David Bowie Didn’t Believe Poughkeepsie Was as Racist as MTV Said
An MTV VJ once tried to convince David Bowie that Poughkeepsie did not like music by Black artists. He wasn't having it.
A cringe-worthy interview from 1983 has resurfaced recently in light of the racial issues now making headlines across the country. Mark Goodman was interviewing David Bowie when the musician turned the tables and began grilling the MTV VJ about the lack of Black artists shown on the channel. Goodman awkwardly tried to explain this by launching into an explanation that blames the Hudson Valley, among other places, for being "scared to death" of "Black faces" singing music on their television sets.
We have to try and do what we think not only New York and Los Angeles will appreciate, but also Poughkeepsie or the Midwest, pick some town in the Midwest that would be scared to death by Prince, which we’re playing, or a string of other Black faces. We have to play the type of music the entire country would like.
Bowie's smirk while listening to Goodman's awkward answer showed that he simply couldn't believe that Hudson Valley kids would be traumatized by seeing Prince on their TV.
As Goodman continued to explain away MTV's lack of diversity, Bowie's body language speaks volumes. Smiling and shaking his head he replies "that's interesting." Goodman, unaware that he was woefully on the wrong side of history with his response, continued to explain how kids in 1983 are so violently opposed to Black artists that they would turn against MTV if they saw a video from one during daylight hours.
The camera zooms into David Bowie's shocked face as he simply says "interesting." When Goodman asks if it's a valid point, Bowie refuses to agree and only laughs saying he "understands" the point of view.
Of course, months later Michael Jackson's Thriller would top the charts and change the music landscape on MTV forever. With fans New York, LA and, of course, Poughkeepsie selling out copies of the album at every record store, MTV was forced to play Jackson's videos, open the floodgates for other Black artists to be featured on the channel.
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