MTV What? | Teen Ink

MTV What?

November 28, 2009
By Jayda Simmons SILVER, Jessup, Maryland
Jayda Simmons SILVER, Jessup, Maryland
6 articles 7 photos 0 comments

Is anyone aware of what “MTV” actually stands for? Some may say that it represents “Music Television”. I would beg to differ. Over the last decade or so, “MTV” has begun to stand for something else: “Miserable Teenage Viciousness.” It is no longer a channel that can easily be noted as one of the sources of musical rebellion. It has made modern music into madly unimaginative droning. What will become of the music industry if this continues? Our children will never have their own versions of the Beatles and Stevie Wonder. I can testify as well as any professional music journalist for I am the epitome of the “music buff”. A Facebook quiz has even deemed me an “Indie Snob”- never being caught without the latest tunes on my iPod. I am able to confirm the corruption cultivated by the channel. MTV displays a very limited amount of musical acts with little variety, which encourages conformity. “Everything that can be invented has been invented," said Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the US Patent Office, in 1899. Perhaps when he said this, he was taking a glimpse into the future and commenting on the music trends of the new millennium. The famed “music channel” is the finest example of his quote. MTV is now a cesspool of trashy, bland reality shows that warp the mind of the youth, resulting in the demise of decent music as a whole.

The 1980’s was the decade where mullets were shamelessly sported and angst-ridden adolescents would say “I want my MTV.” The network was created in 1981, meant to be a music video channel targeting teens and young adults; which it did for several years. But since then times have most definitely changed. MTV no longer plays an abundance of music videos. Since the cancellation of Total Request Live (TRL), it instead reserves a few hours at the crack of dawn to play cheesy pop songs. Of course, people are always awake in the wee hours of the morning willing to turn on their television sets and hear the annoying bubbly madness called Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus. Unlike the new millennium, the 1980’s were not afraid to think outside of the box- or in this case, think inside the box. In the ‘80’s people were so willing to be themselves, regardless how awful hair bands actually were. No one can doubt the creativity that the artists of the 1980’s had and the lack of that creativity that is shown today.

Like Charles H. Duell said, everything has already been done. I don’t suggest that artists of our time magically conjure up some new, never-before-seen act to attract “indie snobs” like myself. In order to bring about the refreshing zest of new music, we need to reevaluate the past successes. Musical artists need to examine the classics and extract inspiration from them. Our generation tends to take a troubled turn at this step, and instead of gathering motivation; we’ll sample a bass line or a chord from an earlier band and call it something new. Human League said it best back in 1983 when the British synth-pop band sang about “looking for a new direction/In an old familiar way”. There is an epidemic. We cannot lose what our musical ancestors worked so hard to preserve for us. If imaginative and inspired music doesn’t make a comeback, our generation (and mankind overall) may forget what a “great album” even sounds like. Figures of authority will discontinue taking all art forms seriously and we’ll be forced to become mathematicians and rocket scientists. Just imagine how much more school we’d have to endure to be rocket scientists! MTV can no longer be trusted to lead the revolution of music amongst the youth, or else there will be reality TV cameramen will ruling the universe.

If the world could spawn a few great musical artists in the mainstream light, society would evolve. It would indeed be false to say that no great musical acts exist today. According to, Coldplay is the last great mainstream band of our time. Other bands, however, seem to roam in a hidden, coffee-filled, literature-loving, underground world. This is the indie music scene. Independent music labels are the relief to our musical distress because their purpose is this: make music about anything; nothing more, nothing less (What is Indie). What makes music “good” is if it means something. It doesn’t necessarily have to relate to the listener, but it has to prod them in a profound and passionate way. For instance, I don’t have any experience with prostitutes, but I know “Roxanne” by the Police is a great song. I’ve never wandered the streets of London during the 1970’s punk scene, and yet I agree with the decision to list “Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols as one of the greatest songs of all time. Current bands such as the Dodos, Headlights, and Neon Indian are the warriors of the revolution. Though these bands are not played in heavy rotation on MTV, they are some of the greatest new musicians of this generation. By not giving musicians like this any air time, MTV is preventing viewers from experiencing enthusiasm and excitement in the music world.

MTV shows are tremendously mind-numbing now, but you may argue that they have been in the past as well. MTV’s first day was probably its best day. The clearest evidence of this would be the creation of Beavis and Butthead. Who could have predicted that a show centering around two obnoxious fictional lunatics would only spur more toxically trashy TV shows for MTV? If anyone is to question how MTV could sink so low as to air shows about catty, Barbie-like socialites who fight over the same things every episode, they must have missed Beavis and Butthead. However, I must admit even Mike Judge’s ridiculously idiotic cartoons show a bit more class (and a lot less annoying behavior) than the young girls on My Super Sweet Sixteen. Really, what do disgustingly spoiled teenage brats have to do with music at all? They only squeeze the sanity out of serious music buffs like me.

MTV is now a cesspool of trashy bland TV shows that warp the mind of the youth, resulting in the demise of decent music as a whole. MTV needs to revert back to its 1980’s persona. Music has lost its sense of creativity and zeal. New artists should only gather inspiration from the old, but instead, artists of this generation tend to blatantly rip off ideas. If the world could produce a new few “greats”, we’d all live happily. Music has been shown to alleviate stress and help young children develop important skills for future learning. But what parent wants their child watching MTV performances by Lady Gaga, smearing blood across her cleavage? MTV is worse now than ever before because music has become second hand to sex, exploitation, and profanity. Every decade has seemingly had a cultural evolution powered by music. If the content paraded by MTV is a piece of this pattern in history, we are doomed. Well, there are always the memories of high-quality music. Oh- wait, for those of us born after 1991, there are no memories.

The author's comments:
This was a speech I wrote for English 11 AP.

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on Aug. 23 2017 at 4:20 pm
Realjay41 DIAMOND, Culpeper , Virginia
81 articles 1 photo 91 comments
I have to say is the only tv show I'll ever watch on MTV is Teen Wolf! Miley is weird, crazy and a lot stubborn.