MTV News brings to its viewers a crash course in religion and philosophy in a typically hectic examinationof Christianity’s “seven deadly sins.” Spec lists a social sciences prof at Florida Atlantic University as the “academic consultant” and calls upon the likes of Sean Young, Ozzy Osbourne and rapper Queen Latifa for expert testimony, so you know it’s deep.
Perhaps the most interesting as-pect of the program is that it’ll be repeated , in two parts, on PBS’ “Alive TV” series (which co-produced) beginning next week. (As yet, it is unscheduled on KCET.)
Offscreen narrator Kurt Loder begins with a quick historical overview of the greed, sloth, envy, pride, gluttony, anger and lust brought together under the umbrella title. Focus then shifts to quickly intercut testimony of various people, defining and describing their experience with or viewpoint on each sin.
Just to confuse viewers, espe-cially those watching on PBS, participants (except, if you will, Queen Latifa and Ice-T) aren’t identified by full name or, in many cases, affiliations. Thus Steve Tyler and Joe Perry, the co-leaders of Aerosmith, are labeled simply Steve and Joe, Lemonheads’ lead singer Evan Dando is just Evan, and former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Ruben Amaro Jr. is reduced to Ruben.
Typical responses including Kirstie Alley’s query to the interviewer “Did you mean ‘penis envy’ or just plain ‘envy’?”; Ice-T’s “When we did ‘Cop Killer,’ I was angry, and the cops got angry back”; and Dando’s tongue-in-cheek epiphany, “My goodness, I have the opportunity to have sex with a lot of people. … It has something to do with me being in a band.”
In addition to partially identified celebrities, show includes numerous quotes from civilians, among them a set of frat brothers who are about as eloquent as one might expect, and dozens of illustrative and not so illustrative still and clip images ranging from real Renaissance men to MTV’s Ren & Stimpy.
One intriguing segment has two youngish female Native Americans from different tribes debating legalized gambling on reservations. It’s a serious discussion with points on both sides, and demonstrates how the show could have been handled if MTV had more respect for its audience.