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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

MuchMusic’s big downtown campout

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In a clear case of hero worship gone haywire, hundreds of people are presently camped out on sidewalks surrounding MuchMusic’s headquarters at Queen and John streets. The line begins on the southeast corner and runs south to Richmond, then wraps around the building and snakes all the way to St. Patrick Street, where I just talked to two girls who told me they are in 836th and 837th place.

Yes, it’s that time of year again: the MuchMusic Video Awards air live from the station’s parking lot on June 20, and ticket hopefuls have been lining up since yesterday afternoon to snag passes to the star-studded event. Wristbands will be handed out Saturday at 8am.

The long wait for MMVA tickets has become something of a tradition in recent years, and it’s clear that Much/CTV loves every minute of it; the awards show blog even has a tag devoted to lineup stories. They could have executed this contest in dozens of other ways — doling out all passes via email or (gasp!) video entries selected on merit or at random would cause much less mayhem, and would be more cost-effective, too. A private security crew is keeping an eye on the line, and one guard gave Matt a hard time when he showed up to take the picture above. (Matt was asked for a press pass…to take a photo in a public place. Strange.)

The lineup, however, is part of the spectacle. It feels kind of like Much’s original, Znaimer-fied style of television production to see all those plucky kids (and their moms, who are the only ones likely to remember it) hanging out on the sidewalk. Speaker’s Corner and Citytv are gone from Queen and John, and Much has all but turned its back on videos and VJs in favour of prerecorded, episodic programming.

But nostalgia aside, passing by all of these people in tents on public space can’t help but raise the question of whether, say, The Scott Mission Video Awards would be granted the same kind of latitude for its lineup of would-be audience members.

Photo by Matthew Blackett



  1. Meh, MuchMusic hasn’t been about videos for years, long before Znaimer flew the coop. It’s largely because MTV (and subsequently MM) discovered you can sell more ad dollars, and actually market more music as it turns out, by airing so-called ‘reality’ shows with au courant pop soundtracks and youthful casts. Just playing music videos over and over doesn’t bring in revenue and MM’s always been short on talent with few exceptions. It’s a shame, people are still making music videos and some of them are really, really good. We can still watch them on YouTube, though.

  2. Maybe if we had a venue where this could be open to all.. let’s say 100, 000 capacity.. wristbands wouldn’t be necessary? Wouldn’t seem so cool though would it? After all, MM, with their 90% American content, wouldn’t want ot give too much to their fans.. especially not when they’re getting so much free publicity with their linups.

  3. I have never lined up to get wristbands to the mmva’s. Why? Because year after year it is an event filled with unknown/shitty performers peppered with famous faces. The new years countdown is the same. I’d rather stay home.