Vanity emanates through USF

Be honest, would you rather be smart or sexy? Divas, bling-bling boys and pouty emo kids just want their MTV, which is neither smart nor sexy. Today we released our top list of albums of 2003, and (with the exception of one or maybe two) chances are you haven’t heard of these picks, or bands like them.

This is a dilemma for many of our contemporaries. These bands don’t want to be sexy; they just want to be smart. Smart is sexy … and cool.

The only way to be both, which also means being cool, is to drop the empty pose perpetually promoted by MTV and rediscover the taste in culture you deserve.

Let’s not kid ourselves: humanity is a vain lot. Like the desire to be physically attractive, the will to rise above MTV is just as vain as those low-rise jeans you wear every other day.

Enter style, the best excuse for vanity, or the idea that you’re expressing yourself. Being cool, on a conscious level, means wearing vanity well. Currently, MTV is the enemy of cool because it’s like the Ticketmaster (a virtual monopoly) of culture.

Walk around campus and see for yourself. We have a resort-styled, MTV beach house vibe with pop-stricken kids milling about with flip-flops, muscle shirts and shorts with butt text. From the incessant, generic videos blaring throughout the Marshall Center’s cafeteria to the yuppie-prep Starbucks in the Library, the corporate world has university students exactly where they want them: in debt and with a constant need to consume.

But is this really a problem? Isn’t this just the nature of the beast? The evolution of MTV is an example that may parallel the current lifestyle of students, many of whom imitate the “art” on MTV and not vice versa.

Compare a music video from today with one that’s 20 years old. You’ll see the improvements in technology, production and even artistry behind the videos, but the musical talent of the artists has greatly declined.

Check out an old video from The Blue Oyster Cult or George Thorogood and then compare them with the several hoochie prima donnas vying for airtime to show the most skin. In terms of vanity, George Thorogood couldn’t carry Britney’s jock.

Do you want to carry Britney’s jock the rest of your life or would you rather make a bold fashion statement that doesn’t insult your integrity? Like, say, wearing the jock on your head.

MTV’s monopolization of cultural trends negates what is cool because it relies on the common denominator of people buying into what cool people already know. For example, if vintage T-shirts were cool a few years ago they’re passé now.

Young, cool hipsters could buy a well-fitted, original shirt that no one else owned, all for a reasonable price at your local thrift store.

Now, several copies of authentic-looking shirts are sold for twenty bucks at department stores after the emos, the bling-blings and then finally, the divas latched onto the tip.

So, for those put off by this column because I just described you, give yourself a few minutes to breathe. I’m sure the smart and sexy, cool people will have something else for you and MTV to copy.

Harold Valentine is scene’s Music Editor and can be reached at