I (don’t) want my MTV: The evolution of mainstream

Emerson Muzada

Our media-enriched culture tells us viewers and consumers to indulge a significant amount of media during our existence. Media is everywhere, I shutter at the very thought of how powerful media’s influence is.

The undermined effect of contemporary ‘mainstream’ music on audiences is a detriment to our American culture. The music industry has exploited the true art of music converting music into a commodity rather than a form of communication and expression. ‘Mainstream’ music is a degrading force and blindsided industry that neglects the exquisite beauty and expression of musical composure. The repetitive messages of sex, drugs, money and violence in music resonates with its audiences as a normal inclination that reflects our culture, when in reality it is encouraging misguided behavior, teaching wrongful values and nourishing negative stereotypes.

Other than MTV, BET, and VH1, all of which are owned by the same corporation, Viacom, music exposure to other genre’s and categories have come to a staggering halt. I am not implying that this is true in all situations, or an overall generalization of our population, but, America’s “mainstream” music is reaching more and more households.

MTV is claimed “the most widely distributed network in the world.” MTV has reached 419 million households in 164 countries and continues to expand their global media empire broadcasting in 22 languages across the globe according to a case study in 2006. Owned by Viacom and CBS, a conglomerate that ranks among the top five corporations that rule the media world, MTV and its music is a product of these ruling hegemony’s, who disregard music’s importance, influence and function in a society, MTV, like all media outlets, has the sole objective is profit.

During the 20th Century, an era notably known for producing some of the greatest artists the world has ever heard, like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Bob Marley, just to name a few. Music was utilized as a tool to inform, unite and provoke emotion. Times were different; music artist’s experimentation and innovative approach pioneered a whole new developing musical spectrum that is ignored and invisible in today’s ‘mainstream’ music.

As music evolves into a commodity rather than an art form in America, the evident intention of capitalism threatens musical exposure and familiarity. For every occasion, music encompasses all emotions. I find comfort in gospel or church music, inspiration from artists like Bob Marley and Bob Dylan, and love and understanding when listening to the Beatles or Ray Charles. Music is much more than a commodity, it propels nations and cultures who aspire for a better tomorrow.

Ethnomusicology is the study of the relationship between music and culture. In most nations, music’s function is used as a reflection of their beliefs, culture, convictions and religion. This cultural phenomenon is nonexistent in America popular culture where our diverse population carries no importance in musical content. Instead, our music perpetuates stereotypes, promotes female vulgarity, and affirms American conformists that music reflects the reality of American culture.

So keep your ears open America, “mainstream” music is a distracting anomaly that is determined to purchase your attention by any means necessary.

Do no conform to the corporation’s intent to poison our culture and demeanor. Explore the unexplored and reject the status quo that keeps our minds dormant.