Red, white and blue colors cover the screen on MTV’s website as the words appear, “The last election was decided by 500,000 votes nationwide. In some states it was decided by 50,000 or 5,000 or 500. In the last election, 18 million young people voted. What if that were 20 million? Who’s swing voting now?”
The same network that has given us “The Osbournes,” “Punk’d,” and “Total Request Live” also contributes to the seriousness of politics by delivering “Choose or Lose,” the current MTV campaign to mobilize 20 million young voters in November.
“Choose or Lose,” launched in 1992, brought the infamous “boxers or briefs” question to Bill Clinton, and its mission statement just as well might be “Putting presidential candidates in un-presidential situations.”
Yet, since its founding, the campaign has gotten the big names and has delivered news-making interviews. This year is no exception, as Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and his “Reggie” the Registration Rig appeared on “TRL” on March 26.
Additionally, a taped interview with Sen. John Kerry ran on Tuesday, offering another controversial statement on gay “marriage” from the presidential candidate. Kerry played well with the MTV crowd and received a warm welcome from the MTV News “reporter.”
The lingering question in many minds is this: Will President Bush appear on “Choose or Lose”? But the more pressing question is what President Bush would gain through such an appearance.
The nature of Music Television is to push the boundaries and challenge the standards. That’s the path they have taken since the beginning in their constant pursuit of the young demographic. MTV would love nothing more than to defy the president of the United States. It would bring ratings, hype and controversy – the very core of the network.
Furthermore, MTV is a sister network to CBS – both companies have been targets of a Federal Communications Commission crusade for broadcast decency. Moreover, another sister network is Infinity Radio, which airs the Howard Stern show – another target of FCC fines. The Viacom-owned MTV may have ulterior motives in such an interview and undoubtedly could seek to embarrass the president.
Lastly, if Republicans and conservatives stand for anything, their antithesis would be MTV and its parent network. Viacom is the figurehead of the entertainment industry, pushing its liberal biases through CBS News, selling its vulgar immorality as entertainment on channels like MTV, and filling our theaters with trash every year.
If George W. Bush were to come on the network, MTV has everything going to set him up for failure. The host, the producers and the audience, filled with teenagers seeking their 15 minutes of fame, would desire to see a PR disaster.
Even if President Bush were to pull off a first-rate performance, the likelihood of the GOP energizing the teen base through such an appearance is slim. The same high school and college students who watch “Pimp My Ride” are not going to be inspired by seeing Bush on MTV. Politically, the Bush campaign desires to reach out to the young adult crowd, but reality proves how that demographic prefers apathy over concern.
The 18-30 year old demographic, which is 30 million strong, accounted for less than 4 percent of the entire voting population in 2000. Despite efforts from questionable organizations like Rock the Vote, the voter turnout from young people is not expected to radically change this coming November.
Many point to this election year as being a mirror to the 1992 presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. That year, both candidates appeared on “Choose or Lose,” and we could see the same this year. In ’92, Clinton was exalted on the network and many pundits noted as much, but the same writers observed a PR disaster on the part of the Bush campaign – a likely plan from MTV.
Past all the politics and hype, the reality is this: Whatever the motives of MTV, a Bush crash and burn would equal success to them. No matter how much Republicans might wow the youthful viewers on “Choose or Lose,” it’s unlikely to translate into anything substantial in November. Nothing good could come of a Bush campaign appearance on MTV, but everything could go wrong.
Politically, when it comes to MTV, President Bush should just stay away from Music Television to avoid a replay of ’92. Moreover, when it comes to morality and principles, President Bush should send a message and energize sincere young people by holding a higher standard.