It might not be apparent to the casual viewer, particularly those of us who are members of the supposedly cynical Generation X, but MTV is actually gearing its current programming to the "civic-minded" millennial generation. Yes, really, that's what the president of MTV Networks believes. And though at first we had scoffed at his bold claim (we are, after all, grievously jaded), upon closer inspection (extremely close) and much to our surprise, we did indeed discover that shows like Jersey Shore and Teen Mom really are virtuous and educational after all. Here's why:
The first season of this reality phenomenon was not only entertaining, but also took a strong stand against domestic violence. By not airing footage of Snooki getting punched in the face, it let its young viewers know that violence is no way to settle a dispute. Unless, of course, you're totally plastered and your name is J-Woww and your housemate refuses to walk you from a hotel bar back to your room. In that case, violence is totally acceptable, which is an important distinction that Gen Y should learn as early as possible.
Sure, it may look like it celebrates fiscal irresponsibility and conspicuous consumption while people in other parts of the world are starving, but what it really is is a tribute to the American Dream. It demonstrates to viewers from all backgrounds that if they work hard and become famous for something that doesn't involve a lot of education, they can then buy gold-plated faucets and indoor basketball courts. Aspirational!
If any show promotes stimulating the local economy, it's this one. The stars not only do their civic duty by spending all of their income on drinks and fashion, but the series also helped reduce the unemployment rate by a factor of one thanks to giving Olivia a job she's not remotely qualified for.
16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom
These shows feature girls who are doing their part to keep the nation's healthcare costs down by studiously avoiding any expensive birth control prescriptions or products. And the huge hospital bills they inevitably rack up, which they can ill afford to pay, only further validate the fact that our current system is not meeting the needs of careless young people.
This series might not help out the community but it does display some core family values nestled in between segments about pretty teenage girls dating douchebags (see also: Is She Really Going Out With Him?) or vice versa. Here, the parents get together with their kids and prove that they really know what is best for their promiscuous child. It's almost wholesome.
America's Best Dance Crew
If competing in dance crews on this show keeps these kids from performing their routines in New York's subway stations, then that's helping the community (specifically my commute) right there.
Taking the Stage
Showing the importance of funding art and music appreciation in the public school system via endless scenes of kids playing guitar and hip-hop dancing? This thing's practically a PSA.
This stunt show, in which people have to remain quiet, takes an unconventional approach to explaining the importance of libraries in our society. Without those quiet-enforcing institutions, this series would have to be filmed at a Starbucks.
The Real World: DC
It takes place in the nation's capital where some of the houseguests have actually shown an interest -- however fleeting -- in something other than getting drunk and hooking up. One of them is interning at a Washington newspaper, while another has become an LGBT advocate with a sideline interest in environmental causes... Wait, this series actually sounds sincere. No wonder it's the dullest RW season in years.
Do you watch MTV shows for their core values? Let us know.
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