Last year, much ado was made over a promo ad for MTV’s breakout show Jersey Shore, which showed castmember Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi getting punched in the face by an unidentified man. Many activist groups responded negatively to the ad, and while the punch ultimately didn’t make it onto the show (however, they showed cast members talking about it and reacting to it), MTV included an anti-violence public service announcement at the end of the episode. While I commend MTV for taking a stand, it’s unfortunate how they have let similar acts of violence go without similar PSAs. On Jersey Shore, there was another episode where J.Woww smacked The Situation. On last week’s episode, a drunken Angelina hit Pauly D on the face. Why did those incidents go without comment? Maybe because the aggressors were other cast members. But this isn’t the only time MTV has let violence against men go without concern.
On Teen Mom, the followup to 16 and Pregnant, which follows several of the show’s moms as they struggle with teen parenthood, one of the moms (Amber) has been shown acting violently toward her on-again-off-again fiance and the father of her child, Gary. Last season, Amber shoved Gary while they were having an argument. This season, one of the other mothers, Farrah Abraham, was assaulted by her mother, Debra, although the incident was not caught by MTV’s cameras. Despite not having footage of the incident, Teen Mom has followed Farrah through the aftermath, as she speaks with a state attorney who is pressing charges and enters therapy to cope with what happened. After the first episode of the season, which featured Farrah talking about what had happened between her and her mother, MTV included a number for a domestic violence hotline on the screen. It seems that what happened between Debra and Farrah was worthy of a PSA, but what happened between Gary and Amber is not worth speaking of again.
What’s with MTV’s double standard on their reality shows? Are they saying that violence is okay as long as it’s a woman hitting a man? I suspect that if Gary had been the one shoving Amber, the police would have been called and a PSA would have been aired. But since it’s Gary who was on the receiving end of harm, it doesn’t mean anything.
MTV, I urge you to play fair. If you really believe in your message that violence is wrong, you need to make sure you apply that logic to everyone.