaning of the clip, that they'll take pains to play it in its entirety." (Quiet Riot's new album, "QR III," is reviewed on Page 90.)