Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
MTV or Music Television was first introduced to the world in 1981 and it originated in the United States as a 24 hour music channel which surprisingly, was only popular among the kids. Today, with more than 340 million viewers worldwide and watched in some 139 countries, MTV is a cultural phenomenon- a force that has changed the the way we look at fashion, movies, and of course, music.
MTV is credited with saving the music industry by virtue of providing the then artists a platform to showcase the talent they held. Music giants like Michael Jackson, Nirvana and the Spice Girls owe the channel half of their popularity as their videos were a big hit with the youth who had begun to follow Music Television religiously. As time passed, the channel started influencing the way people dressed and presented themselves considering the fact that all major fashion icons acquired visibility via the same. Pop-stars inspired girls and boys and they decked themselves up the way, say a John Travolta did in the superhit Grease, the conical bra attained popularity because Madonna had sported it in one of her music videos. Everybody wanted to move the way Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears did and Eminem was the new God. The movie industry is said to have experienced a boom and if people are to be believed, MTV is in a way responsible for terminating the Cold War. The world was also introduced to ‘live performances’ and mega events where popular artists of the day performed in order to raise funds for charity – all this and much more.
The MTV network was acquired by Viacom Inc in 1985 and has been home to several channels: Nickelodeon, VH1, Comedy Central to name a few.It has been successful in globalizing the local culture by incorporating both and producing a culture of its own.
As time passed, music took a back seat and reality TV came to the fore. If local examples are to be cited, shows like Roadies and Splitsvilla (Both aired on MTV India) have given birth to a culture of their own. Everybody wants to be a Roadie despite the cursing and being hurled at by the most appalling of expletives, every male wants to have a body like Salman Khan and every girl wants to be a Miss India in order to be eligible for a show like Splitsvilla. Then we have something called the ‘Tickr‘ which makes an attempts to tickle your funny bone. It however is nothing but a failed attempt at humor unlike a certain Bakra, which was rather amusing in my opinion.
The United States then boasts of shows like Jersey Shore which according to me is an illustration of the lives of a few reckless young adults in a constantly inebriated state, who consider tanned skin to be the selling point of any product in the world. I remember asking a cousin, aged 30 as to whether MTV still interested him the way it did a decade ago. All that he had to say was : ”There’s no music in Music Television anymore, why should I watch it?” Nothing but change is constant and this holds true for MTV.
From incessant advertising to holding innumerable award shows, from illogical series marketed as ‘Reality TV’ to cheeky publicity campaigns, from the absence of music to video jockeys who speak nothing but gibberish, the channel has revamped itself from time to time. However, none of this has been a detterent as MTV has always and will always continue to inspire a culture of its own. It has impacted popular culture in a way nothing else has, thus the term ‘ MTV Culture’. After all, at the end of the day, one does not really need music in order to ‘Stay Raw’.