MTV should restore its identity

You’ve been living under a rock, oblivious to MTV’s existence, but while channel surfing you come across “Music Television” and get excited about the idea of watching music videos, interviews with artists, and the inside scoop of the music industry 24 hours a day. What a dream network.

But MTV’s current airing schedule consists of shows by the name of “16 and Pregnant,” “Punk’d” and “Jersey Shore.”  MTV’s original identity has disintegrated in accordance with the reality television craze. As Justin Timberlake said in his 2007 VMA acceptance speech, “Play more damn videos [MTV].”

According to the TV Guide listings, in a 12-hour day, MTV airs music-related shows for five hours from 3 to 8 a.m. (because so many people are awake, let alone looking to watch music videos at that hour). What’s on during the remaining seven hours? Reality television.

In 2008, MTV reached a turning point upon the cancellation of one of its longest running shows, “Total Request Live.” “TRL” aired from Monday to Thursday for one hour, showing the top-10 voted music videos and featured special guests. “TRL” was one of MTV’s most signature music-based shows.

Since the end of “TRL,” MTV has resorted to Snookie and The Situation as its signatures, caving to their outrageous social antics and stereotypical appearances. I hope the executives of MTV feel good about themselves. It’s entertaining and revenue boosting, but where’s the substance, not to mention the music? Other than a laugh, it is detrimental to music and society. The general public has ironically lost touch with reality, forgetting that MTV stands for Music Television. What has Snookie done for the music industry?

The music industry needs a hand and the role of MTV is key to its recovery. There are endless ways MTV could restore its true music-oriented identity and still thrive. Take Timberlake’s advice and play more videos to support the artists and re-establish MTV’s reputation. Not only is reality television encouraging young adults to emulate outrageous behavior, but its takeover of MTV is contributing to the downward spiral of the music industry. Either formally change the network name to RTV (Reality Television) or bring the music back.


Melanie Kleiner is a junior majoring in economics.