Youth Culture Window
QUESTION: What do you get when you add one controversial host to a ton of A-List celebrity presenters, plus a live performance by a racy musical superstar, plus last year’s biggest movie blockbusters?
ANSWER: Millions of viewers.
That’s the math of MTV.
It’s All About the Numbers
When it comes to math, MTV only cares about two numbers: ratings and dollars. As MTV knows, those two figures go hand-in-hand. And they also know how to get plenty of both.
Execs at the cable channel call it The MTV Movie Awards; you’ll call it two hours of televised poison.
Last year’s award show (2009) was up 92% in ratings over the preceding year (2008) with more than 5 million viewers tuning in to watch. That’s good, even for MTV! Without a doubt, the culture-defining cable channel is doing all they can to ensure just as many viewers this year…if not more. And why not? They’ve got a ton of new, filthy TV shows to advertize during the commercial breaks. (We’ll talk more about those shows in a future Youth Culture Window article, I promise.)
So, each year, MTV offers a “movie awards show” as an excuse to promote themselves to young viewers. During the live broadcast of this year’s award show, millions of teens will see Hollywood’s take on…ummm…Hollywood, and they’ll also be subjected to dozens of ads promoting MTV’s upcoming television shows.
It’s a brilliant plan, really. Get the hottest, biggest, and sexiest people in entertainment squeezed into one room, and then use their nostalgia to endorse your product. That’ll ensure high ratings in the future…which will ensure future dollars, as well.
Hey, it’s worked for years!
A History of Filth
Since 1992, MTV has assembled the biggest names in show biz for their annual awards show simply titled The MTV Movie Awards. While the show’s title may be bland, the content is anything but.
Throughout its short but impactful history, this particular awards show has crammed more “most talked about moments” into its live shows than all other awards shows combined. For instance, in 2007’s award show, one celebrity made references to all the vaginas in the crowd while another “consoled” the crowd by saying Paris Hilton’s jail bars were painted to look like penises.
The award show from 2008 not only included the most blatant promotion of drug use ever seen on television (thanks to Seth Rogan and James Franco), but also highlighted the super-sexy character Tila Tequila who had two different shows on MTV that centered on bi-sexual activity.
And finally, in 2009’s now-infamous show, producers concentrated on a ubiquitous celebration of the male genitalia. From Brüno’s “crack attack” on Eminem to “balls out comedy” to Andy Samberg’s opening vignette which featured his pixilated rear, the show was fixated on guys’ “junk.”
So, what sort of junk does this year’s show have in store for our teens?
2010’s Star-Studded Strategy
To begin with, comedian Aziz Ansari will host the show.
If you’re asking yourself, “Who the heck is Aziz Ansari?” relax; you’re not the only one. In fact, his co-host, and a few other celebs help answer that question in this MTV video clip promoting the awards show. (In addition to Ansari’s vulgar standup (posted all over YouTube), he was in Seth Rogan’s recent “Observe and Report” and is featured on NBC’s weekly sitcom “Parks and Recreation.”)
Aziz is a guy “in-the-making.” Yeah, he’s had a few mentionable roles, but this awards show will transform him into a household name. And what kind of “name” are we talking about? Well…check out this double entendre-filled video clip that’s promoting the awards show.
Yep, it looks like we’re in for a long night.
MTV has always chosen their show’s ringmasters very carefully. Based on this vulgarity-laden video clip of Ansari’s stand up, it seems like the two are a good fit for each other; neither are restricted by those pesky morals.
If Ansari’s comedic material during the show is half as dirty as his standup material, the guy working the bleep button will be sweating by the first commercial break!
But MTV’s just getting started! In addition to Ansari’s (more-than-likely) dirty humor, fans will also witness Christina Aguilera offer a live performance of her newest hit single Not Myself Tonight.
Ummm…I’m literally struggling as to how I should describe this music video. I think I’ll just go with “It’s a 3-minute-and-6-second-long orgy.”
That work for ya?
Here’s just a portion of the way-over-the-top lyrics:
I’m not myself tonight
Tonight I'm not the same girl same girl
I’m dancing a lot and I’m taking shots I’m feeling fine
I’m kissing all the boys and the girls
Someone call the doctor cause I lost my mind
Cause I’m doing things that I normally won’t do
The old me’s gone I feel brand new
And if you don’t like it f**k you
You can read through the rest of the carefree lyrics yourself.
