Jewish World Review August 1, 2001 / 12 Menachem-Av, 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- "GROSS." That was the reaction my high school friends and I had to one of the very first music videos we ever watched on MTV. It was the 1984 debut of Madonna's "Like a Virgin." We gasped in disbelief as she writhed on the ground and panted shamelessly about being "touched for the very first time."
Madonna repeated her solo porn act during an MTV concert in which she sang - well, moaned - "Like a Virgin" while simulating masturbation on a bed. The most horrifying Madonna-inspired spectacle, though, was not on TV. It was at the mall, where our teen-age peers paraded half-naked in Madonna garb, lip-synched to her crude lyrics, and imitated every self-gratifying bump and grind of her trashy videos.
Such were the toddler years of MTV.
Now, the cable network -- No. 1 among Americans aged 12-to-24-years-old -- is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The week leading up to the official party on Aug. 1 has been an endless bacchanal of self-congratulation ("Which MTV VJ rocked your world?" "Watch celebrities wish MTV a happy birthday").
Like Madonna, whose recent hit video features the aging star groping female strippers, MTV has grown older - but has yet to grow up. I admit to being a fan of the network's dour cartoon comedy, "Daria." And MTV celebrities like the clean-cut Carson Daly and saccharine Mandy Moore are annoyingly harmless. But the channel's main fare is a corrosive, constant, and instantly accessible mix of sex, drugs, violence, and vulgarity laced with hypocritical political correctness.
Take the network's countdown of its "Most Outrageous Moments" over the past 20 years. Among the cherished cultural milestones being toasted by MTV:
MTV cheerleaders also tout the awareness-raising agenda of some of its prime-time programming. "MTV's 'Real World' offers a positive social message," pop-culture professor Robert Thompson of Syracuse University says. The reality show's most famous alumnus, homosexual activist Pedro Zamora who died of AIDS in 1994, used the airwaves to incessantly promote tolerance and "safe sex." Earlier this year, MTV again lectured its audience about homophobia with a made-for-TV movie about murdered gay teen Matthew Shepard and a day-long lobbying campaign for hate crimes laws.
This from the entertainment conglomerate that made foul-mouthed gay-basher Eminem filthy rich and famous.
The ultimate sanctimony of MTV's purveyors of perversity was summed up nicely by two of the original hosts, Mark Goodman and Alan Hunter, who were interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America this week. While reminiscing about the wondrous cultural impact the network has had over the past two decades, the men admitted that they don't allow their own teen-age kids to watch MTV.
"Are you kidding?" Goodman guffawed. "Have you seen what they put on the