On November 11th, in a rare act of responsibility, MTVedited footage from their European Music Awards broadcast for American audiences. The question is: why isn’t MTV as responsible the rest of the time?
Viewers around the world who watched the European Music Awards broadcast from Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome saw Miley Cyrus, on stage to accept an award for best music video, set down her trophy, reach into her purse and pull out and light up what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette, take a puff, say her thanks, and then walk off stage. Americans saw a bowdlerized version featuring Miley accepting the award, aerial shots of the crowd as she says her thanks, and then walking off stage with not even a hint or suggestion of drug use, and because of the skillful editing, viewers at home were none the wiser.
But this isolated act of responsibility raises more questions than it answers.
If MTV has such a skilled team of editors at the ready, and if they could seamlessly remove the offending footage from this broadcast, then why have there been so many “Whoops! Sorry we didn’t catch that!” moments in the past? Is Miley smoking pot inherently more offensive than Miley simulating oral sex during the VMAs earlier this year?
Moreover, since when is MTV concerned about being responsible with drug references and depictions of drug use on the network? After all, MTV gave America Skins which was nothing short of an homage to teen drug and alcohol abuse. In fact, in just four episodes, there were 138 references to or depictions of teenage drug or alcohol use on that series. Where was MTV’s editing team then?
A 2008 study by the PTC of music video programming on MTV and its sister network, BET found an average of 7.5 instances of drug use or references to drug use per hour, or roughly one instance every eight minutes.
MTV deserves credit, certainly, for responsibly editing the EMA footage so that impressionable young fans of Miley Cyrus wouldn’t see her sparking up on stage, but MTV needs to make excising drug references a uniform policy for all of its programming, and show the same responsibility in editing out graphic sexual references and explicit language. Read more.