I wrote a story today about MTV's decision to break away from regular programming and air 17 consecutive hours of the names of hate-crime victims. A lot of people think this is an empty gesture or a publicity stunt, but after talking to MTV and gay-rights advocacy groups, I think that's totally a pessimistic and incorrect belief.

MTV is losing $2 million because of this, there are no sponsors or advertisers. They're starting at 10 p.m., but, guys, 10 is the showcase hour on the channel, it's the 10 spot. Who's gonna watch MTV at 10? Everyone who watches shows like The Real World, Jackass, Tom Green, et al. The 17 hours ( which is really 3-hour loops of names ) is not their only action. It airs after a Matthew Shepard docudrama and a roundtable discussion of hate crimes, all in primetime. It's all part of a year-long, intense campaign that will include more programming, online components and an overall media blitz costing a lot of money, I'm sure.

Sure, the station supported Eminem, but, as much as I hate him, MTV is supposed to reflect modern culture and popular music. It would be worse, in my opinion, to practice censorship by refusing to air Eminem's videos at certain times or refuse to devote as much hype to it as it gave Britney, N Sync and other comparably successful artists. They *have* turned down the publicity machine since the controversy came to a high point during the Video Music Awards...

I don't know. I just think before we judge actions we have to try to understand all of the variables. MTV is a corporation concerned with making money, but they have been a long-time champion of social justice and especially gay-rights issues. If the news media director of GLAAD, with whom I spoke today, applauds the station, why shouldn't you?

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