I just finished watching the MTV Video Music Awards (the VMAs) and collaborating with my buddy David about our annual Youth Culture Window article (now posted) we’re co-writing about the show. (Funny side note: I emailed him my portion of the article and it went straight to his junk box. An omen perhaps?)
Although the VMAs were indeed disappointing again this year (on so many levels), I think I was most disturbed by MTV’s brand new series immediately following the VMAs, a show aptly titled, I Just Want My Pants Back. More on that in a minute.
As I mentioned in my VMA blog last year, the VMAs show is typically the #1 watched cable event of the year, watched by well over 10 million people (not including downloads in the days to follow). Why watch it? This show sadly provides parents and youth workers an accurate glimpse of what our kids are absorbing daily from pop culture.
This year’s show began with Lady Gaga literally dressed up as her alter ego, a man named Joe. The foulmouthed Gaga (bleeped for the f-word four times in the first two minutes) started the show singing her hit song You and I, a song currently in the top 10 iTunes song and video charts. The show digressed, not only with racy performances and more foul language (including an over-the-top swear-fest from Lil Wayne that was truly ridiculous), but also commercials for new MTV shows that will be sure to lure in millions more teenage viewers, shows like the new I Want My Pants Back. I watched the first 5 minutes of the show and I can honestly say that this show is probably the lowest that MTV has ever stooped. Yes… even lower than the most watched cable show, Jersey Shore.
In the first two minutes of I Want My Pants Back, a college student picks up on a girl in a bar. He mentions the fact that he hasn’t had sex in a while. She asks him, “How long has it been?”
He says, “Six weeks.”
She makes a comment like, “Wow. Six weeks! You’re practically a virgin,” to which he responds something like, “Yeah, I’m kind of going through a dry spell right now.”
The couple then hooks up at his place, with scenes way too graphic for TV, but somehow now acceptable.
It would be nice if there weren’t a lot of young people exposed to this strong sexual content combined with blatant lies, but unfortunately, not only is MTV the most recognized network among young adults age 12 to 34, it’s also just a click away for the overwhelming majority of young people. According to Nielson’s recent Quarter 1, 2011 “Cross Platform Report,” 91 percent of US households have paid for TV subscriptions (like cable or Satellite) which includes MTV.
It’s only been a week since I said it, but I’ll say it again: if only parents knew what their kids were watching.