Words by Matthew Spence:
Whelp class, time to discuss MTV…..sadly. What else is there to say about MTV that hasn’t been said, so I’ll try to say something different (but most likely won’t succeed). Once a revolutionary channel for pop culture. it became a goliath figure in music, becoming the channel to be a part of in terms of culture. It helped define what was the culture of the 80s, 90s, and 00s. Being one of the catalysts of music videos becoming an important medium, premiering iconic videos that shaped popular music. Think Thriller, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Baby One More Time, Hey Ya! and so much more that I’m gonna stop listing them and just say “fuck it, you can google them yo”. YO!, MTV Raps, TRL, 120 Minutes, Headbangers Ball, and all of their other music video programs and blocks that helped break major artists and reshaped the landscape of music. Balancing out the musical contribution of their original programs from Jackass to Daria, Beavis & Butthead to Celebrity Death Match, Pimp My Ride to Rob & Big, plus basically playing major roles in reality tv, with them creating “The Real World” which lead would to several others in the future like Jersey Shore and others on the network being some more iconic ones in reality tv history.
However, everyone’s reign comes to an end at some point, and MTV is no expectation. MTV is a channel like The Simpsons. Important for its time, nostalgic, and lost substance over the years. Hell for the 40th anniversary of the channel in 2021 it celebrated… by….. Not acknowledging it but instead just showing Ridiculousness.
Now, relying on nostalgia, MTV has rebooted one of its iconic shows, MTV Cribs (now going onto its second season) and it begs the question “Really?” “Why” and triggers the statement “Goddammit”.
We know MTV has been on a downward spiral for years now. There’s no point in regurgitating the same points of: they don’t play music anymore, only show Ridiculousness, and rely on member berries. Now, of course, matters come into play of its downfall, streaming reigns supreme and cable becoming more obsolete are a couple facts. With Ridiculousness, being its star player on the channel (even though Catfish is still good) and memes of it, being the only show MTV plays. MTV went back to its vault and rebooted one of its classics, “MTV Cribs”, A show where celebrities of music, film, and popular culture give us a tour of their luxury million-dollar home (or at least they tell us that’s their home)… and that’s it really. It’s not like a “day and in the life” type thing like Vogues “24hrs with”, they just show us their home, we might learn a couple of things about their personal time they spend then…. that’s it.
As you may or may not know, 2020 was a year for many people who live paycheck to paycheck to lose their businesses, jobs, and possibly homes due to a global pandemic. Adding to this fact, the percentage of depression and suicidal tendencies increased in the first year of the pandemic for adults and remained high to the second year. According to Brown University data and Boston University:
Published in the journal the Lancet Regional Health – Americas, the study found that 32.8% of U.S. adults experienced elevated depressive symptoms in 2021, compared to 27.8% of adults in the early months of the pandemic in 2020, and 8.5% before the pandemic.
“Rates of depression did not decrease over time, nor did they stay the same — surprisingly, they went up,” said lead author Catherine Ettman, a doctoral candidate at Brown’s School of Public Health and chief of staff and director of strategic initiatives in the Office of the Dean at Boston University’s School of Public Health. “Typically, we would expect depression to peak following the traumatic event and then lower over time,” said senior author Sandro Galea, a physician, epidemiologist and dean at Boston University School of Public Health who has studied the mental health consequences of traumatic events. “Instead, we found that 12 months into the pandemic, levels of depression remained high.”
It should be noted that it was more so lower income houses that seem to be a good percentage of it.
So in 2021, pretty much still hot from the pandemic, when they announced the plan to bring it back and air new episodes. It made me think “Really motherfuckers????” Entertainment is fine but however, at a life-shattering time it was, it felt tasteless, like a big middle finger to flaunt wealth to those who just lost theirs. Nothing against Big Sean and Martha Stewart, but I don’t need him to show us the stripper pole he has or her garden and kitchen and whatnot. It felt less compassionate, more insensitive, and tasteless.
It’s a show that oozes celebrity worship, but we moved past that….. well… not really, but still, it’s tacky. Now going into the second season, premiering Oct 27 of 2022 and things seemed to be sorta on the right path back to normal (and trust me I say all of that so fucking loosely), now the moment isn’t as tasteless but still begs the question: “Who asked for this yo?”.
Now I don’t wanna be a square buzzkill. It’s just turn-off your brain entertainment. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, shit people don’t watch TV anymore, let alone MTV. Even then, this show is being done right now and possibly better. Architectural Digest, my G.
They have a series on their Youtube channel for a few years now where they are given a tour of celebrities’ homes with a variety of celebs. However, the show’s approach comes off as more sincere and more focused and centers on the individual’s overall personal touch and nuances of the home they’d like to discuss. Where on MTV Cribs’ case, feels more like what in essence is the James Franco scene from “Spring Breakers” bragging about “all his shit”. It doesn’t feel like a jerk fest. It feels more tasteful than obnoxious. So MTV will feel like it’ll be in its shadows, hell it’s already a publication focused on homes and designs. People who like Color Palettes, year of the built place, and shit like that (Of course it still leads into celeb culture but at least it caters to a couple of other groups). While MTV isn’t simply. Arch. Digest took off where MTV left off and arguably does it better, getting guests MTV Cribs today couldn’t get in honesty (hell, Big Sean did an episode of Architectural Digest), shit even NPR Tiny Desk took off where Unplugged left off.
This isn’t a piece to belittle MTV as a network and drag the convo of MTV falling off (which it may have unintentionally). More observations of why MTV isn’t the pulse anymore…. bad decisions and the natural progression of the culture. To end, lets’ take this final moment and remember the time David Bowie pulled a G move and called out MTV for not playing more black artists.