Bollyville, U.S.A: The Commodification of the Other and MTV’s Construction of the “Ideal Type” Desi

Murali Balaji


When the Music Television Network launched MTV Desi in 2005 it promised to bridge the divide between South Asian Americans and their counterparts in the Indian subcontinent.1 This study looks at how MTV Desi tried to create an “ideal type” South Asian American through its programming, presenting an image of South Asian Americans as loving “Bhangra but also Shakira…MTV but also Bollywood.” The author seeks to articulate the political economy of identity by describing MTV’s attempts to define and commodify “Desi-ness.” The author also attempts to explain why MTV Desi ultimately failed and how marginalized audiences can resist commodification by rejecting corporate defined identity.


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