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Undressed exposes unreality of MTV

MTV's "Undressed," now in its fourth season, is administered in 30-minute doses, each tracing three or four unrelated, non-overlapping plot lines.

"Undressed"'s formula is unwavering from episode to episode.

Take one woman in her underwear, add two boys in their underwear, invent some socially taboo relationship between the three, then sit back and ogle.

I might call it "a place where viewers can watch college kids in their underwear."

Executive Producer Roland Joffe, on the other hand, deemed it "a forum where people had a sort of unrestricted access to the politics of desire," according to a Feb. 7 article in The Washington Post.

Those seem to be awfully fancy words to drape across an MTV production.

Of course, upon hearing them, I had to see it for myself. I was willing to bet the farm that the show would indeed deserve such a silly phrase.

Oh, MTV (which at one time, I believe, stood for "Music Television") - where did you wander astray? It was well before Def Leppard poured sugar on us, but today the decline nearly has reached its nadir.

In all fairness, "Undressed" wasn't quite what I expected. The bodies held only a pleasant allure while the faces on the screen were just mildly attractive - I didn't see any hairy backs or double chins.

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    One kid was ejaculating prematurely and his new partner was trying to help him work it out by recasting his intercourse-specific definition of sex.

    A girl who was supposed to be the town whore turned out just to be looking for attention after all.

    The loser who wanted a three-way with her and his buddy got his due. The two really attractive people had sex and cheated on their respective boyfriend and girlfriend, but then, that's what beautiful people do.

    As for Joffe's claim that the show possesses "the lightness of a haiku," the rooms were indeed well lit and one of the participants appeared to be of East Asian roots, so I give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Further waxing philosophical on his brainchild, Joffe added that eroticism is "a little bit like the Rosetta Stone" of human relationships. I think he might have thieved that one right from MTV's mission statement.

    The network is like one of those salad spinners, centrifugally flinging the definition of self to the realm of the skin while chanting the Cartesian perversion: "I eat, therefore I am." Another MTV winner, "Cribs," tours celebrity homes, teaching its watchers how they would live if they had the exorbitant amounts of money that breed remarkable tackiness.

    My research even brought me to "Say What? Karaoke," hosted by Joey McIntyre, who I believe was one of the New Kids on the Block. Well, he has armpit hair now.

    In this installment, a woman sang a Jennifer Lopez tune.

    The first two celebrity judges gave her grades of seven based on her great rear end, and the third, a woman, said she was more beautiful than J-Lo and thus deserved an eight.

    Now, if the show were called, "Nice Cheeks, Give Me a Squeeze," such ratings may have been satisfactory, but in this case the title of the show seemed to escape their judicial deliberations.

    One could blame MTV for losing its center, but that really wouldn't do much good. The monied masses have spoken and continue to speak.

    People are free to do what they will, and thank God for that. MTV culture is not inherently evil, nor is promiscuity. But there is something dangerous here. MTV is seductive.

    It is sexy eye-candy - the means of presentation have become ends in themselves. Moreover, MTV is its own planet - a sort of imaginary Disneyland vertically penetrating the minds of its young, plastic viewers.

    The network runs shows about past shows - the urban equivalent of Appalachian inbreeding - solidifying this sense of timeless cultural ubiquity. Your young viewer needn't travel any further in TV land; MTV teaches you what you should want and then delivers the goods. Where does the unseen fit into this pedagogy?

    Oh, I don't believe it does, even if Joffe thinks some 20-year-old obsessed with doing it doggy-style is the human soul writ in dactylic tetrameter.

    Joffe and his bosses would do well to forage MTV's past for wisdom. NWA hauntingly and famously warned us all: "To be a dope man you must qualify. Don't get high on your own supply."

    MTV has long been high on its own supply, along with a frighteningly large slice of society.

    It has incrementally, with the creation of shows like "Undressed," moved further and further from the reality we (meaning you, me and NWA) know into its parallel, MTV reality.


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