MTV launched on August 1, 1981, and changed the lives of millions of viewers. The goal was made blatantly clear from the very first video they ever aired at one minute past midnight – Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles.
Television was to become the next platform for spreading music through videos to the masses. For decades it was a winning concept, but with all great ideas comes competition and others who look to imitate and emulate for market shares.
The only way to stay on top is to try to evolve. Obviously, MTV was no exception to this rule. Those who watched MTV in the 90s would not recognize the content at all today. It’s been almost entirely overtaken by reality TV-shows.
It was an immediate success. Shows like The Real World, Jersey Shore, Geordie Shore, and The Valleys supposedly give us as glimpse of what real life’s like for a bunch of people we’ve never heard of.
The cast of these shows, however, quickly garner immense fame and loyal followers in social media channels. But watching these TV stars get drunk, fight, have sex, cheat, and try to communicate with subpar grammar and verbal skills, one can’t help but fear for what this line of entertainment does for one’s IQ.
Jersey Shore in the US and its UK competitor Geordie Shore are probably the shows that have received the most negative publicity. Their troglodyte casts desperately try to convince their viewers that we are watching “real” people.
It’s blatantly obvious that parts of the shows, like storylines, are scripted to cater to their adolescent fan base and the more outrageous, the better. They argue over the most mundane things, they form love interests within the groups, they cheat and sometimes straight up brawl.
Since its launch, MTV has grown into more than 40 channels, broadcasting in more than a dozen languages to more than 400m households. While many of their channels still make sure video is killing the radio star, the risk of their legacy could be the dumbing down of the global population.
MTV has fought back several times against critics who say their shows are stereotyping casts, advertisers pulling out after viewing content for the first time, and even the state of New Jersey where most of Jersey Shore’s seasons has been recorded.
Following a barrage of criticism, MTV released the following statement: “Jersey Shore is a reality series that follows eight young adults spending their summer at the beach. The show continues MTV’s history of documenting various subcultures, rites of passage of young people, and the ways they self-identify. The Italian-American cast takes pride in their ethnicity. We understand that this show is not intended for every audience and depicts just one aspect of youth culture.”
Geordie Shore has suffered much of the same criticism and parents have been warned. Now you have too.