Saturday, April 19, 2008

MTV Chi: A Failed Attempt at Reaching Asian American Audiences

While researching different Asian American musical artists, I came across an article about a spinoff network created by MTV. For the first time in my life, I came across a network featuring only Asian and Asian American music on American television. It was called "MTV Chi", and it targeted Chinese Americans featuring Mandopop, Cantopop, and Chinese American hip-hop. It launched on December 6, 2005, but was so to be short-lived.

It featured music from Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong, but also had original programming featuring up-and-coming artists in the United States as well as around the world. Asian Americans could finally connect to the Asian pop culture and experience the music phenomenon across the ocean. The launch used famous actress Zhang ZiYi and featured Jin's "Learn Chinese" as the first video played.

I found very little information on the channel, but from what I read and saw, the VJs were Asian American speaking in English, while videos were in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, or a combination of any of these. Some of the artists that this channel highlighted included, Jin, Putnam Hall, and the Far East Movement.

Unfortunately, on February 15, 2007 MTV Networks announced that MTV Chi would be shut down, and it ceased broadcasting on April 30, 2007.

So what does this say about Asian American popular culture? It seems the demand was not present, otherwise, MTV Chi would still be present today. Perhaps the targeted Asian American community is still too small to create a large enough demand, or maybe America is just not ready for such a concentrated Asian American channel. But today, we see an explosion of Asian Americans on MTV including Kaba Modern. Yet, we still have a lack of Asian American music: for instance, we don't see Jin on a regular basis on MTV.

Perhaps in a few years, this may be a different story. But for now, it seems America is not yet ready for MTV Chi.


danny said...

Chinese culture and history is fascinating and mysterious. As China increasingly is seen as a growing business power, interest in learning the Chinese language had rocketed, and dominance of Chinese over English will be a long time coming. More and more people begin to learn Chinese, because here is clear career potential for the future. Chinese language education market will be prosperous.

Dayvid said...

Or maybe it was for the best, because the "show" was a series of trainwrecks that aren't actually representative of the preferences of the Asian-American community as a whole? Seriously, Kaila Yu bringing a bed on stage for the purpose of stimulating sex? Because that does *so* much for the community. Also, what's with the ghetto-wannabes? Then we have the Far East Movement, whose known famously known for repeating the mind-numbingly tacky catchphrase "like a G6" over and over in a infinte display of innovation and creativity. Looks like even the Asian-American community, which is barely represented popular culture, cannot escape the vast clutches of vapid mainstream commercialism - basically, they're selling out, but not actually getting any money, since no one knows who they are. It's bad music without any of the monetary rewards that the music industry is known for: the mercantile hashing out of musical crap. The /only/ good act was Vienna Teng.