MTV Generation

June 23, 2005

I've been meaning to blog this all week --but I still think it's an exciting story. MTV has noticed Asian Americans! As told in the NY Times article on "I Want My Hyphenated Identity" (cringe), MTV is going to be coming out with 3 new channels aimed at Asian Americans: MTV Desi (for South Asian Americans), MTV Chi (for Chinese Americans) and MTV K (for Korean Americans). According to the Times:

The channels will not be merely tweaked reproductions of MTV India, MTV China or MTV Korea, three of MTV's 42 channels abroad. Rather, they will, like their target audiences, be hybrids, blending here and there and grappling with identity issues, mostly in English. MTV Desi will serve as the prototype. Interspersed among Bollywood videos, electronic tabla music and English-Gujarati hip-hop, it will feature brief documentary clips profiling desis, comic skits about South Asian-American generational conflicts, interviews with bicultural artists and desi house parties, live. MTV Chi will mix up Mandarin rock, Canto pop and Chinese-American rap; MTV K will tap into South Korean hip-hop and the little-known but vibrant Korean-American pop scene.

(As an aside, how are we supposed to pronounce MTV Chi? Chai, like the tea? or Chee, like cheese? who comes up with these names? Am I supposed to know because i'm of chinese descent?) It's interesting that MTV, which to me seems to try to define and represent mainstream American youth culture in very white and sometimes black terms, is finally trying to figure out the whole "nation of immigrants" thing. After research in house groups and mini parties, "MTV concluded that second-generation immigrants not only desire their own age-appropriate connection to their parents' homeland but that they also passionately want to see their struggle to define themselves as hyphenated Americans mirrored on television." Wow! People at MTV figured out that 2nd generation kids are not just all trying to be white, act white, and appropriate an all white culture! They didn't get that we don't like the concept "hyphenated" identity, but that will take another 20 or so years. I'll be interested to see if this means higher visibility for our AA homegrown artists, and therefore commercial viability. If it brings in ad revenue and attracts a wide audience, it could mean good things for AA media. Or am I being too optimistic? It is annoying to see that one of the only non-music ways the muckety mucks at MTV seem to think they can address ethnicity-specific programming is by addressing identity issues. Is that the assumption of white people, that we sit around in constant internal turmoil bleating, "I'm not white! Who am I then? I'm trapped between two (gasp!) cultures!" Hopefully that will just be a stage of development for the channels, and they'll be able to mature to address other issues too.




MTV is also launching a new network called Logo, targeted at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender viewers.Story in the NYTimes here.