Skins, the MTV show about teens, is apparently trying to hold onto sponsors after they were targeted by the Parents Television Council. The PTC is literally accusing the show of violating anti-child porn laws because the show delves into and depicts sexual relations between those under 18, some as young as 15. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Taco Bell, L’Oreal, Subway, H&R Block, Schick and General Motors have all pulled ads.” The one sponsor that has refused is Clearasil.
But the show is fiction and teens do have sex. I’m sure parents don’t like the idea, however, an exploration of what goes on in reality using a fictional setting is not child porn. I find it offensive that the child porn label is thrown at a TV program which can dilute the gravity of such horrendous acts. It’s similar to parents calling a TV show “porn” because it may show some sexy girls, adult situations or even some topless nudity. There’s a huge chasm between TV and porn and an even bigger chasm between MTV and child porn.
Granted, the show may be inappropriate for some kids or “young adults” not ready for such depictions or frank talk about sex. It also may be an exaggeration of reality, what show isn’t? Knowing teenagers, what they talk about with their friends is probably more obscene then what is depicted on this show. The teen world can be down and dirty as the adult world, maybe more so as teens have more time to get into trouble. I’m not approving of it but what writer could resist exploring this dark underbelly?
The list of PTC objections to the show is on their site. It’s too long to list here but on it are drug use, drinking, violent acts, sex with each other, sex with teachers and sex with other adults. Sounds like the evening news. Oh and the PTC also notes: “Skins blatantly urges children to lie to and defy their parents…” I didn’t know kids even needed encouragement to do that, it comes naturally.
Who is the Parents Television Council? A nonprofit founded in 1995 “to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media.” I realize that parents can’t be everywhere but this seems to be an abdication of parental duties. Certainly this council can make recommendations and provide guidance, such as they do with their color coded TV listings (red means kids can’t watch), but FCC complaints and other avenues to tell broadcasters what shows to make–I kind of have a problem with that. By that, I don’t mean that they can’t protest, but I can’t stand FCC intervention–it’s forced on the public. I also am not fond of boycotting advertisers or scaring them, though, I do believe that PTC has the right to do it.
What may be more telling and more interesting is the PTC celebrity advisory board. Freethinkers will recognize Steve Allen, who has passed on, at the top of the photos gallery. I liked Steve as a friend to the skeptics movement, but I thought his book Dumbth was overrated and his Vulgarians at the Gate lacked intelligence and was full of bad arguments. Billy Ray Cyrus is on the list, which is surprising since Miley seems to be upsetting parents these days. Dean Jones appears, one of my favorite Disney actors (That Darn Cat is the best family film ever!). Other notables are Connie Selleca and Michael Medved who is always inserting himself into these issues.
If you’re a Skins fan, let all those sponsors who bailed know your feelings and then buy Clearasil. Man, here I am sticking up for an MTV teenybopper show and I don’t even care to watch these petty dramas.