Only in a culture shaped by MTV’s kind of values, for example, could Madonna’s latest stage act—hanging on a mirrored cross while singing—draw little more than yawns and “Oh, there she goes again.” Madonna and her onstage antics are a perfect expression of the channel and the culture that helped create her. Or take that infamous Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl. As the AP implied, what shocked an audience full of adults was old hat to many of their kids, who had seen far worse in MTV’s videos and reality shows.
It’s not many people who can look back and say that they changed a culture. That can be pretty awe-inspiring. But when you change it in the way that MTV did, you don’t celebrate: You hang your head in shame.