Music / National Reviews / TV Reviews

Why MTV’s Still Booming

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By Michelle Rebecca

Why MTV’s Still Booming

While the complaint that there’s no music on MTV anymore is valid, no one seems to question why the channel still exists. Jersey Shore had more than a few hardcore fans, but that’s not nearly enough to garner the ongoing success of the network. Call it a guilty pleasure, an anomaly or simply the luck of the draw, MTV clearly isn’t going anywhere. In fact, as a station, it’s rather smarter than it looks.

Obviously, MTV has kept up with the trends and simply delivers what people want to see. There are numerous studies, parental complains and a general acceptance that the younger generations have a penchant for recording everything. They don’t want music gods to look up to, at least not all the time. They want to watch themselves — or people just like themselves — doing things that they really do. Some things never change and “old people” still just don’t get it.

Define Reality

Catfish, Teen Mom, Ridiculousness and a host of other MTV shows all have one thing in common: they’re about as real as reality TV gets. They also feature people who are, oftentimes, just like the audience. There might be a little added drama, such as on Teen Mom, but for the most part you can flip on MTV and see very realistic-looking young adults. That’s what the audience is looking for.

Most of the time, shows on MTV look like someone grabbed a camcorder or smartphone and just started filming. The cameras are shaky, the clips are sometimes blurry or grainy, and it moves at lightning speed. In true MTV fashion, there’s often a soundtrack that mimics the constant stimulation (via iPods or otherwise) that youth depend on. These MTV “stars” could be anyone, they’re rarely more attractive than the average teen and there’s something about them that’s either likable, unlikable or just train wreck enough to hold someone’s attention for a few minutes.

False Intimacy

Reality TV, whether on MTV or not, is so popular because it builds a false sense of intimacy between star and audience. People connect with these real people and either see themselves in them or create a sense of empathy. It’s quite similar to online dating and, even though there’s a screen between star and viewer, the audience doesn’t see it as a barrier. These people are available 24/7 to provide company and comfort.

There’s nothing wrong with getting hooked on a TV show for the most part. MTV dishes up exactly what people want: small, digestible snippets of entertainment. I’m certain if their target market still demanded non-stop music videos, that’s what would be aired. However, both supply and demand have changed.

Is It Just Trash?

Well, what’s the definition of trash? I doubt many people would argue that The Real Housewives of New York, The Bachelor, or any other non-MTV reality show offer much more depth than Buckwild. In fact, MTV is actually more on the right track than many other networks, excepting a few choices like My Super Sweet Sixteen. At least MTV is featuring people who aren’t dripping in wealth or living in fantastical surroundings.

How the times have changed. Just a few years ago, parents complained that teens were being set up for broken dreams and unrealistic futures because of the excess featured in music videos and perhaps that has some merit. The same youth that binged on MTV’s excess in the past are now the parents, focusing on more important things like colonoscopies and finding the right commercial septic services, or whatever else it is that adults do these days.

In It for the Long Haul

The simple fact is that MTV’s not going anywhere because there still is — and likely always will be — a demand for it. It’s offering up new seasons and shows, and it’s the perfect mindless entertainment. However, the thing is, it’s not really mindless. It’s simply reflecting what the target demographic relates to, which makes it a smarter network than many others.

Just like politics, sex (and yes, music), there will always be an abyss between MTV’s target demographic and everyone else. Is it solely trash TV that provides nothing of substance to the viewers? Well, that depends on who you ask, how old they are at the time and where they are in life.

In my opinion, there are much trashier options out there. Maybe MTV should stop being the kid that’s picked on as the scapegoat du jour.

Michelle is an aspiring writer and blogger with a passion for the Internet, specifically social media and blogging. She loves how social media connects people across the globe, and appreciates that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.

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