Great column from the Wall Street Journal today on MTV’s unheralded 25th anniversary. I’ll just quote the last few paragraphs:
Where MTV stands almost alone, however, where its influence on the culture is most obvious, is as a purveyor of what used to be called pornography. That’s ‘used to be’ because what MTV has brought us — the rampant sexuality, the crude and debasing language, and the depiction of women as meat for the table — was packaged as pop entertainment.
So many other channels have violated cultural boundaries in the past few decades that it’s impossible to point a finger solely at MTV. But the ‘music channel’ certainly pushed the hardest, and it was always directed not at adults but at kids. MTV is where most of them learned to pepper their lunchroom chatter with references to ‘ho’s’ and ‘bitches’ and to mime, after watching its reality shows, ‘She’s such a slut,’ while they dream of dressing like one, too.
All those infamous MTV moments, such as the Madonna-Britney Spears kiss on the ‘Music Video Awards’ show, are nothing compared with the casual, everyday salaciousness on view, and the constant bleeping of still-obvious dirty words. You can turn it off at home, but not at the gym or retail stores or other households, where flickering images of undulating women and rapacious men are as common as wallpaper.
Yes, MTV has other programs, too. Even parents enjoy some of its reality shows, such as the car-makeover program ‘Pimp My Ride.’ Twenty-five years on, though, it’s dismaying to know that no child of the MTV generation ever needs to ask: ‘Daddy, what’s a pimp?'”
I agree with every word.