Here is a case of inter-media inspiration: An MTV press release says that after Time magazine began calling the current generation of 20- year-olds ''the MTV generation,'' MTV decided to capitalize on the concept and turned out this hour-long documentary special ''in honor,'' the release goes on to say, ''of MTV's tenth birthday.'' Huh?
Anyway, MTV Generation is just the sort of documentary you'd expect from this network, bursting with sound bites, snatches of music, and headbanging quick cuts. A variety of people between 20 and 25 were asked to describe their lives, and their comments reduce to slogans: ''I'm a TV-aholic,'' says a blond California surfer; ''In this life, you're a pimp or you're a whore,'' asserts a member of a struggling Boston rock band called Chucklehead; ''I want to own stuff, instead of renting stuff,'' declares a Kenosha, Wis., mother of two on a tight budget.
Written by Kurt Loder and Lauren Lazin (she also directed), MTV Generation avoids the sort of stuffy sociological generalizations that usually weigh down documentaries of this sort. So I guess I'll have to provide it myself: Boy, are these young people depressed, and depressing worried about a faltering economy, addicted to television yet uninformed about history and politics, resigned to, as one interviewee puts it, ''not getting a whole lot out of life.'' All of which makes this hour instructive viewing, no matter how young or old you are. B+