Monday, June 06, 2011

MTV: Still not killing the culture no matter how much it sucks now

Are they the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, or do they just
So, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse won, like, a third of the awards at last night's MTV Movie Awards.

(That one-third figure is an estimate. I haven't had enough coffee yet for basic math. Here, you can add it up yourself.)

Between that and the baleful influence of Jersey Shore, I have become what I once hated. I've become one of those stodgy adults who thinks MTV is killing Western Civilization as we know it.

Nearly 30 years after MTV debuted, we've come full circle. Only now, instead of sexy videos ruining the culture, it's just endless crap: Team Edward, Team Jacob, Team Guido. Granted, I am aware that my sense of MTV-induced societal collapse is entirely a figment of my imagination, just as it was illusory when parents, pundits, and professional bedwetters complained about MTV back in the 1980s and early '90s.

But at least I have an appreciation now for why all of those anti-MTV voices felt the way they did: It was an aesthetic thing.

Here's my hypothesis: MTV's critics thought the music videos MTV played back then were raunchy, and, besides that, they hated the music, anyway. So, anything that aesthetically displeasing had to be bad for you.

Similarly, I look at a network that airs Jersey Shore and celebrates Twilight, and a little voice in my head tells me this insipid crap must be dumbing down the culture.

It doesn't matter that there's no empirical evidence for that. It doesn't matter that TV, overall, is more complex and requires more viewer investment than ever before. (TV shows from TV's "golden age" are really pretty simple. Compare Gunsmoke to Lost.) It doesn't matter that all of the stats show that pathologies like teen pregnancy and teen crime have been going down over the past 30 years. That voice in the back of my head won't shut up.

It's a hard lesson to learn, but it's important: Just because it's crap doesn't mean it's actually bad for you.

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