In my review of the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, I got really bent out of shape. I was angry at the show’s hollow tributes to Michael Brown and Robin Williams. I was stunned at the lack of creativity and spontaneity on the show. I was annoyed by the fact a pop musician was given an award for best rock video.
Then I had a moment of clarity — MTV does not care, so why should I?
MTV does not care about music, unless it suits their needs. If it needs a catchy song to attach to the latest season of Awkward or Catfish or Teen Wolf or the umpteenth Real World it’s all about the music. If it can create a special highlighting the hottest artist in order to pop a rating or get some social media traction, it’ll do so.
On the flip side thought — does MTV matter to any of us for music anymore? Do we actually go to this channel or its website for music videos anymore? Outside of voting for our friends’ bands to get onto MTVu, much like we did with Those Mockingbirds earlier this year, do we give a damn what video MTV spins? Are we waiting up all hours to see that band we love’s video world premiere anymore? The answer is no.
So, why should I get all up in arms about what MTV does with the Video Music Awards? These awards have devolved from a celebration of music and video coming together to a self-congratulatory haven for trending topics, blatant plugs for tours and albums and filler to sell overly priced television time for. It’s basically a live action US Weekly — here’s all the beautiful people you see in the gossip and glamor sections of the magazine world hanging out together.
Maybe, it’s because I grew up in the so-called MTV Generation where the network was the cultural hub of every teen’s existence. It was where you went to know what was cool, where you discovered bands for the first time, where you could see rare concert footage. It was a network that engaged major social issues — remember they did have a whole MTV News department with real journalists in it. The MTV “Docs” were real, hard-hitting journalism not sensationalist pieces.
MTV meant so much more back in the day and that makes me sound like a bitter old man. I just have to accept that MTV cares about making money. In the 90s it was music and it engaging societal issues. Now, it’s reality shows about teen pregnancy that are spiked with real life drama and trauma and high-gloss scripted shows that are more sizzle and sex than steak and substance.
It’s just something that myself and my generation have to accept. This isn’t our MTV anymore — they’ve moved onto a younger, sexier audience and have changed everything about themselves to win over that audience and it’s not pretty.
MTV is no longer our home for music, our home for engagement of societal issues or for many of us, our home for entertainment. And frankly, MTV doesn’t care. So frankly, we shouldn’t care about what they do either.
Bill Bodkin is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. He can be read weekly on Trailer Tuesday and Singles Party, weekly reviews on Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU and regular contributions throughout the week with reviews and interviews. His goal is to write 500 stories this year. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English and currently works in the world of political polling. He’s the reason there’s so much wrestling on the site and is beyond excited to be a Dad this coming December. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom