Friday, June 8, 2007

MTV again goes for the low road

I'm a child of the 80's, so I grew up with MTV. It wasn't in my house because my parents didn't get cable until after I graduated from college. I had plenty of friends, however, whose parents' home did have cable, so I was able to get my fill of videos. Yes, MTV - which stands for Music Television - was once known for the videos it played. My most subversive viewing occurred when I would spend Saturday night at a friend's home. At midnight, we would watch "Headbanger's Ball," which featured videos mainly by heavy metal artists.

Since the 90's, MTV has increasingly turned from playing videos to reality-based shows. They had an excellent beginning in The Real World, which focused on the trials and tribulations of seven people who live together for several. The first few seasons, especially the third one set in San Francisco, showed "real" people who were concerned about such issues as racism, equality, and sexual matters. However, RW has gone downhill since the Las Vegas season, in which three cast members "hooked up" in a hot tub within hours of meeting each other. Since then, each season has shown the same thing: drunkenness, sexual exploits, and arrests.

I recently read an article about how MTV is wanting to produce a reality series set on Martha's Vineyard. This ad spells out what MTV is looking for. (At the time I wrote this post, the top of the website featued a photograph of numerous geriatric persons walking on a track. These people are definitely not part of MTV's demographic.)
The Music Television channel, known to young America as MTV, is looking for young African-Americans to participate in a Vineyard-based reality show called "The Bluffs." The aptly titled show would document the lives of black youth while they swim, party, and work their way through a summer in Oak Bluffs. Locals say it could shine a positive light on the Island town, or bring even more publicity to the already overcrowded summer resort.

According to the casting call, which is featured on a number of casting web sites and blogs, MTV is looking for young African-Americans planning to spend this summer on Martha's Vineyard.

"MTV News & Docs is casting for a new pilot documentary called 'The Bluffs,' which gives an up-close and personal glimpse of African-American young adult life on Martha's Vineyard," the listing reads. "Maybe this is your first time to summer at the Vineyard with your prep school friends. Maybe you'll be working on the island while hanging with your sorority sisters or frat brothers. Maybe you live there. Maybe you're a summer regular. Whatever the situation or story, we want to hear from you!"
Notice that it's looking for the same group of people routinely featured on RW, ones who would feel completely at ease drinking at a frat party. The twist is that they are wanting African Americans for the show, not just the usual drunken white people. The article also describes the type of people who vacation on Martha's Vineyard: "Oak Bluffs has traditionally been a summer vacation resort for wealthy, successful African Americans, among them politicians, artists, entertainers, and writers." I'm sure we'll see plenty of self-styled entertainers, and very few politicians, artists, and writers.

(Thanks, Realty Blurred)

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you that these MYV reality shows have really declined. The old Real World had movers and shakers, and many of those people have done well for themselves outside of coming back for Real World/Road Rules Challenges.

    I wonder how sensitive MTV will be with this series. They have never had a predominantly black cast reality show, and if the black cast acts like the whites in some of their recent shows, many people will tune out. (I'm assuming they will have a few token whites up in the mix.) I say that because I think there is a double standard--whites behaving badly is not going to encourage stereotyping, but when blacks behave badly, many people think they are respresenting their race.

    But then again, MTV probably won't be that senstive, given some of the Black people they have cast on recent episodes. They seem to be obessed with casting black men who are "players" and black women who are "bitches."

    We'll see what happens. That Denver episode of the Real World had the most annoying cast ever--all bed hopping and very little substance.