By: T.R. Slyder, TRSlyder@yahoo.com, AndyDisco on Twitter
When MTV decided to not show much "M" on their TV channel they opted Real World-ize their network. What that really means is that their channel was centered upon showing drunk people.
Kanye West's drunken antics highlight MTV's formula perfectly- just shock the audience, the rest of the stuff is just filler.
Every year before the Video Music Awards and MTV Movie awards, MTV runs an hour long commercial for their upcoming show and disguise as something titled, "The 20 Most Shocking VMA Moments". Instead of celebrating artistic achievement in music, they choose to celebrate that one time that a guy from Rage Against the Machine climbed up on the set, acted desctructively and was arrested. That is what MTV wants you to remember about that night. Instead of whetting your appetite for an upcoming awards show by asking the potential viewer- will your favorite artist win an award, or will an artist give us a legendary performance, they show us that hour-long drivel in hopes we will ask ourself, "Will someone actually pee or poop on stage this year? I guess I'll have to tune in and see!"
As a kid I remember asking my dad what being drunk actually was, and what drunk people did differently than non-drunk people. I didn't know what "drunk" looked like. Thanks to The Real World and MTV, kids all over the country know exactly what it looks like
The Real World is based more on alcohol than it is reality, for years the formula of the show has been: Put good looking people with drinking problems and explosive personalities together, add alcohol. Lots of alcohol. What results is raw human emotion: fighting, crying and sex. Where MTV tries to pass that product off as allowing us to view this distilled humanity, all they're really doing is profiting from the drunk guy at a party. It is little surprise that recruits for these shows at bars, of all places. Funny how that works out.
What do people remember about the Real World? Not people who stopped being polite and started being real. Not young men and women growing as people as the result of living among people from different backgrounds- like MTV would have you believe. You remember the drunken fights, threesomes, arrests and hospital trips- none of which would have occurred without alcohol.
MTV's formula has worked. I wouldn't be talking about them now if Kanye had not had his outburst on Sunday. And he wouldn't have had that outburst if he were sober. While MTV got its shocking moment for the 2009 VMAs, and generated plenty of buzz, its means for getting said buzz is sad and tired.
I read a heartening article about how VH1 plans to scale back their reality show formula after a contestent on Megan Wants a Millionaire murdered his girlfriend then killed himself. Their formula was to take the crazy rejects from dating shows like I Love New York, Rock of Love, and Flavor of Love and create a reality show that highlights their alcohol-fueled crazy behavior. After the murder and subsequent suicide from one of their "stars" VH1 is re-thinking their formula.
When experts are trying to figure out why binge drinking on college campuses is at an all-time high, I hope they consider MTV's formula. An 18-year old college freshman has never known a world that didn't glamorize drunken behavior on television. Maybe one day if they party hard enough and hone their skills as being the drunken loose cannon they can be among the national elite of their craft and appear on the Real World. Or the Hills.
I would be willing to bet that MTV spends more time showing drunk people than they do music videos- that's certainly true during Primetime. Why not just come clean and change their name to DTV?
That's how I roll.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009