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Mullen, a nineteen-year veteran of the force and an obvious fitness buff, says that he personally does not care for the often violent and negative imagery in the videos shown on MTV, and that he's noticed an increase in such scenes as the network has aged. Keller, a longtime administrator who keeps an old bottle of gag Grouch Control Pills on his desk, is not yet much of a student of the medium. "I watch MTV to pass the channels going to my sports," he says. A SMALL GROUP of Kingman kids is already way too hip for the MTV mainstream. They prefer the "alternative" or "industrial" sounds of EMF, Depeche Mode, the Cure, the Dead Kennedys, Christian Death and other bands. Some of these youngsters sport nose rings and shaved-sidewall hair styles, and generally behave in ways designed to mortify most adults and quite of few of their peers. Several Kingman High students, when asked to expound on their cultural lives, mentioned Angel Johnson, an eighteen-year-old senior and one of the leaders of the alternative group. "You can't miss her," remarked one girl. "She has pink hair today."

Except for 120 Minutes, MTV's weekly nod to offbeat or alternative music and bands, the rest of the network's programming bores Angel and her pals. They'd love to live in a place with radio stations like Phoenix's KUKQ (several even drove down to Chandler for the recent Q-Fest concerts), but otherwise don't think any more or less of Kingman than their less-alternative friends. Angel, who worked as a copy editor on her high school newspaper this past semester, lives in a motel on old Route 66 with her mom and her mom's boyfriend. She says she gets very little grief from her schoolmates over her outrageous appearance, which has recently included white pancake makeup and the fast-becoming-obligatory nose ring. Maybe that's MTV in action, too. When the professionally weird pop icons of the world are broadcast into your home all day and night, perhaps it's not such a big deal when someone like Angel takes the seat next to you in algebra. Or maybe the other students just got used to Angel. "Last year I got laughed at all the time," she says. "Now they're like, really cool. They look up to me. They accept me."

MTV has united the world's fourteen-year-olds in ways that were never before possible.

To hear Kingman folk who were around for the sign-on tell the story, the coming of MTV was like the coming of spacemen. Asked what there is to do in her town, one young woman replies, "Waste gas." "MTV basically provides the brunt of the students' cultural activity."

Kingman's dozens of beauty parlors gladly stretch their talents to accommodate the latest in video-hair styles.

Californians, not lead singers in heavy-metal bands from hell, may be the worst recent threat to Kingman's peace and quiet.

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Dave Walker