Friday 30 January 2009

Maybe MTV should be MADE

Conference Day equals no school equals wasting life and watching Psych all day long.
Psych did come to an end however, and my brother and I switched to MADE, an MTV reality show that takes teens who are unhappy with themselves and their lifestyles and magically transforms them into something more socially acceptable. Most kids wish to be made into rockstars, homecoming queens, skateboarders, class presidents, and the like. They are assigned strict, tyrant "coaches" who often force kids to give up their normal, healthy lifestyles, and devote all their time and energy into becoming something else.

This particular episode was about a very smart boy who wanted to become a break dancer. That's all fine and good, until it began to conflict with his schooling. One night, his coach demanded that he go see a dance-off from 8-11; the boy was hesitant, because he had the SATs the next morning. To my surprise, the coach didn't care at all about this and actually criticized the boy for not being dedicated or motivated. I was appauled when his father actually urged him to go to this dance-off, setting him up for failure on this extremely important test. It didn't even stop there; his coach informed him that he would be going on a trip out of state, leaving immediately - days before his final exams. The boy was overwhelmed, but couldn't do much to stop it; how do you say no to MTV?

Not only was this endeavor taking away from his studies. Another man was hired to come in and teach the kid "how to talk", in the style of most breakdancers. In other words, he was taught to use horrible grammar in order to be more "fly".

I began to wonder what would happen if MTV used its overwhelming power over the teens of America for good. What if someone wanted to be "MADE" into a good student, and score well on their final exams? Or perhaps "MADE" into a college student, and asked for help gaining acceptance? What if they had a reality show about applying to and paying for college, something that all teens could use a little help in? What if, during commercial breaks, they illustrated SAT words by using video or TV clips, improving their viewer's vocabulary in a casual, entertaining way?

Occasionally on MTV, I catch bits of their News breaks, which are usually about 30 seconds long - probably the amount of news the average teen is thought to be capable of absorbing at once. What if they had a daily news broadcast that was geared towards teens, in style but not in content: showing the important news in the world today, without watering it down? This could be somewhat like the Colbert Report or The Daily Show without the comedic bias. What if they aired teen-approved documentaries on social issues or the economy? With the right production and angle, any teen could get interested into these things.

MTV holds the same erroneous notion that the rest of the nation seems carry: that teens don't care. By telling us that what we should be concerned with is music videos, pop culture, and becoming rockstars, we might start to believe it, and start to think that real-world issues are not for us. MTV would not have to drastically change to make itself more intelligent; it could still air the brain-numbing shows like A Shot At Love or Next, and play the same music videos over and over each day. By adding small bursts of political awareness or helpful study hints, it could hugely help in making my generation - and those to come - less apathetic to the world we live in, and better prepared for the "Real World" (much unlike the one portrayed on the network).

No comments: