MTV’s trademark has left the channel

By Jerry Vachaparambil

Growing up in India, I was often chastised for watching what my guardians considered to be porn – MTV. This channel, which used to be the bastion of great American musicians, is not the same anymore. Instead of propagating the latest hip music, we seem to be facing an attempt to speed the pace of high school relationships and fight the idea that drugs and wild underage sex are irresponsible.

While MTV plays a great role in promoting individuality and freedom of expression, one must question whether the usage of its trademark is consistent with the image with which people traditionally view it. Just as The Mining Company changed its name to About.com when its role in the Internet changed (from a search engine to a guidance database), it is high time for Viacom to stop its deceptive practices and say it like it is.

What are they afraid of anyway? The same people who seem to be so receptive to such vapid entertainment have no reason not to stay tuned to the garbage it has become.

I feel as if the time has come for MTV to end the deception and call itself PTV (petty television) or at least FTV (Fake Television).

Let’s be honest here. Most of us probably enjoy watching other people make a fool of themselves, finding great role models and learning how to travel the path of least resistance, but we must always remember that the only thing MTV really cares about is money. Money is the reason they retain their trademark name; money is the driving force of MTV entertainment; and money is the reason we can’t find good music on their channel anymore.

MTV programming President Brian Graden, who oversees MTV, VH1, CBS, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and dozens of other networks affiliated with Viacom, has said in “Merchants of Cool”, a documentary on the affect of media on youth, that everything on his channels is an advertisement, whether it’s for a lifestyle or a product. When asked what teenagers want, he said that “they don’t know what they want.” So he considers it to be his job, with his monopoly of sorts on teen culture, to dictate our wants, needs and desires.

The target audience of MTV (ages 12-34) usually watch TV during the evenings and, thus, are more likely to watch shows about how girls cheat on guys (“True Life”) or how strong men are big jerks (“Tool Academy”) instead what the network name claims to convey … music.

Last December, Friday Night MTV replaced the only show that really even showed music videos (“Total Request Live”) bringing an end to the original show that let smart hosts like Carson Daly choose music based on votes, charts and radio airplay. This new show dilutes the entire purpose of the network by showing fresh music videos along with instantaneous online feedback – basically leading to a cycle of narcissistic viewers who like to see their comments on TV.

If MTV really wanted to be known as Music Television, they would make us aware of more than just the current music trends. America is unique not because we have superior technology, better people or even better food.

It’s our diversity that makes us special. There are all different kinds of people with a wide variety of musical interests that can range from country or bluegrass to jazz and folk and even rock and disco.

Music isn’t just a method of self-expression, but it also provides a way for people to connect with others, escape our lives and just to enjoy fun melodies.

If it wasn’t for the Internet or Catherine Keane, I would never have heard about great musicians such as Ben Folds, Bowling for Soup or Nickelback. Pluralism in America is not confined to the realm of religion or politics, but we also have a great mosaic of musical tastes.

Instead of trying to sell us a lifestyle, MTV should come back to its roots and live up to its name.

Jerry is a freshman in psychology and wants MTV to play more music. He also thinks MTV and VH1 are the same channel.