As the sweep of ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon‘ no doubt tipped you off, the 2010 MTV Movie Awards weren’t necessarily geared towards the over-20 crowd. If anything, this year’s ceremonies felt like the Teen Choice Awards, minus the massive surfboard trophies and the pre-requisite appearances from the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. Though maybe the ’Hannah Montana‘ star would have been right at home at this incarnation of the MTV Movie Awards – Google “Miley Cyrus Kiss” if you don’t know what we’re talking about. The telecast was awash in foul language – both badly bleeped and boldly stated – bad taste and Christina Aguilera drawing attention to her… well, you know. Let’s just say Christmas lights in the shape of a heart were involved.
How did we get here? When did it become okay for such nominally indecent behavior to be shown on television? Or is the outrage over the MTV Movie Awards just teeth-gnashing for the sake of teeth gnashing? Fancast attempts to investigate the criticisms.
Criticism #1: The standards have just disappeared.
Well, yes and no. Obviously standards have slacked in recent years – the punishment for Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction not withstanding, pushing the envelope has become de rigueur for television programs. Why did this happen? Blame the permeation of the Internet and the growth of cable television for numbing viewers to what should be considered obscene. And blame yourself too: The F.C.C. is a user-driven entity and the less complaints they receive, the less power they wield. And lately, the complaints seem non-existent – with the exception of ‘American Dad‘ there hasn’t been a high profile F.C.C. case in quite a while. Couple that with the fact that MTV is a cable channel and – as such – has to keep up with other cable channels like FX and AMC that continually push the language/violence quotient further and further, and you’ve got the recipe for last night’s shenanigan’s. And thus far there don’t appear to be any official letter-writing campaigns to punish MTV in the works.
Criticism #2: In 50 years, we’ve gone from married couples on TV needing to have separate beds to being blasé about hearing the F-word multiple times on MTV.
There has always been a double standard between showing sexual situations on television and foul language/violence. But that has more to do with America’s tolerance for such things – we are a country that saw two Vice President’s curse in public forums in the span of five years – then the eroding of decency standards. Bear in mind: Not only have Cameron and Mitchell not kissed on ‘Modern Family,’ but neither have Jay and Gloria. Sex might sell, but it’s still persona non grata on television. Of course that doesn’t excuse the MTV series ’The Hard Times of R.J. Berger,’ a show about a well-endowed male high school student (sample dialogue as filtered by the network censors: “Beep, beep, beep”), but it does help explain why the language was more prominent on the awards than the action.
Criticism #3: Blame the public for allowing it. Saying curse words and going for cheap sex jokes is simply lazy writing and lazy thinking.
If the MTV Movie Awards offended you, this should be the reason why. It’s not that the language was so bad – it was nothing that a majority of the population, high school students included, doesn’t hear on a daily basis – it’s that it was used to such poor effect. There was nothing remotely original, thoughtful or clever about so many of the set-ups and they seemed to rely solely on the thrill of hearing a celebrity curse. And we’re sorry, but having seen his movies, the thrill of hearing Mark Wahlberg say the f-word is long since over. If anything, it’s our fault as viewers. Clearly MTV felt their audience wanted to hear this stuff, otherwise they wouldn’t have been so committed to airing it. Too bad for host Aziz Ansari, who managed to use his pre-approved MTV curse words to great effect. Saying “F— BP” was funny. Saying f— for the sake of saying it, was not.
What did you think? Did the F-bombs bother you? Do you think they’re funny? Do you think they are eroding standards? Or are those standards already eroded?