By Morghan Holt
MTV has long been Americas number one musical television network. Introducing the world to music videos and concert coverage incorporated with artist interviews, the MTV of the early 1980s immediately became an integral part of American teenagers lives. At one time, MTV offered American youth what no other networks did: a totally musical experience. With the rise of musically oriented stations like VH1 and The Box, however, MTV is scrambling to retain its ratings, trying to reestablish an identity that is at once unique and intriguing. As a result, MTV has lost much of its original substance and has become a pawn for marketers and a station filled with offensive cartoons, mindless game shows, and very little music.
It used to be that I could turn on MTV simply to view music videos or artist interviews. Now, Im lucky if I can catch a single musical cut between the 4-hour contests for the next VJ and the promotions for some new ridiculous product. If I want to see a music video, get an update on the latest concert, or hear the most recent news in the music world, I no longer turn to MTV. Instead, I look to The Boxer or VH1, the channels that have replaced what MTV used to be.
Sadly, MTV is not alone in its reversion from its original purpose as an entertainment medium. It seems that more and more media, from television programming to magazines, newspapers, and books, are focusing on defining American youth rather than providing them with the entertainment that they, as a result of their self-established identity, request. Many of the trends of todays youth are derived directly from what is seen in a magazine or on the television, things that, left to their own devices, kids never would have imagined. Perhaps there really isnt anything wrong with the medias increased involvement in kids lives. Its just that, to me, a big part of being a teenager is creating an identity for oneself, which is difficult to do with the television busily telling you who you are. Media should stick to its original purpose: to entertain, and should abandon the notion that teenagers are another money making ply. By attempting to raise a few ratings or sell a few products, the media, MTV included, is creating a uniform teenage culture, void of personality and original thought, which is not the way its supposed to be.