Thursday, April 30, 2009

Late Night MTV Memories

Once upon a time, there was not an Internet available with quick access to show you that you were a pervert but not that much of a pervert since there are so many worse perversions than yours. MTV had this wonderful series known as "Sex in the 90s", which was pretty cool and interesting. It started a vibe... people were worried they were a bit weird or unusual in bed and wanted desperately to talk about it but not be stoned to death for it. MTV created an outlet for this by joining the forces with the Loveline radio show to bring us all the late night staple of teenagers in the mid 90s, Loveline.

Let's set the table. The exponential rise in HIV cases had halted and there was stabilization in the infection numbers by the mid-90s. Recently, I saw this note that said 1 million American have HIV, and I said "a-ha but there were 1 mil infected in the early 90s". We now have 50 mil more Americans so the infection rate is way down. The scare tactics and red ribbon awareness Nazis in Hollywood had lost some effectiveness. We all saw the movie Philadelphia. Heroin had also killed off or contributed to the deaths of grunge era musicians, scaring some children away from IV needle drugs. It was becoming cool to be gay or experiment, at least for girls. There was a pent up sexual energy release. Loveline, in a broad way, helped a lot of young people during that time and still does today on the radio.

Loveline had the great Dr. Drew as the straight man, and then Adam Carolla and a random female comedienne to help keep the show light. You'd think a show about sex would be naturally funny but it oftentimes was not. A lot of people called about STDs, abusive relationships, experimentation gone wrong, 'weird' requests from their lovers, and the surprises never ended. My personal favorite touch was the "igloo". This was an audience member anonymously asking a question from an igloo that would only show their outline. My question always was: wasn't it obvious who was in the igloo after the question when they returned to their seat? Adam Carolla was incredibly funny on the show and had the common sense approach to many things. Sometimes he'd stop people right after their question and ask them right back if the question itself showed that the issue was weird or wrong? Dr. Drew was the true soul of that show, and would manage to teach viewers a thing or two per episode.

Here's every single call concerning a mental/psychological issue or something very strange....

Caller: "Hi, Loveline, my boyfriend likes to call me a bitch when we have sex, and be rough"
Dr. Drew: "Are you bothered by this or is this a role play scenario?"
Caller: "No, he does this on his own."
Caller: "I felt bad and don't really like it but I love him and want to make sure he is happy"
Dr. Drew: "Have you told him you don't---
Caller: "Did I mention he dunks my head in the toilet after we have sex?"
Adam Carolla: "So this makes him happy? Who are you dating Ted Bundy?"
Dr. Drew: "Caller, might I ask, were you sexually abused as a child?"
Caller: "Yes"

Everything that happened that was weird, was not entirely 100% consensual or enjoyed but was done to please the other partner somehow went back to the caller being sexually abused. A fun drinking game was doing a shot each time a caller admitted to sexual abuse. It felt like every person ever sexually abused called into that show. Adam Carolla was a good smart ass host, but once the sexual abuse card was out, Dr. Drew kicked into high gear. I give him a lot of kudos for giving a single serving of psych help and then recommending further help for callers.

This show made a lot of people feel "normal". This show made people laugh. This show could touch on light subjects or tackle tougher ones like the example above. One thing it did do was discuss sexual abuse and show how no you are not the only one to have gone through it, it is OK to discuss it and get help to face it. Adam Carolla's humor was effective with treating the lighter subjects and messing with male callers. He would constantly question guys about why they would want to try something. A caller once said they masturbated to a photo of himself at age 15 and asked if that made him gay. Carolla said "Gay would be the least of your issues". The show had a use, and a take away I learned was that a condom doesn't protect you from everything so don't treat them like a savior for all concerns.

A psych major friend once said 'there's no such thing as normal only degrees of deviance'. While that is a cool statement, Loveline was effective of relieving a lot of people from the worry that they were strange and weird because one sexual partner found something they did 'weird' and reacted poorly to it. It takes all kinds of people to fill the world, and the Internet now allows like minded outliers to find each other. Before the wonderful connectivity of the Internet, social networking and rapid transfer of files, you didn't have anonymous ways besides calling into Loveline to find out that it was ok to enjoy autoerotic ashpyxiation.

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