Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What the $%#* Happened to MTV

I hope I don’t scare anyone with this confession, but…I was born before MTV. Yes, that means that I remember when phones needed cords and cameras needed film. But more importantly, I remember when MTV was awesome. There hadn’t been anything like it before. It was huge. For better or worse, depending on who you are and how you look at it, MTV dramatically and forever changed the music industry. Obviously, the people at MTV knew it would; the first music video ever aired on the station was for The Buggles’ song “Video Killed the Radio Star.” And it did. MTV was a game-changing, star-making, generation-defining phenomenon. Now, however, it is literally and figuratively a big pile of *&%$.

I watched “The MTV Movie Awards” this weekend. I’ve watched the show every year since it began – and that was in 1992. Evidently they’ve run out of ideas, humor, creativity, something – because the preferred gag of the night was the F-bomb. There were over 100 “bleeps” during the show as the censors struggled to keep up with the profanity. Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with foul language. In fact, I have a mouth like a truck driver’s. That’s not the point. The point is that when you can bring nothing to the table but three hours of cursing, you’ve lost your edge. And MTV has lost not only its edge, but its way. There was a time when it was about music and music videos. If you are near a TV right now, tune it to MTV. Is there a music video on the screen? Is music even playing? Probably not. It’s more likely that Snooki is doing a shot or Heidi is trying to get her frozen face to move. When one considers the programming that has dominated MTV for the last two decades, it becomes clear that rather than focusing on music, MTV has been focusing on the degradation of society.  Let’s look at some of the &*%$ , in addition to Sunday’s awards show, for which the station is responsible:

“The Real World”
This show was the blueprint for people-behaving-badly programming. Reality TV owes its life to “The Real World.” The roommates have been drinking, fighting, hating, puking, hooking up, bullying, breaking laws, indulging addictions, and showcasing personality disorders since 1991. So the next time you wonder where The Real Housewives learned how to act, look no further. Thanks for that, MTV.

“My Super Sweet 16
You have to be 18, I think, to be on “The Real World.” Evidently, MTV wanted to provide a model for younger people who enjoy acting like complete jackasses, so they created this gem. If you haven’t seen the show, each episode features one very wealthy birthday girl or boy who spends the entire show begging for a BMW, threatening her parents, and telling the unpopular kids at school that they aren’t invited to the party. Want to be on MTV? Treat people as poorly as possible, and you’ll get your own episode! Teenagers welcome!

“16 and Pregnant”
Sometimes greedy and materialistic just aren't enough, you know?

“The Hills”
One word, people: Speidi. With “The Hills,” MTV decided that spontaneous, bad behavior (like that on “The Real World”) wasn’t enough, and they started scripting the interpersonal drama under the guise of reality. “The Hills” not only elevated reality TV to a new level – completely contrived – but it also gave birth to a whole crop of famous-for-nothing saps on society. Now, thanks to “The Hills,” Lauren Conrad is a published author and Spencer Pratt is a millionaire. I’m pretty sure those are two definitive signs of Armageddon.

“Jersey Shore”
I like to think of this one as MTV’s piece de resistance. Having clearly given up on plot lines, proper English, and any semblance of productive behavior, MTV now pays people to drink, go tanning, and feed into cultural stereotypes. Hey, MTV, when your stars call themselves Snooki, J-Woww, and The Situation, it’s time to take a long, hard look at what you are putting out into the world. Just saying.

Sunday’s awards show is a pretty fair representation of what the station has become – just a lot of $%@#. As a member of what is referred to as “The MTV Generation,” I’m sad. But, you know…every empire falls. I’m not sure where MTV can go from here. I mean, what is the next step after Speidi? I think it might be time to retire, MTV. Video killed the radio star. And that’s cool. Let’s not kill any respectable place you have in pop culture history. Cut the %&$%, okay?

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