Rob Wilber

Whenever people wonder aloud about how other countries could hate America, MTV is one of the first motivating factors that comes to my mind. Although I will fully concede that the network has produced its fair share of guilty pleasures during my life, the culture it fosters makes me fear for our generation. MTV takes people and events that nobody should ever care about, let alone celebrate, and shoves them down their audiences’ throats. I wouldn’t really worry about this if their tactics were unsuccessful. However, for a good-sized portion of our age group, MTV is a hugely influential entity.

One year ago, a (Michael Sorrentino) situation went down that provided an excellent example of this phenomenon. The scene: Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Taylor Swift had just stepped onstage to accept the VMA for Best Female Video, and all heck broke loose. Kanye West, fueled by Hennessey and swag, interrupted Swift’s speech and championed Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” as the superior video.

Before you could say, “I’mma let you finish,” people’s worlds had been turned upside down. Twitter and Facebook exploded with enraged statuses, parodies of the event were all over YouTube and the mainstream media reacted as if the President had been assassinated. Incidentally, even our Commander-in-Chief got tangled up in this web of unimportant events after being unexpectedly recorded calling Kanye a “jackass.” For weeks, this was considered quite news worthy. Meanwhile, I know people my age that did not know about the earthquake in Haiti until weeks after it occurred. To recap, one millionaire celebrity interrupted another during a meaningless award show. Sorry, but that is not something people should care about.

MTV’s original programming is not much of an improvement. Although “The Real World,” its various spin-offs and “The Jersey Shore” are all fantastic, they are diamonds in the rough. The premise of one new program, “The Hard Times of RJ Berger,” is completely based upon the impressive endowment of the titular character. Finally, a show that can fill the emotional void left by “Lost!” At least that program isn’t based on real people, unlike one of the current banes of my existence, “Teen Mom.”

If you’ve never seen the show, the title basically tells you all you need to know. MTV chronicles the “real-life trials and tribulations” of high school-age mothers. While I don’t believe these girls should be given the scarlet letter treatment, publicly celebrating and rewarding them is not a responsible reaction to their decisions. If you are on the cover of tabloid magazines and featured on cable TV, I doubt your “Teen Mom” experience is remotely realistic. Regardless, the show currently draws the third-best ratings of any original series on cable.

It would be great if people could appreciate MTV and the like for the mindless yet enjoyable entertainment it can be. Unfortunately, a large sector of our country drinks the MTV Kool-Aid, with negative cultural impact. If you actually appreciated the Mike Sorrentino reference in the second paragraph or if you consider 30 Seconds to Mars a culturally important band, you could be dangerously close to falling into this demographic. For the sake of America’s international reputation and society in general, hopefully MTV’s influence on our youth will soon start to wane.