Fixing MTV

MTV needs to fix their shit. Seriously. I mean come on, did you see this?

 

I mean, what the actual hell? Gratefully, I didn’t actually watch this on MTV. I can’t stand to watch MTV. Ever. But because I am perpetually at a computer, I did see the chatter and wanted to see what it was about. And it was about that.

Now, I don’t want to be the guy that talks about just how shitty a performance that basically was all the way around. I don’t want to be the guy to point out that Robin Thicke is a second rate artist who can’t use his talent to stay in the public’s eye, so he records boobs over a throwaway music bed. I don’t want to be the one to begrudge someone else’s art – however crappy it is. But for this paragraph, I’m that guy. That was utter crap, and goes to the heart of what’s wrong with the pop music industry (and I’m trying really hard here to not rant about how there are a hell of a lot of women performers – amazing ones – that deserve that stage time more than Miley Cyrus, if that’s all MTV was gonna do with it).

But this post is really about MTV and their brand. Hell, it’s about the History Channel, or A&E, or VH1, or any number of others. But MTV was really the first, and possibly worst offender of the group. You all know the jokes – MTV, Music Television. A TV station made famous by playing music that today does anything but. And on the one night they should – in theory – be honoring great music, they shove their noses so far up the Labels’ asses you’d think they were bullshit bloodhounds.

Could you imagine how truly great – revolutionary even – it would be to see MTV genuinely recommit to their DNA? A good old fashioned brand revival. They could hint and hype for months building towards the unveiling. They could milk the media coverage it’d generate as long as they want. I’m talking:

  • Play music videos – ever
  • Celebrate artists with an awards show that means something
  • Showcase new and amazing music, really amazing music, from the artists that have earned the time with their blood, sweat, and tears (no pun intended)
  • Have you ever watched Palladia?
  • Have you ever watched Live from the Artist’s Den?
  • Hire a musician’s musician like Trent Reznor or David Grohl – someone that truly gives a damn – and give him carte blanche to control traffic and programming

The fact of the matter is, I totally understand why MTV stopped playing music videos. They couldn’t make money at it – at least not like they could with crap programming. And we’ll ignore what that says about us, because in my opinion it’s their fault for sucking at their business model. The thing is, it’s clearly possible to do awesome music television if they wanted to put the effort into it. But if that’s what they want to be known for – for Snooki and Teen Mom and Jackass and a million other intellectually devoid shows – more power to them. I only ask one thing.

Change your fucking name, because you haven’t been Music Television for a long damn time, and I find the idea that you seem to disagree insulting. Networks like MTV and History have secondary stations like MTV2 and H2, let that be where your garbage lives. The funny part is, MTV2 was, for a while, where you could still go to see music. I don’t even think they show music videos anymore. Just marathons of the crap from MTV. The irony is not lost. In today’s niche market viewing audience, there is huge opportunity in serving music fans, or the real history buffs, or whatever – if you take the time to create quality programs for them. Not necessarily expensive programming – just quality content. You know a network that knows its content, role, and audience? Fricking QVC. The Cartoon Network. Comedy Central. ESPN. It’s not really a hard recipe to sort out, not even a little.

MTV is, slowly but surely, turning their entire brand into a joke. A caricature of its former self. They’re the kid in school who doesn’t know the difference between being laughed at versus laughing with. They just assume the attention is good because they have money coming in. The VMAs happen to be a standout though, for the very reason that it makes no sense any more. Music isn’t MTV’s brand. It’s like watching Mike Tyson trying to get back into boxing. So instead, as an audience, we just laugh at them. And part of us might even pity them for trying to hold on to something they clearly don’t really want any more. It’s a damn shame, because they could be doing so much more. Music in particular is such a powerful tool for societies and cultural growth. And they’d rather squander it. So oh well.

But please MTV, god damned please, admit that you just don’t care anymore and change your name, because we all know the idea that you are still “Music Television” is bullshit.

EDIT: Some of you have pointed out that MTV isn’t, technically, “Music Television” anymore. They’re just MTV. And you would be right. Yet, that doesn’t really make things any better, does it? If anything, I think it makes it way worse, because they basically just want to be “M Television.” So what the hell is M? They want their brand to be a meaningless letter – which in a twisted way is really fitting for the meaningless content and overall programming strategy. The only thing about as dumb was Sci-Fi becoming Syfy.

  • I agree with you 100%, but it should be noted that MTV doesn’t even acknowledge the “Music” part of their moniker anymore. They are simply MTV now, with no official mention of the “M” standing for “Music.”