James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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MTV: Moronic TeleVision

Posted by James McPherson on December 22, 2008

MTV, which became almost unwatchable at about the same time Jerry Springer somehow became cool, is undergoing another major programming shift, according to Variety. According to the article, because of a ratings slide, the once-revolutionary network “is embarking on a major programming overhaul, with 16 new unscripted series over the next 4½ months.”

MTV first aired Aug. 1, 1981, meaning it now finds itself older than the audience it wants to attract. In fact, there are few things more sad than somone pushing 30 who is trying to hang with people who just hit the legal drinking age.

Occasionally the network does try to act its age, as with some of its political activities. But now MTV execs, who recently have brought us such classics as “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF,” “A Double Shot at Love” and  “My Super Sweet 16“–three shows that seem to be designed to prompt America-haters  to fly planes into buildings and which the CIA might consider as a suitable alternative to waterboarding–have decided that there’s a shortage of reality television shows on cable?

In memory of what once was, below is the first video that appeared on MTV –The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” And in memory of music videos in general, largely replaced on televison by YouTube, below that video is The Wrong Trousers version of the same song (a version that has received about 1.4 million fewer hits than the Buggles’ video).

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4 Responses to “MTV: Moronic TeleVision”

  1. […] MTV: Moronic TeleVision […]

  2. […] all of the endless awards programs are stupid, a small step above the proliferation of “reality programming“ that makes up so much of American […]

  3. One thing we might agree on here at long last, James.

    As William Henry III said briefly in In Defense of Elitism, we all have our choice of “art” as that which the eye beholds, and all that rot. But, when it comes to the masturbatory fantasies of certain media formats, never was there a truer phrase than the medium IS the message–a phrase most people seem to misinterpret, but actually means that the visual imagery actually shunts thinking aside in favor of other stimulations that have no lasting input one way or another.

    Ironic, as WHIII and Allen Bloom pointed out also, that all this wonderful technology that was forged in the minds of men and women greater than most of us, who cracked the very codes of electron beams, vacuum tubes, and later the transister’s atomic-level silicone structure–and what was bequeathed to a generation of head-bobbers, glaring glassy-eyed at a screen at the fantasy that they too can be sexy and “livin’ large” on the pad of their choice with boats and 15 cars in the driveway and constant drinking and dope diversions on speed dial.

    Life is but a beer commercial with hot Swedish ski team girls at your beck and call, one guesses.

  4. *lol*

    I just now watched those kids from the Wrong Line of Work..err. TROUSERS..

    a riot…

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