973: MTV Generation

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
(Redirected from 973)
Jump to: navigation, search
MTV Generation
If you identified with the kids from The Breakfast Club when it came out, you're now much closer to the age of Principal Vernon.
Title text: If you identified with the kids from The Breakfast Club when it came out, you're now much closer to the age of Principal Vernon.


MTV stands for "Music Television", which is the name of a US-based cable channel, founded in 1981, specifically focusing on popular music and the music industry in general. The programming largely (though not exclusively) consisted of music videos. The focus of the channel has since shifted to reality shows. In the channel's heyday in the 1980's and early 1990's, it was popular with teenagers and young adults. As is often the case with youth culture, it was roundly condemned by some adults as being destructive and pointless. One of the specific criticisms was that the format of short videos, with quick-edit, highly kinetic visual styles and no underlying narrative was destroying the attention span of the youth.

Despite MTV no longer being especially popular (and no longer focusing on music videos), people still use the term MTV Generation to refer to the young cohort, and insist that they have poor attention spans, resulting from their media exposure. Megan explains that the term really originated about 25 years ago, to describe Generation X, the generation born from 1965 to 1980. The actual MTV generation has long since grown up, and most young people today either don't watch MTV, or have no idea that it was originally a music channel. Teenagers today are the children of "the MTV generation" (and even their grandchildren, in some cases).

The Breakfast Club is an iconic movie from 1985 in which 5 teenagers spend a Saturday detention together at school. Principal Vernon was the overseer of the detention, and a symbol of authority and oppression of youth - the actor playing principal Vernon was around 45 years old at the time of filming. The irony is that many adults who grew up watching the movie still identify with the teenagers, but now have little in common with them.

There are a couple of themes in this strip that Randall has covered before. One is mocking adults for the assumptions they make about young people, youth culture and new technology. Adults have a tendency to whitewash the past, and insist that modern young people are being corrupted by new trends. And when that generation of youth grows up, they tend to make the same assumptions about the next generation. 1601: Isolation, 1227: The Pace of Modern Life, 1414: Writing Skills, 1348: Before the Internet

Another theme is making people feel old by pointing out how long ago their common memories are, as in 647: Scary, 891: Movie Ages, 1393: Timeghost, 1477: Star Wars, and 2165: Millennials.


[Teenager playing with phone walks in background. White Hat and Megan are in the foreground.]
White Hat: See, that's the problem with the MTV generation— No attention span.
Teenager's phone: Bleep bloop
[White Hat and Megan in frameless panel without teenager from previous panel.]
Megan: You know, that phrase referred to the 12-19 demographic that formed the core MTV audience in the mid-1980s.
[Zoom in on Megan with White Hat off-panel to the left.]
White Hat (off-panel): Uh huh? So?
Megan: That generation's now in their 40s.
[Zoom back out to White Hat and Megan, with White Hat scratching his head and looking away.]
White Hat: That can't be right.
Megan: Face it: Your problem with the MTV generation is their kids.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


Yeah, so it made them bad parents. Still a valid complaint. On a side note, how old must White Hat be to be dismissive of the MTV generation himself? Davidy²²[talk] 08:19, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

Actually it's worse. The MTV generation is nearly 50. Some are grandparents. - 15:52, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Especially those who watched MTV in the late 1980s, when the style of videos changed from abstract art to soft porn.Seebert (talk) 15:25, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

After 4 years of living in fear Roy Batty apparently died a dreadful death without a whimper. A very brave and "manly" creature. We should act now. There may still be time! I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 17:48, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Well, Seebert, this comic was published in 2011. Back then, the MTV generation was in their late thirties and early forties.

Hello from 10 years later! That generation is now in their 50's. --mezimm 20:33, 5 November 2021 (UTC)