by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & I Want My Nominee & r & & r & In an article that I'm sure no one in the world read unless they were pointed to it by arch-conservative bloggers, AdWeek ran a story about how MTV is now, for the first time ever, going to accept "political advertising that is national in scope."
No political action groups, just the candidates. Barack, McCain. Nader maybe, if he doesn't feel like he's played the race card on a large enough stage. Comments on the AdWeek piece were pretty shrill, every other post or so suggesting that MTV -- that great bastion of liberal-ness (which, in conservative circles, is code for "moral decay") -- is only running political ads now because it has a candidate to stump for, Obama. The vast left-wing conspiracy theory is as popular as ever.
I have another theory, though. I call it the Vast Advertiser Hemorrhage Theory. Here's the kick: MTV just started tracking advertiser ratings -- how many viewers stick around to watch commercials. Their numbers aren't good. One in five of their viewers -- notoriously fickle, multi-tasking tweens and twenty-somethings -- bolt as soon as Avril Lavigne gives way to Sara Lee.
Back in the way back, when MTV was still about rock 'n' roll and it had a kind of magic cachet, the network didn't have to worry about kids turning because, hell, what were they going to turn the channel to? The cool of the world revolved around the network, its videos, its VJs, and -- most of all -- the lifestyle it sold.
Now that MTV has gone from being a proactive tastemaker to a reactive dreck recycler - force-feeding "reality" rather than soft-selling fantasy - it no longer has its uncanny force of authority. It needs a hook to keep people from switching over to The Soup until The Hills comes back on. They're trying a number of innovative things like Pop-Up Video-esque advertising boxes, but there's really nothing slyer than inviting the hippest political figure since John F. Kennedy to put 30-second spots on your network, then getting him to pay you for it. Pretty brilliant.