MTV networks revolutionized the definition of entertainment forever by broadcasting programs aimed specifically towards teenagers. In the 1990s, the network influenced teens all over America on fashion trends, what music to listen to and anything that was considered to be trending. Since the launch of MTV on August 1, 1981 at 12:01 am, people learned that they did not have to settle with just listening to music, now they could watch music videos. The very first song that played on MTV, “Video Killed the Radio Star” can be considered as MTV’s prophecy into the future of entertainment that they would create. MTV quickly learned that the use of pop culture can help spread information on music and what was trending all over the world overnight. Without networks like MTV many artists in the music industry would not be able to reach such a wide audience.
Teenagers would not be so influenced to follow in others footsteps by dressing alike, cutting or growing their hair to a certain style, and changing the way they exist if it was not for MTV. MTV doesn’t just broadcast in the United States from years of popularity MTV has grown so that audience and ratings numbers would boost: MTV is probably the most impressive global youth TV phenomenon, however. With Separate indigenous music video networks including MTV Latino, MTV Brazil, MTV Europe, MTV Mandarin, MTV Asia, MTV Japan, and MTV India, the network has the ability to reach a large proportion of the world’s youth literally overnight. (Walker, 1) The network MTV impacts day to day current events and is still a major part of today’s pop and social culture. According to A Cultural History of the United States: Pop Culture, “By 1990, MTV was seen in at least 50 million American homes.”(Kallen, 88-89).
Even almost a decade after MTV was first launched, their audience in America alone stood substantial over other networks. The amount of ratings MTV was getting had to be due to their demographic reach toward teens. During the 1990s TV networks based their dominant source of rating on the younger population, it was no surprise why “More shows than ever were aimed at teenage viewers.”(Kallen, 87) By creating networks and shows that teens could relate to in real life, ratings were boosted. The more teens related to MTV, the higher the ratings and popular the show got. An example of teens getting involved in MTV can be linked to the popular show that was created in 1998 by MTV called Total Request Live, or better known as TRL. The one thing that set TRL aside from other shows on MTV was the fact that it was a talk show. Talk shows in the 1990s were very popular due to their negative and entertaining factors that teens found amusing.
People enjoyed watching talk shows in the 1990s but “As the talk show culture has exploded, the national conversation has been coarsened, cheapened, reduced to name-calling and finger-pointing and bumper-sticker sloganeering.”(Kallen,125). MTV saw an opportunity to create a talk show that could keep up to date with everything music and entertain teenagers due to talk shows becoming so popular. Not only was the show based in New York’s Times Square, and had artists and celebrities with one on one interviews, but what teens really swarmed to was the fact that TRL was the first talk show to have a live audience that consisted of mainly young teenagers. As young rebellious generation of the nineties related more and more to MTV they began searching for someone or something they could relate to deep down inside. They looked toward MTV for that answer. As the late eighties turned into the nineties a movement began. Alternative, a new form of music, was introduced.
MTV knew that in order to keep up its audience the network had to play bands such as Nirvana. Kurt Cobain’s band gained a bigger audience because “Soon after the September release of Nevermind, MTV pumped ‘Teen Spirit’ night and day as the album vaulted up the charts until it hit No.1.”(Kallen, 138-139). MTV proved once again that the use of music videos could influence a generation and improve a band or artists career greatly. Furthermore, the abbreviation for MTV is music television, so everyone knows that MTV devotes itself to broadcasting music. MTV serves as a major music business career maker, for any artists or bands. “Record companies and performers believe that exposure on MTV is important to the success of a new album.”(MTV). By broadcasting new music on MTV, artists reach out to a wider audience and gain a vast boost in ratings and demand if the audience enjoys them.
As much as a monumental network that MTV already is, it doesn’t seem to end, especially when so many other networks are linked to MTV. “In addition to MTV, MTV Networks also owns and operates several other cable television programming services, including VH1, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, TV Land, and Spike.”(MTV). Owning all those cable television programs makes MTV an enormous part of anyone’s life day to day. Reality Television became popular for MTV especially when “In the 1990s, MTV broadcast “the Real World” a series that followed a group of young people from different backgrounds who were chosen to live together in a house in a major city”(Curtin).
The show’s entertaining group of teenagers captured a generations attention and spread like wild fire. With programs such as The Real World, Yo! MTV Raps, Alternative Nation, and TRL MTV could influence teenagers easily. In conclusion, MTV the network never ceases to demonstrate just how instrumental they are in society. Over decades of entertaining and influencing generations of people it’s obvious that MTV has made a great impact on societies view of pop culture. By creating programs for specific types of music, fashion, and news that younger people can understand, MTV has created a whole new world. Something this big can not go unnoticed and did infact change the way people dressed, acted, and looked at style differently. It’s hard to image a world without MTV.
Curtin, Michael. “Reality television.” World Book Student. World Book, 2013. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. Kallen, Stuart A. A Cultural History of the United States The 1990s. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1999. Print. Kallen, Stuart A. The 1990s. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2000. Print. “MTV.” World Book Student. World Book, 2013. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. Walker, Chip. “Can TV save the Planet?.” American Demographics. May 1996: SIRS Renaissance. Web. 28 Jan. 2013.
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