MTV Networks President Christina Norman told a National Press Club audience Wednesday that MTV was sorry about the Janet Jackson half-time incident, now over two years ago, but that the network had "moved on" and it was time for the country to do the same.
She was in town to talk up MTV pro social campaigns and strategies for empowering youth to activism in good causes, but she also found her self defending the channel during a series of questions from the audience.
She was asked how she felt about being one of the channels that groups like the Family Research council are trying to avoid--by lobbying for a la carte cable--because they say MTV glorifies sex, drugs and violence. She said it was unfortunate that there were people who continued to criticize MTV "despite never having really watched it." She said that "the MTV of today is very different from the one they might remember."
She also pointed out that there are parental controls, so that people who don't want MTV in their homes don't have to have it.
Asked what effect she thought MTV's Real World, with its depiction of kids into partying and sexuality, had on the values of teens and young people, she said that there are "generations of young people who have been exposed to things through the Real World, be it AIDS, be it discrimination. Those are all things that can happen when seven strangers live in a house and different viewpoints come together." She said that the did not believe Real World necessarily glorified anything. "And I do think that it is an entertainment program that also has the ability to teach people something about other folks that they don't necessarily know."
When asked about MTV Germany's controversial Popetown series which is described as "the side-splittingly surreal world of the Vatican as the long suffering and good-hearted Father Nicholas struggles to walk the narrow path of righteousness, whilst surrounded by money grabbing cardinals and a pogo-stick-riding infantile pope."
She said that it was one the German channel felt "comfortable" airing in their territory, but MTV " has no intention of airing it in the U.S." She said MTV's standards and practices department "takes care to not to air anything that would be considered disrespectful or offensive."
When one questioner suggested MTV's calls to youth activism avoided political issues like immigration and the War in Iraq, Norman said the didn't think that was the case. "We set out to educate our audience on the totality of that issue, " she said, "and let them form their own opinions and decide what action to take."
She said the channel is in the midst of planning an event around Veterans Day. "It doesn't escape us that the people who are fighting and dying in Iraq are our audience."