You probably know MTV as the channel which used to air music videos, but which now delivers such stellar reality content as Teen Cribs (in which spoiled 14-year-olds take credit for their parents’ gluttonous wealth), Jersey Shore (which extols the virtues of tanning beds and drawing blood on the dance floor), and 16 and Pregnant (which is pretty self-explanatory). But if you live in the United States, you might not know that MTV is behind some of the most thought-provoking, well-produced human trafficking awareness campaigns ever created. That’s because MTV doesn’t air their EXIT campaign in the U.S., but instead shows programs which oversexualize children and glamorize pimping.
If you haven’t seen any of MTV’s EXIT campaign videos you should check them out. Two of their videos made my list of Top Five Coolest Human Trafficking Awareness Videos of 2009. They’re also responsible for what may be my all-time favorite video (I still get chills every time I watch it), set to the music of Radiohead. And then there’s their newest one, focusing on sex trafficking, which is creepily accurate. In addition to their television campaigns, they host benefit concerts, work with rockers like The Killers and Thievery Corporation to raise money and awareness, and help get information to people at risk for trafficking. And they do all this in countries around the world, but not in the U.S.
Why the lack of love, MTV? Haven’t we been loyal watchers all these years? When I was in middle school, my friends and I used to sneak down to my basement to watch episodes of Singled Out when my parents were asleep. Why don’t we deserve the same stellar content on-air EXIT Campaign that the rest of the world does? America has a significant human trafficking problem, just like Cambodia, Indonesia, and other places you air EXIT programming. But we’re left out of all the public service information.
At the same time, what MTV does air in America is not exactly prevenatitve medicine for sexual exploitation. Young girls pose in skimpy bikinis for a 16th birthday photo shoot, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton are celebrated for leaked sex tapes, and, of course, rides are “pimped” as a way to make them better. And this is targeted to an audience where half the viewers are under 21. Watch a couple hours of MTV, advertising and all, and see if you feel a little overrun with sexual images. Does MTV cause sex trafficking in the U.S.? Of course not. But it’s curious as to why they do so much to fight human trafficking overseas and so little in their own backyard.
The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking created a petition where you can ask MTV to give America more EXIT campaign and fewer sexy pre-teens dressing up like Hannah Montana. We know MTV has the power to do amazing work fighting human trafficking in other countries, now let’s just bring that fight home. Or, in the immortal words of Dire Straights, “I want my MTV (EXIT campaign aired in America).
Photo credit: blude