Sex Sells But At Who
’s Cost? Essay, Research Paper
Sex sells, but at who s cost?
MTV was born through the fusion between radio and television, almost exactly twenty years ago. These were the only two mediums of communication that existed up until the 1950 s through the 1990 s. The creators of MTV (Warner Corporation and American Express) decided by combining these two mediums it would allow them to reach a much larger audience at one time. Fans, of music artists, now had the capability of simultaneously listening and watching the songs from their favorite music artist in the comforts of their home. Combining television and radio revolutionized the way youth looked at and valued music.
MTV has become so pervasive in our culture that contemporary teenagers are sometimes referred to as the MTV generation. The influence of music on young people is as strong as it ever was, and since MTV is offered as part of a basic cable package, its influence is hard to ignore in our televised culture. Around the world, 70 million households have access to MTV and the channel prides itself on being the most popular station amongst the 12 24 year old demographic (Hay sc.8). Throughout this century, music has been an enormous cultural influence amongst young people. MTV has always served as a fortress for young adolescences. They can feel secure about themselves and feel that they have an ownership to MTV that no one can take away from them. It is a connection I too felt growing up with MTV. I knew it was channel that my mom would not watch and I could indulge in it all by myself
Yet when I was growing up, MTV was not the same type of industry it has transformed into today. At least ten years ago, one was able to watch music videos regularly without any hassle. Today all the time slots are locked with reality based shows that have nothing to do with music. It seems to me and others like the creators of MTV Sucks that the music utopia MTV created twenty years ago has completely been demolished. This year, MTV has launched a new channel called MTV2 which is a channel sticking to the original plan of music videos 24 hours a day. The problem with that is that one has to pay an extra fee for the service. Many people and I feel that we are being betrayed by the channel we once grew up with.MTV’s portrayal of women is clearly discriminatory and has an influence on the adolescents who watch it. In 1993, Steve Seidman conducted a fascinating study on sex-role stereotyping in music television. This study was a replica of one from1987, which sought to investigate how different genders were portrayed in music television. Seidman points out that television and music videos teach children how to behave (Bennet & Ferrell, 1987), as well as reinforcing sex-role stereotyping (Beuf, 1974). Another study (Rubin, Rubin, Perse, McHugh & Faix, 1986) showed that music videos have a greater impact on young people than music without video (Seidman sc.2).
It is bad enough that there is a lack of creative diversity in music videos. It seems that every video portrays the same set of characters with similar storylines. The typical scenario is good looking guys and attractive playboyesque girls chasing each other around. These videos that are debuting are inappropriate for the age group that is so dedicated to MTV. Most people will agree that the young females in these videos can be described to being almost naked. It is unnecessary to show so much body parts, because it is disrespecting women as an entire gender.
What is MTV and music artists achieving by endorsing this type of sexual behavior? For the most part the males watching these women are very content because they get to see half naked women,. At the same time their attitudes towards a female will be based on a girl s physical features, rather than focusing on their intelligence and kindness. They are encouraging young females that showing off their bodies will make them feel wanted and ultimately approved by society. Being a woman the roles that males and females play in these shows and videos are very insulting.
What, then, are the stereotypes that are being enforced and how is MTV portraying women? In a study on sex role stereotyping it was shown that women are shown as passive, dependent and emotional (Mayes & Valentine, 1979) (Seidman sc.3). Audiences can even be unaware of the sex role stereotyping that they accept while watching music television (as cited in Hansen & Hansen, 1988) (Seidman sc.3). Seidman’s study showed that the occupations of males and females in music videos are stereotypical. The manual laborers, police, photographers and soldiers were over 90% male, while 85% of the dancers, and all the cleaners, models and prostitutes were female. Overall, the female occupations were socially less desirable. MTV cannot claim that it is reflecting the surrounding society with these roles, as in actuality 13% of the police is female (as opposed to MTV’s 5%) and 28% of photographers are female (as opposed to MTV’s 7%). Rather unsurprisingly, Seidman found that one third of the women wore revealing clothing, compared with only 7% of the men (Seidman sc.8).
MTV’s portrayal of women is clearly discriminatory and has an influence on the adolescents who watch it. In 1993, Steve Seidman conducted a fascinating study on sex-role stereotyping in music television. This study was a replica of one from1987, which sought to investigate how different genders were portrayed in music television. Seidman points out that television and music videos teach children how to behave (Bennet & Ferrell, 1987), as well as reinforcing sex-role stereotyping (Beuf, 1974). Another study (Rubin, Rubin, Perse, McHugh & Faix, 1986) showed that music videos have a greater impact on young people than music without video (Seidman sc.2).
