Sunday, June 19, 2005

MTV Desi: Hybridity, 'Glocalization'

Many readers have probably already heard of MTV Desi, which is set to kick off on U.S. cable channels this coming July, alongside MTV Chi (for Chinese Americans), and MTV K (for Korean Americans). Here's a thorough update on the project in the Times today.

It reads almost like an academic paper on hybridity:

MTV World's premise for these new channels was commonsensical: that young bicultural Americans have tastes different from those of youths in their ethnic homelands and therefore need, as it were, a customized MTV.

In that premise lay a confluence of academic and commercial thinking. For at least a decade, academics have explored the idea that many immigrants possess "transnational" identities. That is, aided by jet travel, technology and global commerce, they - and their children - maintain vital, current links to homelands that are never really left behind. There has been a fervent debate in intellectual circles about the "cultural space" inhabited by the children of recent immigrants and to what extent its very "hybridity" makes it a place of its own.

The new "hybrid" channels can be read as part of a pattern that began with the great globalization of MTV more than a decade ago:

When MTV began to establish channels abroad in the late 1980's, critics viewed the expansion as quintessential cultural imperialism that would homogenize youth culture worldwide. Early on, though, MTV learned that it made better business sense to be "glocal" - their motto is "think global, act local" - than to impose a wholly American cultural product. Young people, wherever they were, would watch international acts for only so long before they wanted to see something of their own. So each of MTV's international channels developed local talent and its own personality: MTV Indonesia has a call to prayer, MTV Italy has cooking shows, MTV Brazil is, visually speaking, extremely colorful and, sartorially speaking, quite bare.

Later in the article, M.I.A. is mentioned, as is the Desi rap group Karmacy. Also Kabhi Kushi, Kabhi Gham.

A couple of quick thoughts:
1. Who will get MTV Desi? Will it be on markets outside of New York? Will we have to sign up for some special package deal with the cable company? (If so, fuhgeddaboutit)

2. This channel evidently has my number culturally (and even intellectually, judging by the quotes above). If there were a channel running M.I.A., Jazzy B (a Punjabi pop star), and "Just Chill" from Pyar Maine Kyun Kiya?, I would probably have it on in the background all day.

Well, for a week at least. Currently, if you know those three references, you have to work at it a little. New bollywood numbers have cachet for ABCDs partly because it's a bit subcultural -- off the mainstream media's radar. There's a danger that having easy access to all these different genres of "desi" music might make it seem a little drab. I found it hard enough to sit through Bunty Aur Babli's "Nach Baliye" in the movie theater (it's a passable dance song but it's filmed really badly). I'm not sure I need to see it again and again.


anangbhai said...

I asked the same question a few days ago.
If you want your MTV desi now, and withouth having to pay for it, go to
Disclaimer: I just started interning for them, plus we don't have a large set of programs right now. Registration's just for demographic purposes we don't send you an email or anything.
I really doubt though if MTV desi is supposed to be an all american market, that they will be able to make significant amount of money through advertising (which is their usual revenue method) or that they will be able to pull in a large demographic. Why would american kids like me try to be exclusive to some desi channel when puff diddy's on the regular one?

10:23 AM  
coolie said...

There are two or three desi music stations in the UK showing round the clock bhangra videos and the rest of it, Zee Music, B4U etc, for the British Indian youth

5:31 AM  
Manish said...

Why would american kids like me try to be exclusive to some desi channel when puff diddy's on the regular one?

Because that channel is customized for you and your target audience. Higher response rates, less clutter.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous said...

MTV India is the coolest TV channel ever. You may like puff daddy, but MTV Desi is gonna have that too. And for kids like me who grew up watching MTV India, MTV Desi is gonna be the bomb. I AM SUBSCRIBING it today. The TV shows, The VJs. It is for the real Desi people. If theatres can show hindi movies and they do make profits, what makes you think that MTV Desi wont?
There are so many other channels like sony and zee, they have quite an audience and if they can make profits, MTV is gonna be the bomb...

..Thanks MTV for being Desi

2:46 PM  
Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous said...

its all bout bohemia the punjabi rapper !!!!!!!!!1

1:21 PM  
Caribbean Desi said...

I can't wait to get MTV Desi, I always dreamed of this.
MTV-Tempo is supposed to be for the Caribbean region but they don't air music videos alot from Desis.
Great stuff!

10:34 PM  

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