Monday, June 21, 2010

More televised vapidity?

"Can't get no music on my MTV / Can't tell my emotions from reality ..." —The Silver Seas, "The Best Things in Life," 2010

People my age have long complained that MTV doesn't show music videos like it used to, concentrating on reality programming like The Real World and Jersey Shore instead. I used to complain right back at them that it does, just not during prime-time hours or anytime when they happened to be watching. But at some point I stopped paying attention, and this year the network finally dropped "Music Television" from its logo, which implies that they really have given up on videos.

Does this mean the network will stop airing its ultrahyped Video Music Awards telecast each year? Of course not! As long as videos are still shown between 3 and 9 AM each day, MTV can justify throwing a party to honor the best of the year.

It will, however, begin producing more scripted programs, according to the June 14 Wall Street Journal, in an attempt to move away from its recent glut of disposable reality shows. (It'd be fun to compile a list of how many MTV has churned out in the past decade—I'd guess most didn't make it past ten episodes.) Naturally, it's taking baby steps to begin with: the Wall Street Journal reports that "in 'Warren the Ape,' the title character is a poorly behaved celebrity who hopes an MTV reality show will revive his career."

Like AMC, formerly known as American Movie Classics, and TLC, which was once the Learning Channel, MTV is now just an acronym that means nothing. Some would say that makes it FUBAR, but any channel that can survive for almost 30 years in a rapidly expanding cable universe deserves the benefit of the doubt.

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