Critical thinking skills. Some of us have them, many do not. This is evident in the constant attempt by some to get Americans to think through the lens of our demographic makeup. We’ve seen this repeatedly of late as we are encouraged to vote for or against a proposal because it heavily impacts, for example, women, blacks, Latinos, millennials, veterans, or urban dwellers. Rarely do demographic blocs line up so predictably.
Messaging about so-called women’s issues denies that the same matters impacting women also impact men. If you live in an urban area, the taxes and overall economic prospects of the entire region of that city are important to you, regardless of gender.
Blacks are obviously people, so to single us out for special so-called black messaging is demeaning. Every American should demand to receive messaging that speaks to the issues impacting us as people. Race is a social construct, which some anthropologists complain actually hinders research into human genetic diversity.
Take sickle cell disease for instance. It is a widely assumed that only blacks are affected. In fact, some non-blacks can have it and be misdiagnosed because of our reliance on race as a defining concept. During the election season we heard from movie stars and politicians alike, everyone addressing us by our demographic characteristics, not as individuals.
Never has this radical shift from treating Americans as people to statistically relevant objects been more apparent than in the latest offering by MTV News. Their latest foray into cultural lecturing is called, “2017 New Year’s Resolutions for White Guys,” and it is horrific. In the video, lots of annoyingly condescending faces toss platitudes at the camera denigrating white men. “Hey White Guys!” it starts out.
It goes downhill from there, with the following statements parroted to the camera: “First off, try to remember that the United States was never great for anyone who wasn’t a ‘white’ guy.”
“Stop saying ‘woke’!”
“Blue Lives Matter isn’t a thing!”
“Learn what mansplaining is, then stop doing it.”
“Can we all just agree that Black Lives Matter isn’t the opposite of all lives matter?”
It’s probably the worst New Year’s resolution offering in the history of New Year’s resolutions.
Imagine if MTV made a video of white men and women lecturing black men. Would such a video launch into disparaging statistics about the low black marriage rate, persistently elevated high school drop-out rate and crime rate? Would the video tell blacks to reserve speaking in the vernacular for personal conversations and use proper English at work?
What would the self-righteous folks at MTV have to say about black poverty? The out-of-wedlock birth rate for blacks is 72 percent. Imagine the uproar if they led with that. This type of video would never be made because it would be ‘racist.’ Stating facts about black people isn’t allowed, especially from a network that produces among other lowbrow offerings a reality show program called “Teen Mom.” MTV doesn’t prioritize quality content.
MTV has been around for 34 years and was an innovator, creating reality television with their groundbreaking series Real World. Once upon a time, MTV showed actual music videos, elevating artists who created music they liked by placing those videos into heavy rotation.
Looking back it is clear that they understood their audience and how to speak to them. Executives, producers and content creators at MTV knew messaging. Messaging is a highly nuanced skill set that a huge cable television conglomerate, political party, or social media organization should know well. Since MTV has lost their messaging edge and overall direction, their ratings have fallen dramatically. Their target audience of 18-34 year olds doesn’t subscribe to cable and really can’t remember a time before their cell phones were the primary mechanism for viewing content.
Like millennials, we should cut off sources of information that treat us as simple entities thinking through our surface attributes. MTV will continue to remake itself in an attempt to claw back viewers from useful services like Pandora and Spotify. Our larger issue is one of how we see ourselves and in that assessment determines how we will permit the purveyors of media and content of all kinds to speak to us, in or out of our demographic boxes.