Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's Up With That? Wednesday

I was recently transported to another world. I found myself, as an observer, plopped in the middle of a strange culture where the beings spoke an unfamiliar language. The beings had human characteristics and features. But the humaness of their features was mutated as if they had once been inbred with some other worldly beings and only shadows of their human lineage remained. The beings were clothed in wildly fantastical garments. No one was like the other. The only similarities were their penchant for the outlandish and obscene. Their costumes emphasized their oversized body parts, their breasts and hindquarters and nether regions. They danced ritualistically in group formation to the rhythm of lasers, strobes and electronic beats on a stage that was Orwellian and Jetsonian all at once. There was a spokesperson of sorts who, between crude rantings, ushered in group after group to perform their dances for a mob of other beings. The frenzied mob chanted, bounced and stretched their arms pleadingly at the performers.

I watched the alien spectacle in amazement, confusion and with no small amount of fear. Where was I? Who are these beings? And then my husband arrived and said, "Oh, the VMAs are on tonight."

Yes, I watched portions of the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night. And the experience felt no less alien to me than if I had literally been ejected from the Starship Enterprise into some previously unknown alien civilization. I have never been more thrilled to see Eminem in my life. At least I know who he is.

I recognize that I am squarely outside of MTV's targeted demographic, but I wonder who is their demographic? I Googled "MTV target demographic" and the first hit I found was a link to the Time Warner Cable Network. The link shows MTV, in some strange sort of dichotomy side by side with Cartoon Network, as one of the networks that targets Men ages 12-17. This description of MTV follows:

What's happening and what's next in music and popular culture? Young adults turn to MTV to get the answers. From fashion, lifestyle and sports to attitudes, politics and trends, only MTV offers what's consistently fresh, honest and groundbreaking. The driving force behind MTV is its deep bond with young adult audiences. They talk. We listen. Music is relevant to every young adult's life. To ignore this passion is to ignore who they are. For over two decades, MTV has been there for young adults. MTV is their source, confidante, sounding board, partner and much more.

I am sure there are other demographics that MTV is targeting. But as the mom of two "Men 12-17 to-be", this is the group I'm interested in. And I have a few question about this. For starters, since when are 12-17 year-olds "men"? And since when are teenagers no longer teenagers but now "young adults"? I couldn't resist. I Googled again and Wiki'd too and found this definition of "young adult": (and several others that supported this one):
According to Erik Erickson's stages of psychosocial development stages of human development, first enumerated in Childhood and Society (1950), a young adult is generally a person between the ages of 20 and 40, whereas an adolescent is a person between the ages of 13 and 19. The young adult stage in human development precedes middle adulthood. A person in the middle adulthood stage is between the ages of 40 and 65. In maturity, a person is 65 years old or older.
Erickson first stated these life stages in 1950, but the stages of human development really haven't changed that dramatically since then. Although some marketeers and ad execs seem to think so and seem be trying to force a change.

By the above definition, I am closer to being a young adult than Justin Beiber is. And Lady Gaga just makes the cut by four short years. I have one son that is a mere Cub Scout rank away from falling into MTV's target age group and that prospect is a scary one. I really don't want my "12-17 year-old ManBoy" hearing Chelsea Handler (or whoever takes her place as host next year) make reference to getting high with Ke$ha or having hot tub sex with The Situation.

This is not the MTV I grew up with. In the words of Dire Straits, I want my MTV. Sure there was stuff on MTV back in the day that parents cringed at, but it was only a bit naughty as compared to the depravity and tastelessness of what we see today, if the VMAs are any indicator.

I am not a prude. I do like a good dirty joke. I laughed out loud several times watching the VMAs. And I will be the first one to say if it offends you, don't watch it, read it, buy it or listen to it. But I am an adult (see the defintition above) and I can make those judgments for myself. I don't know many "Men 12-17" who can. Shame on you MTV and others like you.


  1. I had this huge long rant typed up about the VMA's and it's lack of taste and talent. I took the most offense with Lady Gaga and her meat dress. I just don't get what statement she was trying to make, it's all abou the reactions-plus I do not think she is the next Madonna like some people say.

    I ended up deleting the post, I couldn't write it as well as you.

  2. Did our parents think this way, too? Surely not.

  3. You're funny. I watched bits of it, too, and thought I was going to survive until seeing Cher in that getup! EWWWW!!!

  4. Every time I see streaming clips of things like the VMA's I'm thankful that we gave up cable... MTV has become a serious joke... I agree with you - dire straits needs to make a comeback ;)

  5. We never watch MTV.

    Stopping by from Saturday Samplings.

  6. Oh, I agree. But the kind of programming that goes on is so - insidious - they're targeting our kids and we don't even know it!

  7. I haven't watched the VMAs in forever, but I have to say that I'm a fan of the first few years of MTV. Past that, it's been a sad state of affairs.

    Kristin - The Goat
    via Saturday Sampling


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