The reality of MTV is the lack of music
Music Television, aka MTV, was first introduced to the public in August 1981. The purpose of the channel was to air music videos with The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” being the first music video to air on the network. It has been 30 years since the beginning of the pop-culture phenomenon and it’s clear that as time has passed, so has the music from MTV. In fact, we’re barely seeing any music at all on MTV these days. Instead of airing music videos more frequently with VJs hosting music shows, as in the former show “Total Request Live,” there are now reality shows aired at all times, taking away the purposeful meaning of MTV. Now shows like the infamous “Jersey Shore,” “16 and Pregnant,” “Teen Mom,” “MADE,” “Teen Wolf,” “The Real World,” “Awkward,” and many more new shows have taken over MTV. Where are the music videos? These shows don’t have anything to do with music and yet are aired on the music television channel.
This transition from music videos to the hunt for new “celebrities,” through the insertions of more and more teen-targeting shows, is neither new nor unnoticed by musicians. Within a day of the 2011 VMAs, Maroon 5’s lead singer, Adam Levine tweeted about his disappointment in the fallen music network, saying "the VMAs. One day a year when MTV pretends to still care about music.”
A few years before Levine’s outburst, Justin Timberlake, during his acceptance speech at the 2007 VMAs, demanded that MTV “play more damn videos. We don’t want to see the Simpsons on reality television,” he said, referring to celebrity sisters Jessica and Ashlee Simpson.
Both Levine and Timberlake are right to complain against MTV, since it is no longer all about music, as promised to the public when the channel first aired. Ever since the hunger for reality shows began in the mid-1990s, MTV has been devaluing the importance of music videos, while reality shows have increased by the numbers. Reality shows like “The Osbournes,” which first aired in 2002, followed the everyday life of the pigeon-head-eating rock legend Ozzy Osbourne, and his family. At least Ozzy, a music legend in his own way, made sense to have a reality show based on his life on a music television channel. But from then on, it spurred an out of control frenzy of pointless reality shows.
According to an E! online article, “Feud Alert! Adam Levine to MTV: ‘F--k You,’” Levine continued his righteous bashing of MTV, suggesting that the lack of music on the music network is just “sad.” “It's like seeing Tower Records in LA as a clothing store. I was just fed up with the whole thing. It is what it is. It was a very off-the-cuff statement that I definitely stood by."