In Berlin, music fans build a new history

Fri Nov 6, 2009 3:06am EST
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By Mimi Turner

BERLIN (Hollywood Reporter) - Twenty-year-old Emilia was desperately trying to get a ticket to the MTV Europe Music Awards Thursday, shivering outside the O2 World stadium on a chill grey evening in what used to be East Berlin.

"I've come all the way from Portugal with my friends. Do you know of anyone who could help us?" she queried, her youthful voice rising with a sense of desperation.

When it was suggested that she head to the Brandenburg Gate, where U2 was playing a free set for 10,000 people to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall, she seemed unimpressed.

"But I really want to see Jay-Z and Beyonce," she said. "And I love Katy Perry."

Emilia neatly illustrates a point about Berlin's recent history.

While one generation prepares to commemorate the 20-year anniversary Monday of an emotional and political landmark for all who lived through it, a whole new generation has grown up for whom the past is ancient history.

"Most of our fans were born after the wall came down," said Bill Roedy, president of MTV International.

In many ways, the MTV story has been part of a larger technological evolution that, in its own way, was an agent of political change. The launch of the Astra satellite in the late '80s brought a free-to-air signal to East Germany. Together with cable systems opening up in other parts of Eastern Europe, the new television opportunities meant that for the first time the homes behind the Iron Curtain could see what they were missing.   Continued...