Christina Norman, MTV President 2005-2008

27 Feb

Christina Norman

Seth: Christina Norman is preparing to retire from MTV, where she has been president since 2005. During her 17 years with the MTV networks, she was previously President of VH1 which has recently earned both high ratings and strong contempt for shows like Flavor of Love (just begun season 3) and I Love New York. As an American (both she and the authors of this blog also happen to be Black) should she, and all members of society be concerned with not only these images, but others in music and film that portray Blacks as materialistic, hyper-sexed, uneducated degenerates? Or do we simply use these examples to appreciate free speech in this country? Do these images affect our community negatively, and how do we challenge and alter these perceptions?

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Ray: In the case of Ms. Christina Norman, I can not hold her responsible for any portrayal of Blacks that lead others to believe that we are materialistic, hyper-sexed, and uneducated degenerates. Instead, I see her as a powerful executive of an entertainment company that can only be profitable by entertaining a very large young adult audience. I think that if blame needs to be placed anywhere, then every part involved with such negative portrayals should be held responsible. This list would include the viewers, sponsors, executives, and for lack of a better word, the talent that this used on these shows.

I can’t lie though. Shows like “I Love New York” and “Flavor of Love” are pure ignorance. There’s absolutely no way that any human can logically justify why a group of sane individuals would participate in an orgy style dating show, unless is was strictly for entertainment value. However, I believe what you were eluding to was rather or not these types of shows should be on television at all. The answer to that my friend, is in the Constitution.

People, for the most part, have a right to view whatever they want to view. Networks are protected by the rule of Freedom of Speech which allows them to get away with producing at times the most vulgar and ignorant of works. But I think the fact that these shows are successful is a reflection on what we value as Americans.

With all of that said, the only thing I would ask of Hollywood executives like Ms. Norman is that they please consider the children. I don’t think there is enough consideration given to the fact that children and young adults are not mature enough to process the many differences between reality and entertainment.

Sure a kid knows that when someone gets killed on tv, that person wasn’t really killed. But a constant feeding of sexual and violent content will eventually take its toll on a young mind in ways that aren’t always so obvious. Although it’s ultimately the parent’s responsibility to monitor what their children are watching, it would be nice to see Hollywood executives help out more than they currently are.

I congratulate Ms. Christina Norman on her successful career and I hope that more women and minorities seek to accomplish what she did. I know it’s not easy, but she proves that success is a state of mind and nothing else.

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Christina Norman, MTV President 2005-2008

Seth: We didn’t aim to attack Ms. Norman, or any other TV exec. We are all accountable for what we take in and put out. She has enjoyed an incredibly successful career in an industry where women and minorities are underrepresented as executives and should be applauded for it. She has blazed a path for others to follow and is making Black history everyday. She also has been active in PENCIL (Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning), a program aimed at bringing together the private sector and the public school system in New York City.

The following is a widely circulated story about her first big break which occured while she was working at MTV as they prepared to debut Beavis and Butt-Head.

A supervisor came into the office recruiting staff for what would later become a hit show for MTV. “Who knows animation,” he asked. “I do,” she answered, and was picked up to work on the show even though she actually had no knowledge of animation. She figured she could learn on the job. When asked what was in her mind back then, she says today, “I can figure anything out.”
Christina Norman, MTV President 2005-2008

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2 Responses to “Christina Norman, MTV President 2005-2008”

  1. Candace February 27, 2008 at 7:36 pm #

    Very thoughtful entry. Yes, she and all members of society should be concerned about these images, and I think her civic involvement certainly speaks to her commitment to ensuring that students are finding ways to advance their minds through mediums other than television. As a professional, she’s responsible entertaining in a way that grows the company, and she shouldn’t be penalized for outside opinions on the way she chooses to do that. While some of these shows may not shed the greatest light on the Black community or on society at large, “vulgarity” and “ignorance” are in the eye of the beholder, and we as Americans have the choice to watch what we like. Whether or not they are appreciated, these shows are examples of freedom of speech. How others view it and perceive the Black community is probably unfortunate, but how the Black community internalizes it is uncertain. I’m sure some people watch it and idolize the supposed lifestyles, while others watch for pure comedy – the same way some might watch Jackass or a similar show with no intention of imitating what they see, but for the humor in watching someone else do something they wouldn’t dare to. Naturally, I think the best ways to challenge the perceptions are to be a voice and an example of a better way.

    Nice blog, I’m glad to be the first to comment.

  2. Brian Porter March 3, 2008 at 11:00 pm #

    Being proactive to get people to think is priceless. i feel like we need more individuals to stimulate the brain in the community. keep up the good job!!! Furthermore, keep what you guys talk about on here fresh for the readers. Challenging the perceptions in society triggers those to think about community issues for themselves. continue to get people to read and think……………

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