A Eulogy for Spike TV and Its Godawful Internal Manifesto
The broiest network to ever grace our cable boxes is dead. The absurd, hyper-masculine brand manifesto they created in 2006 will live forever.
All images via Wikimedia Commons
Nearly 15 years ago, in April 2003, media conglomerate Viacom announced that its country music channel, the Nashville Network, would be rebranding as Spike TV, “the first network for men.” While, obviously, men had been in no short supply of TV channels catering to their tastes, Spike would be the first to actively celebrate the baser elements that come with a Y chromosome. Perfectly exemplifying the dumb machismo and unwarranted confidence that was ubiquitous in the Bush era, the network spent the next few years courting the “boobs, sports, and barbecue” type of man who we’d today find too insipid to even put in a beer commercial.
Though its schedule was padded with Star Trek reruns and TV-edited James Bond films, the network churned out a surprising amount of original programming in its early era. While some of that content was craven nostalgia-bait (Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon") or puerile quasi-smut (Stripperella), a few diamonds were sprinkled into the rough. Take, for example, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, where the conceit of dubbing comedic commentary over a retro Japanese obstacle course show was genius enough for most people to ignore some of its more problematic jokes. Then there’s the ahead-of-its-time blend of reality TV and satire to which Nathan Fielder owes an enormous debt, The Joe Schmoe Show, which had a regular dude cluelessly compete against paid actors in what he thought was a reality contest.
The network fiddled with the formula and focused its targeting over the next decade, dropping the “TV” from its name and trying out new logos in 2006 and 2015. Though Spike continued to experiment with original programming throughout the years, most viewers likely regarded Spike as that channel with 24/7 MMA fights by the end of its run. In early 2017, Viacom announced plans to take the aging channel to the woodshed and start fresh in 2018 with a top-to-bottom rebrand as the Paramount Network.
Finally succumbing to its long battle with relevancy, Spike TV passed away on January 17, 2018, its death rattle taking the form of a (presumably fake) Twitter meltdown.
While it’s unlikely any tears will be shed over the dissolution of a brand that really has no place in the flourishing #MeToo era, for better or worse, Spike played somewhat of a role in shaping our collective culture. And those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. So, let us properly send off the network dedicated to toxic masculinity by taking a peek at this internal manifesto passed out to staff after the 2006 rebranding.
Lent to VICE by Jordan VanDina, who recently revealed the existence of this artifact on Twitter.
The opening of the "manifesto" describes the brand's personality as "loyal, reliable, confident, funny, action-oriented, unapologetic, testosterone-driven, non-preaching, celebratory, unpretentious, no bullshit."
Unable to formulate meaningful, committed relationships? Fucking your way through the loneliness? Spike feels you, broseph.
The biggest takeaway here is how far vampires have drifted away from any kind of association with "action."
The first of five "Spike Promises" is a strong rebuke to the entirety of human history where women got everything. Time for men to stand up and claim their fair share.
Speaking of women, isn't it annoying how they always be, like, caring about stuff? Stuff that doesn't even have touchdowns or boobs or guitar solos!
Spike's got your back, even when the "PC police" show up to harsh your buzz. Hey, officer. If she didn't want us to secretly snap that slammin' keister, maybe she shouldn't have worn a bikini to the pool, k? AM I BEING DETAINED??
Imagine how much better the world would be if PC-ing someone to death was actually possible.
Truly the apex of bravery in media. Je suis Spike.
Consider this a friendly reminder to go back and delete all of your early Facebook profile photos.
Burnt out from job hunting and getting no interviews? Have you considered adding "proficient in throwing and catching babies" to the old résumé?
Partners: "Cool. So... just play the commercial after each episode of Manswers, as per the contract, please."
Today, in a world run by beta soyboys, true alphas like Spike and this dollar store Jeremy Piven are in short supply. Adieu, Spike. May flights of Victoria's Secret angels sing thee to thy rest.
Follow Justin Caffier on Twitter.