I once had a friend whose list of life goals included amassing a fortune large enough to purchase MTV. Having purchased it, he would hire the most despicable people he could find and fill the network’s airtime with debauchery and filth the likes of which have not been seen outside Vatican City cira 1500. Now before you rush to include this friend in the ranks of my other midget-loving, smut-peddling buddies, let me explain. The purpose of this parade of perversion was not to celebrate man’s sinfulness but rather to shock MTV’s viewing public with depravity and tastelessness so raw, so over the top that they could not help but wretch and repent. In his mind, drastic measures of this kind were the only thing that could finally convince Americans to jump off their greased slide to Sodom before the brimstone starts falling.
Well, a brief stopover at MTV yesterday (on my way to the SOAP network for an afternoon of OC reruns) has led me to conclude that either he has achieved his goal much sooner than anticipated, or someone else has beaten him to it. Mere words and apocalyptic imagery fail to express the depths to which MTV has sunk. It depresses me more than a little when I consider that the tripe I witnessed might appeal to any target audience, except perhaps the Amish who are unfamiliar with television and therefore enthralled by moving images flashing in quick succession.
The “Music” part of MTV has obviously been a joke for some time now; I was unaware that the “TV” part was a misnomer as well. Yet this is apparently what has happened as each year they find ways to roll out a lineup more soul-suckingly banal than the one before. Last fall’s bisexual dating competition, Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, was so groundbreakingly deplorable it spawned not only a second season but two spinoffs as well (That’s Amore! and A Double Shot At Love). Just when we thought it impossible to out-suck the magnificently unwatchable crapfest that was Laguna Beach, they unleashed The Hills upon us. When that monstrosity threatened to open up a portal into hell, they flung wide the gates and dumped The City and Bromance into America’s living rooms. And that is only the beginning. From before dawn until well after dusk they pollute the airwaves with programming ranging from shockingly awkward (Parental Control) to mind-numbingly dull (True Life: I’m Competitive With My Best Friend). This is the new MTV.
You have to admit, this transformation is completely baffling, and perhaps even a bit sad. I mean, this is MTV we’re talking about! The company that single-handedly transformed the music industry. The people who invented the music video. The creators of reality TV. The cultural behemoth that defined a generation. MTV! And they’ve traded it all for what? For this! For a worthless parade of Bachelor knock-offs and faux-reality dramas documenting the manufactured lives of boring, sycophantic celebutantes? I don’t get it. I mean, I’m sure two decades of convincing kids to hate their parents can be exhausting work, but surely it’s more rewarding than this! To go from being the mouthpiece of all things hip, liberal, and anti-establishment to being the mouthpiece for a bunch of Jerry Springer rejects and Lindsay Lohan wannabes has got to be a bit depressing.
Some conservative parents may celebrate MTV’s self-castration, but don’t be fooled; MTV is as evil now as it ever was. That’s right: not irresponsible, not misguided, not irrelevant, EVIL. At least when they were concentrating on corrupting America’s youth, we knew what they stood for. They had convictions and positions that could be identified and attacked. Now, they stand for nothing and as a result there is no limit to the depths they can dredge up. The mindless drivel that millions of kids are TIVOing every week is every bit as destructive as the anti-family propaganda of the eighties and nineties. Mark my words, the girls from The Hills and the vapid, unintelligent fame-mongering they represent will destroy our nation far before the gays and the immigrants get around to it.
In the end, MTV assures us of one thing: John Calvin was right. Mankind is indeed universally, gleefully, and totally depraved. MTV could not exist if this were not the case. Disagree? I invite you to sit through an entire episode of Paris Hilton’s My New BFF. Talk to me then. (Be advised, life may not seem worth living by the time the episode is over.)
(Like Lot begging mercy for the one righteous family in Sodom, I would like to offer “Rob and Big” as the only MTV show not deserving of our universal and spirited condemnation. If you have not witnessed the amusing antics and escapades of professional skater Rob Dyrdek and his bodyguard/bestfriend Big Black, I implore you to do so at your next convenience.)