Millennials Killed the Video Star

MTV's Transition to Reality Programming

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 24 illustrations Published: February 2021

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Media Studies > TV

Between 1995 and 2000, the number of music videos airing on MTV dropped by 36 percent. As an alternative to the twenty-four-hour video jukebox the channel had offered during its early years, MTV created an original cycle of scripted reality shows, including Laguna Beach, The Hills, The City, Catfish, and Jersey Shore, which were aimed at predominantly white youth audiences. In Millennials Killed the Video Star Amanda Ann Klein examines the historical, cultural, and industrial factors leading to MTV's shift away from music videos to reality programming in the early 2000s and 2010s. Drawing on interviews with industry workers from programs such as The Real World and Teen Mom, Klein demonstrates how MTV generated a coherent discourse on youth and identity by intentionally leveraging stereotypes about race, ethnicity, gender, and class. Klein explores how this production cycle, which showcased a variety of ways of being in the world, has played a role in identity construction in contemporary youth culture—ultimately shaping the ways in which Millennial audiences of the 2000s thought about, talked about, and embraced a variety of identities.


“Amanda Ann Klein's extended interviews with both participants and producers of MTV programming as well as her inspired and enjoyable writing make this book an important, compelling, and lively contribution to the study of media and culture.” — Brenda R. Weber, author of Latter-day Screens: Gender, Sexuality, and Mediated Mormonism

“Amanda Ann Klein's engaging book analyzes a specific phenomenon: MTV's twenty-first-century reality television programming. But her detailed and thoughtful account reveals so much about the history of a transformative television genre, the evolution of an iconic cable channel, and the construction of identity for an entire generation, making it essential reading to understand contemporary American media and culture.” — Jason Mittell, author of Television and American Culture

"My mother used to tell me that Jersey Shore would rot my brain; with Millennials Killed the Video Star, Amanda Ann Klein would seem to agree. In this release, the East Carolina University film professor helps make sense of the noise, walking readers through MTV’s evolution from music videos to scripted reality TV—maximizing stereotypes about race, gender, and class along the way, and shaping how an entire generation would come to understand identity." — Emma Kenfield, IndyWeek


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Amanda Ann Klein is Associate Professor of Film Studies at East Carolina University, author of American Film Cycles: Reframing Genres, Screening Social Problems, and Defining Subcultures, and coeditor of Cycles, Sequels, Spin-offs, Remakes, and Reboots: Multiplicities in Film and Television.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction. What Killed the Video Star?  1
1. "It's Videos, Fool": A Targeted History of MTV (1981–2004)   24
2. "This Is the True Story . . .": The Real World and MTV's Turn to Identity (1992–)  57
3. "She's Gonna Always Be Known at the Girl Who Didn't Go to Paris": Can-Do and At-Risk White Girls on MTV (2004–2013)  89
4. "If You Don't Tan, You're Pale": The Regional and Ethnic Other on MTV (2009–2013)  124
5. "That Moment Is Here, Whether I Like It or Not": When MTV's Programming Fails (2013–2014)  153
Conclusion. Catfish and the Future of MTV's Reality Programming (2012–)  173
Appendix A. MTV Reality Series since 1981  189
Appendix B. Other Television Series Discussed in This Book  193
Notes  197
References  213
Index  233
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1130-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1026-5