An Open Letter to MTV

Dear MTV Execs,
I’m a single, 28 year old female who’s been watching MTV since you first aired “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
What I want to know is, in over the decade since that shining moment, WHAT HAPPENED?
Suddenly, I’m finding that my same age group that made you who you are, are now almost discounted from your shows. What do I mean you are asking yourself? Simple. Almost every, no make that EVERY teevee show you are currently producing or have in production caters to the 15-26 crowd, in fact save for ONE show in your whole production schedule, no one CAN BE over the age of 25.
You seem to forget, oh dear MTV execs, that it is those of us OVER the age of 25 that helped bring your channel to what it is today. Our spending habits, our hobbies, our change in fashion, our thought and opinions which you have so SHAMELESSLY promoted before are now being ignored as my age group is now being shuffled over to VH1. The humility and the ageism of this is disgusting. It is as if you are promoting that the only way to enjoy the music is to be youthful.
As I am growing older, I’m noticing the ageism that is existing all over the place. In some places it’s needed (voting rights, drinking rights) but on a television channel that caters to music, where some of the greatest bands themselves are over the age of 30, you use ageism to segregate the shows.
I have one simple question:
Just because we are getting older doesn’t mean we enjoy the music any less or that we won’t be spending as much. A lot of us are not settled with children but have LARGE disposable incomes ready at our disposal to spend on crap that you shell out with each new band that keeps being produced. Every day I’m noticing this trend where the pop stars are getting younger, the shows are getting younger and those of us that actually HAVE THE INCOME to spend on the concerts, the merchandise and what not are over your age limit.
Within the last few years, I stopped watching MTV. All the good television shows that had some merit (120 Minutes, Amp, Liquid Television) — which were, may i remind you, about videos to begin with — were suddenly replaced with crap shows such as “Undressed” and more crappy Real World episodes. Is it not enough that we have soap operas on from noon to four pm everyday and prime time television shows that cater to the melodramatic in us all, but on a MUSIC CHANNEL? The fact that we have to see a show about “seven strangers!” who get “real!” on camera. Puh-lease. It’s all fake. You know that. I know that. We know that the shows are edited for content and that taking 24 hours of time and widdling it down to 1/2 hour is just plain stupid. The concept at first was good (and original like your first shows) — then suddenly the shows degraded to the point that you could interchange any of the characters in any of the shows and it wouldn’t matter because it would be the same damn thing but different location.
Why has MTV stopped being about music and became more about commercialism? Why has MTV stopped actually SHOWING videos and started showing in its stead crappy “series” based in the 15-25 demographic? Why are you constantly attempting to promote ideas of a cultural political village when you are segregating and alienating that same group?
MTV used to be on the edge. You could turn on 120 minutes and see the best music coming out of the indie/college scenes and see new ideas of style. You could watch liquid television and get addicted to its pull like crack. You could have a choice: you knew that Club MTV was on at 4, but you could see videos of your favorite artists afterwards. You’re taking out the content and putting serial fluff that is basically hogwash with fluff content showing teenagers today that the key to being cool is being an airhead. At one point, MTV used to be the cool kid on the block where people could watch and learn and see and now it’s becoming nothing more than a corporation of mass hysteria.
I’m a 28 year old female who still owns vinyl and remembers when the compilations from 120 minutes and “MTV party to go” meant something. I’m nothing but one voice — but one voice who represents many people who feel the same way as I do and yet feel that they can’t or shouldn’t say anything because how can one person change the world?
You may feel that I have my choice, and I do, to not watch your shows. I don’t. I may also have the choice of watching MTV2 if i was so disgruntled with your services, but I can’t as it’s not available in my area. You may also feel that I can watch VH1 but I choose not to as I can’t relate to that genre. Maybe I’ll always be 18 inside, but you gave me an opportunity to be heard via music and now you have removed that opportunity and THAT makes me angry.
I know this letter will end up in the circle bin. And maybe whoever reads this will feel some pangs of empathy. But as long as i know that it has written and that I will no longer actively watch your station nor the products that i see being advertised there, I feel a whole lot better.
Lisa M. Rabey
An original GenXer