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Of Dogs and Men: The Etruscan She-Wolf in The Understanding of The Mtv2 Logo

Essay by review  •  March 16, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,032 Words (5 Pages)  •  892 Views

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To take two visual examples that seem so farfetched, distant and barely related such as an ancient bronze sculpture and a contemporary media conglomerate logo and compare them may seem absurd. However, despite the lack of a direct connection, the meanings and contexts derived from the historical example shed light on the deliberate as well as the unintended implications of the company logo.

Since the fateful airing of the Buggles’ saccharine “Video Killed the Radio Star,” in 1981, MTV (Music Television) has become an incontestable popular culture behemoth. The network, which has been attributed to having completely “transformed (and rejuvenated) the music industry” (Rapping), had launched a second channel, MTV2. In February of 2005, MTV2 began a full-fledged campaign for its revamped programming. Targeted at “young male viewers… [a very] sought-after вЂ" and elusive вЂ" demographic” (Hiatt), the new channel plays only hip-hop and rock music videos as well as feature programming.

The campaign consisted of mass exposure of MTV2’s new logo. The “suddenly ubiquitous logo” (Hiatt) is a silhouette of a two-headed pit bull. The two heads face in different directions and the dog’s body looks poised for action. Inside the silhouette is a bold sans serif font spelling the channel’s name with the enlarged 2 forming a triangle with the dog’s heads. The colour and colour relationship (i.e. analogous, complimentary, polarized etc.) of the logo and type vary in accordance to its use.

A complete opposite to the trite logo, the unique Etruscan bronze She-Wolf stands at 85cm high and has only one head. Modeled with “extraordinary realism” (Honour and Fleming 158), the freestanding sculpture shows a brawny female wolf with its head bowed to the left, muscles tense, teeth barred, ears and hackles raised.

According to noted art historians Hugh Honour and John Fleming, the piece’s realism epitomizes the “unidealized, down-to-earth quality of Etruscan art” (158). The fact that it was discovered in Athens has some sources claiming an uncertainty of “whether the sculpture is Etruscan, Roman, or from Magna Graecia” (Archaeology). However, for the sake of argument, Etruscan origins will be assumed.

As seen in other examples of Etruscan art, animals and dogs have found a niche, although outside the main focuses of their respective pieces. Dogs can be seen hunting with their masters (Torelli 185) and paws are found to foot ornate bronze tripods (Torelli 398). The abundance of bronze work in Etruscan culture is “a significant element in the processes of economic, social and cultural organization” (Torelli 393). Could this be linked to MTV2? Quite possibly. The two-headed dog symbolizes the expansion of the MTV network, a move made to attract a certain demographic as well as to create a sub-culture and influence an entire generation for the sake of economic growth.

While on the topic of growth, the She-Wolf, dated to circa 500 BCE, was given a set of bronze human infant twins upon its arrival to the Capitoline Museums in Rome during the Renaissance. The suckling infants represent Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome, who according to the 4th century BCE myth were rescued and raised by a she-wolf (Povoledo). Thus the fierce She-Wolf becomes a symbol of the beginning of empire and massive growth. Much the same way, the MTV2 logo represents the growth of the media conglomerate to its current empire-like status. This may not be such an absurd claim as may first seem:

No less a lofty threesome than President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and ABC News anchor Peter Jennings made a point of showing up first and being televised at the MTV inaugural ball, the hottest ticket in town that week, to press the flesh of the young VJs (video jockeys) and fans who had been so instrumental in getting out the Democratic vote. (Rapping)

MTV’s involvement in politics and its instrumental role in the outcome of an election clearly shows that it is a power to be reckoned with вЂ" and be wary of.

This warning comes with the example of another media titan, Clear Channel, and its tyrannical monopoly over radio, media, and record companies as argued by writer Jeff

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