Being The Change vs. Being All Talk: Woody and MTV

It’s time for to look beyond the argyled comforts of our print-media titans, and liven things up a little. We’re going to do more than just digest stories for you; we’re going to, well, blog on stuff.

Woody Harrelson’s site is very interesting reading. He’s got a book too. His family is dedicated to low-impact living and sustainability, and his site is as articulate and effective as the best out there. (Cheers is still the funniest show in re-runs, by the way, not that we can find it much.)

MTV has its own site, think.mtv.com, but it’s worthless.

Why’s it worthless? Well, it’s not the content, that’s for sure. In fact, the think site addresses global warming and the prescription for action as well as any site out there. It’s a lesson in effective messaging for activists. It’s a top-notch repudiation of exactly the thoughtless, consumeristic lifestyle that, ironically, MTV foists on its viewers relentlessly through shows like Cribs and Laguna Beach.

For every viewer they get to actually read the whole site, they surely get tens of thousands more to watch their reality shows. We don’t begrudge any TV channel a hit show, but seriously now: could Laguna Beach or the OC portray a less environmentally sensitive lifestyle if they tried? Cribs, of course, is littered with largesse — that’s the point — invariably including a McMansion (if not an actual mansion) and its yard full of gas-guzzlers. Would Cribs producers be willing to cover a star whose lifestyle wasn’t opulent to the absolute limits of his finances?  

Beyond displays of consumption for its own sake, MTV’s programming aggravates a deeper problem as well: throughout these shows (and also other less wealth-oriented shows, such as Two-a-Days), there is no mention of any broader social awareness at all by any of the characters.

The slogan for the think site is “Break the Addiction” — a perfect slogan for a campaign to get people to re-think the lifestyle of fitting in through consumerism, wherein we conceive our ambitions around things and the status they bestow upon us.

Sadly, MTV drowns out the small, clear voice of its own conscience with a constant parade of people whose lives depict that very addiction as a given — the one constant, glittering backdrop throughout the characters’ ups and downs.

We’ll get on MTV’s bandwagon when our issues make onto the TV screen, not just the computer screen.

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