February 19, 2007
MTV's Scarred Raises Discussion About User-Generated Content on TV, But the Phenomenon Is More Than Just a Modern Fad or Buzz Phrase

While I was reading about upcoming plans for television projects, I saw that MTV is launching a variety of new series, one of which is being called Scarred. The series will be in the style of those syndicated programs which air people doing dangerous stunts and filming themselves while doing them, often unintentionally. MTV's version, hosted by Papa Roach will feature videos of terrible injuries and the like.

Chris Pursell emphasizes that this is the first MTV show featuring exclusively user-generated content, although I'm sure the network-produced Papa Roach won't hurt ratings any.

Nevertheless, that had me thinking about the "buzz phrase" of "user-generated content." I won't launch into a diatribe now, but I think the danger over the past few months has been in making "user-generated content" such an overused term that it starts to sound like a fad rather than new expressions of a long-standing part of the entertainment industry.

User activity, interactivity, and user-created properties that add value to a media property have long been a part of television, radio, literature, and myriad other media formats. Call-in requests on the radio, fan fiction, fan commentary, interactive storytelling of various sorts--all are more active and conversational forms of interaction with fans that values user input in meaningful ways.

That's not to say that user-generated videos are not becoming more prevalent because of new technologies allowing them to be featured because they obviously are. But that doesn't mean we should treat shows featuring user-generated content as if they are that novel.

America's Funniest Home Videos and a long tradition of shows like it were established in the same premise of Scarred, particularly with building largely on user-generated content, with a celebrity personality of some sort hosting.

That's not to diminish Scarred being the first solely user-generated program on the MTV network, but one shouldn't get caught up in the hyperbole to think that MTV, or most of the other major organizations, are only now learning of user-generated content.

The thing is that the industry itself is getting caught up in this frenzy and sometimes treating consumer-generated media as a fad. However, I think that realizing the precursors to the modern "user-generated" phenomenon helps us make more sense of the drive for shows like Scarred.

Don't know if Scarred will be a success, but the drive for incorporating user-generated content into television program has been--and will continue to be--a growing part of the television equation.

MTV Networks is one of the corporate partners in the Convergence Culture Consortium, but no one at MTVN was consulted during the writing of this entry.



MTV might as well call this new show "Hypocrisy."

For years and year now MTV has begged and pleaded for kids to not send in tapes of them emulating Jackass, Wild Boyz and Viva La Bam because they didn't want kids to get hurt.

Now that these types of videos are on the internet by the dozens, they want to cash in.

Whether or not these people are getting hurt unintentionally or not, what is MTV going to say when a kid gets badly hurt or worse and it was because they wanted to get their video on Scarred?

I'm interested in hearing MTV's reasoning behind making the decision to create this show.

Does that mean that before every Jackass rerun they show they are going to switch the disclaimer with an encouraging message to send in tape of great stunts gone wrong?

The over/under is a single season of shows and I'm taking the under.


I don't know the particulars of the show but am wondering if they will air alongside it a similar disclaimer, in that they want real life scare or injury videos, perhaps, but not stunts set up just for the filming of them. Whether or not they reject these more "staged stunts" may help tell the story.

Reminds me of the arguments about backyard wrestling. WWE has put up notices on everything it releases not to try this at home, but of course everytime a kid gets injured from busting a light bulb over another kid's head, they go to blame WWE, and the company has had to struggle with culpability when kids get injured in emulation.

I think they've handled it well, as far as sending the message out not to try, and they've never cashed in on the "showing home videos of wrestlers hurting each other." However, Mick Foley became more popular when they delved into his past on the show and showed him jumping off his house onto a mattress as a teenager, leading people to question this "backyard wrestling" phenomenon further.


I just saw this show today and the first kid that told a story was a "skateboarder". He said he was trying an 8 stair hand rail and was attempting a frontside boardslide. Which in fact anyone who skates would have noticed that he was trying a backside boardslide. Know the trick before you try it or even go on national TV and talk about it. Quit the trend kids. BTW stop exposing skateboarding in the mainstream. It just creates more poser skaters and sellout big time companies. Thank you.


You're are obviously making assumptions half way through watching the pilot. Tell us dustin, at what point in this pilot is somebody doing a "Stunt" a la jackass? Simply put, this user generated footage is of people who hurt themselves doing their thing. Snowboarding, skateboarding, BMX, whatever they were doing existed LONG before jackass ever did, and they were certainly not making any attempt to be a "Jackass". So get your facts straight. I saw not a single jackass style "Stunt" shown on that show. And to be honest I thought it was pretty good. Get your facts straight before you make an ass out of yourself on the internet.


I'm interested in the contract between Jack and John's statements here. Jack seems to feel the first episode featured kids who didn't really even know what they were doing and obviously comes from a serious skater perspective, while John's retort to Dustin insists that these were people doing "their thing." Since I didn't watch, I don't know, but I would say that there is much less of an issue with showing spectacular accidents, versus things staged explicitly for the camera, which would be more of a user-generated Jackass. Sounds like the show is trying to escape what Dustin feared, from the comments here, although I guess there's some debate whether these are experienced people "doing their thing" or amateurs who are just posers....

On March 21, 2007 at 3:00 AM, senyeh said:

I have only seen the preview but it certainly didn't seem like anybody was trying to make it look like fun and games, like "jackass" does. It looked like it could even be a real warning, those who like to "fool" around, of the seriousness of these sports. That people should always use extreme caution, particualry if they don't have experience and training. Remind kids that it isn't a game, it is not something just anybody can do, and that there are real skills involved(besides having a hard head and high tolerance for pain).

On March 25, 2007 at 12:32 AM, jearley said:

this show scares the hell out of me. now having done my fair share of stupid things over the years, which certainly lead to injuries, this may be the "wake up" people need.

the media has become so oversaturated with visions of pro extreme athletes seemingly pulling off any given trick/stunt with no consequence, maybe it's a good thing to show the dark side of action sports. i just hope that impressionable viewers are inspired to use caution and not just go out and produce their very own film of themselves getting "broken-off"...that's my two cents.

On March 25, 2007 at 3:40 PM, kirsten said:

Ok call me a freak or weird but i love Scarred. I think its funny to watch all these stupid people do crazy stunts and hurt themselves. not to mention i'm a big fan of Papa Roach so that has a little to do with it. But all you people that dont like the show but can still watch jackass you people have some serious problems. i'd rather watch someone try a trick not noing they will get hurt than a bunch of idiots like steve-o do things that he knows are going to hurt him or someone else.

On April 6, 2007 at 11:44 PM, chris said:

I never get upset about things on tv but the commercials for this show are just sick...The problem being there is no choice in watching them...One moment, I am watching a child's videogame commercial. The next moment, I see someones bones ripping through their skin...It just makes me cringe...If people want to watch the show that's fine but give give the rest of us a choice...