But, Ansari and Aguilera aren’t the only celebs MTV will be putting in front of kids. Nope; they’ll also have Russell Brand (former host of MTV’s VMAs), Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jonah Hill, and many more making presentations and other guest appearances throughout the night.
What to Expect
A recent practice of mine is to visit the websites of churches where I am speaking or training. It usually provides me with a great “behind the scenes” understanding of who and what the church really is. With few exceptions, most churches have a link on their navigation bar called “What to Expect” (or something similar) that guides visitors through their initial encounter with the church.
I got to thinking: What would MTV’s Movie Awards’ “What to Expect” read like?
What time is the show?
You Pick the Winners
It airs live on Sunday night, June 6th, at 9PM EST, but we’ll play it over and over and over again on MTV throughout the following week. And in case you miss the televised version, we’ll immortalize in on www.MTV.com.
What should I wear?
Clothing is completely optional, unless you are coming to our live taping in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon. We’re not big on clothing, really. In fact, most of our female celebrities wear as little as possible, and in some cases, our presenters wear no clothes at all.
What do you believe?
In money…and we’ll do anything and everything to get it.
What’s in it for me?
We’ll pervert your thinking when it comes to sex, and call it “normal.” We’ll undermine truth, and call it “alternative.” We’ll push the envelope, cross lines, and destroy traditional values, and call it “entertainment.”
Recently, MTV began allowing users and viewers to pick the nominees. Knowing that only one thing can make that better, MTV is also letting their followers choose the winners. As their website for the show says, “It’s in your hands…literally.”
Here are just a few of the categories and nominees slated for 2010’s MTV Movie Awards show.
Best Kiss: Interestingly, Kristen Stewart is nominated twice in this category; once for kissing a vampire and the other for kissing a girl. (Girl-on-girl action is something culture is getting really good at, lately.)
Best Fight: This year’s scuffles include forays between werewolves, Greek gods, blue aliens…and occasionally, a human or two.
Best WTF Moment: Yes, that means “what the f**k?” and it celebrates the most bizarre scenes in movies. From Megan Fox’s projectile vomiting, to Betty White feeling up Sandra Bullock, to Bill Murray appearing as a zombie version of himself, this year’s lineup covers the gamut of weird.
Biggest Badass Star: This category may be just as peculiar as the previous one. It’s somewhat difficult to understand exactly what MTV means by “badass”…and how it differs from Best Fight. You decide.
Best Scared-as-S**t Moment: In MTV’s second category that requires an expletive, one lucky winner will walk away with the Golden Popcorn for acting really afraid…of stuff that doesn’t exist.
I think that’s enough. The categories rounding out the night include Best Villain, Best Breakout Star, Best Female Performance, Best Male Performance, Best Comedic Performance, Global Superstar, and of course, Best Movie.
What to Do
Now that we know “what to expect,” we need to talk about “what to do.” This may sound strange, or even hypocritical, but I’ll say it anyway: I suggest that you watch the awards show – or at least part of it – but don’t allow your kids to watch it.
No, I’m not promoting some sort of double standard; I’m actually trying to accomplish two things:
- To provide you with the clearest possible view of today’s youth culture. MTV will cram its most vile material into these two hours of television programming, and if you can understand these two hours of content, you’ll have a solid grasp of youth culture in general. That’s right; it’s like the Cliff’s Notes for culture today. You won’t have to wade into this junk waist deep to get a handle on culture’s message; you can get the most information with the least amount of collateral damage.
- To shield your teens from the dangerously misleading messages of MTV. Again, I believe you should watch at least part of the show, but instruct your kids to skip it altogether. Here’s why: there’ll be a lot of deception packed into the jokes, songs, and ads that will need to be deciphered and navigated. Chances are, that’s much easier for you to do than your children.
If you follow this simple plan of action, you’ll be armed with enough information about today’s culture to have life-changing conversations with your kids.
The show will be broadcast live from Los Angeles this Sunday, June 6th, at 9pm EST on MTV. Don’t forget to check back next week for Jonathan’s annual review of this important – and revealing – piece of television programming.
David R. Smith
is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth
workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the
gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year,
Ministry By Teenagers
. David provides free
resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org
David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.
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