MTV’s weakening grip

Yesterday’s Globe ran an article covering the declining pop-culture power of MTV:

There was a time in the 1980s and ’90s when the channel had the ballast to send an act to the top of the Billboard charts, but “American Idol” is the new boss. There was a time when the word “clip” meant an MTV video with artistic and commercial punch, but now the word refers to the virals that ricochet through YouTube. And there was a time when a band had no future without MTV exposure, but now a MySpace page or a position on iTunes is more essential. When it comes to the buzz biz, MTV is out of the loop.

Now this is reassuring, because I often feel like I’m the one out of the loop when I comes to MTV. Its slew of young hook-up shows and ‘sweet sixteen’ profiles are tired, its real life soap operas voyeuristically empty. Growing up as a teen, what made MTV compelling was the sense that it was my network. Somewhere along the line it seemed to become a 24/7 window to young and fabulous wannabes.

MySpace and YouTube remain the youthful faces of a new media that thrives on the same fundamental MTV once tapped into: a community generated sense of identity. While major media stations created their entertainment, MTV turned the camera on its viewers, ushering in reality TV via The Real World and viewer voting programs via TRL.

This is the part of the value that separates the Center from other available activities. People come here and re-invent and self-define every day. It’s about activating your own experience. We make our own art, our own projects, our own lives.

It’s a whole lot more fun than spending all our time doing things that have been programmed for us. This is what the creators of MySpace and YouTube realized.

Except the Center is not confined to virtual interaction. And MySpace, for all its community networking, lacks a physical center.

Will the Center someday evolve into a ‘MyCenter.com’?

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One response to “MTV’s weakening grip

  1. I would question the “community” merits of any media. whether programmed, which serves not only as a delivery system for advertising and taste and style indoctrination, but also too, in the case of MTV and so-called reality shows, a veritable wet nurse for rearing otherwise vacated young minds. In an era when the individual is celbrated and elevated above all else, turning the camera on oneself glorifies all the more the self. Rather than community, an echo chamber of spectacle is created. Sure, great possibilities theoretically exist, and some triumphs are surely made, but by and large, the overall net effect is at best vapid, at worst, yet another subtle and finely nuanced way to be beseiged by goods, desires, and needs that are made all the more powerful by the immediacy of audio and visual. rather than constantly embracing and celebrating every new phase of technology, the revolution really comes when the individual tunes out, quiets down, and reeflects on the bombardment one has received already in life and what the source of those pitches, seductions, and suggestions really are. There is after all, a veritable army of highly trained, highly researched, and heavily resourced individuals trying to sell smomething in some way to everybody all day, every day.

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