Somehow, MTV2, the channel that was launched 21 years ago to show all the music videos MTV wasn’t, has essentially turned into BET — or TV One or Centric or whatever black programming-filled channel you know about.
The evidence is all there — before it jumped back to its original MTV home, the channel brought back Nick Cannon’s Wild ’N Out, a Whose Line Is It Anyway? for mixtape fans, and Uncommon Sense, where hip-hop radio personality Charlamagne tha God serves as the network’s own Bill Maher, throwing shade and pissing off folk left and right on his show (now broadcast live). Reruns of such black sitcoms as Martin, The Jamie Foxx Show, My Wife and Kids and Everybody Hates Chris fill up most of the network’s daily schedule.
MTV2 seems to add new and old programming for black audiences on a daily basis. One new show, World Star TV, a weekly spinoff of WorldStarHipHop, the popular video website/guilty pleasure, is pretty much a ghetto ripoff of Ridiculousness, which was a ripoff of Tosh.0, which was a ripoff of America’s Funniest Home Videos. A Detroit comic named CP hosts (real name: Chris Powell, who also writes for Comedy Central’s Detroiters) as he and a couple of guest comedians provide commentary about silly Internet videos. World Star TV also brings in guest hip-hop artists (Snoop Dogg, Big Sean, a visibly stoned Migos) to join in the fun.
The show is mostly a choppy, badly edited affair. While it’s taped in front of a studio audience on a nightclub set, the producers often reach for the laugh-track button, since CP (the smartass kid who desperately wants to make everyone in his class laugh) and his crew’s ad libs rarely land. The comics can milk a bit until it’s downright cringeworthy. In one episode, they watched a clip of two kangaroos fighting. For some reason, CP called the kangaroos Clarence and Keisha, and said it was a domestic dispute. CP then began to assume the roles of Clarence and Keisha as the clip played: “Don’t disrespect me! Don’t disrespect me! Don’t embarrass me!”
“It’s over, Clarence! Just leave me alone!”
“It ain’t never over! You hear me? In ain’t never over! You are mine! You are mine!”
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Just in case the idea of kangaroos engaging in domestic violence didn’t have you on the floor, CP then brought out a live kangaroo that the show got someplace to take on the role of Clarence, so CP could chastise the creature in front of everybody. (“What is your fucking problem, fam? I might have to whip Clarence’s ass!”) As you can guess, neither the audience nor the kangaroo were into the bit.
What’s most peculiar about World Star TV is its efforts to give the impression that WorldStarHipHop traffics only in goofy, slightly embarrassing videos. CP insists before one clip that WorldStar’s online dominance is built on “talents and weird shit.” Anyone who has ever visited the site knows it revels in anything and everything ratchet. As I, an African-American, always like to say, the worst in black culture can usually be found on WorldStar, whether it’s rickety, user-submitted videos from bum-ass, neophyte rappers or caught-on-camera footage of black people getting caught doing all kinds of awful, facepalm-inducing shit. WorldStar is also famous for its fight videos, where cameras catch on-the-spot fisticuffs, with someone usually getting knocked out. The site is so synonymous with street fights that, anytime one breaks out in the real world, someone will most likely yell, “WorldStar!”
No fight clips have shown up yet on World Star TV. Also missing are some of the more notoriously brutal videos that remain WorldStar’s most viewed, like the legendary “Sharkeisha” clip, where a Texas teen sucker-punches another girl right in the middle of her face. That’s racked up 25 million online views. (CP does mention her in one episode.)
World Star TV’s host works to give off the vibe that the show is about catching everybody — not just black folk — at their most ridiculous. WorldStarHipHop wants to appear semi-respectable for the cable-TV cameras, especially in the wake of the January death by heart attack of founder Lee “Q” O’Denat at a San Diego massage parlor. (Each episode ends with a photo of O’Denat and an affirmation he may or may not have said). But it will always be the place to go to see black folks set black folks back a thousand years.