MTV’s Different Programming Over the Years…But Is It Making a Difference?

18 Apr

MTV truly was a revolution when it started; no other stations at the time were offering music videos around the clock like it was. However, the station has turned into one that provides programs of self-indulgence, excess, and irresponsibility. It is teaching middle and high schoolers that you don’t need to try hard to become famous; talent seems to be dwindling if we judge by what we’re watching on MTV. We know all about the cast of “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom”, but what have they really done other than be on television, acting as themselves? They are not positive role models, and MTV is not touching upon real issues that we are facing in our society. We should be teaching our youth how to save money and why getting an education and pursuing a career is important. Instead, we’re showing them programs that include clips of shows where people get injured and make fools of themselves. And according to MTV, that is something to be admired in our culture.

However, the revolution that is MTV and its influence on our culture is undeniable. It made strides in all new ways that other stations couldn’t begin to offer. Even when MTV took a step away from constant music to instead start showing other types of television shows, it was still making waves with its programming. “The Real World” essentially began the current reality television craze, and I really like to think it had noble intentions when the show first began. The first season was all about bringing different types of people from all over the country, in an attempt to get these different personalities to get to know a world outside of their own. Now, the show is all about gaining and keeping ratings, focusing on throwing a bunch of alcoholic 20-somethings into an insanely furnished house, hoping that multiple people will hook up with one another. If MTV is actually trying to “keep up with needs of the changing audience“, they’re telling us that we’re now not looking to watch tv with much substance behind it. “True Life” is another program whose de-evolution, I’d say, reminds me of “The Real World”‘s over time. “True Life” really has had some amazing episodes that deal with important issues, such as those of drug abuse, morbid obesity, Tourette’s Syndrome, and OCD. However, the show has a problem of adding in episodes that we would consider more “fluff”, such as “I’m a High School Freshman”, “I’m a Textaholic” and “I Have Embarrassing Parents” (which is actually a two part episode). However, the show has done far better than “The Real World” with staying socially relevant. Some of the most recent episodes include “I’m Occupying Wall Street” and “I Have Diabetes”, which are both important issues. This gives me some hope that MTV really is trying to keep their reality programming more on the realistic side.

But really, I don’t have that much hope…

Yeah, since this is from “True Life”, there’s really not much hope.

MTV seems to have gone through more of a reboot recently, starting with the emergence of the juggernaut that is “Jersey Shore”. That show is painfully easy to pick on and make an example of. You’d probably think that means I’ll skip over it, since it is such an easy target, but really, I’m saving it for its own special, private post (look forward to that!). I’m instead going to focus on the shows that were popular right before the rise of the shore. More specifically, “Laguna Beach”, “The Hills”, “Cribs” (and from that “Teen Cribs”, which is essentially just teenagers showing off what their parents have bought them…I’m not 100% sure why someone thought it was necessary to make a tv show out of this), “Pimp My Ride”, and of course, “My Super Sweet Sixteen”. All of these shows invite viewers into the excessive lifestyles of not only celebrities, but also those who just happened to grow up in affluential neighborhoods with wealthy parents. “Pimp My Ride” might be the only exception to this generalization, since the show was about crappy cars getting made over, but really, the make-overs were a tad over the top…

Really, only a little bit over the top…it hardly looks any different than the original car, trust me.

The show that really takes the cake from all of these programs would have to be “My Super Sweet Sixteen“. The show SCREAMS excessive spending and spoiled teenagers. Literally, the teenagers are always screaming that their parents weren’t buying them enough for their sweet sixteen, which is obviously the most important event of their entire life. It’s really all downhill after that point. The show was essentially encouraging teenagers to feel entitled, as if they deserve all of the items that their parents were shelling out so much money for. On top of this, the show was giving teens the wrong idea of how parents can spend money. “Super Sweet” would have you thinking that all parents are limitless ATMs, just waiting to hand you your every desire. The only good that the show does is bring together spoiled teens of all races, genders, and sexualities, to truly show that greed does not discriminate.

Necessary entrance.

Necessary tears.

Necessary tv show.

After the reign of “My Super Sweet Sixteen”, MTV has taken a step back and realized that not all that glitters is necessarily viewings gold. Our current generation is sick of this excessive spending and flaunting of wealth – we are Generation Debt and have actual money issues to worry about. So, now, programming has changed more from these previous “reality” shows to more scripted shows and shows that are “reality” but focused on those of a lower class (aka “Teen Mom”, which, have no fear, will also be getting its own post). However, in this programming, we still see no mention of how MTV is addressing, or even thinking about addressing, Generation Debt. Sure, we are no longer having lavish lifestyles shoved down our throats (on MTV, that is. Bravo is a whole other problem), but are we learning anything? I’m not saying it’s MTV’s job to teach its audience a “life lesson” or anything, but for a station with such an impressionable and wide-reaching audience, it could be doing a hell of a lot more to make a difference.

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One Response to “MTV’s Different Programming Over the Years…But Is It Making a Difference?”

  1. jchambers12 April 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    I miss Laguna Beach and TRL. With that said, your post was a great accurate description of how much MTV has changed for the worse in my opinion. I think it has become a channel that can sell awful programming to younger audiences and make millions for the advertisers. It’s a shame when I was twelve, how much I loved MTV and could’ve told you what channel it was on. Nowadays, I do not think that I even know what television shows are on MTV except for Teen Mom and Jersey Shore. How I know that? They are all over the news and websites I go on daily. On my Facebook/Twitter feeds. It’s a shame that I just moved into a new home and I don’t know what channel MTV is on. I bet if TRL was still on, the viewership will increase. MTV has become white trash television in my opinion.

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