A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while the music videos featured in this series can be technically interesting, their artistic appeal is often overshadowed by blatant sexual themes (and lots of wardrobe changes). Videos have included a girl washing a car in a bikini, other skimpy outfits, kissing, and multiple women in bed together. The show's driving purpose is to get the featured songs an immediate audience, as well as commercial notoriety.
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What's the story?
MAKING THE VIDEO offers a behind-the-scenes look at musicians in the process of churning out a visual backdrop to their latest single. Viewers see everything: Multiple hair and make-up changes, the trials of coordinating background dancers, the storyboard process, and, most important, at least some of the finished product. Featured artists have included Jessica Simpson, Hilary Duff, 50 Cent, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, and Kanye West.
Is it any good?
From the number of busy people seen in the background, it's clear that making a video requires a great deal of work in a short amount of time (usually 2-3 days). But the series' enthusiasm for the technical side of video-making is limited to the occasional glimpse of a green screen scene being filmed, or a shot of the singer perfecting his or her lip-synching technique for the camera. By comparison, a much larger portion of each show is spent watching the artist come out of his or her trailer in a new 'do and robe before heading off to shoot another scene. The featured videos' themes vary, but they're often punctuated by sexuality, iffy wardrobe choices, mature lyrics, and provocative dancing. Often, the videos' storylines are unrelated to the song's lyrics -- in fact, some lyrics are so vague that the video's visuals ultimately determine what the song is about.
The program is rooted in making the featured song a commercial success on many levels. It's no accident that the artists who showcase their new releases on this show quickly become MTV darlings, with their videos regularly reaching the top 10 on TRL (Total Request Live). Additionally, if the song is highlighted in a new movie -- and/or the singer is also appearing in the movie (for example, Beyoncé in The Pink Panther) -- the music video (and hence, this series) can serve as cross-promotion for the film.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the videos' messages. What kind of lifestyle are the videos endorsing? Is it realistic? Also, to address commercialism, what is the purpose of recording a video along with an audio version of the song? Does the video make your kid want to download the song, or buy the entire album? Finally, what is most attractive about the video: its overall look, the story being told, the music, the dancing, or the artist?