I love MTV. Not for obvious reasons. For the past 2 years I’ve studied them…as a media brand, a business and an elite multi-cultural voice for teens and the young at heart. I am intrigued at how successful they have been in attracting massive amounts of youth since it’s conception in the early 1980’s. MTV has been a brand continuously innovating and evolving, consistently providing the teenage market everything they need, want and hope for. Many churches try to pray away MTV and hope that God will bring judgment on them for the promotion of sexuality, rebellion and explicit language. My prayer to the Father is not destroy them but “Let your will be done in MTV as it in Heaven.” I say let’s learn from them, get TV shows and producers in their network and influence culture through them. Or we can make our own network. But how effective will that be? Besides the promise in Deuteronomy 6:11 states we will inherit houses in society that are already filled. Somebody is going to inherit MTV. It can be you. My point is we need more Christians influencing and not being influenced. They are doing something right when it comes to keeping the attention of our youth. Standing the test of the time, I believe anyone who desires to reach the teenage market whether as a social activist, youth pastor, a parent or media designer-can find valuable strategies from the people of MTV. Is it okay to do this? The Jesus Mind thinks so.
“And the Lord commended the unrighteous steward, because he had done wisely; for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say to you, make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness.”-Jesus (Luke 16:8-9)
Jesus Mind Principle #8: Understand the world
We are in the world, but not of it. So while we are here, we must successfully interact and get involved with the world we are in. How else will we be salt and light? You must learn the world around you if you plan on being a change agent for Jesus. If you know what changes a heart, you know what changes the world. In order for you to change or influence the culture, you must first understand the culture. In order for you to lead you must first follow. MTV claims itself to be the “voice of global youth culture.” Here are just six things I’ve learned from MTV in learning how to win the attention of youth.
- MTV celebrates instead of criticizing youth culture. The surest way to penetrate the mindset of youth is to listen to their music. The MTV people have an energy, passion, and an uncanny ability to understand youth, even though some of them are no longer young. The music is the key to their culture, their interests and issues.
- MTV communicates effectively with its audience by speaking their language not only in conversation but through visualization (Technology) and dramatization of lyrics. (The arts)
- MTV builds relationship and personal connection with youth. They interact with its teenage audience, finding out insights into their lives and build it into their content. The customized appeal creates an emotional bond.
- MTV is constantly evolving and re-inventing itself in order to remain relevant to the changing interests of youth. They pursue teens relentlessly. What are kids hearing? What are kids watching? Their success is in staying in touch with their audience without getting older.
- MTV is not boring. They embody the high-energy nature of young people. Colors. Lights. Music. Drama. Really funny shows…risk-taking, clever and unpredictable in nature keep youth entertained.
- MTV empowers youth by giving them a voice, through sharing information that relates to their lifestyles and being a channel of self-expression.
This list can go on. I highly recommend any Church leader of a youth group or school teacher to purchase this book on MTV and it’s success at reaching youth. “The Branding of MTV: Will Internet Kill the Video Star.” by Paul Temporal.
*BY THE WAY, I DO NOT SUPPORT THE STANDARD MTV SETS FOR OUR GENERATION as it relates to perverting the minds of our teens with a false reality and exploiting the bodies of our young women for a profit. The world of MTV is filled with drugs, sex, alcohol, examples of irresponsible behavior and careless role models. The purpose of this post is to highlight what we can learn from them as well as to ignite a passion in more Christians to emerge in the world of entertainment. Darkness remains where there is no light.
“If you can get their emotions going, make them forget their logic, you’ve got them. At MTV, we don’t shoot for the 14-year-olds, we own them.” –Bob Pittman, creator of MTV.
- New Book for Teens Shows Them How They Can Live for God (prweb.com)
- MTV Unveils Artists.MTV Music Platform (eurasiareview.com)
- August 1 1981 MTV launches (craighill.net)
- Generation #Hashtag: MTV President Stephen Friedman on Millennials (forbes.com)
- Youth Ministry and Theology (youthmin.org)