You see it all the time on Facebook every year when the VMAs roll around, people commiserating about the state of MTV nowadays. But I’m not here to whine about the asinine reality shows or lack of music videos, I’m here to shake some sense into you crybabies.
About a year ago this video surfaced and I practially prayed to the heavens because it was exactly what I had been saying or more specifically NOT saying to everyone bitching.
Since I didn’t have an older siblings to pass on the MTV tradition I didn’t come across the channel until 1997 when my friend told me he was watching it nonstop during Spring Break. I must have been only ten years old at the time but seeing all these people dancing and laughing poolside was eye opening. Is that what growing up would be like? They looked like they were having so much fun!
And thus began my downfall. Suddenly I had MTV on all the time. When my eyes weren’t glued to WB’s primetime programming of Buffy or Charmed or Dawson’s Creek I was hooked on TRL and Real World/Road Rules Challenge. It was a whole channel dedicated to things my pre-teen mind cared about. And that was the goddamn point. By the time you enroll into college you have an entirely different idea of what “cool” is. And when you turn 25 that idea has probably changed again. So why do so many of my peers find it so unforgiveable that MTV isn’t for them anymore?
No one turns MTV on for the first time in their mid-twenties and claims, “It’s like this channel was MADE for me!” The demographic is for teenagers. It always has been. As an adult you probably find Teen Mom revolting. Well, 14 year olds don’t see it that way because they are watching their peers live out the consequences from their mistakes. Are you bored of all the shows about high school? Well, shows about high school aren’t boring to kids still in high school. Are you grumpy because they don’t play enough music videos? Turn on your phone, open your YouTube app and there you have it, access to almost any video you want.
MTV used to be a source for pop culture news that regular news channels didn’t care about. I remember the night Aaliyah died and Suchin Pak interrupting whatever show was on with breaking news. I remember all the screen time my favorite musicans got. I remember how big of a deal it was when someone would make an apperance on TRL. Do you know why all of that is irrelevant now? Because of the internet.
Why watch someone interview your favorite band when you could follow them on Twitter and read their daily musings? Why cough up money for magazines when you could follow them on Instagram and indulge in their daily selfies? Why bother with behind-the-scenes special features when you could follow them on Vine and see them do silly things all the time? Most of the things that MTV delivered fans can get on their own now but instead of being stubborn and redundant, MTV adapted. It evolved to showcase other aspects of entertainment. If people are spending all their time with their eyes glued to their phones following their favorite celebrities every move then people aren’t paying attention to “normal” strangers. Hence the rise in reality shows. Also they are dirt cheap to make. Next time you mock MTV’s programming for its vapid and annoying subject matter take a look at reality shows on other cable networks. A&E’s American Hoggers, Bravo’s Shahs of Sunset, and my personal hell Lifetime’s Pretty Wicked Moms. Compared those trainwrecks Jersey Shore looks normal.
I used this argument in my article about Reign earlier this month: Would you complain about how all of CMT’s shows are about cowboys or midwestern families? No, because that would be ridiculous. If you updated your status with that chances are people woulod ask why you were even watching. Obviously you’re not the demographic. The same thing goes for MTV. Unless you idenitfy with teenagers then you most likely grew out of MTV. I highly doubt all the people who wish for the days of Carson Daly’s black nail polish were still voting for their favorite videos to hit the number one spot in the weeks prior to TRL‘s cancellation. What was the last season of Real World you remember watching? You can’t blame the quality of Real World changing because they still cast the same seven stereotypes from 15 years ago.
So why do we think we’re so superior for not watching MTV anymore? Isn’t that like bragging about not being in high school at 27 years old? We’re not watching anymore because it’s not for us. Just like it wasn’t for our parents when we devoured every minute of it. Have you ever visited a place from your childhood? Were you surprised by how much smaller it seemed? That’s because memories are biased by nature. Rooms looked a lot bigger when you were younger and MTV seemed a lot cooler when pogs and parachute pants were all the rage.