I was in my room flipping through channels the other day, and I ran across a commercial about a new reality show called “Living Lahaina,” which would be airing soon on MTV. All of a sudden, I started shouting obscenities at the TV screen, my boiling anger rising to the surface as my roommate desperately tried to calm me down. Not again. Not another dim-witted, high school drama-filled, “Laguna Beach” replay that’s replacing my music.
p. Honestly, I’ve had it with defective reality shows that have engulfed music-oriented networks and have diverted them from spreading the importance of music in popular culture. The most I get now is a bunch of emo bands crying about cute puppies and Hilary Duff’s lack of vocal dexterity used as soundtracks for these reality shows.
p. Since 1981, music television has had a colossal impact on popular culture and the music industry. With the creation of MTV, music shifted from sound recordings to visual representations of these recordings called music videos. MTV showcased these videos, playing them non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It became a popular marketing tool in the music industry and promoted various genres of music that helped turn nobodies into superstars.
p. A few years later, VH1, a spin-off channel from MTV, was launched to focus primarily on softer music genres, such as R&B, Top 40 and adult contemporary. BET, a network that started in 1980, has covered a wide range of programming specifically aimed at black audiences. In the past 20 years, BET has had programs consisting of music entertainment, particularly gospel, hip-hop and R&B.
p. Now, music television is less focused on music and its aesthetic values and more on commercial success, TV ratings and what sells at the moment. Each of these networks has completely erased its original concepts of music television and distanced themselves from music programming. Instead of having shows that are at least educational or socially and politically active, they contain empty-minded, generalized images of American society that range from blonde-haired dunces, the angry black male and rich kids who bitch and moan to their parents because they can’t find the right outfit for their super sweet 16.
p. Just look at the numerous reality shows that have been dumped on these music networks. MTV, which currently aims its programs at teenage audiences, has shows such as “NEXT,” a dating show that has revolting contestants make half-witted remarks and say staged lines that make them look more foolish and unattractive than they already are. “The Real World,” which used to be a socially conscious reality show, touching on subjects of racism, religion and sexuality, has quickly turned with the notion that “sex sells,” having guys and girls who look like they just came from a modeling shoot discuss their sexual fiascos and late-night drunkenness that ends in roommate brawls.
p. BET, which is not mainly focused on music, has reality shows that give a poor representation of the black community. “College Hill,” a show that supposedly gives a positive, inside look at historically black colleges and universities, is basically a more intense and louder “Real World,” just with black college students. (I would go on ranting about this channel, but there is not enough space in the paper, so I will refrain from doing so.) And let’s not forget VH1, which used to have shows such as “Behind the Music,” which had narrative biographies of successful musical artists and their role in popular culture. VH1 also had “VH1: Storytellers,” a show on which musicians performed live in a small, intimate setting, telling stories about the significance and meaning of music that they created. Instead, “Celebreality” is what VH1 is presenting on television, giving washed-up celebrities another five minutes of fame before they realize that they were never really that popular.
p. These networks have become a nuisance and are wasting my time. Music programs that catered to specific genres of music have vanished. They rarely play music videos, and when they do, it’s at a time when only insomniacs and some college students are awake to watch. One could argue that there are other TV stations that play strictly music videos, such as mtvU and MTV2, but not everyone has access to these. Furthermore, if these networks were not bombarding people with over-the-top, fabricated reality shows, there wouldn’t be so much criticism on music networks and their part in the progression of music in the media. Although music television has reached diverse audiences, having an enormous impact on the television industry and facets of American culture, it forgot its essential component: the music.
p. __Genice Phillips is a sophomore at the College. She admits that, while she dislikes music telivision reality shows in principle, she does thoroughly enjoy “Flavor of Love.”__