its 20-year-plus quest to mine the underdeveloped tastes of teenagers,
MTV has committed innumerable crimes against quality programming, from
hiring "Downtown" Julie Brown to insisting that O-Town is a talent to
be reckoned with. In all fairness, though, expecting anything different
would be a waste of time. Some shows in MTV's continuously slapdash lineup
are irresistibly compelling (The Real World) others are not (Who
Knows the Band). That's showbiz.
however, MTV's programming has turned to totally shameless exploitation
instead of just the usual partial shamelessness. Whereas the network once
seemed to have a general respect for its youthful audiencenever
quite underestimating them completelynow it appears more than happy
to pander to its viewers' basest impulses. A number of its current shows
are brutally mercenary: Here's your sex and violence, now give us our
ratings. If any of these shows were goodlike the crass yet subversive
Beavis and Butthead of a gentler, more innocent timethen
all would be forgiven. But these shows suck.
far as I can tell, Undresseda production by acclaimed British
film director Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields)is
all about hot teen sex. And as loathe as I am to criticize hot teen sex,
it must be pointed out that Undressed has delusions of contentkind
of like a porn film from the '70s. Every scene is really just an unimaginative
prelude to getting down, not unlike the immortal visit-from-the-plumber
scene as the wacka-wacka soundtrack music flares. MTV should've
gotten Larry Flynt to produce Undressedhe would've done a
better (and more honest) job. Spyder Games, meanwhile, appears
to be the same show, except with a tenth of the production values and
a pathetic adherence to a soap opera format. In both cases, the characters
are barely human automatons with their switches set to "screw." (On the
other hand, perhaps this is closer to real life than I'd like to admit.)
Any Show Broadcast From a Beach
they're based in the Florida Keys, Cancun, or California, MTV's Spring
Break specials are interchangeable in at least one respect: lots of tits
and ass. Of course, this isn't always considered to be a bad thingespecially
by guys in their late 30sbut the efforts made to justify the presence
of hot girls in thongs soon become ridiculous. Bikini modeling on fashion
runways with live bands playing in the background? Game shows that require
already semi-naked contestants to lose the rest of their clothing? Oh,
brotherthey might as well just line up the meat on conveyor belts.
Perhaps the producers tell themselves that these shows are celebrations
of college-age excessthat time of your life when everything is worth
But does that have to include stripping down, lubing
up your body, and grinding crotches with a total stranger like a monkey
in heat in front of millions dirty old men? Sadly, it is now.
straight from the creative mind of Spike Jonzedirector of Being
John Malkovich, one of the most entertaining cinematic dissections
of identity ever madecomes this brilliant concept: Hipper-than-thou
lunkheads hurt themselves doing stupid things. Wow! It kind of
makes Tom Green's antics look Chaplin-esque. What's even more disturbing
than the fact that idiots at home will try to imitate the idiots on TVthat's
a givenis that otherwise astute people seem to think that Jackass
is ingenious because Jonze had something to do with it. Yes: purposely
mutilating your body or humiliating your friends is both smart
and funny. Let's all do it!
a recent "Best of Dismissed" special, worldly host Carmen Electra unequivocally
stated that "No amount of inner beauty can hide outer ugliness," and that
the most important goal in life is to be sexy. This was then underscored
by an endless montage of twentysomethings showing off their delectable
bodies and making out. That's right, kids: If you don't look hot enough
to get spontaneous sex with someone you just met, then you're a TOTAL
FAILURE! That also seems to be the underlying message of the show itself.
Dismissed is supposed to be a dating game in which two contestants
simultaneously compete for the affections of one person, who then selects
a winner. But how do the girls fight for male attention? Mostly by seeing
who can be the biggest slut. Likewise, when guys compete for a girl, they
usually race to be the sleaziest asshole. Really, none of this should
happen until you hit your 40s.
kid fantasizes about being a star. That's what air guitars were made for.
It's those dreams that spur many people into finding the true talents
within themselves to eventually fulfill their aspirations. On Becoming,
however, the goal is not to be yourself or display your talentit's
to literally "become" your idol. Taking celebrity worship to new lows,
the kids on Becoming undergo makeovers in order to transform themselves
into the latest prefabricated pop star. Then they must shoot a duplicate
of the star's video, precisely imitating every move, every facial expression,
every inflection. No, it's not enough to merely put Britney's poster on
your wall these daysyou must be Britney or you will feel
miserable for the rest of your life. The conditioning here is far more
insidious than any of MTV's have-sex-or-be-a-loser programs; Becoming
says you must submerge your own personality and become somebody else in
order to attain true happiness. Instant fame is the only option; living
Britney's life is the only goal. And that's even more sad than watching
Johnny Knoxville get hit in the nads for the millionth time.
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