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Why Canadians resist the MTV network invasion


New research by a musicologist examines why Canadians are so attached to their music video station, MuchMusic, and why Canada is the only country in the world that has withstood the American MTV invasion.

In a new book, Coming to You Wherever you are: MuchMusic, MTV, and Youth Identities, music expert Kip Pegley compares content on MuchMusic and MTV, where she looks at the national, gendered, and racial constructs of the two stations.

“When scholars – especially American scholars – talk about music television, the assumption is that they mean MTV,” says Dr. Pegley. “But after watching endless hours of MTV and MuchMusic, I realized that they were quite different and wanted to explore why MuchMusic was unique.”

Dr. Pegley documents evidence to support why the MuchMusic audience feels more connected to their station than their MTV-watching counterparts: MuchMusic viewers feel like they’re taken in as a collective, rather than individuals.

She says that “MuchMusic records at the Queen St. studio for eight hours then repeats and shuffles the programming. Viewers can tell whether it is day or night and in the background they see other Canadians walking along Queen St. outside the studio or peering in through the studio windows. MTV shows are pre-recorded in static and ‘timeless’ studios, but MuchMusic viewers are made aware that as viewers we are one among many watching.”

Dr. Pegley’s research, recently published by Wesleyan University Press examines how the two stations construct their unique identities. She says this book is for anyone who wants to learn more about identity, and how being ‘Canadian’ is not simple and natural, but something that is carefully choreographed.


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