More Than a Feeling

This past Sunday evening, I was chilling on the couch and relaxing after a huge Easter dinner and avoiding doing homework at all costs. Naturally, I started channel surfing, and I came across the most disturbing, and horrendous program. It was called "The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour," and it featured America's favorite newlyweds in a collection of over-acted sketches, ill-timed one liners and musical performances featuring celebrity guest stars.

However, as bad as this hideous display of fame-gone-wrong was, I just couldn't take my eyes off it. It was like being caught in the middle of a "Newlyweds" marathon — and don't tell me you don't know what that's like.

As I was enjoying this guilty pleasure, I couldn't help but wonder why Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson are as famous as they are. Then the answer hit me like bad indigestion after eating buffalo wings: It's all MTV's fault. MTV's unintelligent but addictive programming is destroying the brain cells of college students at a more disturbing rate than several nights of binge drinking.

When MTV first hit the scene in 1981, it was fresh and innovative. It was music television, which no one had ever seen before. In its 23-year history, MTV has also made socially conscious contributions, including the 17-hour broadcast of "Live Aid" in 1985 which brought attention to world hunger, and the "Choose or Lose" campaign which has inspired young people to become liberals since 1992. They've also brought attention to safe sex, AIDS and hate crimes. This was all pretty impressive … but lately I've been anything but impressed with MTV's programming.

How many of us can say we've killed an entire Saturday afternoon watching a "Real World" marathon? My hand is raised, even though every season it's the same. You've got your rich girl, your rebel girl, the token gay, the token black, the token hick and two other people who aren't interesting. They go out, they get drunk and occasionally they have to deal with alcoholism, pregnancy scares and long distance relationships which all goes to make the show more interesting.

Then there are the truly disturbing shows, like "I Want a Famous Face" and "Made," which send the message that you must not be good enough the way you are, so you should send MTV a pathetic letter begging them to make you into a better-looking person.

I know all this because, despite my better judgement, I watch MTV. A lot of people do, because MTV is mindlessly entertaining and caters to people with really short attention spans. It's a procrastanator's dream. It's like the fast food of television: You know you shouldn't watch it because it's really bad for you, but it's so instantly satisfying that you forget how unhealthy the trans-fatty acids actually are.

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