Top 5 TV Moments That Don’t Happen Without Arsenio
5. 2Pac – almost twenty years since his untimely death, 2Pac’s legend has not only survived him, but it has flourished to epic proportions akin to Elvis. Hands down the most celebrated rapper of all-time, his appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show supports the significance of Arsenio’s place in TV history. Imagine if there never was an Arsenio Hall Show. Where else in the late night landscape would 2Pac have been introduced to the world as an artist, a man as opposed to just a headline, troublemaker? Watch this.
4. Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson – this triumvirate of boxing’s greatest champs is a meeting that would hardly come together under any other roof. Ali alone is boxing’s most celebrated, and infamous, champion of all time. This “good TV” moment was like having Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li together to discuss the finer points of Kung Fu. Getting all of them together was surely thanks in no small part to the relevance of the Arsenio Hall Show. For the urban market, there was no other voice, no other venue that commanded that respect and accommodation. Watch this.
3. Michael Jackson – his death is still fresh in our memories. It’s hard to imagine more shocking celebrity news than the death of Michael Jackson. My parents can hardly remember a time when Michael Jackson wasn’t topping the charts. Of course the latter years of his life and career were filled with controversy that often overshadowed his genius. But in that last lap of his universal admiration, was there any other place in late night that you could have even seen Michael Jackson? His appearance was always a rare and select experience. Arsenio qualified: Watch this.
2. Bill Clinton ’92 – arguably the greatest presidential underdog campaign ever. Clinton ingratiated Generation X, and the African American community to the political process. For the first time, millions of young Americans finally felt like they could relate to a presidential candidate, thanks to the Arsenio Hall Show. I like to draw a parallel with Tiger’s introduction of golf to a whole new generation and community. The Arsenio Hall show was the perfect platform for Bill and Hillary’s introduction. And of course, the sax.
1. Hip Hop exists. Gen-Xers can remember a time when hip hop was considered a “fad”. It’s woven its way into the fabric of American culture, and broadened its appeal around the globe like no other musical genre. It was his embracing of hip-hop in that short window of his program that launched hip-hop into the mainstream consciousness. Millenials may take hip-hop’s existence for granted, but the culture owes the Arsenio Hall Show a nod, a thank you. Artists from that generation are all aware of Arsenio’s impact, even if the viewers aren’t. Watch this.
If you remember how big a deal the Arsenio Hall Show was, share your favorite Arsenio memory in the comments section below.