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MTV, also initially known as Music Television, has been a notable cable channel for quite some time. First established in 1981, the channel originally became home to premiering a variety of music videos that were coming out each year (such as “Video Killed The Radio Star” by the Buggles and “You Better Run” by Pat Benatar). The channel gave music artists multiple opportunities to showcase their music videos to possibly reach an even bigger audience, and it was a wonderful chance to just relax and listen to music in a whole new way. Alongside this, in 1984, MTV had also begun producing the VMAs (or the MTV Video Music Awards Show).
However, it was in the late 90s that MTV would start straying away from solely premiering music videos and transition into producing their TV shows and movies. And thanks to this decision by MTV, we would be treated with culturally-impactful TV shows and movies that shaped our society from the late 90s to around 2013. And oh how wonderful these TV shows and films were.
MTV’s Dramatics Of Reality
On the series side of things, MTV produced and premiered a large variety of shows that mainly focused on realism and growing up, while also being downright entertainingly absurd at the same time. Well-known shows from this time have culturally impacted us by the relatability coupled with an odd environment that was different from our own; in some cases, even taking place in our actual world. These shows gave audiences the chance to indulge themselves in lives behind the screen, while also staying true to MTV’s roots by giving each show an incredible soundtrack that had fit the series well.
Specifically, shows varied between animation and reality TV series; giving watchers of the channel more to immerse themselves with if they were tired of the real world. Animated shows that are still memorable to this day from MTV involve ‘Daria’ and ‘Clone High’; but, reality series were what seemed to stick out the most when discussing MTV’s shows. This mainly felt due to how utterly absurd it was for actual people to be acting the way they did, and how differently they lived their lives from an average amount of people. Notable reality series on the network involved ‘Jersey Shore’, ‘My Super Sweet 16’, ‘Catfish’, and so much more.
It was through these shows that we saw that reality can be as wild as we expect, and how some people could be strange and odd; along with giving us the chance to see all of that captured on camera. And whether or not it was scripted (or how old the audience was), MTV’s reality shows still had audiences hooked and had everyone tuning into next episode to see what could possibly come next. Personally, I had spent many of my tween nights binging ‘Teen Mom’ with my friends; and those are some of the best memories that I’ve made with others.
All together, MTV’s reality shows are the nail in the coffin on the side of viewing MTV as more than just a music-themed network. These shows were essentially the establishment of MTV’s progression towards catering to more than just music-lovers, and it became the catalyst to creating pivotal moments in America’s cultural history (like audiences being warier of their Facebook lovers who say their “web camera is broken” thanks to ‘Catfish’).
MTV’s Take On Cinema
As mentioned above, MTV seems to already have its place amongst memorable TV series from just their reality and animated shows alone. But, even MTV knew that they had to branch out further to reach an even bigger audience; something that would hopefully become somewhat of a blockbuster, or even just simply an enjoyable piece of Cinema. And just like their shows, the films the channel produced also edged on the side of being odd and wild.
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When MTV first began producing films, it would seem to surprise some people. A channel that initially solely premiered music videos didn’t seem like they could get their foot in the door of the Cinema world. This was understandable since Cinema and music are two distinct and wonderful different works of art on their own, so it was most likely going to take a lot to be able to tune in audiences (and avid film-lovers) into the films they were producing. With TV shows, it was easy enough because so many individuals adore tuning into shows every week; and not all of them would possibly enjoy watching films. But, when MTV Entertainment Studios was formed, we would get an incredible selection of movies that would culturally impact us similarly to how MTV achieved did such with their TV shows.
There are a wide variety of films that were produced by MTV Entertainment Studios, but they overall worked together with Paramount Pictures (and a few other companies such as Warner Brothers) to fully be able to release their films theatrically. Notable films from this partnership include ‘Election’, ‘Napoleon Dynamite’, ‘Zoolander’, and incredibly so much more. Like MTV’s TV shows, these films gave us more of an entirely fictional perspective into the wild world of people; while also maintaining the element of strangeness to give it that MTV trademark of being something totally out there.
According to reviews, these films seemed to do amazingly amongst audiences and would culturally impact us just the same. These films came along with us through the transition of the late 90s to mid-2000s, and it gave all of us a reason to sit together and experience a film that is striving to only provide us a great time; not specifically a cinematic masterpiece. This especially goes for ‘Napoleon Dynamite’, which is still widely quoted from time to time among fans of the film even today.
MTV’s Newly Scheduled Programs
While the majority of the reality shows, and the specific types of movies, MTV produced during the late 90s to 2013 may not match the same level of odd and weird that their current programs do, they are still rather interesting. They continue to bring us similar energy of realistically wild situations, and entertain a wide variety of audiences; even if they aren’t exactly the same kind we had back when all these shows were initially being produced.
Ultimately, MTV shows and films seem to not always be at the forefront of people’s minds when they think of entertaining television and movies. But, they are works of art that deserve to be appreciated for all the great memories and opportunities they’ve given to us a culture. Visual media will always impact us as people, and nostalgia exactly hits that spot with emotional impact. Even if you weren’t born when these shows were released, watching them back now brings you back to that time and gives you a strong idea of the type of society we once were. We’ve been through so many changes throughout the years, but we’ll always be reminded of the weirdness in all of us thanks to MTV’s produced works of art.
By Leah Donato
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