The words “music television” used to instill joy and pride in all kinds of music lovers, including myself. There was finally a place in the television world that we could call our own. A station we could always flip to and combine two things that are passions of most people ages 15-25: music and watching TV. But, more and more consistently, on so many different levels, MTV has been letting us down by taking our music videos and replacing them with reality TV shows, like The Hills and My Super Sweet 16, and assisting celebrities in embarrassing themselves (although they need little assistance from MTV).
Take a look, for example, at the recent Video Music Awards. While normally being a part of the VMAs is a huge honor, it seems that standards are slipping. While everything that occurred on the night of the VMAs is currently on the internet, the actual show left something to be desired. Instead of getting to see bands perform songs at the awards show, many performances, including Fall Out Boy, Foo Fighters, Kanye West and Rhiana, weren’t really shown on TV. Snippets of the performances were shown, but the majority of the performances were not. Especially with Britney Spears as the opening act, people who had tuned in to see the greatness that had ensued in past years were sorely disappointed.
It is upsetting to me that with the popularity of the VMAs and of music in general, a known source of good music television can allow itself to slip so far underneath the standard the station had previously set. True, everyone makes mistakes. However, it does not seem possible that they didn’t foresee the disaster that was the Britney Spears performance. It is honorable for them to want to help her; yet they not only put her through cruel and unusual punishment by making her perform, the VMAs did this at our expense.
In addition to this, the reality TV shows that have almost entirely replaced music television are also to blame. With reality television being a trend that has flourished over the past couple of years, I suppose it seems only right. But like every other television station, it’s obviously taken too far when that is practically all of the shows on the station. Where there used to be huge chunks of many different genres of music videos, there is now hours and hours of reality television. MTV tries to make up for this by having many different channels of MTV: MTV2, MTV University, etc. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that the cable channel most people receive doesn’t have what they are looking for.
In some ways MTV does redeem itself. For one thing, the MTV website, www.mtv.com, proves that they don’t just care about reality TV and music. MTV has a subsection called “Think MTV,” which promotes activism in the community through sexual health, education, discrimination and politics and promotes global activism as well. “Think MTV” is a good use of MTV’s influence, which is slowly dwindling among its viewers. If they can make some impact on getting individuals to make changes, whether it be through the television channel or on the internet, then at least some good will come out of MTV, even if the initial goal of music videos on television is in a slump.
Basically, the outcome of the recent changes in the programming of MTV means one thing: music television is going to be much harder to find. There are channels like FUSE and MTV2; but MTV, which is easily accessible through those who have cable, is letting down its viewers. The MTV website is still varying in its representation of musical genres and television shows. There is still hope for the MTV idea on the Internet, but not on television anymore.
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