MTV for Americans, and Niharika Desai

I’d be remiss if I didn’t pass along the NYTimes story on MTV Desi from last week. There’s a lot of different reactions this prompts from me, but perhaps the most important one to MTV is summed up in the story:

The three target audiences for the new MTV channels, especially Indian-Americans, are better educated and more affluent than average Americans, according to the census. The median family income of an Asian Indian in the United States was $70,708 in 1999, compared with $50,046 for all Americans; 64 percent held at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 24 percent for all American families.

Of course, I’ve been saying since I was in high school that I can’t wait for the day when there’s enough Indians in the mainstream media that we can complain about the offensive way in which we’re depicted. Somewhere between Temple of Doom and Apu’s appearance on the Simpsons (voiced by decidedly non-Indian Hank Azaria), I realized that even with only a small percentage of the U.S. population, we’re still drastically underrepresented in television, radio, and film.
Lilia asked me the other day who the most famous U.S.-born Indian American is, and I had to think a bit. It’s not Deepak Chopra, because I don’t think he was born in the U.S., and I was told Norah Jones doesn’t entirely count, since she’s half Indian. My guess was that maybe it’s Tony Kanal from No Doubt, but apparently he was born in the U.K. Maybe by this time next year it’ll be Niharika Desai.