Today: May 22, 2024

Drugs, Sex and Teens, Oh My


Steve Miller
MTV’s newest show “Skins” is a hit. Debuting last Monday night with an impressive 3.3 million viewers, the show, an American adaptation of a British teen drama, showcases the lives of a group of teenagers in their final years of high school. But unlike the more parent-pleasing “Dawson’s Creek” or tune-filled “Glee,” “Skins” is pushing boundaries, leaving television executives, TV sponsors and many uneasy parents questioning whether the show is going too far too fast.
From the sex, drugs and overwhelming degree of apathy, I have to admit the first episode was entertaining. Now, whether or not it has any substance is a whole different argument, but I couldn’t help thinking to myself as I watched, “Are there really 16- and 17-year-olds in America like this, and why are they all having more sex than I am?”
In an article on it’s website, The Parents Television Council, a non-profit organization “advocating responsible entertainment” claims “Skins” may just be the “most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children,” and is asking the Department of Justice and U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committee to open a full investigation. After the organization’s outcry, Taco Bell and General Motors have pulled their advertising during the show’s airings.
Even more interesting, according to a recent New York Times article, MTV executives may be concerned their stimulating new show may violate federal child pornography statutes. The channel’s parent company Viacom has asked that the show’s creators “tone down some of the most explicit content.”
I can just see Midwestern mothers rolling over in their Adirondack chairs now.
Though the PTC makes an interesting case, there is no visual evidence that can be clearly classified as child pornography. Did they really think the show’s producers were dumb enough to ignore federal statues? Though some of the actors are young—the youngest being 15—the sex scenes are only simulated and suggestive, nothing more.
Now I know I’m beating this argument like a hyped up tween’s chest at a weekend rager, but sex does sell. Some may claim MTV, a television network geared towards younger minds, has a responsibility to uphold proper decent morals that should be reflected in their programming but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It isn’t a TV network’s job to teach children how to act and behave in today’s world, it’s the parents’. MTV executives only have to answer to their shareholders.
Since when has MTV ever upheld inspirational content to our societies’ impressionable youth? Was it in the juice-head and Coppertone-resistant cast of “Jersey Shore?” Or maybe I missed something amidst the pregnant eleven-teens of “Teen Mom” or “Teen Mom 2” or “16 and pregnant?”
Parents should be intelligent enough to enlist their child with responsible and critical observational skills. This way when they see kids their age on television sniffing cocaine off each others’ nearly post-pubescent stomachs they’ll know “Skins,” like any other teen drama, is a fictitious depiction that emphasizes teenage debauchery for ratings. If a show is really that bothersome then take your child’s gaze off the television set and into a book or a productive hobby and blacklist the network that produces it.
Are there teens in America that are doing exactly what’s being shown in the episodes of “Skins?” Probably. But it in no way means watching these actions will influence those smart enough to question television content to do the same.
The sad part is, “Skins,” though mind-numbingly exaggerated is almost a nice change of pace away from the constant influx of reality shows MTV has been heaving out in recent years—almost. One thing that’s sure to come from all this is free publicity and public interest—much to the chagrin of the PTC—and a spike in “Skins’” ratings, thus paving the way for more simulated underage “kiddie porn” for weeks to come.

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