It’s time to tune out MTV
For as long as I can remember, MTV has instead been garnering large amounts of both ratings and controversy over the content of their programming. Having in the last year disposed of their long-held tagline of ‘Music Television’, MTV seems content that the channel has become home to any number of sleazy ‘reality shows’, almost entirely devoid of any music.
Looking at the channel’s history, MTV sure has sparked a few firestorms. I’m sure we all remember the ‘Wardrobe Malfunction’ from the 2004 Super Bowl. The network’s reality shows, ranging from The Real World to A Shot at Love all have a reputation for both questionable morals and authenticity. Jackass and Punk’d both took idiocy to new heights. The show Jersey Shore follows a group of twenty-something Italian American stereotypes as they drink, screw, and make asses of themselves, despite the fact that a good portion of the cast is neither Italian-American or from New Jersey. I don’t even need to mention 16 and Pregnant, the dangerously irresponsible show that glorifies teen motherhood. Even MTV’s award shows can almost be expected to produce at least one shocking incident, including a rather recent one which proved Kanye West may well be the only thing in the world more tasteless than MTV.
However, this time even MTV may have gone too far with their new TV show Skins, which premiered last week. The show, based off a British TV series by the same name, follows a group of teenage kids dealing with drugs, alcohol and sex – and looking cool and having fun while doing it. Worse, much of the cast is under 18 years old, meaning that many people are justified in calling this glorified child porn. With only a single episode aired, sponsors including Taco Bell and GM are bailing, and concerned citizens are gathering their torches and pitchforks, calling for it to be cancelled. Even less fiery groups who have seen the show aren’t too thrilled, saying its the same glorification of sex, drugs and alcohol you could find in any other MTV show.
MTV, for the most part has either refused to comment, aside from a spokesman claiming that ‘Skins is a show that addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way.’
First, let me just say MTV wouldn’t know a what a real world issue confronting a teenager looked like if a teen started sawing off their legs with a dull knife. With that said, I like to think I am fairly cosmopolitan and open-minded, but I have to admit, I draw the line in the sand very clearly when it comes to glamorization of drug use and promiscuous sex, let alone involving children. Certainly when their last effort in doing so helped spark the first rise in teen pregnancy rates in a generation.
Much like the pop stars that used to grace the channel, MTV is desperately trying to stay relevant by surrounding itself with as much smut and controversy as possible. While most reasonable people can roll their eyes at this desperate bid for attention, there is no denying it is having a lasting negative impact on the far more impressionable younger generations.
So what should be done?
For starters, lets begin with the age-old adage ‘If you don’t like it, don’t watch it’. If you don’t like any of the things on MTV, no matter the reason, don’t watch it or let your family watch it. I openly admit, if I had a family of my own, I certainly wouldn’t allow them to watch any of the drivel currently on MTV.
Of course, in this ever increasingly connected world, turning off the TV isn’t enough a lot of times. Which is why, more important than just ignoring the TV shows, talk to your kids about the subject matter and beat MTV to the punch. I myself was lucky to have parents who spoke to me about drugs, sex, and all the other things that a lot of parents shy away from talking to their kids about. I may have rolled my eyes at the time, but having the mystique surrounding them with hard facts made a difference. Watching all the people who did partake in those risqué activities crash and burn helped a lot too.
If you happen to be among the crowd that watches these kinds of shows, as much as I detest them, it’s your right to watch them. Just please, for all that is good in the world, keep in mind that the kinds of depravity and stupidity on those shows are the stuff of real life horror stories, and don’t let all the glitz and glam of MTV fool you.
As for MTV itself? I can only hope that with the Internet taking over music more and more, and with their content seeming to grow more vile with every passing year, that people will come to acknowledge what many others including myself already have: that as a TV network and cultural force, MTV’s time is long over, and its attempts to remain in the limelight by means of controversy has the appeal of a suicide cult.
In the end what bothers me the most about MTV is not the content, but how they handle it. What a lot of people tend to forget when they protest the levels of violence or sexuality on television is there is something far worse that is being peddled, especially by MTV: ignorance. Advocating stupidity among the masses causes more damage to people than almost any amount of graphic violence or nudity ever could.
In the end, mindless entertainment results in mindless people.