O’Reilly, Miley but why not MTV?

An Open Letter to Bill O’Reilly

Back in July Bill O’Reilly said on his talking points memo “Obama and the Race Problem”: And finally, challenging the entertainment industry to stop peddling garbage. Hey listen up you greed heads, if a kid can’t speak proper English, uses the “f” word in every sentence, it’s disgraceful, it’s disrespectful — it’s disrespectful in his or her manner. That child will never, never be able to compete in the marketplace of America… never. And it has nothing to do with slavery. It has everything to do with you Hollywood people and you derelict parents. You’re the ones hurting these vulnerable children.

“You want a conversation, you got it,” O’Reilly said. “You want a better situation for blacks, give them a chance to revive their neighborhoods and culture. Work with the good people to stop the bad people. Pumping money into the chaos does little. You can’t legislate good parenting or responsible entertainment. But you can fight against the madness, with discipline, a firm message and little tolerance for excuse-making.”

I am asking for Bill O’Reilly to back up his words and to speak for those concerned parents and adults who don’t normally get to speak. There is a huge content problem with corporate media and the recent Miley Cyrus performance on MTV is a prime example. I appeared on your show a few days after your statement by invitation, hoping to discuss the major problems that corporations continue to mimic that lower our entertainment culture.

Mainstream media has a bad habit of glorifying the problem and never seeking the solutions. Journalists never ask the right questions to address problems within the entertainment industry.

We can see it clearly now with the media barrage of promotion for Miley Cyrus. I have been front and center this year alone on Shawtly Lo, Rick RossLil’ Wayne and the Mountain Dew commercial produced by Tyler the Creator. The“wardrobe malfunction” scenario has become a painful constant in broadcast media. 

We need to hear from Van Toffler, President of Viacom. The media has turned this recent Miley Cyrus/VMAs thing into a glowing promotion for everything Miley. It’s really not about Miley Cyrus. The emphasis should be on, “Why would MTV allow it to happen?”. Is the bar set to lower levels on the VMAs for ratings and profit?  

We could have better artistry, messages and content, but we don’t. The focus this time needs to be on Toffler, MTV and Viacom and their notorious 30 year history of scandalous VMA acts. 

The Hollywood Reporter this week pursued the content issue but dropped the ball at the end. 

THR asked Toffler: 

Did you have any concerns heading into the performance? (The Parents Television Council criticized the Cyrus-Thicke performance, saying it “simply substituted talent with sex.”)

Toffler responded: You have concerns always going into live television. I mean, this was our 30th one. We’ve had people climb onstage, we’ve had people interrupt winners and we’ve had people stage-dive when we’ve had pyro planned, so I think you’ve got to expect the unexpected. Not everything goes as planned. In fact, the stage actually broke a couple of hours before the performances so we weren’t sure we could get the big bear on Miley’s stage for the live show because of the step change. But we did. It was in a different position. We had to change a bunch of things leading up to it, but we knew it would be a memorable performance, just like Gaga’s open and Justin Timberlake’s medley.

Journalists have to do a better job, softball questions get softball answers. It’s clear Toffler never answered the question at hand. He gave a soft answer, “expect the unexpected”. They should have immediately asked a hard follow up question. What about selling sexualized images to children? Are you substituting talent with sexual images? The median age range watching the program was 12-34 for a show that’s rated PG-14. Corporate America is sending out negative images and content for kids to emulate. The MTV VMAs was a PG-14 rated show. You tell me if that performance was in-tuned with the average 14 year old. I have a problem with that.

MTV and Viacom has a system – which all television stations have – of certain standards and practices. If you submitted a music video with Miley Cyrus twerking half naked or dry humping Robin Thicke they would never accept it to play in rotation. They didn’t program Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” because it wasn’t air worthy. But it is worthy when it comes to a big broadcast. Corporations have decided to profit by letting it go on the biggest night of the year where they make the most money. It’s just a spike to get ratings.

According to MTV News Sunday night’s show garnered a total audience of 10.1 million viewers — a 66-percent increase over last year’s show — making it cable’s top-rated entertainment telecast of the year among viewers aged 12-34, and earned a 7.8 rating in the same demo, a 47-percent compared to last year’s show. The rebroadcast of the show also earned an additional 2.8 million viewers, bringing the total to 12.9 million viewers across both airings on MTV. It generated 120 national and worldwide trending topics on Twitter and 1.2 million Instagram likes, including setting the record for most tweets per minute on Twitter with 360,000, breaking the previous record, Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance, according to MTV.

It is quite apparent to me that MTV has no concerns of broadcast content. Toffler’s response of “expect the unexpected” and “We knew her performance was going to be provocative the way her video is” is actually an endorsement for the performance. The PG-14 rating is simply that they deem their content appropriate for minors.  

If MTV actually enforced their broadcast standards,  the Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke’s performance would have been edited out of the rebroadcast and never re-aired or been featured on The “memorable performance” is the MTV way of saying ratings matter and quality content plays second fiddle. Until tough questions are on the table we will continue to get weak answers and raunchy content.

There needs to be more research to find out what people are really thinking. Are people really OK with their children being exposed to these images? If Congress passes the Television Consumer Freedom Act where consumers can choose and pay for the cable networks they want to watch instead of a bundle, will parents and guardians of children and teens really choose Viacom’s MTV? Everybody’s asking or answering Miley Cyrus and nobody’s asking or answering MTV. Nobody’s going to get an answer. Van was quick to talk to THR, but he’ll never go on Bill O’Reilly.

Why is it acceptable at Viacom and other corporations not to do some things in the corporate work environment, but it’s acceptable on broadcast television? If I was twerking and humping on somebody at my job I would be fired. There’s a lower standard that goes on outside of the buildings when it comes to responsibility. Does that mean they have no responsibility? Why is it entertainment on television and not entertainment some where else?

We need to talk more to Monte and Avery Lipman (Universal Records), Jimmy Iovine (Interscope Records), Toffler and all the real decision makers who lead the corporations that profit from crap. We always talk about or to the artists. In this case, Miley Cyrus is the little player. A distraction. She’ll be replaced next year by somebody else replacing talent with shock something.

Bill O’Reilly we need you to ask the tough questions.



Paul Porter