It is imperative for the healthy development of our youth, that this type of syndication be stopped. Even though MTV is the network that endorses these videos, it is the music artists who are making them. Music artists should encourage an increase in higher education and self discipline, among their fans instead they are giving them the opposite. This is exactly how this industry if flourishing. These young kids are spending their parent s money to buy these artist s music and merchandise, because they admire them. If our youth looks to these gangster thugs and sexy women who promote sexism, violence and inequality among gender roles for guidance, than something is wrong with our society.
This type of media portrayal only serves to stifle the advancement of women in every area of their lives. MTV, instead of using its popularity among America s youth for a good cause, is an industry that is slowly detonating these kid s morals. There are several ways that these issues may be addressed, in order to ensure that young women value their school work rather than their physical appearance.
Primarily, as many critics would agree, it is very important that parents, from an early age in their child s life, teach their young children that physical beauty should not be their prime concern. Caretakers should stress the need for higher education and creativity. A child s early developing character will remain strong if all these ideals are encouraged by their parents. In my personal case, I always remember my mother congratulating me for doing well in school, and rewarding me for good grades. This positive attitude, I feel is the reason why I have accomplished so much in my life. Today when I look at these images, I think about how many girls are comparing themselves, feeling those are their expectations they have to live up to.
Therefore there has to be a higher authority regulating shows like, Undressed where sexual promiscuity is glorified among young teenagers. If there is not a halt to shows that promote a lifestyle in which pregnancy and the contraction STDs and AIDS can happen in an instant, than socially we are killing ourselves. The government should have a role in this matter.
As Americans we have our right to freedom of speech and religion and it is clear that no one can tell us how to live our lives as long as it doesn t harm someone else s. Yet this negative attitude that is being created by MTV and delivered to young viewers will harm us as an entire society in the long run. The government, in order to prevent this from worsening should pass a law regulating shows that depict both males and females in a negative way. Sexual and violent misconduct should not be approved by government standards and should not be aired on MTV or any other show.
In order for this to work fairly and properly, a selected committee should be created consisting of young people who represent all the different backgrounds in the U.S. These young men and women should influence the decisions on what is appropriate for their peers to watch on television. Music artists should be warned that if their music videos are not respectable enough by government standards, then their videos will not be aired. Because MTV is such a monopoly, it is practically the only station where music videos are aired, and if musicians acknowledge that their video cannot be seen by their fans, then money will not be made, because its through television that they gain the most popularity. Although there is radio, it cannot compare to the visual stimulation a video brings on audiences. A musician s biggest fear is not being able to have a music video syndicate on MTV. They acknowledge the how much of the world youth watches MTV, and will be more receptive in obeying the government s rules.
The major setback with this proposal is that this channel was created more than twenty years ago to ensure teenagers a haven where they could escape from any rules and enjoy music visually. It is a cable channel created solely for them, one for which young teens can feel an ownership. They enjoy that they have a safe space where there are no laws, no parents telling them what to do or say. They can choose what type of music they like and watch their idols inspire them through music and lyrics. If we make the government set standards, then teens will feel like their first amendment right is being taken away from them.
The problem is that MTV has evolved into something else than what it originally was. The main reason MTV was founded was so that young kids could for the first time, watch their favorite musician visually in the comfort of their home, rather than in concert. Back then all you could see was music videos. Today, however, you barely see one. There are too many shows and commercials that have stolen any available time slots for music videos. In addition, the music videos that are seen are portraying women as sex symbols and create violent scenarios that are seen by teens as cool. These images that are being shown are being absorbed and acted upon by young teens everywhere. Even though a lot of what MTV is showing is unacceptable, having the government pass regulations is a solution that can be more dangerous than helpful in the long run.
If we do allow the government to regulate through a selected committee of the country s youth, how will the youth be chosen and who is to be sure that these kids will represent and reflect our youth gender and social makeup? In addition, giving the government a chance to regulate what we watch will give it an incentive to want to regulate other things in our society. There will be great dissatisfaction and resentment towards the government by young people in this country, because they would feel as if they are not free to listen to the music they want to listen to.
Overall, actions should be taken in order for young women to stop feeling they have to compete with the sexist images MTV exudes. Adolescence teens are very sensitive to the images they see and tend to copy them thinking they will be accepted by their peers if they do so. We need to stop these images from portraying negative stereotypes to young females and males. Although government regulation is violating the first amendment right, we can hope that MTV will realize the threat they are posing to their audience will effect all of us as a society.
MTV a cable television network was created twenty years ago, plays music videos by popular music artists. It attracts a large teenage audience in several parts of the world. The target audience of MTV, youth ages 14-21, soak in all of this sexually charged material, and many studies suggest that they are absorbing negative ideas. They are forming sexual attitudes based on their interpretations of the music videos, and what is mainly emphasized. Negative images depicting women just as sexual objects is neither beneficial to female and male genders. It rather, creates a standard for what they should follow. As a society we should work hard to promote a sense of individualism and confidence among our youth, and maybe then they will be happy with who they are.