Kyle: My chief gripe with MTV doesn't come from the stupid crap they air on a daily basis. Fact is, every cable network from my youth has taken a headlong flight into reality TV and they should all be ashamed.
No, my big problem with MTV and why I stand by my victory on Thursday ... this network used to mean something! The same way Harley Davidson used to stand for biker attitude (and now has much more to do with t-shirts and theme restaurants), MTV used to stand for the new generation, whichever one that may be.
When it first launched, people my dad's age treated it with reverence, i.e. "Finally, my music has a place on television." When he was growing up, the music played on TV was extremely limited. It was mostly Lawrence Welk and Guy Lombardo.
Then came my generation, the first (and really the only) to be raised on MTV. From early childhood, I was taught what music was hip, what style clothing was in, and what type of rude humor that Mike Judge could get away with. I was also taught that MTV was the place on television for the alternative young folk. Kurt Cobain and Flea were my babysitters.
For both generations, the descent into madness popped up around 1999 when Tom Green and Jackass turned the channel into Music (Sometimes) Television (Kinda). Suddenly there were more stunts and pranks and gross-out stuff invading the network. Some embraced it, most got pissed and started watching VH1.
It just got worse from there.
If I could put a nail in the coffin of this debate, it would be that MTV paved the way for crappy television over ten years ago. Sci-Fi/Syfy is merely catching up to it now. And doing a half-assed job of catching up.
SyFy isn't a crappy channel for showing wrestling and dodgy monster movies. SyFy is crap because it abandoned its format in favor of cheaper programming to keep it afloat. Well, going by that, every television network has done the same. And at least SyFy tries to stick to science fiction for the most part.
But only MTV has raised the idea of abandoning their format to an art form. And they did it much quicker than any other channel.
Except G4. But that's a whole other episode, because G4 abandoned their gamer/nerd format immediately because some poor stooge didn't realize that nerds/gamers don't watch crappy cable TV. They watch quality internet content on The Escapist. And occasionally No Right Answer.