February 14, 2010

Our Generation: We Take the “M” Out of MTV

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Last Monday, MTV removed the words “Music Television” from the network’s logo: a seemingly harmless move that symbolizes the trend in music and entertainment of our generation.

“It’s just a name.”

Ah, but in the music industry, it’s never “just” a name. The music world is a corporate business dependent on the labels that stick — the names of tracks, albums, artists and companies. Diddy (also known as Sean Combs, P. Diddy and Puff Daddy) has re-branded himself more times than he’s had hit records, with each alias defining a certain facet of his empire. Jennifer Lopez decided to drop the “J. Lo” schtick to distance herself from her former diva image. Christina Aguilera has used names like “Xtina” and “Baby Jane” to classify her album periods. Radiohead was originally called “On a Friday” before the record company advised the band to change it for being too ordinary.

MTV’s elimination of the word “Music” from the logo is the embodiment of the network’s increasing greed for ratings and money. For years now, the company has replaced music-related shows like MTV Hits and Spankin’ New Music with the more commercially successful reality-based exhibitions like The Hills and The Real World.

In 1997, MTV faced the same public scrutiny it currently faces: a persistent group of music lovers who wished MTV would show more videos. In an effort to quench the public, MTV launched five different shows, each revolving around artists and their work. A year later, one of these shows, Total Request, gained a large enough following for executives to make it a live show — combining it with another program, MTV Live, and eventually leading to the now iconic Total Request Live. TRL ran for a whole decade, helping define the music tastes of many Americans.

When MTV decided to start up a new spin-off show of The Hills — The City — instead of renewing another season of TRL, viewers were in an outrage, as they should have been. This was MTV! This was Music Television, not Reality Television. Again, MTV tried to save face. The network began FNMTV, hosted by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, which only lasted for a year before it was cancelled, again due to poor ratings.

And now? MTV’s website advertises twenty four shows as part of their core line-up. Only four are related to music. Of these four, only one is included in the “Popular MTV Shows” list on said website. 16 and Pregnant has replaced

Original Author: John Taechin Lee