Entertainment, Music, Opinions

Does anyone care about MTV anymore?

Like, when was the last time you watched?

words by: Natasha Marsh
Nov 11, 2022

The other day I was walking around the trendy Lower East Side — an area in Downtown Manhattan known for funky art, skateboarders, and nightlife for Gen Z. I spotted a young person of color in a hoodie that read “MTV lives.” It was such an ironic sighting, as I had literally just been talking to a friend about the early days of Cribs, and how they just don’t make television like that anymore.


The person, who was probably 22, could not have possibly remembered MTV in its prime. But like all things go, nostalgia has a way of creeping back into current events and having a resurgence. Could this baby hoodie be a symbol of the mega giant’s return?


MTV history lesson

Started in 1981, Music Television was a place the zeitgeist came to discover music, fashion, talents, and concepts. Up until the late ‘90s, it was one of the biggest sources young people used to gather information. With their 24/7 music videos and highly curated celebrity content, the more we saw, the more we wanted.


And who could forget about The Real World, an episode-driven reality show that portrayed the draws of roommate life, or My Super Sweet 16, documenting lavish birthday parties for the filthy rich. Even I Want My MTV, an oral history by music journalist, Craig Marks, and Rob Tannenbaum. And of course, Jersey Shore, often deemed as Real World-on-steroids, that showed 8 NJ roommates in a house, followed around with cameras.


“The channel would be for the big kids, the kind that get turned on by the big rock sound and the weird assemblages that make it,” read The New York Times column of MTV’s arrival on June 19, 1981.


Every single person was hungry for MTV and its refreshing approach to being TV radio. In fact, by 1989, just 8 years in, MTV had expanded to 79 channels and 53 million subscribers. And their annual Video Music Awards helped reach fame, with some key moments being: 1984 Madonna singing “Like a Virgin,” from a 17-foot-tall cake, Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U,” from 2001, and Kanye West hijacking Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009.


But by 2012, 3 decades into success, the VMAs saw a decrease of 50% in their audience, garnering only 6.1 million views and a drastic drop to 1.93 million viewers in 2019. MTV’s relevance continues to decrease with passing years, while other networks and social media platforms gain popularity. It’s hard to say if it will return, but it’s very clear it is not highly favored in 2022.


It could be possible that MTV needs to revamp their reality shows to make a comeback. Which ones do you think have the star power? Also, take a walk down memory lane as we recap some of the most memorable VMA moments. Did you know the history of the Vanguard Music Award?


Photo via Candy Kugel